We flew across the desert of the South West sometimes keeping ahead of the storm and sometimes trying to keep up with it. The clouds overhead seemed to change hourly and at times they stopped us in our tracks. Stopped us so completely that, with camera on hand, we would pull off the road, jump out, listen to the wind rustle the sagebrush, watch the shifting sunlight, and wander into the middle of the road. Sunlight can be so sexy at times. It begs, like self-obsessed teenager, to have it’s picture taken.
We pressed on though, and after a night filled with thunder, lightening (oh, how I need to learn how to take nighttime photos), and rain, we crawled out of the tent before dawn and headed off into Monument Valley, a place a had never been before.
The first rays of sun lit up the sky in yellows, oranges, purples, and blues. It was spectacular even if it was a bit chilly. Thankfully, I had packed appropriately for the road trip, and had 57 layers, so I was blissfully unaware of the cold. And even if I was felling a bit nippy, that would all change shortly when we found a couple of horses wandering around, grazing, and enjoying first light.
How pretty is this little lady?
After our horsey detour we pressed on and took in the other sights throughout Monument Valley. We drove to various look outs like the one where, for a fee, they’ll let you sit in a saddle and ride over to an overlook so that you can have your photo taken, in an attempt to recreate an old western movie. You, know the one, I think it’s titled Lone Ranger or something. I’m sorry to say, I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ve added it to my list.
After our stop in the gift shop, where I promptly bought some of those lovely vintage inspired national park post cards for an art project I had all planned out in my head, we headed off to the local laundry mat to wash and dry our gear and to pack up for even more fun. We drove on and headed out of Monument Valley. Before leaving behind all of it’s stunning red rock and surprisingly green foliage we stopped on last time to play in the middle of the road like tourists. I mean, how could we not. After all, Forrest Gump ran through here.
A Little Bit About Monument Valley:
The Navajo call this place Tse Bii Ndzisgaii which means Valley of the Rocks. It’s a region of the Colorado Plateau that has a large cluster of sandstone buttes. The largest of these buttes reach over 1,000 feet above the valley floor and you can see three different layers of stratification. Talk about making you feel like an ant! Anyways, the lowest layer is called Organ Rock Shale, the middle is de Chelly Sandstone, and the top layer, the Moenkopi Formation is topped with Shinarump Conglomerate.
The valley lies in within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation. While most of the touristy portions of the area are accessible, there are other areas such as Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa that are only accessible by guided tours. These are places that I’d like to come back and visit sometime.