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2008 West Vacation - Southern Utah and Colorado, Part 7

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Map_2007SW.jpg
My 2008 West Vacation. 16 days, 4596.3 miles.
Day 11, Grand Canyon National Park to Monument Valley, UT

Day 11. End of day miles: 2724.5. Hotel: Gouldings Lodge, Monument Valley, Utah.

Grand Canyon National Park, Day 2 - September 22

We check-out of Maswik Lodge at about 7:00am local time, we want to be in Monument Valley for the 1pm 1/2-day Monument Valley tour at Gouldings Lodge. (The tour actually didn't start until 4pm, but we didn't know that. :-))

We stopped at a couple of viewpoints on the way out, and they were all pretty much empty. On the other hand, the sun isn't high enough to really light the canyon yet. About half-way out of the park, the sun starts to illuminated the peaks in the canyon. We actually find a place we had taken pictures in 1997, and took one to see if it looks similar. We then boogied out of the park.

First stop, Cameron, AZ, to get gas at the Shell station. I have enough gas to get to Gouldings Lodge, but gasoline isn't something you take for granted out here. So I fill the tank. Take a walk over to the gift shop, mainly to use the bathroom. They have a HUGE gift shop, we cover maybe 1/3 to 1/2 before we leave. We're in a hurry. And we didn't have to be, but we didn't know that. :-)

Grand Canyon National Park, Day 2
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US-160 / US-163 - September 22

Stop in the Tuba City McDonalds for a bite to eat. We assume they're making breakfast, it's 9:30 am. So I get a #1, a Egg McMuffin, but much to my surprise, they were actually serving lunch, and got a Big Mac.

The Painted Desert moves by quickly, and we're soon at Kayenta. Turn left on US-163 and about a half-hour later, we're at the Utah border, where we suddenly lose an hour as we get back on daylight savings time.

US-160 & US-163
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Gouldings Lodge
View of Monument Valley from Gouldings Lodge.

Gouldings Lodge, Monument Valley, Utah - September 22

Get to Gouldings, check in, make reservations for the (now known) 4pm Monument Valley tour, which leaves us plenty of time to explore the Resort. The room is nice, on the 1st floor, where your car trunk is 6 feet from your door.

The views from the front door as you unload the car are cool, but the views from your balcony are amazing, John Fordian views. They stagger the heights of the hotel rooms so each has an unobstructed view of the Valley.

First things first. Check e-mail. Goulding's wireless is very good, at least where I was. (And I was in the middle of nowhere.) We are finally out of the water we brought from home, and they have a grocery store here...

Alton Brown Fans: If you've seen the Bonus disc from Feasting on Asphalt (the original), the place where he's at a grocery store, where he bought the mutton, etc. for the Navajo dinner, that's Gouldings Grocery Store. But I didn't know it at the time. Oh bother.

So we drive down to the store, and are amazed at how well stocked it is. I buy a piece of strawberry whipped cream cake that flies out of the refrigerator case into my arms and tells me that I have to buy it or hundreds will die tonight. Okay, maybe that didn't happen, but I still buy it.

Take a tour of the museum, which was actually the Goulding's residence. It has some very cool Duke/Ford photos, as well as a map of where all the films have been made, from the Ford pictures to Back to the Future III... Got a shot glass at the Trading Post, and then have some lunch at the restaurant, which is right across the street and up some stairs. The way the place is laid out on the side of a hill, it seems there are stairs whenever you cross the street. More Navajo Tacos. Chili instead of beans. Still very good (I really like the fry bread), and the tour trucks are open to the air...

Gouldings Lodge, Monument Valley, Utah - September 22
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Monument Valley Tour, Part 1 - September 22

The tour turns out to be about 3 1/2 hours. It's a very good tour, but the dust is terrible. It's not really dust, but very fine sand, even finer than the stuff we ran into at Coral Pink Sand Dunes. The auto lens cover on my G9 started sticking, maybe it'll fix itself. I'm worried for my equipment.

If you ever take this tour, bring along a paper bag or well worn plastic bag to protect your equipment. (A new plastic bag will generate static electricity and attract the dust.) If you think you're going to take video or pictures from the truck while it's moving, think again. A "road" out here is a relative thing.

If you've got a 4x4, you might be able to do the 14-mile tour, but I wouldn't try it in a car. Not only is the road not really a road, but there are places that would have bottomed out my car. I suspect it's kept that way on purpose, so you'll be inclined to take one of the Navajo tours, using someone else's vehicle.

The iconic red towers of rock made famous by Hollywood are stunning against the blue skies. On the other hand, this place is a desert, and you can see for miles, and the stone monuments are larger than you think (some are over a thousand feet), so your sense of scale is a bit off.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Tour - Part 1
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Monument Valley Tour, Part 2

Many of the extended/extra-charge tours takes you off the 14-mile main loop, to areas still private on the reservation, such as the arches, pictographs and petroglyphs.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Tour - Part 2
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Monument Valley Tour, Part 3

We're starting to get that warm afternoon sunlight that lights up the red sandstone. At some point, we rejoin the 14-mile public tour loop.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Tour - Part 3
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Monument Valley Tour, Part 4

Our tour vehicle gets a flat 3/4 of the way through the tour, and if anything the replacement vehicle has a crappier suspension. If possible.

The tour guide was okay, but talked in this monotone, droning voice, which got more irritating the more PC he got. We couldn't hear him in the second vehicle, and I'm not sure anyone was upset.

We get back to the lodge after dark. I wipe my face, and the washcloth turns orange. Jo asks why my face is so dirty, I tell her to do the same, and her washcloth turns orange. She decides she has to wash her hair that night. Socks (where exposed) are orange, shoe laces (once pink) are orange, even Jo's q-tips after she cleans her ears are orange.

Jo checks her e-mail and I lie down for a couple of minutes. Jo later tells me I zonked out for 20 minutes, but I think she's lying. We split that strawberry whipped cream cake we bought at the grocery store, and call it a night.

Yes, the Monument Valley dust sucks. But I wouldn't let it stop me from taking the tour...

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Tour - Part 4
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End 2008 Southwest Vacation - Part 7.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

Revisions:
  • 02/25/2009 - Initial Deployment
  • 08/15/2013 - Update to v3.11
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2