Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: USA Road Trip 2011

The Navajo Nation & Monument Valley

Breakfast was so crowded that I had to retreat to a sofa located just off the lobby, in order to get somewhere to sit. Before setting off for Kayenta and Monument Valley I paid a quick visit to Glen Canyon dam, but decided not to take a tour.

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After this brief initial stop, I set off in earnest - first on a continuation of Highway 89 and then quickly turning onto the 98. This section continued for about 70 miles before meeting up with the road north into Kayenta. Before I could reach the road junction I had to wait at a level crossing, and was surprised to note that the single-track freight line in the middle of nowhere was actually electrified!

Continuing towards Kayenta, I couldn't help noticing that every turn-out and scenic overlook appeared to be occupied by squads of Navajo hawkers. Kayenta itself was deeply uninspiring: the Hampton Inn appeared to be the only decent accommodation in town and the shops looked scruffy and rather poor. I had a quick lunch in a branch of Subway and continued on my way, not even attempting to check in to the hotel at this time of day. I took Highway 163 towards the Utah state line and Monument Valley and made a few photo stops along the way.

Eventually I turned into Monument Valley Tribal Park, noting that this was yet another variation on the national / state park theme. There were some spectacular opportunities for taking pictures, as well as an interesting visitor centre. I decided to drive a little of the way into the valley itself on the unpaved and challenging dirt road. It was definitely doable in the Escape, but I didn't want to push my luck and soon decided "this far and no further".

When I felt I'd seen enough, I returned to Kayenta and checked into the Hampton Inn. It was nice to see that it had a restaurant - there really wasn't much else in town! The hotel seemed popular with coach parties, again probably because there wasn't much else available. I had a nice dinner, complete with live Navajo flute music, but certainly not complete with a glass of wine. As the property was in the Navajo Nation, it was 'dry'. And talking of the Navajo Nation, I did say earlier that the question of time zones would become more complex. The Navajo Nation, which covers parts of four federal states, adheres to daylight saving time - even in Arizona. Although I'd been running on MST all day, despite being in the Navajo Nation and despite dipping back into Utah, I decided that I should regularise my time-keeping before going to bed and so moved my watch forward an hour.

I felt that it had been a most successful day, with just one niggling exception: ever since entering the Navajo area, I had witnessed several instances of appallingly dangerous overtaking, the like of which had never occurred anywhere else on this trip or on my many previous visits to the United States. I resolved to remain particularly alert on the journey back to Page the following day.

Saturday 03 Sep

Miles driven: 177

Trip to date: 1314

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