|By: Paul S. Cilwa||Viewed: 2/21/2020
|Topics/Keywords: #65thBirthdayTrip #Colorado #GardenoftheGods #SouthFork #Travel||Page Views: 2180|
|All about the second day of my 65th Birthday Trip.|
Today's route took us from Monument Valley to the town of South Fork, Colorado.
|Starting Point||Monument Valley|
|Ending Point||South Fork, CO|
|Estimated Driving Time||5 hours 42 minutes|
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Morning dawned chilly and fair, but it warmed up fairly quickly. The sun revealed a gorgeous 360� panarama of red rocks.
As the sun kissed more and more of the stone, I recognized strata similar to that I've seen in Grand Canyon. Look to the right in the photo below: That's a limestone wall. The ruddy color (more pronounced as the sun rose higher) is due to iron in higher layers—long since eroded away—leeching out and staining them. The places where slabs fell away are lighter in color simply because they have had less time to be stained.
We were hungry, of course, and decided to have breakfast at the Goulding restaurant.
Next to the restaurant, is John Wayne's cabin. He actually stayed here doing movie shoots for the many John Ford Westerns he filmed.
Gouldings has a whole thing going and a tourist could spend the day here without ever even going into the park, seen below in the distance.
But that wouldn't be us, and we got into the car for the 5-mile drive to Monument Valley Tribal Park.
Thanks to John Ford, who started filming here in the silent era and returned here again and again, Monument Valley is what most people in the world think of, when they think of the American West.
Kind of ironic, since so little of the West actually looks like this!
A lovely couple from Ireland offered to take a photo of Keith and me (after I took one of them). They were here, they explained, because John Wayne filmed here! The husband rattled off his John Wayne movie favorites, but omitted the most likely one. "The Quiet Man" I added.
"Filmed in Irleand, it was!" he agreed.
Then we drove down into the park on the very not-in-great-shape dirt road. No matter; we weren't there for the road!
The various monoliths have names, most of which Keith and I thought must have been given by Ford. Below are some shots of Three Sisters.
There are two similar formations called Mitten: East Mitten and West Mitten. This is one of them. (And I knew I'd be sorry I didn't make a note of which this was.)
They have trail riding, and next time we come, I want to do it.
Despite the fact that this is a tribal park, individuals live in sections of it. Navajo aren't allowed to own businesses on the "Rez" but they don't count small, family-run enterprises such as jewelry or frybread stands. This family, in addition to hiring out horses for trail riding, is raising sheep.
Because the rock walls tend to calve, leaving an arch to nowhere behind, many of the monuments take on a sort of church look...or, perhaps more accurately, the look of a sepulchre.
The Eastern half of the park is a little greener.
These ancient trees can be 1,000 years old.
The Loop Road swings back to the drier half.
But no matter how dry, life will find a way.
Finally back at the lodge, we ran for the restroom, catching a quick shot on the way.
Before leaving, we stopped by the Visitor's Center to use the bathroom, and I recalled that on an earlier visit some 20 years ago, I wanted to take a picture of the view through the windows here. But that was in the days of film cameras and the picture didn't come out. But now...!
And so...we left the park. And even though I didn't expect to take a lot more photos today—after all, what could compare to Monument Valley?—I did whip out the camera to get this photo of Red Mesa, which has significance to the Hopi (but not the Navajo).
We had planned to spend the night with an old friend in Salida, Colorado; but the GPS app on my phone, which has in general worked out very well, seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take to get there.
So we found a very reasonable lodge in South Fork and that's where we're spending the night. And we have a friend, who I will, for the sake of a good night's sleep, choose to believe died in a tragic accident that didn't involve any guns or hunters. (Perhaps he tripped off a cliff?)
Now, pardon me while I see if I can close his eyes.