Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 20 - Monument Valley

Thursday May 20th, Monument Valley

We depart our isolated campsite on a 7,000 foot ridge covered with ancient pinion pine, juniper, and Mormon tea in Navajo National Monument and head for Monument Valley. Somewhere along the way, probably while crossing some unanticipated cattle grate we damage a tire and begin loosing air.. but that's a story for later.

We arrive and are astounded. When we return from the visitor center, formulating a plan for the remainder of the day, we find a note on our windshield alerting us to a rear tire low on air. Sure enough, one of our four sturdy tires looks like its in trouble and we begin to problem solve our way out of this dilemma. Diane calls AAA and they agree to come help us - albiet in about 1 1/2 hours as they need to dispatch from Blanding, 90 miles away and across the Utah state line.

We use the time for lunch, a brief siesta, and to catch up on reading and soon enough a SUV pulls up along side and we begin to protest, holding the space for our expected yellow and blue rescue truck, but the young mane emerging from the driver seat has on a blue uniform and a name tag, and he asks, "you the guys who called?". He struggles for a bit to find a jack in the back of his cramped truck beefy enough to handle the task of hoisting the rear end of our camper off it's damaged tire - that being no small feat with semi-full tanks for fresh water, grey water, black water, and the mountain of food, clothes, and equipment we have packed on board. We debate the finer points of the jacking point, referencing the instructions in our trusty manual, and comparing that to his years of experience lifting vehicles for this very purpose. But ultimately the task was completed and we were again sitting on an inflated spare tire, the damaged original bolted to our back door in the spare's place for transport to a tire shop tomorrow 60 miles away. We move the camper to an amazing camping spot on a bluff overlooking the monument valley proper, unrack the bikes and spend the remainder of the afternoon on a 17 mile loop ride around this end of the valley.

Here is a quote from M. Scott Momaday, author of the Pulitzer prize winning novel "House made of Dawn" describing Monument Valley:

"The valley is vast. When you look out over itm it does not occur to you that there is an end to it. You see the monoliths that stand away in space, and you imagine that you have come upon eternity. They do not appear to exist in time. You think: I see that time comes to an end on THIS end of the rock, but on the other side, there is nothing but forever. I believe that only in the dine bizard, the Navajo language, which is endless, can this place be properly described, or even indicated in its true character. Just there is the center of an intricate geology, a whole and unique landscape which include Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The most brilliant colors in the earth are ther, I believe, and the most beautiful and extraordinary land forms - and surely the coldest, clearest air, which is run through with pure light."

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