After Oakland I went to the south west. The world of cowboy films and my childhood. I played cowgirl when I was a kid and was raised with the idea I was a 16th Cherokee (later to find it was a lie from great grandparents). I imagined living with the tribes and other child dreams in that Genre. I fought with the tribe and with Wyatt Earp, Billy the kid and Doc Holliday. Therefore I had to see the places of my fantasies.
I started in Albuquerque, where I met my friend Mark. We know of another from Oakland 24 years ago but really met in Bath, UK this past April at a reunion of old friends. I could go into the details of how that unexpectedly happened, but that’s not my story here… Anyway, after 7 months we finally met again and as if we last saw another only a few weeks ago. I finally saw his historical and slightly haunted home (from the 1800s) and met his fabulous dog/wolf of who I fell in love with – despite the plumes of statically charged hair that stick to everything possible. Black clothing is not wise around this pup- took 20 minutes to remove the hair from one sweatshirt before I left on my 6 hour journey west to Oljato-Monument Valley (Oljato-Monument is on the Navajo reservation – aka Dinè as I’ve been told they call themselves).
In 2005 I had planned a road trip around this stop with my friend Kriddel. We started in NY and drove to LA. On the way from Santa Fe, NM we took a wrong turn… 4 hours wrong!We had to get to las vegas to get our motel room or we would have lost it (it was the last Motel in the middle of Las Vegas. We wanted the trashy old school feel). Therefore, I had to postpone my dream of seeing monument Valley. I was so sad and slightly annoyed with myself- my mistake. It’s not an easy place to get to, but then came Mark and 14 years later another opportunity! 6 hours from Albuquerque was the best option I had yet found combined with a sweet catch up.
I drove towards The Valley with dog hairs still flying past me and omg! I thought the isle of skye was unbelievable. It was so breathtaking, that I almost drove off the road! Not a good idea in a desert.
During the drive over, I was hoping my cabin was going to be as in the photos but prepared for the worst. It is so beautiful there, that I would have been happy with just clean.
As I turned onto Navajo drive, I was glad I rented an all-wheel-drive SUV. The roads were only of red dust and up a steep hill. I kicked the 4wd in and woohoo, that was fun!
Along the road were very few houses and a few tiny cabins – all sweet and mine better than the photos! The view even more splendid. After I got myself situated, I sat on the porch watching the sunset over rock formations that are so massive, it’s difficult to fathom.
At night the moon and stars lit up the earth. The forms of jutting rock are slightly visible in front of the starry sky and of course, sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette I saw a shooting star pass. I closed my eyes and imagined a campfire, listening to the sounds of the dogs barking as the day closed.
I then decided to make a fire in the wood stove in the cabin. It was 55F out and without a heater, I thought it wise. Now, because I don’t really know what I am doing, I put too much wood in and was melting like it was June in November! Typical.
The following day I woke with a freezing room (because it burned too fast) and a swollen throat (turned into Strep a few days later)… with a 3-hour tour ahead (no Gilligan’s Island reference here…). I went to breakfast at Goulding’s lodge and trading post (historic point in the area) because I was told that’s where all the locals go. I got Navajo friebread! Omg! Fabulous. Then drove to the Navajo park to meet my guide. I showed up to meet Bobby and he found no reservation from me. He snuck me in anyway.
Off we went in an uncovered wagon attached to a suv with a blanket on my lap. It was exactly what I needed because I was feeling so sick.
3,5 hours went fast. It was beautiful and culturally enriching and so worth it. Bobby and I talked a little about his life and not just generalities.
It’s another country on the reservation – the original and surrounded by the occupiers.
After, I went to the Navajo Community Center instead of some tourist place to have lunch. Mutton soup with frei bread dumplings… I gained 2 pounds there!
Later I met Skye (26?)- the owner of where I stayed. He is half Dinè, studied business in Germany and returned turning his dads land into a business. He told me how Land is given out and they can use it for whatever they wished. He said it is like a different country on the Res.
Everything is done differently there than in the rest of the US. It’s peaceful and everyone is kind. There is more respect in Oljato. Would be nice if that spilled over to the rest of the states.
As the day closed and I prepared for the long drive to Tucson, I sat one more time on the porch watching the sun set, realizing how lucky I am to live this fucking amazing life and to experience all this beauty. Then I lit the fire, and couldn’t get it started at all! Oh well, at the end of it all, I’m just a city girl.