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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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From Monuments to Kitsch Holbrook, AZ, Monday, 17 September 2012 6:18am

This morning was a tour by open-sided tour bus of Monument Valley. Monument Valley is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park, rather than a US National Park, and there are a bunch of areas that you're only allowed to visit with a Navajo tour guide. I'd also been discouraged by the description of the road ("unevenly maintained dirt road"), but now that I've seen it, it would have been totally manageable on my street bike. Our guide was pretty entertaining. In between language lessons and informative factoids about Navajo history, he'd do things like point out a crow and say "My people call this... crow", totally deadpan.

Monument Valley is the southwest of the movies, literally. Many films set in the southwest were filmed around these mesas and buttes, so the views are very familiar, in an odd way. The valley has a lot of spectacular formations, and, when I set out to see the southwest, this was the sort of thing I had in mind.

All in all, an excellent morning.

I had called the National Parks reservation line when they opened (I was up in order to break camp before the morning tour, since it didn't get back until after check-out time), and determined that all of the reservable campgrounds near the Grand Canyon had already been reserved. Since I wouldn't even be leaving Monument Valley until afternoon, it seemed unlikely that I'd arrive early enough to get one of the first-come, first-served sites. So I'm skipping the Grand Canyon this trip. I've been there before, and there isn't enough time to do it right, anyway. I need to go back there with a plan, and spend at least a couple days there, hiking.

Instead, I headed south through the Navajo Nation. On my way, I got to see a dust devil pick up a tumbleweed and drop it almost on the road in front of me. Another bit of the southwest experience, checked off!

My destination was Holbrook, AZ. It's a small town on historic RT 66 that boasted a surprising number of highly rated motels on Tripadvisor. It was a far cry from Page, where I couldn't find a room at any price. Here, I'm paying only a little more than I paid last night for camping, and this motel has all of the amenities. I went to a stagecoach-themed steakhouse for dinner. After several days of stunning nature, I'm ready for a little kitsch.

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