Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 34: Canyon de Chelly, National Monument to Petrified Forest (NP #14) and Kingman AZ

Day 34: Canyon de Chelly, National Monument to Petrified Forest (NP #14) and Kingman AZ

Mr. Rickey, I'll put more people in the park than anybody since Babe Ruth.
Dizzy Dean

Pics: Fitness center (with water cooler, towels and no clock), utility box, shots in Canyon de Chelly and Canyon de Muerto, and the Petrified Forest

Book Review: The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver, Kindle edition. First half of the book is very good; the protagonist is in action with Kahlo, Rivera, and Trotsky in Mexico. Then in the middle, it takes a turn and is filled with faux book reviews, newspaper articles, etc., and slows to a crawl (unless you like to skim, which is very easy to do on a Kindle). In the last portion, the protagonist becomes somewhat of a depressive recluse writer and then gets caught up in the post-WW2 loyalty scares. All the innocence of the first half of the book comes back to haunt the protagonist. And, a “gun” (the lacuna) is presented in Act 1 and sure enough someone gets “shot” in Act 3. This is my first Kingsolver book, doubt I will give her another try.

Chinle is full of dogs on the loose, most without collars. They are everywhere, Officer Briskin: in the streets, in the parking lots, at the pool, lying in the sun, laying in the shade, with collars, without collars, families roaming together, large dogs, some medium size dogs, not too many small dogs (except puppies), dark dogs, light dogs. They are everywhere. They are friendly, almost comatose for the most part, not afraid of cars. Oh, and the cows are also roaming free, just like in India. And, the horses run wild around town, too. Calling Officer Briskin!

Up early to ride the elliptical, very early. Sure enough, in comes a woman of a certain age that appears to be in such good shape that a half-marathon before breakfast is the norm. Night before, manage to see 75% of a baseball game for the first time in over a month, and the hated Yanks manage a comeback by doing everything right for 8 batters in a row. They are an offensive machine, or as a depressed A’s fan might say: they hit the ball hard, a lot, game after game. (You can tell the trip is winding down when there is a whole paragraph of sports/fitness news instead of NP stuff, and that followed an entire paragraph on the local animal control situation, all preceded by a book review.)

Breakfast at Holiday Inn of blue corn pancakes (above average) and cinnamon french toast, coffee, $23.

We had been arranging a full day tour of Canyon de Chelly with a local guide, requiring many e-mails and phone calls. We arrive yesterday and cannot get hold of him to finalize pick-up time, even visiting his office. No calls back, no commitment on time. This morning we arrange a tour through the Holiday Inn, for a 1-3 person ½ day tour, getting a third person by offering a woman in the gift shop a spot with us (she pays 1/3 of the $150). Works good for us and for her. As we are getting ready to leave, at 8:58, our original guide calls (which means he’s not there to pick us up early) and I explain we’ve already committed to a guide that is there ready to go. No problema…

Turns out the new guide is terrific, he grew up in the Canyon, left for school and spent time in Chicago and Idaho, now back for 15 years leading tours. Lots of local knowledge, and very good about encouraging questions. Our vehicle is a four door 4WD, and the entire trip is in the sand of the canyon washes. We can talk while he is driving, a plus. Pics include what was missing in Monument Valley: a snack stand in the canyon at a convenient turnaround spot.

Lunch at Subway, tuna and turkey and swiss, iced tea, $12.

Then we hit the road, and visit the Petrified Forest, just off I40. We do the scenic drive, look at the petrified logs, and continue on to Kingman, AZ, and a Hampton Inn. We arrive at 6pm, having gained an hour by leaving the Navajo Reservation, which stays on Utah time. The Reservation is 27,000 square miles, holding approximated 300,000 Navajo, per our guide.

Our arrival in Kingman was accompanied by bizarre weather: what looks to us like a dust storm is enveloping the town, and as we approach it starts to rain lightly, the temperature drops from 80 to 63, the wind picks up dramatically, then rain hard, then lightning within a mile of the car, rains even harder, streets are flooding, and the sun is out the entire time. Second time for rain on the trip, on the last day of NPs.

Dinner at a steakhouse: porterhouse 1/3 the size of the hunk in Omaha, ribs for DB, soup and salad, WITH alcohol (drink, wine, beer), $65. As we leave the restaurant, the moon and stars are out, it is now 70 degrees, only the puddles in the parking lot belie what was going on 1.5 hours ago.

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