Friday, May 3
“This has been a good camp,” I say to the crew as I toss them into the Perfect Tow Vehicle. I give Canyon View Camp at Navajo National Monument one last look. Good. No wind. Easy driving and no dust storms on the road today.
I’ve long assumed that Highway 160 across northeastern Arizona is monotonous.
It looks like a whole lot of nothing on a map. How very wrong I was! The entire drive has me spellbound.
At Kayenta we stop for gas, groceries, and water.
I pull into the Chevron station and top off the tank for $31.00 at $3.64 a gallon. I find Basha’s grocery is more than adequate. A water vending machine sits in the entryway. After loading groceries into the BLT, I put the empty water jugs in a cart and wheel it inside the store, fill them up, store them in the PTV, and we’re on our way!
A short drive beyond Kayenta on Highway 163 north, we reach the top of a small rise.
“We’re here!” I spontaneously announce out loud to the crew. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Monument Valley!”
This big rock is familiar.
It’s a perfect day for a drive through Monument Valley.
Bridget and Spike sleep peacefully behind my seat.
Big billboards appear.
They proclaim the presence of the Visitor Center and hotel to the right and Gouldings RV to the left. I turn right and roll into the waiting arms of the toll booth. I see the NO CAMPING sign next to the face of the man who takes my $5. A line of RVs and cars are ahead of us and in the side mirror. This does not look good.
The massive landforms seem to shrink beyond the vehicles and tourists.
I recall photos of how this place used to be. A plain, dirt spot where one could park and feel a part of the natural environment. I knew it had changed with the building of the hotel, but I’m still disappointed.
It’s noon and very warm.
I park in the lot in front of the hotel and visitors’ center. The crew is awake now, hopping and barking, frantically wanting OUT. I take them on a brief potty run, self-consciously scooping up poop among the brightly dressed people with cameras.
I take a few quick photos without much enthusiasm.
I’d better eat something. This is no place to have a low-blood sugar incident. I take Bridget and Spike back to the PTV and enter the BLT. I grab a block of cheese from the fridge and cut off a few slices. A drink and some crackers to go with it will suffice for a light lunch.
When I step out of the BLT I’m immediately hit with the noxious fumes and roar of a huge diesel motorhome that has pulled up alongside us and is idling. I hold my breath and rush to the PTV to find that the fumes have come inside through the open window.
Several open-sided tour vehicles circle the parking lot like hungry sharks.
People walk by with morose faces. As I turn the ignition key, I flash back to the day I fled the parking lot of Old Faithful in Yellowstone, overcome by the crowds.
My automatic flight response takes over.
“WE’RE OUTTA HERE!”
I drive by the toll booth, turn right at the billboards, and sigh with relief as we zip on down the open road.
“Ahhh, much better.” I eat lunch, tossing a few bites of cheese to Bridget and Spike.
We’re headed toward Mexican Hat at the San Juan River. What a memorable day!
A decision has to be made soon.
Shall we turn right and go to Bluff, Utah? Or shall we turn left and go to Goosenecks State Park?
Let’s go to Goosenecks now and Bluff later!