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We’ve made it to the heart of mother earth, the spot that the Diné, the people, the Navajo consider the most sacred place in the universe. The spot is Monument Valley, a 91,696 acres natural beauty known for it’s iconic sandstone buttes that jut up to 1,000 feet into the sky from the flat desert floor. It’s been on my bucket list for decades, ever since I saw my very first shot of the place, an iconic black-and-white print by Ansel Adams that’s haunted and tempted me ever since. This is an area I have always wanted to see…and it does not disappoint.
Despite all my preparation, all this previous knowledge there are really no words for how magnificent and overwhelming this place really is. From the very first entrance to the valley where the road seems to track and disappear into infinity, to the very first glimpses of the towering buttes standing proud and strong in wide, flat desert nothing can prepare you for how small, how awed you will feel in their presence.
The scope of everything here is so very large, so very tremendous that it will leave you simply….speechless.
We arrived here two days ago and checked into the one and only RV park in town (Gouldings). The weather forecast was fickle and dreary, but we decided we would open up to the experience and take what it gave us. The very next morning I braved the sub-freezing cold to take some sunrise shots under heavy cloud. I awoke in the dark, bundled up to the T in 5 layers and stubbornly headed up to set-up my tripod on the road. I may have been the only fool out there (and I may also have lost a few fingers waiting for that morning light) but it was oh so worth it! What splendor to see the sunrise touch those elegant buttes and bathe the valley in its’ early light.
Later in the day, after I had sufficiently thawed, we took a tour with one of the local Navajo companies Spirit Tours. Our guide was a young local who was intimately knowledgeable about the history of Monument Valley. She told us about its movie links (there are many), Navajo legends (stories handed down orally from generation to generation), silver mines (now all lost) and also happened to be a professional Navajo singer (we were treated to a traditional song in one of the remote cave locations not open to regular tourists).
Despite many shades of grey clouds and even a sprinkling of rain it was a fabulous afternoon. The tours are somewhat pricey but thoroughly recommended. They take you to parts of the Valley not open to others and give you a deep and unmatched appreciation for the culture. Don’t miss out!
Sadly our short stay here is up and we’re moving on. We’re headed deeper into Utah today and may or may not have internet access for a while. For the next days I will give myself to the red rocks and the spirit of the ancient peoples. They say the Navajo passed through three worlds in various forms of being before emerging from Mother Earth into this world, the Sparkling World. In the presence of Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii, (“pale colors splashed in rock”), in this sacred valley, I can feel all those legends come true.
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