With my best preparation so far, I set off for Navajo National Monument. I had not heard of it until I pulled out the AAA Indian Country map – my favorite map. I highlighted places, wrote notes on the map – dedicated it for this trip.
Navajo National Monument is on the Shonto Plateau; its ruins tucked into cliffs of Navajo sandstone. It’s a beautiful drive through rock, juniper, and piñon. The monocline reveals acres of bare sandstone.
There are two campgrounds, but the folks at the visitors’ center said RVs shouldn’t go in the more primitive Canyon View. So I went to Sunset View Campground. All camping here is first-come first-served (no reservations) and is free.
I found a nice site – good view, but all asphalt (hot for the dog) and close neighbors. On a walk I met a fellow, Russ, who had just spent 12 years sailing the Pacific and was adjusting to land life again. He suggested that I try the other campground. He was going to move there – more room and no problem getting my rig in. Sounded good to me. When I got back to my site, the Connecticut kayakers (neighbors at Canyon de Chelly) were driving by. They too recommended the other campground. They had been here a couple of days and were leaving for Monument Valley. I told them I was going to Goosenecks State Park (Utah) next. And I changed campgrounds.
Canyon View Campground was wonderful. Gravel/dirt sites, views of the canyon, shade, and quiet – only about a dozen spaces. Such a different feeling. Even with my short stay at Sunset View, I thought I would stay only two nights (my usual minimum), but here I decided to just stay. No reason to leave.
There were many places to walk, but I was disappointed that dogs weren’t allowed on any of the trails, not even to overlooks. I understand not allowing dogs in the ruins, but not letting them be on the trail to cliffs above the ruins didn’t make much sense.
I spent a lot of time sitting at the picnic table writing. Or just listening – raven wing beats or wind in the trees.
Once I got settled in and relaxed, I realized the people who were moving in next to my Sunset View spot as I was moving out, were the Wisconsin couple who were next to me at Canyon de Chelly! And I didn’t speak to them. I messed up basic camper courtesy. I planned to walk over and talk with them.
There was a huge, military looking rig a few hundred yards away from me. The tires were almost 4’ high! The owners are a delightful couple from Europe. They started in Nova Scotia 11 months ago and plan to travel another 5 or 6 years.
I spend the days walking, writing, reading, taking photos, and watching the canyon and birds. In the mornings there was the sound of dogs and sheep to remind me this is Navajo country.
A few days out here and the rest of the world recedes. I can hear myself and ideas come well formed. A sense of something comes with a subject and a verb, not just a fleeting hint. Hints are so easily missed in a busier setting.
This was a most restorative few days. On to Monument Valley and beyond.