March 29, 2008

Canyon de Chelly Deuce & A-Half Tour!

I guess it's been much longer than I'd care to admit since I have ridden on the backbone of the Army's troop movers...the ageold 2-1/2 ton all-wheel drive truck. Kim & I were a bit concerned at first when we saw the $120 pricetag for the " 6-hour" (longest) tuor, but everyone said that's the one to take. You see, the Navajo own and control this fabulous place, and the only way to see the "inside" of the Canyon is with a tour or to hire a Navajo guide.

To say we got our monies worth would be a huge understatement...this was a blast! By far, one of the most fun and interesting adventures of our entire travels. Our guide was a great drive, and very well versed in the history of Chelly (pronounced "Shay") and his own people, Navajo.
The only way a vehicle can enter or exit the 60-mile long Canyon is through the River, and so we did! Driving in mud, sand, water, rock, boulders.....up steep grades, down....down...down, crashing, sliding, leaning so far to the sides you'd swear the truck was going over!
So, once again, the photo can depict the scale and beauty of this place, you simply will have to come & do this one day. So, I'll post a few photos, let your imagination go, and I even tred throwing in this video of the starting dive up the River into the Canyon.....but, sorry it would not load...I'll try agian later.

March 26, 2008

Kokopelli's Cave - Our 1st Anniversary!

When we picked up our trailer here in Farmington November of 2006, we had seen an ad for this interesting B&B, built into the face of a cliff, just outside of the city. Our first anniversary just happened to coincide with the stop for warranty work, so we booked "the cave" for our celebration.

This one-of-a-kind B&B has been featured on television, magazines, newspaper articles, and is considered one of the top 10 most unique places to stay in the world. A local geologist got the idea in the early 80's to house his office, but after blasting out the cave realized that his clients wern't going to drive out to the middle of nowhere, and hike down 80 feet of cliff face just to have a short business meeting. You can imagine driving up to this ledge, and saying "where's the office?" "oh, right there, just 80ft over that edge!".

As we climbed down the side of the cliff, Kim looked back with apprehension...."are you sure about this, dear?" The entrance to the dwelling is just in front of and to the left of the outcropping with the handrails that's above Kim's head in the photo. The brick walled structure above that is a storage area for equipment & supplies used to work on the dwelling.

Looking across from the top of the cliff way above from the other direction, the dwelling is barely detectable, blending into the rockface almost perfectly!

However, things change quite a bit as one enters the cave! Walking directly in, one is greeted by another rock wall, that is actually circular, with the living area to the left, and bath & kitchen to the right.

This sketch may help.... the entrance at the bottom right, balcony off the beroom to the bottom left, and as you can see, the rooms encircle a central "ROCK" core that was left to help support the cave.

As you enter the living area, you immediately notice the round kiva in the back. A modern-day version of the sacred Anasazi gathering area, provided a wonderful meditation spot complete with candles and a fire.

The bedroom has it's own opening out to a decl on the cliff face, where we enjoyed the wonderful view at dusk & dawn....

While Kim relaxed with her reading, I found the blast marks, layout & design of the structure interesting.

And of course, there's the rock jacuzzi! With a steaming waterfall, glasses of wine and oodles of candles, it provided that perfect romantic anniversary treat!
We highly recommend this place to all for any special occasion, or just an unforgettable visit to this area.

The Fly Room and an Anniversary Mistake

A few weeks back we saw on our calendar that we'd be in the Farmington area for some warranty work on our trailer right around the time of our first anniversary. Having bought our trailer in Farmington back in Nov. of 06, we decided that the dealer should be the one to do the few minor repairs that we needed done. What really needed to be done and why we are still there a week later in a whole other story. Sam will fill you in on that later.

Back to our first anniversary......

We made reservations at the Kokopelli's Cave while back in west TX. We remembered reading about it while in Farmington when we purchased the trailer. Neither or us are very good at remembering days and dates since we've been on the road. Somehow had the wrong date in our heads. We called up the hostess of the cave the day we thought we were supposed to be there to confirm our reservation. We were very surprised to hear her say that our reservations weren't till the next day!

Since we had the trailer in for repair, we had to find another place to spend the night - quick. We normally don't like to stay in hotels and motels so we started searching the internet for cabins or bed and breakfasts in the area. There were a few B and B's but nothing that appealed to us. We finally found a few fishing lodges that rented rooms. We called up to find out about availability and were warmly received by the manager on the phone. She was very excited about our interest and wanted us to know that this was not a luxury accomodation. She told us that she would not be there when we arrived and told us where to find the key. We made ourselves at home in the Fly Room at the Enchanted Lodge.

We ended up being the only people in the whole "lodge" all night. We had the outdoor hottub to ourselves and an enjoyable grilled meal on the patio.

Not bad for finding something quick!

March 25, 2008

Petrified National Forest and the Painted Desert

From the moment we pulled in to the Root 66 RV Park, we knew we'd found an interesting spot on the planet....from tacky abandoned motel rooms to bubba's with 4-wheelers with a local rooster in charge this place was sumthin' ! ...and it even boasted it's own pertrified wood sale in the front yard!

Oh well, I guess we deserved some place special....
but a short drive into the Painted Desert proved that we were indeed in a special place. No photo can do this place justice, but here's a couple to give you the feel for the vastness of the valey and it's beautiful colors.

The Park has done an ezxcellent job of restoring and preserving the circa 1938 Painted Desert Inn. The backdrop of colors & textures make a perfect home for this classic adobe structure.

The interesting glass artwork inside could not rival the architectural artforms of the exterior.....

Moving into the main part of the "Forest" showed us that the Anasazi had been there long before us. Looking at this image of "Newspaper Rock", filled with hundreds of petroglyphs provides no clue as to the actual height of some 30 feet!

As we drove through the Tepees area, our rig seemed to get lost amoung the massive figures surrounding us.
The most popular area in the Park is the Rainbow Forest. This particular section was far enough away from the railroad and highway to have been spared the onslaught of tourist looking to bring a chunk of the petrified wood home. Before the NPS took over, millions of pounds of the Forest were taken out by both tourists and commercial groups. As we entered the area, it was interesting to notice the "lay of the land". Here, across this valley, as the softer sands & earth are eroded away, the petrified tree hunks remain, scattered thourhout the area, as they once were across the entire Park.

The closeup to the left shows the continuous process as this large "log" is "eaten" out of the rock & sand by the forces of Nature.

Unlike many national parks, one is allowed to touch, feel and even sit on these relecs from the past. Kim & I enjoyed the many different "trees" scattered througout the Rainbow area.

Looking back through the photos this morning, I realize that I shot far too many "slices & chunks" of this colorful material. But I'll close with a small ampling of the many shapes, textures and colors that abound within this national treasure, and leave you with the urge to come and see this exquisite example of forces of nature at work firsthand.