Frontier Fun

The next day, we said goodbye to Monument Valley and drove north on Hwy 163.

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Our destination for the evening was Cortez, CO.

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For us, though, it’s really not about getting from here to there.  It’s what you find along the way that makes the trip memorable.

One of the towns we went through was Mexican Hat.  So named because of this rock formation

We stopped to get some pictures and stretch our legs and came across this field of stacked rocks.

I can see the attraction and temptation to create your own masterpiece.   Purists call it ‘graffiti of the west’ but many people do this as an expression to their spiritual connection with the earth.

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Lots of faith in some little rocks

Either way, it was an interesting stop and gave us a chance to enjoy our surroundings (without rain!)

IMG_0018 (2)-001As we continued on, we stopped for gas in Bluff, UT.  The historic site of Bluff Fort was nearby so we thought we would check it out giving us another opportunity to stretch.

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They had me at cookies

Bluff Fort was built by the Mormons and provides visitors with a glimpse of their life in the late 1880’s.

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As we were roaming the grounds, a volunteer asked if we would like our picture taken in the covered wagon.

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Sure!  It would be fun to have a group picture to remember the day.  “The only catch is,” she says, “we would like you to dress in period clothing.”  Not a big deal for Laurie and I, but not quite sure we can convince the guys.  So we talked up how rugged and handsome they would look in Mormon clothing and finally convinced them to join us.

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The minute we put on the clothes, we transformed into wild west pioneers–with attitude.

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Looks like they’ve been on the trail wayyyyy too long

 

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This is one of the original wagons used to blaze the trail to Bluff, Utah.  More importantly, behind the wagon, against the building, is a gorgeous black hollyhock.  They were also full of seeds so, (with permission), I collected some to add to my growing collection.

Then we had a cookie and decided we’d better head ’em up and move ’em out.

Looks like rain, boys.

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Goulding’s Lodge of Monument Valley

The history of Goulding’s Lodge began with love, a dream, determination, and a bedroll.

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It started in 1923 when a sheep inspector named Harry Goulding married a young girl named Leone.  When they first met he joked that he couldn’t spell Leone but he could spell Mike, so he nicknamed her “Mike”.  The name stuck with her the rest of her life.

harry and mike goulding

Harry had been through Monument Valley before and had fallen in love with the area.  He convinced Mike they needed to buy land here and open a trading post.   By the end of 1923, they had purchased 640 acres, set up a tent, began to ranch, and started the trading post.

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Trading post circa 1940

 

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The only neighbors and customers they had were the Navajo Indians.  Over time they earned their trust, learned their language, bartered and traded with them and became trusted friends.

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When the depression was in full swing, and the prices of sheep and wool had bottomed out, the desperate couple decided to elicit help from Hollywood.  Harry and Mike  hired a photographer to take pictures of their beautiful valley and, with those photos,  drove to Hollywood to seek out the famous director John Ford.

As the story goes, Harry entered the offices of the movie studio with his photos and bedroll and asked to see John Ford.  The secretary, (appalled, I’m sure) told him under no circumstance could he see Mr. Ford without an appointment.  Not to be intimidated,  Harry rolled out his bedroll, propped the pictures up on the couch, and told her he would just wait.

As you can imagine, security was called.  But before they arrived, the location manager for Ford’s new movie “Stagecoach” walked by and noticed the photos.  Intrigued, he began talking with Harry and agreed to see for himself the landscape of Utah.

Within weeks, the cast and crew of 100 people were camped in front of the Goulding’s  home.  Their spare bedroom was reserved for John Ford while John Wayne, the movie’s new star, slept outside in a tent.

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Harry was able to convince his Navajo friends to be a part of the movie and they were paid the standard rate of $5 per day ($8 if you had a horse).

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“Stagecoach” was released in 1939 and made John Wayne and Monument Valley superstars.  After this movie, more movie companies came to the Valley providing ample employment for many people.  Tourists also began to come which further enhanced the economy.  A lodge and small restaurant was built to accommodate the influx of people to the area.

Mike’s potato cellar, just behind the trading post, was used in movies as well.

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The exterior of the cellar was seen in the movie “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” and was used in the film as the personal quarters of John Wayne’s character Captain Nathan Brittle.

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Today, the original home and trading post is now a museum.  According to the curator, the hollyhocks at the base of the stairs were planted by Mike years ago.  At the time of our visit, they were in the seed stage of their life so, (with permission) I gathered some history to take home.

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The first floor preserves the Trading Post of years ago.

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original guest registration

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make your own cigarettes

 

The second floor was left similar as when the Goulding’s lived there

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and one of the bedrooms houses a vast collection of memorabilia from movies filmed in Monument Valley.

In 1962, Harry and Mike gifted the lodge to Knox College of Illinois and retired.   Harry died in 1981 at the age of 84. In 1987, Mike was asked by the current family owning the lodge if she would like to move back to her old home.  She did and died there in 1992 at the age of 87.  Both Harry and Mike were cremated and, although reports of where their ashes were spread state ‘unknown’, rumor has it they were laid to rest on Eagle Mesa

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which can be seen from the front porch of the Trading Post.

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And now you know the rest of the story.

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Monument Valley

We left Bryce Canyon the same way we came inIMG_0002 (2)but staying on highway 89.  This took us through Glen Canyon and over Lake Powell.  We had been on the motorcycle for a couple of hours and it was very hot,  so we stopped at the Dam Visitor Center to take advantage of the Dam air conditioning.

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View from the Dam window

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Glen Canyon Bridge

 

After our nice, long break, we crossed over the lake and drove to highway 98 which will take us to Kayenta, AZ.

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Can you see the house in the lower right hand corner?  This gives you some scale as to how big these mountains are.

And yes that’s rain ahead.

But we are getting closer to Monument Valley

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and our destination of Goulding’s Lodge.

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Each room of the lodge has a view and I spent much of my time just sitting and enjoying the transition and colors of the changing skyline.

It was breathtaking.

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Bryce Canyon

When we entered Bryce Canyon, the sky had finally cleared.  But, as you can see, clouds are looming in the distance.

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As we drove through the canyon, the rain came and went and came and went.  Clear around one corner, drizzling the next.   Not enough to dampen our spirits, but just enough to be irritating.

It’s hard to be irritated, though, when you see scenery such as this.

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Looking throughout the canyon, you feel as if you have entered another dimension or planet.    Every pullout view is different and unique.  I tried to pick just a few of my favorite pictures, but gave up.  All I can say is, if you get a chance to see Bryce Canyon, stop at every pullout and walk around.  It’s worth the effort.

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I made friends with a big, black crow.  One with nature, that’s me.

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The jagged rock formations you see are called hoodoos.  (I imagine whoever came up with this name is also responsible for the term doodad.)  They have also been referred to as Fairy Chimneys, Goblins and, in French, they are called demoiselles coiffées (“ladies with hairdos”)

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Oui

Hoodoos happen when rock is exposed to sun, wind, rain, snow, and ice for a million plus years.  Experts say that two to four feet of hoodoos disappear every one hundred years.

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According to their math, they estimate Bryce Canyon will be gone in approximately three million years (give or take)

So, for now, lets enjoy the view.

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bryce canyon motorcycle

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Highway to Bryce Canyon

I was posting about our fall motorcycle trip out west when the holidays took over.  We had a busy, frantic, yet fun holiday season and, as always, when it’s over I’m glad to get back in the regular routine of things.

Last we spoke we were in the Grand Canyon so I will pick up the story from there.

leaving the grand canyon

We left Cameron, AZ (which is on the east side of the Grand Canyon) and headed north on Hwy. 89.  From here, there are actually two highways that will get you to Bryce Canyon.  Hwy 89 and Hwy 89A.  Since we have to backtrack this way to reach Monument Valley, we will take both.

We chose to take Hwy 89A first.  This highway will take us to the Navajo Bridge over Marble Canyon.  The mountains along the way are breathtaking.

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view from the navajo bridge

The original Navajo Bridge was completed in 1929.  Until then, the only way to cross the Colorado River was by ferry.

navajo bridgeAs cars and trucks became larger and heavier, a new bridge was built and completed in 1995.  The original bridge was left and is now used as a pedestrian bridge.  There is a visitor’s center next to the bridge for convenient parking.

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photo from internet

From the bridge, you can see the Colorado River 470 feet below.  Do you see the raft?

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at the navajo bridge

Hwy 89A runs parallel to the Vermillion Cliffs and it looks as if the Vermillion Cliffs are seeing some rain.  Better get on the rain gear.  Again.

view from the navajo bridge

vermillion cliffs hwy 89AFortunately, we missed the rain.  Barely.  Which is good because we came upon an jack-knifed truck that stopped traffic for almost an hour.  As we stood around waiting for the road to clear, we were able to visit with several people who were out of their vehicles walking around.  One couple in particular offered us shelter in their truck if the rains did happen.  They were on their way to Utah with a prototype bear-proof trash can he had invented to be tried out in the state parks.  Pretty cool.

When the traffic cleared, we continued through House Rock Valley until 89A ran into 89 in Utah.

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Our destination for the night was Bryce Canyon City, Utah right about where the rain clouds are in this picture.  sigh

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glad I kept my rain gear on

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Welcome to Bryce Canyon

As you can see, rain comes and goes quickly in the mountains

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but we’re not out of the woods just yet…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Onward and Westward

After leaving the trading post, we continued our journey west on Hwy 264 through Keams Canyon.

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A small pull out was all we needed to stop, stretch our legs and enjoy the gorgeous view.

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Once again, we turned our backs for a minute only to turn around and see this.  Seriously, Jimmy you don’t know what this does to an “I don’t like heights and I don’t like to see other people up on really high rocks” phobia that I have.

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Don’t make me come up there

I do appreciate a good rock, though, and Arizona is full of them.

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keams canyonSome are right on the edge.  What keeps them from falling??

 

arizona landscapeTo me, it looks like the sheer weight of the rock would send it careening down the hill.  It was then I began to develop a “fear of a big rock rolling out of control and hitting a passing motorcycle” phobia.

When we stopped to eat, I asked our Native American waiter if he had ever seen one of these rocks fall.  He told us you never want to see a rock fall, it is very bad luck.

This would be especially true if one hit your motorcycle (therefore, justifying my new found phobia.)

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As we moved closer to the Grand Canyon, we saw this in the distance.

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Rain.

Yuck.

As you can see, there are no places to take cover if you are on a motorcycle.  No gas stations, no roadside picnic stands, not even a tree to get under.  You just have to ride through it.  Fortunately, we all had good rain suits.

We stayed east of the Canyon at the Cameron Trading Post in Cameron, AZ.  We’ve stayed here before and they have nice rooms, a good restaurant, and a huge gift shop.   From here, it’s thirty miles to the east entrance of the south rim.

During that thirty miles, you begin to see the smaller canyon of the Little Colorado River that leaves the Grand Canyon.

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At the east entrance of the south rim is an old watchtower.

watchtower at the grand canyonThe Desert View Watchtower was built in 1932.  Today it serves as a visitor center with observation views on each floor.

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We made it here just before the rain hit.

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Before the rain started, though, we were able to see clouds dipping into the canyon and then rising up and over our heads.  It was quite a spectacular sight.

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The rain and lightening lasted for a good hour and we were thankful to be protected in the watchtower.

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When the rain stopped and the sky cleared, we began the drive through the canyon.

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Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Grand CanyonPictures don’t even come close to capturing the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

Especially at sunset

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Oh beautiful, for spacious skies

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America.  Land that I love.

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Up next-the road to Bryce Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 3-On Our Way to the Grand Canyon

About an hour north on Highway 491 from Gallup, NM and west on Highway 264 is  the small town of Ganado, AZ.

Ganado is the home of a very old, very historic trading post.

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The Hubbell Trading Post was established in 1878 by a man named John Lorenzo Hubbell and is the oldest continuously operated trading post on the Navajo Nation.  Mr. Hubbell was a Spanish interpreter for the United States military and familiar with the Navajo’s language and traditions.   It is said he did not learn English until he was twelve years old.  His diverse upbringing made it possible to communicate with numerous individuals thus making him a well-respected business leader in the region.

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Trading posts throughout the west were used to barter for goods and supplies.  Mr. Hubbell was known for his friendliness and honest business dealings with the various Indian tribes of the area.  He acted as a liaison for many by writing letters on their behalf, settling arguments and explaining government policies.  He even opened his home as a hospital during a smallpox outbreak.

The inside of the store looks much as it did many years ago and local Native Americans continue to bring their rugs and pottery to be traded or sold.

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The round buildings on the grounds are called hogans.  A hogan is a sacred home for the Navajo people.  Even if they lived in a newer home, a hogan was needed for ceremonies and as a reminder of who they are.  The hogans on the property were built by Mr. Hubbell for the Navajo and used as guest houses for various artists in residence.

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Also on the grounds is the original barn and blacksmith shop

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filled with artifacts

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and a resident horse giving us the eye.

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Churro sheep are raised here and this wool was waiting in the barn for someone to make something beautiful from it.

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This picture depicts the various plants used for dyes

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The corral surrounding the barn was nothing more than wooden posts held together with wire.

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The bunk house is still on the property

hubbell trading post ganado, az as is the chicken coop that also houses a turkey named Frank (who, by the way, is a pet and not the main dish for Thanksgiving  or so we were told….)

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The bread oven was used daily when the post was in full operation

hubbell trading post ganado, azand provided hundreds of loaves throughout the week for meals and to be sold or traded at the post.

An old ambulance is parked on the side of the trading post and I can’t imagine how far it was to get medical attention.  I would also imagine you would be ten times worse once you got there if you got there.

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The cone-shaped hill behind the post is known as Hubbell Hill.

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At the top of the hill is the family cemetery and Mr. Hubbell, along with his family and a few close friends are buried there.

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Mr. Hubbell’s gravesite (the marker to the right) is strategically placed per his instructions so he would be able to look after the post in his afterlife.

In 1967, the National Park Service took responsibility for the trading post and made it a National Historic Site as well as a National Historic Landmark.

As I walked the grounds, I tried to envision life as it must have been at that time.  The hardships and sadness they had to endure to live day to day.  What brave people they must have been and how easy we have it today!

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