Sunday 12th June
Forgot to mention in our last blog our visit to Horseshoe Bend on Sunday evening before stopping for the night at Wal*Mart, which can best be understood from the pictures in our Gallery so if you are just getting the emailed blogs don’t forget to go to www.TheOldAgeTravellers.blogspot.com and click on the little map on the right hand column. This will open the gallery and a selection of the thousands of photo’s we have already taken. Horseshoe Bend was a one mile walk but well worth it. It was a 270deg Ox- Bow Bend in the Colorado River which we could view from a rocky overhang 1000ft above the river, if you look at the second enlarged picture of the three canoes which can hardly be seen in the previous one it will show just how high we were.
Monday 13th June
We woke to find that Steve couldn’t put his foot to the ground because of the pain from his Achilles tendon so Judy goes to Wal*Mart for some Ibuprofen and an ice pack to try to reduce the pain and swelling. He could drive though so we drove to the lake and spent the day going through the photo’s ready for uploading them to our online gallery at the visitors center which has wifi then back to Wal*Mart with all the other motorhomes and trucks for the night.
Tuesday 14th June
Steve’s heel is no better so we decided to move on back to Flagstaff and the Petrified Forest, lucky he is able to drive. On the way Steve remembered a Thrift (Charity) shop we had visited before, just outside Flagstaff and wondered if they might have some crutches.
When we got there Judy went in and sure enough they had some which they adjusted for size and whoopee for $7 we were mobile again so we found another Wal*Mart for the night.
Wednesday 15th June
Up early to visit Walnut Canyon where we had a long chat with the Ranger, he was very good and said the canyon would be too much for Steve but described everything we would have seen then went through the next few places we wanted to visit. He advised against “Meteor Crater” and showed us a picture saying that it was $30 to look into a large hole in the ground and unless we had a particular interest in meteor’s it was probably not worth it.
But The Petrified Forest and Painted desert were, then we should go on to the Canyon de Chelly, pronounced “de Shay”.
So onward passing through Winslow which was again on the “Route 66”, we had hoped to stop to see some of the places mentioned in the guide book but they had all the roads up and there was nowhere to stop in an RV at all.
The Petrified Forest and Painted desert were great and the crutches enabled Steve to hobble around and at least experience some things. However he was getting rather despondent as everybody we met was saying it would be at least six weeks and maybe even surgery! But we persevered with Ibuprofen every few hours and ice packs whenever we stopped. Because “hop-along” was a bit slow we found ourselves in Navajo country with nowhere to stop but Judy spotted a lake near Ganado so we took a chance and stopped there even though people had said “you can’t stop at night in Navajo country”. We had a good night and the few Navajo’s who drove past us paid no attention at all.
Tuesday 7th June
After a good night we could visit the Hubble Trading post just a couple of miles away. This is a working Trading Post which has been taken over by the National Parks Service to preserve the history and artifacts of the operation but still provide a service to the Navajo Indians.
We took the tour of Mr. Hubble’s house then spent quite a while talking with a Navajo guy who told us a great deal about the history and some interesting snippets like the large collection of valuable woven Indian baskets owned by Mr. Hubble which he had boxed up and said he was going to get rid of because there was nowhere to show them. While he was away his daughters had got them out and fastened them on to all of the ceilings of the house and trading post as the walls were all covered with pictures where they stay today. But this gentleman told us that the senior Chiefs would no longer enter the building because the baskets being upside-down was “bad medicine” because all the good things in life would flow out, something like us hanging a “lucky horseshoe” upside-down.
We arrived at canyon de Chelly about lunch time, it is owned by the Navajo’s but operated by the Parks Service and interestingly had a free campsite.
The Visitors center was interesting and they explained that there were North and South rims of the canyon with overlooks only on the North and overlooks and a decent on the South.
We decided to tackle the North Rim and see whether Steve could manage the overlooks some of which were a quarter mile walk but on fairly level paths. Steve managed fine albeit a bit slow and we got set up in the campground by about 5pm. We met a very nice lady called Elizabeth who had been full-timing in an RV with a tow-car behind for 13 years. We got out the maps and she started to tell us about all the places we intended to visit and others we should not miss. Then a Navajo Ranger came along and invited us to a talk about the history of the canyon so by the time we had finished we had missed dinner but well worth it as the talk by the Navajo Ranger was extremely interesting.
Friday 17th June
Steve woke to find no pain in his heel , so all the ice may have done some good. We set about the South Rim and Steve just used a walking stick and by the time we got to the “White House” decent, decided that with his boots and two walking poles he could manage it, a 3 mile round trip descending about 1000ft or so. We took it slowly and all went well, we saw the local farming on the valley floor and some very well preserved cliff houses in a massive overhang.
We finished the other South rim overlooks which culminates in the spectacular view of the Spider Rock. Please see our online gallery for pictures.
Back to the campsite to have a quick snack before another Ranger talk about “The Navajo Long Walk” which was a harrowing story about the way the “White Men” had treated the Indians.
Saturday 18th June
Went to say our goodbyes to Elizabeth and had coffee when she told us about a Rodeo she had found out about. Change of plans, we couldn’t miss that so off we went only to find Elizabeth arrive just after us in her car. It was a small local Navajo Rodeo and great fun. We had a fantastic day (see pictures) and decided it was best to drive back the thirty miles to the campsite rather than trying to find something deep in the reservation. Elizabeth came in to “our house” and we had a great evening with her telling us more about the places we should visit. We really have met some super people on our travels.
Sunday 19th June
Coffee to finally say goodbye to Elizabeth and dog Simon and she produced some presents she had made for us and a crystal necklace for Judy. We finally left and headed for Durango stopped on the way at Kayenta for coffee at McD’s and managed to talk on Skype with Nik & Annie then Kerry & Cheryl then headed to Monument Valley with a quite big storm brewing so much that it was very difficult driving and the views were disappearing in the sand storm. After paying to get into the Park which was operated by the Navajo’s and for camping, we found we were not allowed to take our RV on the “Self Guided Tour” but had to take a Navajo truck tour at $150 for two hours! Also the camp site was just an area of sand with no facilities and in the windiest area of all.
Monday 20th June
The Storm had finished so we took some pictures but decided not to pay $150 for what everybody else could do for free. Unfortunately talking with others, they also agree that the Navajo’s are being just a bit greedy. They are understandably unhappy at their treatment over history but are very disorganized, and just not providing the service which is provided by the National Parks Service, the private trucks they are using look un-maintained and in many cases downright dangerous, they have no uniforms, no name badges, demand cash only and give no receipts so not a good impression. But the views we could see from the terrace see were fantastic and perhaps we missed some close-up’s but it is a big country with many more places to see and for us it was better to talk with our feet as were many others. So we left to visit a local Trading Post often frequented by John Wayne etc. When they were making various films in the area then on to the long drive to Durango to take a trip on the narrow gauge Durango to Silverton Railway tomorrow. We decided on another night at Wall*Mart so as to get an early start to catch the train without too much driving.
Tuesday 21st June
Up at six to get to the station for seven in time to get tickets for the eight o’clock excursion, not cheap but it turned out to be a wonderful day. We left promptly at 8 in an open carriage, there were about six carriages some of which were enclosed plus a buffet car, pulled by a genuine steam engine for the 50 mile spectacular journey along the rushing San Jose river climbing all the time to 9,305ft arrive at Silverton at midday for a couple of hours to explore the old mining town and have lunch then back on the train for the return journey arriving back at 5:30 totally exhausted. So after a McD’s thick shake to cool down just an hours drive to a National Forest Campground for the night and to have a shower to wash off all the soot from the engine and wash our clothes to get rid of the smokey smell.
Please again see the pictures in our gallery, the train itself was interesting and the views into the rushing river with white water rafting were spectacular.
Sorry it has been so long this time but as you can see we don’t get that much time to keep up with the typing.