Our main aim today was to get as close as we could to Monument Valley so we can spend close to all of tomorrow there. Today started out across flat, featureless prairies. Not too far out of town we passed a massive cattle yard which was very on the nose. I realised too late I'd not put the Cadillac ranch in the GPS so I guess we'll have to come back some time to check that out.
We crossed into New Mexico and the flat land slowly became more rolling, first scrubby salt bush then trees altered the landscape. The rolling hills became tall ridges of red rock.
We stopped at a rest area for lunch but it was so windy we decided to eat on the road.
We passed a truck that had some sort of a major oopsie moment outside Albuquerque. It was being towed and was looking very sorry for itself.
Lava flows appeared on first the right then the left, chunky black veins marring the landscape.
We entered Navajo lands, casinos and Indian trading stores became the prevalent thing advertised on roadside signs.
Just as fast as it had started the red rocks ended and shortly after we turned north at Gallup. Along the way but predominantly just out of Gallup there were men holding out money looking for a lift. If our back seat wasn't so full it maybe it would've been interesting to give one a lift.
It wasn't too far along and we were in Arizona, still on Navajo land though.
The roads were well maintained, they had all their own businesses incl the local water and gas co proudly labeled Navajo Nation as was the National Forest we went through. There were billboards stating unsettling facts like one in three Navajo women will be sexually assaulted. The various statistics were eerily like those of the aboriginal communities in Aust.
Along the road through the forest there were numerous cars with locals going in and out of the forest, maybe collecting pinyon nuts. All along the way there were Christian churches of various flavours.
We got to our hotel, it's the Thunderbird Inn & is Navajo owned and operated. Check in was super smooth and we checked out our room which is very nice. After doing a basic move in, mostly about getting food into the fridge we set off for one rim of the canyon. It's beautiful. The sun was starting to get low and by the time we left it had fully set. At the same time the moon was up, both of those factors made for some awesome pics.
At one of the overlooks as we walked back from the track to our car a local guy said hello and told us he's a local artist with a couple of his pieces on the wall near the car park we were heading back to. I took a look and he explained what the symbols all meant. They were simple line drawings on slate. The bigger of the two was more intricate with a medicine man, seasons, seeds etc all explained to me but as nice as it was it was weighty and we've bought a fair bit of stock so have to take care. A smaller one was about a medicine woman with symbols for the canyon, seasons and something else I'll have to research lol. We took that one for $15, usually $25 but we were the last customers of the day. I felt like I was back in Thailand! At another stop an older local lady was making and selling jewellery, I liked the necklaces made from silver and polished local stones. I bought two, one with a blue bear is mine and the other will probably end up a gift for someone.
Back at the lodge we ventured into the locals canteen. Most in there were locals with just a few tourists. We got brave and ordered a local favourite, pork with posole, a type of maize they dry, process then use either whole ad this was or ground to varying degrees. It came with "fried bread" on the side which turned out to be a lot like roti. It was delicious with just enough bite to make it interesting.
Back to our room we finished off the meal with some fresh strawberries and peaches.