Thursday, September 29, 2011

Monument Valley, UT

While eating breakfast at our Hampton Inn in Kayenta, AZ,  an old Navajo man was telling stories to a group in the dining room about his service as a U.S. Marine during WWII as one of the original "code talkers." I had never heard of them, but the code talkers were a select group of Navajo men who were recruited during the war because a white officer who had grown up on a Navajo reservation had the idea to use the native Navajo language as a code for military communications. It was successful and many Navajos were eventually drafted as  code talkers. It was very interesting listening to him.
Approaching Monument Valley
The land is so barren here, rocky and sandy with an occasional surprise of a clump of yellow or purple flowers. Somehow we missed the entrance to Monument Valley and drove 20 miles past to the town of  Red Hat, UT, when we realized we had gone too far. Not sure how we could have possibly missed Monument Valley in this area--it's not like there is anything else around!! It was pretty funny. It was a beautiful day, sunny but not too hot and again, not too crowded. We walked around, took pictures, went to the Visitor's Center, which had alot of information (including the fact that this was one of John Wayne's favorite places and many of his movies were made here). It was kind of strange to look out at this expanse and think of real cowboys and Indians roaming the could almost imagine it. We had lunch at The View Hotel, which was really quite good and you couldn't beat the view!
A rare bunch of flowers
Monument Valley

We left Monument Valley about 1:00 and started driving south and west towards Flagstaff, through Tuba City and Cameron (believe me, these are not big towns, just dots on the map). It was fascinating to watch the landscape change as we neared Flagstaff, turning greener and greener and then almost forest-like, as the mountains around Flagstaff are filled with pine trees, almost like Oak Creek Canyon. What a difference from an hour before. We stopped in Flagstaff for an hour or so, found a cute little coffee shop for a coffee and the best chai latte I have ever had. Flagstaff is a really cute town, has a very European feel to it, with lots of coffee shops and restaurants and even a creperie. The guy at the coffee shop said this has been a very warm fall, that they usually have had snow by now. I can't get over how varied the climate is in Arizona.
Loved this wall--so colorful
Train station in Flagstaff
Route 66!

A shoe hospital, seriously?

Yum, a creperie
We got into Scottsdale about 7 pm, and checked into our hotel. We were both tired, so we decided to eat here at the outdoor restaurant and had fajitas and margaritas (well, I did). We are staying at a resort, so Walt is anxious to swim tomorrow morning and check out the other facilities here before we start to explore Scottsdale. Our last day of vacation--wow, it goes so fast!

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