March 31, 2013

3/29/13 - Canyon de Chelly NM

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is entirely within the Navajo Reservation, and jointly managed by NPS and the Navajo Nation.  (Navajo families still live within the park, which is odd considering that the Appalachian settlers got kicked out of Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park when it was established.  ~Rant 1)

We decided we'd just have time to stop at the Visitor's Center, then all 7 of the overlooks on the South Rim Drive, plus one hike.  (Actually the only trail where the public is allowed to hike on their own is the White House Ruins Trail; all others have to have a Navajo guide. ~not a rant, just a comment.)
George at Tunnel Overlook
Farmlands from Tseyi Overlook
View towards White House Ruins from Junction Overlook

Canyon from White House Ruins Overlook
At the first few overlooks along the South Rim Drive, we had to run the gamut of Indians selling their artwork and crafts.  (OK, I know they live there, and it's their livelihood, even if the quality's not like you'd find at other places like Santa Fe--but it still seems weird to have vendors in a place like this. ~Rant 2)

It's fascinating to look down into the canyon and see fields that are still cultivated.  There are wild horses way down there too, but George had to point them out to me. We saw one horse grazing right next to the road--he's skinny and dirty so I figure he must be wild!   (We didn't see any of the really cool Navajo sheep though.) 

The elevation at the rim where the White House Ruins Trail begins is 6,300'--which is about 3,000' higher than we were used to in Arizona!  The trail goes down a little ways, then goes through a tunnel before it switchbacks downhill about 600'.  (Note:  the brochure and a trail sign says it's a 2½ mile hike, but there's another sign at the top that says it's 1½ mile one way.  Hmmm...)

We met a park ranger going up the ancient footholds dug into the rock, and talked to him a bit.  He said his 93-year-old grandmother still takes her sheep down into the canyon every day.  Wow!  (I want to be like that, only without the sheep.)

There are two cliff dwellings across the canyon:  built by ancestral Puebloan people about 1,000 years ago, the top one has a wall covered with white plaster.  (Who knew plaster was a decorative medium a millennium ago?)
We made lots of stops on the way back up to the top.  Juniper pollen was high, and George was having problems breathing through it.  Climbing 600' takes a while when you rest about 43 times. 
After the hike, we headed to the last overlook on the drive.  We wanted to see Spider Rock, icon for Canyon de Chelly.  It's the home of Spider Woman, who taught the ancestors of the Navajo how to weave on a loom.  
Tracking backward, we stopped at Face Rock Overlook, but we couldn't figure out which rock was supposed to look like whose face.  You can see several ruins across the canyon.  Instead of a map or a telescope, they have little pipes mounted so you know where to look.

Last stop on our tour was Sliding House Outlook.  Either the ruins were in the shadows or it slid the rest of the way off the canyon wall because I couldn't find it.

 More pictures of Canyon de Chelly NM

March 30, 2013

3/29/13 - Hubbell Trading Post NHS

After spending the winter in Arizona, I'm really excited to be travelling again! (You can't imagine how excited to be travelling again.)  Our first stop was at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site.  Actually it's just a minor detour in Ganado, NM, on the road to Canyon de Chelly Natl Monument.  Here we're crossing a little wash just off the highway.
Except for the cars instead of horses parked in front, it doesn't look a lot different than it would have when the Navajo traded with John Hubbell in 1876.  Tourists stop by for a history lesson, then browse or purchase some of the Hopi baskets, Navajo rugs, or turquoise jewelry.  A hundred years ago Indians traded rugs and jewelry and sheep and goats and horses for food. 

Go through the rustic front door... enter the Bullpen, which is sort of a old-west version of a convenience store.  This place is still a working trading post.
In the Rug Room, we found something for both of us.  Well, George liked the guns; I liked the rugs; we both liked the books.
The Jewelry Room used to be the Trader's Office. Now there are baskets hanging from the ceiling, and what must be the world's squeakiest floor!!
Click the link for a few more pics taken at Hubbell Trading Post NHS.