Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 4 - Painted Desert - Hubbell Trading Post - Canyon de Chelly

[Continuation of Day Three - Painted Desert] The road that goes through the PFNP also goes through the Painted Desert National Park (PDNP). The visitor center at PDNP is near I-40, that's why we went to PFNP first.

Most of the PDNP is designated a wilderness area. Unless you want to get a permit and backpack in, you don't go out into the PDNP itself, you view it from the many nice lookout points. That's what most of us old, retired folk do. The really nice thing is that we were there mid-afternoon and the sun was starting to work some nice lighting on much of the desert. To learn more about the Painted Desert National Park, you can visit their website by clicking here. Since the PDNP is part of the PFNP, you get to go back to the PFNP site when you click.

Once we got back into Holbrook, we went to the Wigwam Motel as mentioned before. While Linda did her letterboxing thing, John took some pictures of the grounds and inside the office. It's a very quaint, nostalgic place. They have old cars and trucks placed around the sixteen motel units. When you drive up, it just takes you back in time. Hope you enjoy the photos of the Wigwam Motel. Some of the old cars were used as inspiration for the animated cars in the movie CARS. So, out of all the seven Wigwam motels there are still 3 in operation: this one, one somewhere in CA and the original one which is somewhere in the south (Kentucky or Tennessee, I think).

We told you about Day Three's dinner in yesterday's post. Not yet sure what we're going to do tomorrow, but we'll find something. Count on it!

Good night!

[Holbrook - Hubbell Trading Post - Canyon de Chelly] Good morning on Day Four of our road trip! A balmy 22 deg, but no wind! Another complimentary breakfast and this time with pictures!

After breakfast, John got on the internet and started looking around for today's excitement. He stumbled (does that a lot nowadays) across a woman's description of her trip into the Navajo Indian Reservation to Ganado and Chinle. She described it as a day trip. Try a ten hour day! We whipped out the atlas and looked at the route. The pictures we saw on the internet made the trip seem worthwhile. It was!

Now, this is important information for those of you playing our Mileage Madness game. If you're currently uninformed about this game, you can see the rules by clicking here. This "day trip" would add miles onto our overall road trip. We took I-40 east to Hwy 191 at Chambers. North on Hwy 191 to Ganado. Continue north on Hwy 191 to Chinle, location of the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Inside the park we drove 42 miles and the return trip to Holbrook is identical. EXCEPT: We made a navigational error on the way and went an extra 52 miles. The good news is that we were on a scenic route and got a few photos. We also got a feeling for how many Indians live with a beautiful view but obviously in very stark housing. The bad news is that we saw that scenic route twice after we discovered our error.

We left Holbrook at about 9:17a.m. First thing you need to know about driving on an Indian Reservation is that they have an open range grazing policy. Horses, sheep and cattle may be grazing right along side the highway. Can you say "roadkill"? (But we didn't see any today.) It was also a little different to see so many dogs roaming free. On the reservation, they ranch and farm a little. Not much to graze livestock on in a 6,000 ft. desert. Although it was a very calm day, there were signs along Hwy 191 saying "Blowing Dust Next 15 Miles". We never saw any blowing dust. Lucky us to get such nice weather. Dwellings are scattered all along the route. Many are traditional Najavo hogans, which are hexagonal. Guess that's so you can't ever get cornered in your house. We also saw two coyotes and some bunnies along the road. Yes, they were alive.

Our first stop was the Hubbell Trading Post (a National Historic Site) at Ganado, AZ. John Hubbell purchased the trading post in 1878. The Indians developed a trust in Mr. Hubbell and his trading business grew and grew. It is the longest continuously operating trading post in the U.S. You might want to visit their website by clicking here. We saw a Navajo woman weaving a blanket in the visitor center. We saw blankets for sale in the trading post with prices like $4,600.00 and $8,000.00. Admittedly, they were very beautiful. Just a bit pricey. But, after watching that lady weaving a blanket, you definitely realize that it is a time consuming task that takes a great deal of skill.

They have livestock at the trading post as well. Sheep, goats and alpacas. The Navajo use their wool for the blankets. (Oops, Linda called it a llama when she was labeling the photos and can't change it now.)

We have some nice photos both inside and outside the trading post.

Next stop, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "de Shay"). There's a story here. The Navajo name of the canyon is Tseyi, which mean "canyon" or "in the rock". And, is pronounced something close to "shay". Over time, the Spanish and English mispronunciation resulted in Canyon de Chelly. There are actually two canyons here, Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto (you can figure out this one). We only had time to visit Canyon de Chelly. These two canyons split off of another canyon called The Chinle Wash, sort of like a "Y". The land on which the park exists belongs to the Navajo Nation. In 1925 the Navajo Tribal Council unanimously voted in favor of establishing this national monument. Congress passed a bill in 1931 officially establishing the canyons as a national monument.

Since the park is on tribal land, the Navajo are allowed to sell artwork and trinkets at the lookout points. Also, they farm and raise livestock (and live) on lands in the bottom of the canyon. You can see some of their farms in the photos. And, if you want to go down into the bottom of the canyon, you can hire a Navajo guide for $15/hour and rent a jeep, or drive your own. Lunch today was just the same as lunch yesterday. Nuts, a banana, apples, a granola bar and some fruit and nut medley.

This is a beautiful, out-of-the-way place. In that regard it reminds us of Big Bend National Park. It's not some place you just happen to drive by. You have to be going there as a destination. We want to take a non-scientific poll: Send us an email stating whether or not you have ever been to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Just click here to send the email. Our photos can't really capture the grand scope of its beauty and we think more people should visit there.

We have many, many beautiful pictures of Canyon de Chelly in today's gallery. And, you can visit the National Park Service site for Canyon de Chelly by clicking here.

The sun went down on us between Ganado and Chambers on our way back to Holbrook. We got a pretty nice shot of the sunset with some trees and rock formations silhouetted.

We didn't arrive back in Holbrook until about 6:30p.m. Dropped Maggie off at the motel and went looking for dinner. We had a card for 10% off at the Butterfield Stage Steakhouse. We went there (no one else there) looked at the very pricey menu and decided to go back to Jerry's which is just down the street from our motel. Jerry's is like a Cindy's, but not a chain. The glassware claims they've been there since 1966 and they were right on Rte 66. Linda had their salmon special. John was tempted by their ground sirloin steak. But, since he had that the night before, he opted for a chef salad. Both meals were just marvelous.

We're off to Prescott tomorrow (we've been told by one of you that it's pronounced like "press - kit" and just for fun have confirmed that on the internet). When we arrive, we'll ask a local "What's the name of this town"? Then we'll know. It reminds us of the Cambria pronunciation duality (the people who live there pronunce it differently that most of their tourists).

So long, for now. More tomorrow.

You can view today's photo gallery at by clicking here

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