Day 5 Replay: Horseshoe Bend, Navajo Monument, Betatakin, Monument Valley Day!
*Horseshoe Bend – Sunrise hike, get there early to avoid crowds. We left at 7 am, and the tourist buses were pulling in 4 at a time as we were pulling out. Early, we had very few people to share the view with and actually enjoyed some yoga and peace at the over look points. The shimmery water below is mesmerizing. Stop and breathe.
*Walmart – I stocked up the cooler and washed the car while the kids were back at the Hotel enjoying their free breakfasts and showering. The car was DIRTY. Apparantly we had a rock collection going on in the door pockets also...
*Glen Canyon – the Lake Powell Dam – We drove up, got out, looked around, checked out some of the engineering factors, and were back on our way in no time. Cool stop can be as long or as short as you make it!
*The Navajo Reservation – Driving through was curious, and we were looking at the land around us and evidence of neighborhoods wondering with so many questions about the history of the people.
*The Navajo Monument and Visitor Center – An excellent stop! History, relics, books, videos on replay, pottery, dinosaur footprints, and more interesting information!
*The Sandal Trail to Betatakin – A 1 mile trail filled with plants and herbs that are labeled and explained, and leads you right to a view point of the ancient native cliff dwelling. We LOVED all of the Hopi / Anasazi references and history.
*Checked into our Home for the night – the Kayenta Inn, in Kayenta Utah. This was one of the more expensive stops for no breakfast, no microwave and no elevator. The price seems steep. It was however, very clean. And well located. The room was spacious, and very comfortable. The TV offered many channels and after I went to sleep the kids watched some movies they were happy about. We felt very safe here, and happy for the option to be closer to our attraction, yet not at Gouldings, which was THE MOST expensive option. We filled our cooler from the ice machine, used the microwave down in the kitchen, and even did some laundry before leaving the next day. It would have been nice to know you pay for and buy the detergent at the front desk. When I asked and exchanged the cash for quarters would have been a great time for the front desk clerk to point that out - he didn't. It felt a little luxurious, and the pool was beautiful although again the kids didn’t swim. By the time we'd gotten back from our tour and dinner was pretty late! They watched a movie and all went to sleep.
*Monument Valley Tour with Native Spirit Guides – TRIP HIGHLIGHT. Larry was our eyes inside of this monumental place, took us back into the ceremonial areas of the sacred land that you must be with someone initiated to travel. There is a 17 miles off road loop that explores the rock structures, but it would be meaningless with out the words of Larry who made the place come to life and gave significance to what we were seeing. Also, we were able to add in some extras because of his knowledge and tribal affiliation, his family still lives on the land. A place that holds so much power and historical value.
I have to say Monument Valley has been featured through time in many movies, videos, commercials, and photos. I'd seen it before. This did not even touch the realness of being there, surrounded by the massive buttes, huge rock monuments that each have a unique shape and size. If they were all the same, this would not be so interesting. Once again I credit God, who created this land with style and beauty for us to realize that there is a divine touch in creation. Being here felt sacred. Visiting the hogan was uplifting. We learned how to dye wool and weave the thread, also were given an overview of Navajo life. A native woman sat in there and showed us some of the home life and discussed the history of the land. Their Anasazi ancestors have left some of their petroglyphs behind. We traveled back to The back county land was full of wild horses and as the sun lowered the dramatic colors swept the rock to life. A flute song was played while we laid back on a rock looking up at an eagle's eye hole in the middle for the music to amplify. From a distance that same rock theater, where the sacred rituals were preformed looks like a Navajo in profile. How majestic the red sand was and we hand up the hill barefoot and threw the sand up against the blue sky and took some beautiful pictures beneath the arched rock formations. I did not want to leave. I felt like I was home. When the tour was over we felt like we knew Larry forever and belonged here.
The business of the day lead to hungry bellies for some, I was still floating on my cloud and didn't want to eat.
*McDonalds for the kids, late night Dinner
Horseshoe bend - $10.00
Walmart - $60.00
Glen canyon dam - FREE
Navajo national monument – FREE
Kayente Inn - $202.00
Drive in to monument valley – $20.00/ car
Navajo spirit tours – 80 X 4 = $320.00 (one child was home sick)
McDonald’s - $50.00
Daily Cost: $680.00
Definitely the most expensive of our days. Thankfully, my oldest funded the tours, and the McDonalds, as his contribution to our family adventure. This made the day reasonable and kept the trip with in the budget restrictions. However I have to say – this tour was extremely valuable. Worth every penny. A priority. Oddly enough I don't usually opt for the tour of places. The two we experienced on this trip made the whole trip beyond awesome. The added depth and meaning to the places we were that I could not have gotten in any other way.
Tips: *Book your tour with Larry @ Navajo Spirit Tours so you can see the other side of Monument Valley. He is so down to Earth and knowledgeable that it is a pleasure to be in his company.
*Get to Horseshoe bend early!!! I see people saying go at 12 noon when the sun is directly overhead so you don’t have the shadows in your pictures. There will be a huge traffic and crowd issue at that time. I say enjoy the silence, and the shadow.
*Navajo National Monument is a cultural wealth of knowledge. A very valuable stop.
*Meal planning – I am 100% sure if I wasn’t feeling so emotional I would have researched a better dinner option. My kids got the better of me on that one! There were many options in the area including Chinese, buffalo wild wings, pizza, and olive garden. We also could have gone to a food store, although I’m not sure they were open at 9:30 when we were arriving back in the Kayente area. Because I was in a state of amazement and figured I would decide later where to eat, we ended up with expensive and unnutritious fast food.
*I thought I was closer than I was to Monument Valley and had to call back a few times as my GPS was sending me all over! Check directions while your internet is good, it's spotty out there! Even in the parking lot I approached the wrong tours and called back the booking number to successfully locate Larry. They were SO PATIENT and I was like a crazy person stressed from being behind schedule. There is no stress in the valley I learned.
*If you are washing clothes, get quarters and detergent at the front desk. It's a long walk back and forth to the laundry when you are already in motion.
Pros: The flow of the day was magical. It all just worked, even without a prior concreted plan. I was blessed to have that tour work out for us! Another day of rich experiences that will be remembered forever. Family cooperation – my oldest son paying for the expenses at this juncture made it happen. I was trying to stick to a budget for a long trip and not run out of reserves before we were done. I did repay him later gratefully.
Cons: No microwave in the room, Expensive fast food, a kid who had an upset stomach, and missed the Monument Valley Tour. I was really heart broken he didn't make this one with us.
See day 6 for the main event: The Grand Canyon South Rim