Waking up to a Valley Of The Gods sunrise is a thrill but to continue this with breakfast served by Claire of the b&b here really kick starts the day like no other way. She prepared us wonderful breakfast casseroles, fresh fruit and pomegranate juice.
Into The Valley Of The Gods
There is a 17 mile dirt road that passes close to all of the red statue mountains of the Gods. The sensation here is remarkably spiritual.
Unfortunately, the legends of the place are largely lost, partially because the Navajo only came here about 60 years before white settlers and only picked up a little from the tribes that were here before. From what I could pick out from people I spoke to here the main legend seems to be an expanded one of our local Morrigan legend in Co. Sligo.
A goddess, now name unknown, is said to reside in this valley. When she feels that a warrior has weakened she returns his strength and preserves him in stone. When people of the tribes have problems and conflict they can come to the Valley and call upon their warrior to protect and guide them. However, there is no knowing which of the red statue mountains is their own warrior. If they touch the base of these mountains and it is not their warrior they will be cursed and become sick. There was a ritual that called upon their rightful warrior but that has long been forgotten. I suspect the juniper trees in the area hold the clue.
While there we watched several little whirlwinds whip up and dance around, fascinating.
Overall this is one of the most spectacular places I have seen in the USA. Actually, I would rate it as most spectacular! The feeling here, the shapes of the mountains, even some looking like hens, sphynxs, and even warriors standing ready for action. It was quiet, still, sunny and warm here while we were here so we did experience this at its best.
It is said there is plenty of ancient indian art here but it would need a guide or plenty and plenty of time to find it.
I was lured up one hill where there is a plateau and on that plateau was the remains of a cairn and alter. Claire followed and we did experience a wonderful peace there so hung around awhile. We thought it may have been visitors making this structure from scattered stones, but later discovered this was indeed an ancient spiritual structure, and not one that people would easily find.
Looking back it was hard to leave this valley, but we did have other interests for this day.
Into Monument Valley
Known worldwide as a very popular location for movies, especially westerns, the John Wayne, John Ford, Searchers perhaps being the most famous, but lets not forget Blazing Saddles either.
Like Valley Of The Gods this is a range of pillar and pointed statue like red rock mountains. Our intent was to have lunch here, check out the horse riding and then drive around the valley.
Three things got in our way. First the weather became cloudy, windy and bitterly cold. Horse riding was not on today and we were still buzzing from our visit to Valley Of The Gods so this place seemed insignificant in comparison, but that is a really unfair analysis.
Monument Valley vs Valley Of The Gods is very much like Newgrange vs Carrowkeel in Ireland. The tourist brochures here indicate that Valley of The Gods is a miniature Monument Valley and only worth visiting if the visitor has time. Well, we did not take the full trail around Monument Valley but what we saw in the distance had no comparison. There is a lot that is grander in Monument Valley especially towering red pillars that everyone recognises in movies and pictures. There’s even one now called the John Ford mountain and its quite obvious from pictures which one that is.
The Navajo are currently developing the area into a major tourism destination. Up until a couple of years ago visitors would arrive at the local Navajo village that served an ad hoc range of services for tourists such as guiding services and traditional cooking. Now there is a vast modern hotel but it is tastefully built into the landscape. It has a luxury restaurant with stunning panoramic views over the Monument Valley mountains. We thoroughly enjoyed lunch there, just $20 total for both of us for a lot of food, including Indian frybread and beverages. Its not a rip off place at all. There is a huge crafts store, very reasonable and a vast visitor’s centre is currently being built, Bru na Boinne style which will exclusively control entry and guided tours around the valley.
After lunch we cancelled all ideas of a closer tour here, though I did take fabulous photos. Some of the Navajo thought we could not drive the RV on the monument's roads, which was a mystery to us after navigating the Valley Of The Gods road.
So it was back to Valley Of The Gods to rest, and I have just written up the last 4 day’s blogs :-)