Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monument Valley and Flagstaff

Night 5 of our Southwest Tour was Monument Valley in Utah - surreal!

The hotel we stayed at was located in the Navajo Nation.

Sunset and sunrise bring a whole new dimension here. Just like Grand Canyon or the other places we toured, the time of day and the cast of light totally change the perspective and the sense of space.

Night time was incredible for stargazing. With the binoculars it seemed the entire sky was crowded with stars. Infinite pinpoints of dotted lights, some shining more brightly than others. There were so many it was disorienting and it took quite awhile to locate Ursa Major.

On the night we were there, there were storms in the distance and lighting on the desert horizon. A true desert storm.

At sunrise and sunset we toured a trail with an incredible view of the monuments: East an West Mittens, Elephant Butte, and Three Sisters, just to name a few. The natural sculptures towered high above.

The Navajo let horses run free, so there were several roaming as Rob and I circled the 17 mile trail with its view of towering monuments. We were taking photos of a group of horses gathering at the gates of a corral. There was a newborn foal, just finding its wobbly legs.

"What gentle creatures," I said, and just at that very moment, a stallion suddenly took hold of the neck of the small foal, picked it up by the neck, shook it violently and then flung  it to the ground. The foal found its legs again, stood unsteadily, and the stallion attacked again with its biting and shaking. It happened at least five times, until the foal finally gave up and stopped getting to its feet. We tried to intervene but there was little that we could do other than beep our car horn, which wasn't much of a deterrent. The Navajo we told about the event were surprised, and so were the ranchers we met later and described the event. Very disturbing.

On Day 6 we drove through the Painted Desert on the way to Flagstaff and stopped to explore Wapatki's ancient ruins and Sunset Crater's volcanic ash. Each of those landscapes is so different from the other, it is hard to believe they are only within a few hours drive.

When we arrived at the Inn I enjoyed its creature comforts - a jump into the jacuzzi and a nice dinner around the corner at Brix.

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