Saturday, September 4, 2010

Farmington to Grand Canyon

The following post covers a day earlier in our trip; a day when we did too many things and covered too diverse an area to write about in one entry so I saved it for now when we are staying more in one place.
On this particular morning we left Mom & Pop;s RV Park and headed toward Shiprock.  For Tony Hillerman fans, Shiprock is Mecca.  Shiprock is the  actual rock, standing solitary in the surrounding high plains
and Shiprock is the nearby real town, headquarters for fictional  Joe Leaphorn the retired detective solving crimes all over Indian country. 
Immediately around Shiprock, the landscape includes sandy dirt and rock hills slowly wearing  down. There are signs warning of rocks falling onto the top of vehicles wherever the highway comes close to the hillside.  
Outside town the hills become mountains, buttes and mesas. The grasslands along US 64 consist of sage, other blue/green grasses, small yellow mustard-like plants and dark juniper trees and pinion tees.
At Teec Nos Pos we took a slight detour  to Four Corners, the point where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado come together. A monument has been built at the point which is surrounded by stalls selling a mixture of hand-made jewelry and crafts.
Jeff against a blue Navajo sky
me, being a true tourist, sitting in all four states

From Teec Nos Pos the grasslands became more lush while off in the distance we could see Red Mesa. 
We were given lots of opportunity to study the mesa as we sat in a short line of traffic while the road was blacktopped. The rock was stratified in hues of red and browns. 

We soon left the grasslands for the Arizona desert
In the town of Tuba City we visited the Trading Post, a stone store built by the Mormons who originally settled the area.  At the time the Mormons came through, the local Hopi Indians asked them to settle in order to protect the them from their enemy, the Navajo.  The Mormons chose to stay and Hopi settled around them.  When the United States Government took over the land, the Mormons and Hopis were forced to leave, setting the land apart for the Navajo.  The Mormon head elder requested to name the town before they left.  When he was given permission, he named the town Tuuvi City after the Hopi Chief. Through time and Government Shenanigans, the name changed to Tuba City. There is still a Mormon cemetery in town and many Mormons return researching their ancestors. The Hope - Navajo land dispute continues to this day.
A highway marks the edge of Navajo lands, across which the Hopis still live and have begun to develop.
On their land, the Hopis have built a new motel and trading center that, while modern fit well into the landscape and traditional style.It was here that we saw the McDonalds pictured below, though I never thought I would be putting a McDonalds in this blog.
Out next destination was the Grand Canyon. After my ride across the Mississippi, I had a few trepidations. But this time I planned to be more prepared.

No comments: