Day Thirty Three – Thursday, September 22, 2016

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If you have been following along faithfully, back on Wednesday, when I posted Day Thirty Two, I mentioned at the end of the blog, that we were staying with our friends Nancy and Mike in El Paso, Texas for the next two nights, and there might be limited internet access. Well, there was, but not like we had limited internet in Yellowstone…this time we were just having too much fun to worry about a blog. More on that later!

We woke on day 33 in Roswell, New Mexico, having not been abducted or in any way harmed by aliens. I guess it must be a lot of BS, because the only aliens we saw were pictured on the advertising signs of various businesses on the main street! We were staying in a brand new, and beautiful Comfort Suites, and although the room was lovely, the breakfast room left a lot to be desired. The chairs looked like they had been through years of service, and were covered with butter, cream cheese, and other stains we didn’t want to think about. We couldn’t help but wonder why such a beautiful, new, and generally well appointed hotel, had chairs that looked like they’d been through the mill! Oh well, perhaps they ran out of money!

The day started after leaving the hotel with a stop for at a self-service car wash, for a quick cleaning of the outside of the car (you’ll see how useless that was), and then to fill the Sonata up with gas. After those two brief stops, we were out of town, and on our way to White Sands National Monument.

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The drive was more up and down, and at one point Susie was driving and exclaimed, “Are we ever going to stop climbing?” The next thing we passed was a sign stating Elevation 8300 feet! We continued on our way, on a rather unremarkable road towards White Sands. One interesting thing was a sign we passed on Route 70. White Sands National Monument is a small part of the White Sands Missile Range, and when they do tests at the range, they close the road so no one is close to where perhaps there could be debris, should something go wrong. It is a test, after all!

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We drove a little more on 70, and came to the White Sands National Monument. We went into the Visitor’s Center, looked at the exhibits, and watched a movie. I have to say, that it was’t the best Visitor Center we’ve seen, and the bathrooms were way below the usual, US Park Services usual condition and cleanliness standards, but they did serve their purpose. Then we headed towards the 17 mile Loop Drive.

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My first disappointment, when we pulled up to the entrance station was that IT WASN’T MANNED! Damn..no one to show my Senior Pass to! The second disappointment, was the first 2 or 3 miles of the Loop. We were driving at 45 MPH through low vegetation, and although you could see that the “ground” under the vegetation was white, I thought, “Is this all there is?” Well, it turned out that it wasn’t! Very soon, we came to a sign that said Pavement Ends..drive with caution! The text thing we knew, were were driving on the sand, and it was truly a magical world we had entered!

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For folks like us from the North East, for all practical purposes, it looked like snow! So white and pristine, it looked like that first drive you take after the snow stops, and before the the beautiful white snow turns dirty and gray! Not only did it look like snow, but it was very obvious that they plow the “road” to keep it open! The thing that really didn’t track with what you were seeing, was the folks out and about were in shorts and t-shirts! Well, it may have looked like snow, but it was 94 degrees at the time, so even dressed as they were, I’m sure they were hot! Of course, you’re driving on sand, so that car wash I did in Roswell was $2.75 ill spent! Of well, who knew exactly what we were going to see?

After that it was time to head south, out of New Mexico and into the great state of Texas. We drove into it late in the afternoon of Thursday, September 22nd, and the Sonata will live in Texas till at least October 17th (I say the Sonata, because for two weeks from October 2nd till the 16th, Susie and I will be in the Caribbean on the Liberty of the Seas, but the Sonata will still be in Texas waiting for us). We exited New Mexico, after 5 nights, at Las Cruces on Interstate 25, heading to El Paso, and our friend’s Nancy and Mike’s house!

The Mike I’m talking about is Mike McKay, who was one of the last DJs on Musicradio 77, WABC in the early 80s. Mike and I worked together a lot, both doing music shows, doing field interviews (our notorious Kenny Rogers interview at the Meadowlands), and baby sitting the NY Yankees games on WABC. When the station went talk, Mike stayed on to do Staff Announcer work (commercials, promos, etc), but he had gotten in radio to be the guy on the air, and he left to pursue that. In the years since WABC, Mike, his wife Nancy, and their daughter Erin have lived the “itinerant DJ life” (Mike’s words), Working in places like Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Detroit, as Mike plied his craft as a DJ, and 19 years ago, they landed in El Paso. He first worked at KSET-FM, and later KOFX-FM, and in 2004, Mike became a part owner and Morning Show Host on 101 Gold, just up the road in Las Cruces. That’s what he did, till he retired earlier this year.

We followed the GPS as it took us off the interstate, through commercial areas of El Paso, into their neighborhood, and I will admit that Susie and I had a little trepidation. We hadn’t seen Mike and Nancy for over 30 years, and although they had graciously insisted that we cancel our hotel reservation, and stay with them for 2 nights, we wondered how comfortable the 4 of us would be together (they probably wondered the same thing). We pulled into they driveway, got out of the car, and as we headed towards their front door, the first member of the family we met was Sammy, their adorable little dog, who had hopped out of his doggy door, and came to greet us!

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We rang the doorbell and Nancy and Mike came and greeted us. Handshakes and hugs were exchanged (Mike and I hugged, while Nancy and Susie shook hands), and they invited us inside. The first thing that happened was we got a tour of their lovely house, found out that they were giving us their bedroom for the two nights, and then Mike started the blender and whipped up frozen margaritas. This relationship showed great promise. Drinks in hand, we adjourned to their lovely backyard, which has a pool and ultimate privacy. In minutes, it was like the last 30+ plus years had not happened, and we were all much younger, having fun in their old house in Malvern, Long Island! At one point, Nancy and Mike went in separate directions to make dinner preparations, and Susie looked at me and said, “this is good…very good.”, and it was.

We had our first home cooked meal in close to 5 weeks (Filet Mignon, Twice Baked Potatoes, Broccoli, and Bernaise sauce for the steaks), and it was a wonderful night of food, conversation, and great friendship (and semi frozen Margaritas). We sat around the dining room table talking till almost midnight, when the 4 of us realized we’d better get to bed. As our heads hit the pillows, and we drifted off to sleep, we had visions of a wonderful day with Nancy and Mike. Stay tuned for Day Thirty Four, and more of our adventure in El Paso!

Day Thirty Two – Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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Before I start out on Day 32, I need to close out Day 31. After the blog was done and posted yesterday, and we’d worked out our route for today, we turned on the TV. The TV was set to TCM and what do we come into but the middle of the great Lucy and Desi movie, The Long Long Trailer. This has been one of our favorite movies for a long time, and probably no small influence on this very trip we’re on. In fact, there have been several times, while driving up or down particularly hairy mountain roads, we have quoted some of the lines from the movie. Yes, we’ve seen it that many times! It was a real kismet moment!

So, today was museum day on our travels. We started this morning in Santa Fe with the New Mexico History Museum. This is a very nice museum that details the history of the area from way before it was a state. It speaks to what the Spaniards did to the Indian population when they first arrived, and continues through the Statehood of New Mexico. It also goes into the period of the Second World War and right up to today. A very well done and interesting look at the state’s history.

They also have a rotating series of displays, and one that I found really interesting was called Lowriders, Choppers and Hot Rods. It was a very well done exhibit and included several cars, as well as lots of pictures and video presentations.

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Then it was time for us to get out of town. As we followed our GPS friend, she took us past the Plaza and down the street we’d started and ended the tram tour on yesterday. As it was almost lunch time, I said to Susie, “If there’s a parking place, let’s stop at the French place again for lunch.” She agreed, and as we drove down the block, a pickup truck pulled out of a meter almost in front of the entrance. Another kismet moment, so we had a better lunch than we’d planned (McDonalds was on our radar), and today had a couple of wonderful crepes.

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Our destination today was Roswell, New Mexico, of UFO fame, and our second Museum of the day, The International UFO Museum and Research Center. We traveled on a mostly deserted highway, passing but a few cars in the couple of hours we were on the road. What we did see was a weather mass off to our right, that looked like a mushroom cloud to us…perhaps influenced by our travels to Los Alamos a couple of days ago!

We got to the UFO Museum about 3:30 and spent a bit more than an hour looking at the displays and reading all the material they have. Susie and I both agree, if so many people have seen or been involved with what happened here, can you really discount it? I mean, how much do we really trust the government to be honest with us? Personally, it seems rather egotistical to me to believe that on all the planets and in all the solar systems they have discovered, we are the only planet with an intelligent life form. Who really knows???

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I have to give Roswell credit, they certainly do take advantage of all that the name Roswell, New Mexico brings to mind, and truly embrace the alien presence. From Arbys to Domino Pizza, to even our hotel for the night, Comfort Suites, they all play with it, and I think it’s great!

For dinner tonight, we went right across Main Street from our hotel to Tia Juana’s Cantina and had a great meal. The most delicate, home made taco chips and addictively hot salsa, several Mango Margaritas, and then Susie and I had Mexican Flag Enchiladas…one red, one white, and one green! A great New Mexico Dinner!!

Tomorrow, after 5 nights, we leave New Mexico, and journey to the state of Texas, where we will be till before and after our 2 week cruise on the Liberty of the Seas with Kenny and Chris (the ship sails October 2nd, and returns October 16th). That means, discounting the two weeks in the Caribbean, we will be in Texas till at least October 17th. Our destination tomorrow is the city of El Paso, where we will spend two days with our friends Mike and Nancy McKay. Mike was one of the last DJs at Musicradio 77 WABC, before it became Talkradio 77. He stayed on for a short period, voicing commercials, but his real love was being a DJ, and he did that until he retired recently. Mike and Nancy have been in the Southwest for a long time, and we are really looking forward to rekindling our friendship with two folks that we haven’t seen for over 30 years! Not sure how much “blog time” I’m going to have Thursday and Friday this week, but fear not, I will keep you updated on our journey!

See you soon.

Day Thirty One – Tuesday, September 20, 2016

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We woke this morning in Santa Fe, and split our day between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.

img_2137We started off the day with a Loretto Line tour of Santa Fe in an open air tram. We were very lucky, because this tour almost didn’t happen! We left the hotel a little before 9, planning on making the 10 AM tour from Loretto Chapel. Susie had read that they started selling tickets a half hour before the tour, so after parking, we headed to the chapel. We figured we were in like flynn when we were the first people to arrive, only to have a guy from the tour company show up and tell us the 10 AM tour was all sold out! He told us to go around the corner to the front of the La Fonda Hotel, and talk to Larry on the 10:30 tour, who had lots of tickets. Well, it turned out that we got the last two seats on the 10:30 tour, and sat there and watched 10 to 15 people turned away. We were happy that we’d just made it under the wire!

Our guide Larry had only been in Santa Fe for 11 years, having come from Seattle, but had learned to love Santa Fe, and his information during the tour showed that. He started off telling us about Santa Fe, how it came to be, why here, and who were the original inhabitants. Then we were off on the tour, first seeing the Historic District of the town, where space is at a premium, and where he told us some merchants pay up to $30,000 a month in rent!

Then we drove down Canyon Road, which is the Art District of Santa Fe. Larry explained how important the art scene is to Santa Fe, and about all the great things the galleries bring to the city. While we didn’t stop, driving past all the galleries, we were able to see the amazing large scale art work, that couldn’t fit inside the galleries, which were built in old historic buildings.

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Then we were on the outskirts of town, traveled down Museum Row, and to the place the Wagon Trains on the Santa Fe trail stopped. Larry explained that most of these wagon trains were full of goods to supply the merchants of Santa Fe or to be shipped down the El Camino Real to Mexico. As such, Santa Fe was the first trade link between the US and Mexico. To commemorate the spot, there is a wonderful sculpture.

One of our last stops was at the State Capital building, which unlike every other state capital building, does not have a dome. There was a very impressive sculpture out front of the capital building, which notes every Native American tribe that is extinct.

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Having skipped breakfast, by the time the tour was over, we were hungry. Just down the street from the tour stop, in the La Fonda Hotel, was a great little place. Called the French Pastry Shop and Creperie, they had a wonderful French menu, and we decided to have lunch there. Having heard about them for years, but never having had them, Susie and I both had Croque Madame sandwiches, and they were incredible. To stay in the French mode, we finished up lunch with a couple of Eclairs! A perfect lunch!

Then it was time to head to Taos, which is about an hour and a half drive north of Santa Fe. There were two things we wanted to see, the Kit Carson House and Museum and the Taos Pueblo.

Wandering through the Kit Carson house, we couldn’t help but think of our friend Kit Carson, who died two years ago, at much too young an age. I first met Kit back in the late 80s, when as a young struggling actor, he took a job opening Rush Limbaugh’s mail at WABC to make some extra money. Kit began doing more and more for Rush, and eventually became a very necessary part of the Rush Limbaugh Show. Eventually he met his wife to be, Theresa, got married, and had two sons. We’d had many good times over the years with Kit and Theresa, and it was a very sad shock when he died two years ago. If I’m not mistaken, Kit told me that his family was slightly related to “The” Kit Carson, and I always remember him telling me that his Dad’s name was Johnny Carson! Miss you Kit!

We enjoyed watching the movie and looking at all the exhibits at the Carson house, and before we knew it, we’d spent more time there than we’d planned, and it was too late to get to the Pueblo before it closed. Susie and I agree that the Santa Fe area is indeed a place we’d like to come back to again, and spend more time, so it will definitely be on the top of our next time list!

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Tonight we spend our second night in Santa Fe, and tomorrow it’s off to Roswell, New Mexico! Hopefully we won’t be abducted by Aliens, or even someone from outer space! Wish us luck!

Day Thirty – Monday, September 19, 2016

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I’m going to tell you a little secret. Over the last 30 days of our trip, Susie and I have become snobs! Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true, we like nice hotels! The Hampton Inn and Suites we were in last night is the kind of hotel that has spoiled us for the hotel we are in tonight! If you remember back a couple of weeks ago, we re-did a number of hotel reservations after a disastrous Rodeway Inn. Rodeways and Econo Lodges went bye-bye, and were replaced with Comfort Suites, Hampton Inns and Best Westerns. The one exception to that, is the hotel we are in tonight and tomorrow night, the Econo Lodge of Santa Fe, New Mexico. When we looked at the reviews for the hotel they were good, and when you consider that the two nights here are less than one night at last night’s Hampton Inn, it seemed like a no brainer. But, now we are here. Yes, the room is fine and the hotel is in a good location, but we are on the second floor and there is no elevator. There are very few lights in the room, no charging ports, and there is but one ice machine, which is also on the first floor (remember, no elevator). Not a bad hotel, but as I said up top, we have become snobs! Based on this, we just changed our accommodations in Roswell from a Rodeway Inn to a Comfort Suites…neither are run by aliens (and I mean the kind from other worlds)…we don’t think!

Today our target area was north of Santa Fe, the city of Los Alamos, New Mexico. If you remember your World War II history, you will recognize that as the home of the Manhattan Project, where they developed the atom bomb. One of our main reasons for traveling there today was the personal relationship it has to Susie. You see, during World War II, Susie’s Mom worked as a clerk typist for the government in the Woolworth Building in New York City. It was only after the bombs were dropped on Japan, that they all found out that they were working in the New York office of the Manhattan Project. She has a letter and a pin, thanking her for her service to the country, so we really wanted to see this place.

Our main stop of the day was the Bradbury Science Museum of Los Alamos. They have an extensive display about the Manhattan Project, and the continuing work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, including two movies. We enjoyed the displays about the Manhattan Project, especially the real history displays of folks who worked there during the war. Some were scientists, some military personnel, and some were just young woman who were looking to do their part for the war effort. One young lady was a clerk typist, like Susie’s Mom, and like Susie’s Mom, knew nothing of what they were doing. Her quote was, “When asked what was being made here, the answer was, “We’re making windshield wipers for submarines.” I really had no idea what was going on here till after the bomb went off at Hiroshima.” It was a nice way to spend a couple of hours and to get a better idea of what the Manhattan Project was, how it all really came about, and the controversies.

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On our way back to Santa Fe, we made another stop, one that I remembered from my childhood trip to California. You see, in 1960 when my Mom, Dad and I traveled across the country, we did so after my Mom and Dad finished the Cincinnati Summer Opera season. At that time, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where they were both members of the chorus, did nothing during the summer months, so members were in demand for various summer opera seasons around the country. 1960 was the first of five years my folks worked at the Cincinnati Summer Opera, and on our trip, we visited Santa Fe to see some of my folks’ fellow Met members who were working at the Santa Fe Summer Opera. On our way back from Los Alamos on US 285, there was an exit labeled Santa Fe Opera, and I had to see if it was anything like I remembered. To say that the Santa Fe that I remembered from 56 years ago is different than the current Santa Fe, would be a severe understatement. I have pictures in my mind that do not correlate with the large city Santa Fe is in 2016, and the Santa Fe Opera is no different. Turns out that since it started in 1957, there have been three Opera Houses, all at the same location, so this one dating from the 1990s would have not been one I might remember. We took the ride anyway before heading to the hotel.

Tomorrow our emphasis will be on Santa Fe, which is the second oldest city in the United States. The only one older is St Augustine, Florida, which we visited three years ago, even if all we remember is the Tini Martini Bar next to the Hilton Hotel!!

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At 7000 feet, Santa Fe is also the highest State Capital in the United States, and the model name of our son Kenny’s Hyundai! See, we have a lot of personal connections to New Mexico!

Have a good night…we will!

Day Twenty Nine – Sunday September 18, 2016

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After having breakfast at the Hampton Inn in Gallup, New Mexico this morning, we took care of a couple of tasks before we headed off on our way. The Sonata needed gas, and a car wash was in order too. So, after we took care of those tasks, we headed out of town. Our destination for tonight was Albuquerque, not a lot of milage today, so we had some time to explore. We decided to take a shot at Route 66 again, but this time New Mexico style!

According to Google Maps, Route 66 ran alongside Interstate 40 in Gallup, so we bypass Interstate 40, and of course went down a street that went nowhere! Unlike our original taste of Route 66 in Arizona, New Mexico doesn’t really seem to care if you find it or not! Eventually we did, and you can see from the pictures below, we did find some evidence of a different time.

We continued to follow Route 66 for some way out of town, till it dumped us on Interstate 40. At this point, we had no choice but to join the Interstate. But at several exits on the Interstate we found signs like the following, and stupidly followed them off the exit!

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I say stupidly, because there was no evidence of Route 66 once we exited the Interstate. My cousins Jeanne and Walt traveled Route 66 this past spring, and in his blog (https://adventure2016web.wordpress.com/author/adventure2016web/) Walt said that sometimes finding Route 66 took a bit of detective work. I know what he means. Twice we followed these signs off the Interstate, and the only evidence we found of Route 66 was a casino!

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At one point, getting off the Interstate we didn’t find Route 66, but we did find a Walgreens, and stopped and picked up a couple of necessary items. Susie thinks she’s getting a cold, so being safe rather than sorry, she picked up some cough syrup just in case. As she was driving at this point, she took one more try at finding Route 66, and as she said, “Third time’s a charm.” We actually found a sign directing us to Route 66, and after turning, were rewarded with a Route 66 sign!! Hallelujah!!! Of course, by this time, we were just outside Albuquerque, but we were rewarded with some neat sights.

After exploring Route 66, we turned our attention to Old Town Albuquerque, and explored some there. At that point, we’d had enough “Detective Work” for the day, and headed to our hotel. We are in a Hampton Inn and Suites tonight, and have a room that justifies the Suites part of their name!

Tonight we are going to do something really different. We’re going to the movies! There is a 24 screen movie theater just a couple of blocks from the hotel, and at 5:30 we’re going to see a movie both of us have wanted to see since we first saw the ads..SULLY. Then in honor of today being National Cheeseburger Day, we are going to do something we haven’t done for years! We’re going to Fuddruckers ! Fudds was a go-to place for the D’Elias when the kids were smaller, but since the one next to Eisenhower Park closed years ago, we haven’t been to one. And that’s what day 29 was like….

See you tomorrow!!

PS – 8:01 PM, Mountain Daylight Savings Time

The movie was wonderful!  If you haven’t seen Sully, Susie and I encourage you to go see it!  It was a little strange watching all this New York action, from a theater in New Mexico, but it’s a great movie!

And the burgers…well Fuddruckers does not disappoint!!!  Happy Cheeseburger Day!

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Day Twenty Eight – Saturday, September 17, 2016

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First, a milestone. We have officially been on the road for four weeks, having left Mineola on Sunday August 21, 2016. That’s 4 weeks of hotels, four weeks of restaurant meals, four weeks of roadside attractions, four weeks of National Parks, four weeks of unforgettable sights, and four weeks, during which the two of us have spent every minute, of every hour, of every day of the four weeks together! The big news is that we are (A) still enjoying it and (B) still talking!!

There was another sunrise today, as we set our alarm for 6:30 AM, so that we could be up to see the sun come up over the other worldly Monument Valley! Thankfully, unlike the Grand Canyon, The Navajo Reservation follows Daylight Savings Time, so sunrise was an hour later at 7:05 today. Also, since all we had to do was step out on our private terrace, we didn’t have to get up, get dressed, and travel anywhere to see this amazing sight. As you can see in the attached pictures, it was indeed a great show. The sky first started to lighten, then a little hint of the sun comes up, and really not that slowly, the sun really makes it’s presence known! All this and the buttes, the mesas, and the mittens of Monument Valley made for the best sunrise we have seen on this trip. A word however, about sunrises in general. I told Susie that this is the last time I get up in the middle of the night, to see the sun rise over ANYTHING on this trip! This is an alarm free zone!

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Our Tour Vehicle

This morning we had a 9AM Back Country tour of Monument Valley scheduled with the Navajo Spirit Tour Company. So after sunrise, we got ourselves together, packed up, and checked out of the room. We met our guide, Will Cowboy (his real name) and the rest of our tour group in the parking lot, and after he told us a little about himself, we were on our way. I chose the Navajo Spirit Tour Company because this is a cooperative group, made up of Navajo people who conduct tours of this valley that they call home. Will’s family traces it’s roots back many generations in the valley, and he told us that his 109 year old Grandfather was born atop one of the Monument Valley buttes! This man was the real thing, and the information he gave us, the stories he told, and the sights he showed us on our tour proved that 100%.

The tour starts off on the same 17 miles off road loop of the valley anyone can do with their own car (no thanks), but then Will was able to take us into back country areas where only the Navajo people are allowed to go. One stop was at a demonstration village, where we watched a Navajo woman working wool and then making yarn out of it. Then Will explained the many different tools around the hogan (the traditional Navajo home), and the ways they made the various colors in the rugs. He also told us about how a Navajo man and woman got together, and many of the customs of his people. It was not only fascinating but also very educational.

Our next stop was incredible. It was a cave with a hole in the top (used in an Indiana Jones movie) that had the most incredible acoustics. Will had us lay against the wall, and showed us the different patterns in the rock, that made it look like a Navajo warrior, an Eagle, and even George Washington! Then he treated us to two traditional Navajo songs that he sung, accompanying himself with a traditional drum. What a really wonderful experience! Unfortunately, after this stop, we’d run out of time, and we had to get back. The 3 hour tour went fast as we stopped at many interesting places, saw beautiful sights up close, and learned a little about Monument Valley and the Navajo people!

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A couple of notes about the tour. At several of the places we stopped, local people had set up shops, displaying their wares. Will explained that these were people who lived in Monument Valley, and the items they sold were indeed Navajo made, unlike some of the items sold in the commercial gift shops, and every dollar you spent, actually went to a Navajo resident of Monument Valley. You remember Susie’s $1100 necklace from yesterday’s blog? Well, I am happy to tell you that Susie left Monument Valley with her Navajo jewelry. Three necklaces and three bracelets for the fabulous total of $77! Now that’s a good deal that puts the $$ in the right pocket! (And Will told us that the jewelry in the Gift shop comes from South of the Border…not the Navajos!)

Also, if you remember back several weeks to our tour of the Mormon’s Temple Square in Salt Lake City, you may remember the “know it all” tour member from Pittsburg. Well, today on our tour, we met his cousin from Tennessee, who tried to correct Will when we he was telling us where his people came from! Unbelievable!

We had a wonderful time on the Navaho Reservation in Monument Valley. If you ever get to this area of the country, Susie and I cannot recommend enough that you splurge and stay in the View Hotel in Monument Valley. The staff, the accommodations, the restaurant, and especially the view, are a once in a lifetime experience. We also have nothing but great things to say about Navajo Spirit Tours Back Country Tour, and if you are lucky enough to get Will Cowboy as your tour guide, you are indeed lucky enough!

However, all our Navajo Reservation dealings, were not as excellent as our Monument Valley experience. As we headed towards the New Mexico border today, Susie wanted to stop at the Four Corners Monument. This is allegedly on the spot where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. I said “allegedly” because Susie has read that this is not the exact spot where the 4 states meet. We really didn’t know that much about it, but it was only a slight detour, so off we went.

In our opinion, this was the exact opposite of the Monument Valley experience, in that this was a complete ripoff! First, we paid $10 to get it. Then we discovered that there is just a little concrete circle depicting the 4 states, but that it is surrounded by stalls selling things! In our opinion, this was nothing more than a bate and switch situation. We took a couple of pictures and left! If we were there 10 minutes, it was a long time!

Tonight we are in a Hampton Inn and Suites in Gallup, New Mexico. It was Susie’s plan to do laundry when we got to the hotel, and she was thrilled to find out that the guest laundry facility was just 3 doors down the hall from our 4th floor room. I was thrilled to find out that the ice machine was just next door to the laundry, making all our needs very convenient.

Speaking of convenient, the hotel shares a parking lot with a Comfort Inn and Suites and a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Susie was just saying today that she’s surprised at how few restaurants like Cracker Barrel, and Perkins we’ve seen the last 4 weeks. Since it was just steps away from the hotel, we took the “no-brainer” opportunity to walk over, and we had a very nice dinner. They have really great string beans by the way. Since this was the first meal we’d eaten today (we had some cheese crackers, Twizlers, and Swedish Fish in the car), we appreciated everything!

We realized today that the last time we were on an Interstate, was last Wednesday afternoon, on the way to the Grand Canyon, when Route 66 dumped us on I-40. It’s been only small roads since then, and virtually in the middle of nowhere. Since we left the Grand Canyon, till just before we got to Gallup, we were on the Navajo Reservation, so there was very few built-up areas. Tomorrow, we head towards Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Interstate 40 will again come into our plans.

See you then!

Day Twenty Seven – Friday September 16, 2017

Monument Valley

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The above picture is my work space for tonight…our private terrace at The View Hotel, in Monument Valley, Navajo Tribal Park. We are in room 213, overlooking the legendary valley where great John Ford movies such as Stagecoach were filmed. The monument Valley Tribal Park is over 91,000 acres of the of the over 29,000 mile Navajo Reservation. It’s a place that John Wayne called, “God’s Treasure”. Were we not on the Navajo Reservation, we would be just on the Arizona side of the Utah/Arizona border, in the Northeastern corner of the state.

We woke this morning in our Grand Canyon Cabin a little after 6:15, having hit the hay very early last night. If you remember yesterday’s post, we were up early for sunrise, then took the tour, and explored the rim trail, before heading back to the cabin. We had early cocktails last night on the rim, before heading into the Bright Angel Restaurant for dinner about 5:30. To be totally honest, we were pooped! Between not having a great night’s sleep, getting up early for sunrise, taking the tour, and then walking the trail when we got back, we were ready for an early night. We watched a little TV, worked on editing some pictures, and about 9:30 we headed to bed!

So after checking out, we headed towards the Eastern Entrance of the park. That took us on the Desert View Drive, and after stopping at several view points that we had not previously visited, and taking some more pictures, we exited the park.

Almost as soon as we exited the Grand Canyon National Park, we were on the Navajo Reservation. We expected the same kind of built up area we’d seen going into the Canyon via the South Entrance on Wednesday (multiple hotels, fast food restaurants, etc), but coming out of the East Entrance, there was none of that. It was a very desolate road, and we drove probably 50 miles before saw our first gas station. We really didn’t need much gas, but figuring I didn’t know what was ahead, I topped off the tank. At the same time, we stopped in a brand new Burger King and had a couple of Chicken Sandwiches.

It was early when we got to the entrance of the Navajo Tribal Park, so we kept going on US 163 for 13 miles, to check out something I’d read about online. If you remember the movie Forest Gump, you remember the scene where after running around the country, he suddenly decides he has done enough, and stops. That scene was filmed at mile marker 13, on the Utah side on US 163, and we took the trip to see what it looked like. Unfortunately, they were doing road construction, and there are highway cones all over the road, but we did the best we could. Take a look at some of our first views of Monument Valley.

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Then we headed back to Monument Valley, and checked into The View Hotel. To be able to sit here and overlook this incredible sight is just mind boggling. We have seen this view in so many great movies over the years, and to be sitting on this terrace looking out at them is unbelievable! We are looking forward to sunset tonight, and what the changing rays do to this magical valley!

We just had dinner in The View Restaurant, and then went back to the Trading Post, where Susie earlier had briefly looked at some Navajo jewelry. They had a sign on the counter that there was 40% off marked price, and as guests at The View Hotel, we got another 10% off, and had a $20 gift certificate. The lady helped Susie pick out a necklace and earring set that she liked, and then went to work with her calculator. I swear, she must have done computations for close to 2 minutes, before she turned the calculator to Susie and said, “this is what it would come out to be”. $1096 is what the calculator said, Susie said she’d have to think about it, which meant she wasn’t getting a Navajo necklace! Oh well, perhaps on Ebay!

It’s quiet and still now, as we sit on our terrace and wait for the sun to set at 7:25, and see how it changes the face of the valley. The $258 the room cost for the night, was well worth it for this view of the valley. We are both looking forward to tonight’s sunset, followed by the full moon rising over the valley, tomorrow’s sunrise, and then our Navajo Spirit Back Country Tour. Right now, we are looking at the last of the folks self driving their cars on the 17 mile unpaved Valley Tour Road. After the Sonata has faithfully taken us close to 6,000 miles already, and probably has 3,000 or more to go till we get back to Long Island, there was no way we were going to subject her to that. No, we will let the professional Navaho guide take us tomorrow. We may be dirty when we’re done, but the Sonata will leave the valley in one piece!

I’ll finish today’s blog with some pictures of the sunset and hopefully the moonrise, and give you a full report in tomorrow’s blog about our morning tour!

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