I feel like the L-rd has decided to bless me above and beyond the norm today, beginning with the two coyotes that I saw running full tilt across the highway. As I descended from the 8,000 feet of elevation at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the terrain slowly shifted from forest back to desert.
I do not claim to be an expert on the Navajo, also called the Dineh (or Dine, or Dinae), but for most of my childhood I have been led to believe that they did not believe in the private ownership of land, and that they cared greatly about nature. For this reason, I find it slightly ironic that just outside of the town of Page, where I stopped to get my oil changed, I saw my first Navajo power plant, as well as Antelope Canyon, the first of many natural wonders that they charge to visit because it is on “private property”.
I am a little sad about Antelope Canyon because I have always wanted to visit it, but I did not have the time or the money to see it this trip (at least that is what I am telling myself). Instead, I got back on the road heading for Mesa Verde. I spent a large chunk of the trip talking on the phone to my mom and dad and my friends Mary Katherine. I stopped briefly at a pull off on the side of the road where a lady built a stone house in the 1930s using natural boulders as part of the architecture. I drove right past the Four Corners National Monument, because once again, the Navajo Nation charges an admission fee.
Finally, around evening, I arrived at Mesa Verde. I have wanted to visit this place ever since I was a young child and learned about it in my history books. The cliff palace in Mesa Verde National Park is a pueblo village dating back to 1200 B.C. which is built entirely in the under clung side of a cliff (like a huge, shallow cave). The Mesa is both huge and beautiful, covered in dead trees and low red and yellow colored scrub brush. The road to the cliff dwellings snakes more than 23 miles from the park entrance to the terminal loop that passes the majority of the dwellings.
I made it just in time to see the cliff palace before sunset. It was breath taking to see the ancient architecture, still in a good state of repair after all these years, due to the shelter of the cliff. I spoke to Morine, a fellow traveler who convinced me to return in the morning to take the tour. She had spent the entire day at Mesa Verde and she insured me that the tour was worth it. I guess we will find out tomorrow!
As I made my way back to the rest stop where I will spend the night, I was surprised to hear celtic music on the radio. It was Thistle and Shamrock with Fiona Ritchie, one of my favorite radio shows, and one that never fails to make me want to move to Scotland or Ireland to marry a red headed, green eyed princess.
Maybe next summer….