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Published: January 13th 2020
Whose idea was it to stay in a ‘traditional hoghan’...oh, sounds very romantic. Oh, let’s be ‘one with nature’, let’s get spiritual and learn about Navajo culture, let’s take a wee in the port-a-loo outside when the ground is encrusted with snow and it’s in the minus! Ha, romance?!? I’ll take fire thanks! More on that later...
The day began with a tour of Monument Valley with Navajo Spirit. The conditions were icy to begin with, and the whipping wind did nothing to improve the climate...lucky the car was heated!! We headed into the valley with our guide to learn about the valley’s inhabitants and its surrounds. And honestly, we were fascinated. You come to Monument Valley for the iconic vistas and the red rocks, but hearing about the inhabitants and their origins, as well as other people that lived in the area had us enthralled.
Our Navajo guide told us all about their arrival in the area, originally from Siberia, crossing in the last ice age, and eventually settling in the SW states, together with a ethic group that no longer exists, the Anasazi. We had never heard about this and were fascinated by their history and strong
cultural origins. It made the stark and beautiful red rock formations, highlighted by a smattering of snow, all that more haunting and breathtaking...well, until Eloise needed a wee.
A short drive to Page, where we made the somewhat ill-informed decision to consult the Bill Gates of the South West on the lack of mobile coverage we were receiving with the current provider.
After that sucked up a significant portion of life, without an improved communication result, we ventured to some more sight-seeing at Horseshoe Bend. Let’s say that there was more than one party who was happy with the newly-installed safety barrier over the gaping vista.
After another unsuccessful consultation with Bill, we retreated to our lodgings for the evening, the rustic Shash Dine eco retreat. Eco, you say?! Our small sampler of the Navajo culture and history from Monument Valley was enriched by a trip to this farm, where the owner can trace her origins back 20 generations - we were staying in her grandmother’s hoghan (traditional home). This was one of the huts she used as she herded her sheep in the area, all the way to the Colorado River.
Luckily for the fire-lover
amongst us, there was one source of heat against the sub-zero temps...and ample opportunity to play. Luckily for the animal lovers amongst us, there was a menagerie to entertain - mad goats (Nibbles and White ears, who Beeb got
to bottle-feed), sheep and lambs, horses, a very friendly furry cat (Bruce), and the most most MOST gorgeous tribe of dogs to protect all and sundry - Sammy and Gina (Maremmas) and Stormy (wannabe Maremma mutt). They did an admirable job of fending off coyotes all night.
The girls had a lovely time playing with Brigitte, the resident six year old who had ‘never seen Australians before’ before a feast of Navajo tacos and a raging fire, which put a small dent in the freezing conditions and the need to wave my privates out in the cold before bed.
A (very) brisk start to the morning and a visit to the menagerie - dogs were exhausted after their night of work, but ok with the repeated interruption of pats from two small (and two large) fans.
Next stop Antelope Canyon X to investigate a slot canyon in sub-zero temps. Alas, we were joined by a large tour group,
who were extremely intent on taking every photo of every angle of every person-combination available. We pushed through (literally) and used the quick-fire photo poses of the girls to get through the amazing (frozen) slot canyons, with their unique light capture and projection.
Another (highlight) trip to Walmart for some shopping and a drive to Bryce Canyon through some of the most snow-covered and spectacular scenery we have encountered. We are settled in our cosy cottage and looking forward to the next few days of exploration!
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