Time travel takes a lot out of you

So do temperatures over 110 degrees (yes, even with no humidity).

So by the time we had crossed the awesome loneliness of the local landscape into Monument Valley, we were greatly diminished as a group. So much so, that we feared Goulding’s Lodge, which sat as an oasis in endless miles of red sand and rock formations, was nothing more than a mirage.

Monument Valley

As the story goes Harry Goulding brought movie director, John Ford, to his trading post in Monument Valley to see the landscapes here, and the rest is movie making history. The lodge was developed to support the filming of Westerns like Stage Coach, and John Wayne’s cabin is preserved onsite.

“How do you find these places?” Troy asked, and I have to say I was pretty impressed with myself for a minute. It was a really neat place.

That’s why, when I entered the office to check in and was told there was no reservation for us, I almost cried. The problem was quickly resolved however when I learned that our reservation was for a Goulding’s Campground cabin…just up the road.

And wow, what a cool cabin that was–refrigerated and comfortable, with a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping loft–all for a bargain price of $92. (Lodge prices are considerably higher.)

Gouldings cabinThe cabin was so comfortable that it was very difficult to get motivated to catch the last backcountry tour into Monument Valley Tribal Park, but we wolfed down a snack, and headed back out into the oppressive heat to board a non-air-conditioned vehicle for a tour of the desert. Really…we did.

It did not go well at first….the audio equipment in the truck was faulty, and our guide, Anna, was extremely soft-spoken. Plus, it was hot…so hot that when you splashed water from your water bottle on your face, it evaporated immediately. So hot, that I am certain that no matter what the folks on Mythbusters might say, you could fry an egg on the red rocks.

Our first stop was a tourist mock-up of a hogan, a traditional Navajo home, and a demonstration of blanket weaving and hair braiding by an older Navajo woman, who agreed to have her photo taken. Due to lack of audio, I would say we didn’t get a lot out of that portion of the tour. And Anna (the guide, not the daughter) later admitted that not many of the 200,000 Navajo still live in these basic shelters, which offered shade, but no air-conditioning.

And it was getting hotter….

By the time we reached the next stop for a photo op at “mittens” (two rock formations that look like mittens), the Cawley family was becoming increasingly, um, Goth, in our outlook and demeanor, but there was no turning back. We still had three hours of desert touring ahead of us.

Perhaps, it was that the audio improved, or the sun started to ease up (a tiny bit) or that a breeze blew regularly across the open-air vehicle as it bounced over the sand paths of the park, but for whatever reason our attitudes improved greatly as we traveled through one of the most spectacular landscapes I’ve ever seen.

There aren’t really words for it–for the sheer size of the buttes and mesas, the changing colors, the wild horses running across unpopulated sands and the shadows cast on cool coves as the sun began to set.

The pictures will have to try to tell that story….

When we got back, we showered quickly and had a relaxing dinner, including Navajo tacos on fry bread at Goulding’s Stagecoach Restaurant, where we watched the buttes disappear into darkness.

Then it was back to our cool cabin, where the kids giggled maniacally in the loft for several minutes before fading off to sleep, hopefully dreaming of red dragons and lumbering elephants in a hot and magical land.

Kids in the loft
Pictographs - Dr. Seuss Was Here!
Elephant Rock

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