Thursday, July 7, 2011

GAWA2011, Day Seven: Let's Go Navajo!

It was a quiet night in the Navajo Nation, and Alissa and I slept like the dead - a deep and dreamless sleep that left me feeling rested, if cotton-headed in the morning. Tired as we were from the previous day’s jaunt around the Grand Canyon, we decided not to push ourselves.

Close to 10:30, we checked out of the hotel and ambled over to the adjoining Hogan Restaurant, for which the hotel had given us breakfast vouchers. As we had been the night before at the local Denney's, we found ourselves seated in a separate area from the locals Navajos, this time behind a partition which completely blocked the whites from the view of the resident customers. Move back, Rosa Parks! Segregation is alive and well in Tuba City! But what of it? The breakfast was plentiful and delicious, the rye toast buttered with a lavish hand, and the coffee fresh and hot. Across the parking lot from the restaurant was a Trading Post, to which we availed ourselves after our meal. After that, there was nothing for it but the open road.

Hello from the Desert

The plan for the day was to make our way north into Utah by way of Route 163, which would take us directly through Monument Valley. Halfway through the valley, we made our first stop at a turn-out, intending to set up some jumps with the grand landscape. This was truncated rather abruptly when two wild dogs came loping toward us, causing us to scurry for the relative safety of our dinky little car like the tourists that we were.

Not to worry: a few miles down the road brought us to a turn-out not haunted by wild dogs, and the jumping commenced.

Monumental

Monumental Heel Click

Once through Monument Valley, we passed into what at first appeared to be the surface of a distant planet, but was actually our first glimpse of the state of Utah. And let me tell you something: I had no idea what to expect of Utah, but it completely blew me out of the water. Utah, simply put, was a revelation.

Incidentally, since coming back from the Great American West Adventure, I serendipitously stumbled across the work of The Piano Guys. They've put out a video that perfectly sums up my feelings on Utah:



Our meandering route took us past the quaint rock formation called Mexican Hat and the little sneeze of a town to which it lends its name. If we'd had the time, we could have gone hiking and climbing around (and, according to websites, even UP) the Mexican Hat rock. As it was, we bounced the VW down a few hundred feet of unpaved road to capture a snapshot before jouncing back to the highway and continuing on our dusty way.

Mexican Hat

In Bluff, Utah, we stumbled across a recreated Mormon settlement. As with all Mormon sites we’ve visited on our trip, this site, although still unfinished, was excellently done and manned by pleasantly friendly Mormons.

Bluff, Utah

So friendly, in fact, that we could hardly make it away without seeing a promotional video (which we had already seen in San Diego). In the end, some other travelers arrived and created a diversion, allowing us to slip out the side door of the gift shop and hotfoot it back to our red Beetle.

With little fanfare, we arrived safely in Blanding, Utah: “Gateway to Adventure!” We checked into our hotel before scouting a dinner location: the charming local Old Tymer’s Restaurant. This was an easy choice, as it was one of only two restaurants in the area.

And let me tell you: with all of the stiffness we were experiencing from our various activities (running, hiking, jumping, and driving for hours on end in the car), we felt that we fit right in at the Old Tymer's.

Full photo set here.

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