July 29, 2010

Fun at Canyon de Chelly!

Trying to keep things both educational and interesting for 13 year old Jonathan, we had a blast today on the unique "deuce & a half" tour of beautiful Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Northwest Arizona.  What a unique collection of Anasazi ruins, fabulous views and interesting Navajo culture!  We load up early to hit the Canyon,

and, of course there's only one way in and out of the Canyon by vehicle, yep, you guessed it right up the river!

First stop was at some pictographs for a few minutes explanation from our well-versed host, then we're off through the water again, blasting & bumping along in our pre-WWII army vehicle.

Around the next bend are our first set of ruins, dating back some 1000+ years, they were discovered and protected due to the hard work of Earle Morris and his collegues.

We get a nice glimpse of "Cat Rock" as we motor farther up the Canyon for more adventures.

Ruins and pictorgraphs abound ahead, nicely preserved for us moderns to vist the life of a past culture.

Jonathan & Kim enjoyed the native crafts, especially the jewelry and beadwork.

while across from the displays, a group is set up painting the colorful canyon walls before us!

Heading in farther, we pass "Fortress Rock" where Navajo's fought off U.S. cavalrymen for some two months, only to be captured later.  http://www.navajotimes.com/news/2009/0609/060409fortress.php

We approach a very muddy area only to witness the tour truck in front of us get stuck!  and everyone had to get out as both our driver and the driver of the stuck vehicle shovel extra sand under the tires and successfully get the truck moving again... our tall-tired 2-1/2 tonner got right through without any problems.

The Canyon walls get increasingly interesting and diverse...quite a few Navajo families "own" property along the Canyon floor and we see several Hogans (summer houses) along the way as evidence of their presence.

We are now in South Canyon headed for our last stop of the day,

As we pull up before "White House" ruin, one quickly sees why it is so named,

we have a relaxing rest at this stop, and Jonathan & Kim have plenty of time to inspect more of the exquisite Navajo beadwork.

On the way out we see a nice group of native horses.  Many roam the Canyon, and are used to help maintain livestock in the area.

Out the way we came in, the sky has cleared and turned a deep contrasting blue, making for a nice final memory of the day's adventure!

July 27, 2010

Jonathan Hikes at the Grand Canyon!

It was late afternoon when we arrived at the Canyon, so we went straight to the Bright Angel Lodge, out the back door, and Jonathan got his first awesome view!  Conditions were a bit hazy, but I managed to get a couple of nice rim pix before it got too late.

The Mather campground at the village had availability, but lots of construction, so we opted to stay just south of the Park entry at Ten-X, a very nice Forest Service CG within minutes of the front gate.

Jonathan was anxious to "hike the Canyon", but not having any clue as to the depth & effort required, we convinced him that the hike down Bright Angel to the first rest stop at mile 1.5 would give us all a good workout.
We got a late start, about 8:30, but the temperature was fairly nice hiking down.

There were numerous opportunities for pictures, but again, the haze limited the colors a bit.  I did the best I could working with the light available.

The trail was fairly crowded, but we did manage to find a couple of nice curves that gave us some isolation from others and made for a nice pause in the effort.

At the rest stop, Kim found the "tame" squirrels were execellent beggars, and Jonathan got a kick out of the pack mule train passing by.

This vantage point also gave us a good look farther down the trail, and of Plateau Point (another 5 or so miles) far below.

Jonathan literally sprinted back up to the Rim, he knew I'd promised ice cream!  We all gobbled it down before I thought to take a picture, except for Jonathan giving one of the local beggars the last of his treat.

Next morning we headed East, along the South Rim, hit the visitor center, and got some nice views from  rock outcroppings there.

The finale was a stop at the Desert View WatchTower.  Kim & I enjoyed the walk from the parking lot to the tower, where many samples of the rim wildflowers were in full bloom.

Jonathan got a kick out of being able to see the River for the first time,

and especially enjoyed using the spotting acope atop the Tower for a closer view.

All in all, a short but rewarding visit to one of the world's most spectacular wonders.  And, there's no doubt in my mind that Jonathan will be back for a go at the rim-to-rim hike within the next couple of years!