After spending the night in the town of Kayenta, Arizona, inside the Navajo Indian Reservation we headed back to Utah and Monument Valley. This is one of the places I most wanted to see when the planning the trip, something about the pictures I've seen has been drawing me here for a long time. To see this valley in person, and take in the scale of these monoliths is awe-inspiring.
After crossing into Utah we pulled off into the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park to take a tour of the valley. We hopped into a jeep with an Indian guide for the tour, which included all the famous views of Monument Valley. He continually pointed out spots where John Wayne films and assorted TV commercials were filmed. He showed us the area where they built a drive-in movie theatre for Back to the Future III and filmed part of the intro for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. One of the highlights was seeing ancient petroglpths in a remote section of the park. Images of animals and arrows carved into the stone describing what life may have been like here thousands of years ago. The wind also worked it's magic here too and carved some impressive arches through the stone.
Our next stop was the Grand Canyon, several hours west across the high Arizona desert. Looking across the canyon at Desert View, it appears to go on forever. Millions of years of carving by the mighty Colorado River, countless layers of rock expose, and more colors than the eye can comprehend. We made our way to Grand Canyon Village by the time the sunset, and began the search for lodging. I started to worry when we overheard someone say they were staying in Las Vegas, since everything the area was booked up. We ended up with the last available room in the park, in the El Tovar Hotel right at the rim. This was also the most expensive hotel in the park, remember to call ahead for reservations. Since I didn't bring a jacket and tie we ate at the nearby cafeteria instead of the swanky hotel dining room.
Once it was good and dark I headed to the rim to watch the Universe. The cool night air changed to a warm breeze rising up from the canyon at the rim. Again the Milky Way was visible across a sky filled with stars.
Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain. Perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff, we are the Universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out. As we have both learned, sometimes the Universe requires a change of perspective.
-- J. Michael Straczynski, Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5 A Distant Star
Mileage Start: 3820.5 End: 4040.2 Day 11: 219.7 States Utah, Arizona