For Thanksgiving, I journeyed to Monument Valley — sacred center of the Navajo culture. The desire to go to Monument Valley started easy enough — fans of BBCAmerica’s show Doctor Who will remember “The Impossible Astronaut” episode was shot in/around Monument Valley. IN!
Did you know John Ford filmed many of his most famous Westerns in Monument Valley? Yup! DOUBLE IN. All I had to do was book the ticket and go …. except that was 2011. I didn’t make it because of work obligations.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2012. Air fare – check; Hotel – check; rental car … oops. When I checked into Hertz, I had 2 reservations according to the chatty woman behind the counter. My choices? A SUV or a Mustang. Neither sounded appealing. For those who know me, you know I’m not a fan of SUV (never mind the trip to Wyoming in May) nor do I like going fast. Give me one of those ‘super-economy compact’ cars with roll-down windows. As long as there’s a slot for my phone charger, I’m happy.
On impulse, I changed my mind and went with a Mustang. I was heading to Navajo country. It seemed right.
The drive to Monument Valley was uneventful. Except for some of the mountain driving and the big rig that almost ran a SUV into the side of the mountain.
As the endless road stretched on (and on and on), suddenly in the distance, Monument Valley appeared!
It’s hard to describe the feeling of achieving a bucket list item. A sense of accomplishment, a sense of pride and a sense of awe at the geography. It is more breathtaking than I imagined and my photos are woefully inadequate.
The road on the valley floor is traveled by the Navajo people who live there. They choose to live in this sacred place without electricity or running water, as their ancestors did. It’s also a 17-mile drive around most of the monuments. NOT recommended for cars low to the ground — I went for it! The mustang is a rental, after all!
One of the “must do” items in Monument Valley is watching the sunrise or sunset. My hotel, The View Hotel, sits in the park and is built to give every room a view of the Valley.
It was a special way to spend Thanksgiving.
Just don’t get me started about the drive back to Phoenix at 4a! What was I thinking? Well, I changed my flight in order to make it home in time for a friend’s wedding. Without realizing the drive is 4.5 – 5 hours. I needed to be at rental counter by 9:30. Ugh.
As I checked out, the desk clerk suggested I drive 40-45 mph because cows might be on the highway. Uh, ok. Cows? I didn’t know that Navajo land is free grazing which means cattle freely roam all hours of the day and night. I sat in my car as it warmed up and said a prayer to Mother Earth and Father Sky. Mother Earth, look out for me and the cows until Father Sky woke up. With that said, I started out. Whatever happened I was thankful and at peace.
The first glimmer of day light appeared at 6:14a and I was never so happy as that moment. I don’t know which was worse — desolate night driving or mountain driving. Thank you Mother Earth and Father Sky.
However, my Mustang was outstanding! I’m not a fan of fast or driving; however, I enjoyed driving that Mustang at 85-95 mph! (not sure which guiding spirit to thank for the safe delivery to Phoeniz Airport but THANK YOU).