Today, like many others on this strange trip, will be total in my memory, mile by mile and for some of it corner by corner. Whooping! in my helmet almost gave me a sore throat. Today was a short day to Canyon de Chelly, only 164 miles, dirt included, so the satisfaction of every yard had plenty of space to be lived and re-lived as it was happening.
The route took Indian Service Road 13, maybe twenty miles from Farmington into the Navajo Reserve to Lukachukai, then ISR 12, then ISR 64. The map shows half of 13 as unpaved (my GPS couldn’t even find it until we were on top of it) but when we got that far it had been newly paved, unfortunately. If it had still been unpaved, that section would have been maybe too interesting, as the new sign where the ‘plunge’ happens says it’s 14% grade, then a ten mile stretch out of the mountains. See below.
The desolate ride through the desert at first takes you past Ship Rock, about four miles off the road. The desert sand is golden at this point. Taking the dirt road through this flat, surreal colour to the Rock was a fine start to the day. This picture doesn’t capture it because I’m using a barely adequate camera, the video does better. Here’s Lucinda at the base.
Here’s a short section of video. It’s hard to describe how it felt to be in the middle of nothing for many miles around, except this rock and an escarpment beside it, and riding to it, alone. This is one reason I’m doing this – to have these experiences in as many places as I can find.
Then, later, still on 13 and beside the road, odd formations began to appear, usually with a reservation home or two in near sight.
Abruptly, the desert stopped and the mountains started. Within twenty minutes we were above the snow line. I thought of home.
The twisties were open on the way up and tight on the way down.
Further down, snow gone, it was OK to put her on the kickstand without a fall over and take a pic. Look at the tree angle directly away from the camera.
And then at the bottom of the mountain, it started doing this
Then back to the plains. Pic looks back over the town of Lukachukai.
Gas and a meal at the first Navajo town we’ve passed on the reserve. Meal = map, minitacos, milk.
Then, Canyon de Chelly. I’m stumped here because arriving at 3:00 the light was dull behind gathering clouds, and every minute that passed made for worse pics. So you have to imagine. TH had told me this was a must and it was. I’ll write about it another time, but I think the point is that de Chelly is an enormous no-gaps artifact combining a near perfect view of the physical living experiences of a tribe, the Anasazi, condensed in an oasis of creative opportunity, and the beyond belief structure of the place, all of which you can see. It’s a huge, and with some visually informed imagination, a near complete story in one shot, and that didn’t come by ever, I didn’t think. Enough on this, words don’t do it. TH didn’t even try hard, and he’s good with them. I actually don’t have one good shot compared to all the one’s you’ve seen, but here’s one of a cliff home.
The land they farmed and lived on, surrounded by the huge enclosing walls made me want to live it
So we stayed until the sun went down
Then on to Chinle.
Canyon de Chelley is beautiful but try not to miss Arches National Park in southern Utah. It is a wonder.
Missed it this time, too cold.