“And all around is the desert; a corner of the mournful kingdom of sand.” – Pierre Loti
I knew touring Monument Valley wouldn’t take me that long. A quick photo-op and a spin around the trail and back on the highway toward Four Corners/Mesa Verde. Everyone has seen the pictures. The Valley itself is beautiful. It looks every bit like the photos. They’re practically all the same shot. I tried to at least get a few different ones.
The visit started off a little rough with a $5 per person entry fee (not covered by my National Park Pass because it’s not a NP) which in my case turned out to be a $15 entry fee because (I didn’t realize until later) the lady at the gate short-changed me.
I see how this works. Clever girl.
As for the “park” itself, I was a bit disappointed by Monument Valley. Not so much in the landscape itself, but the flea market that the Native Americans have turned it in to. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand everyone has to make a living and selling their crafted goods may be their only source of income, but there’s a time and a place for that, and it’s certainly not around each corner on in the middle of a scenic trail. I get it. I understand that this particular attraction is smack-dab in the middle of Navajo country, but if I wanted to buy your goods, I’d stop by the gift shop instead of getting bombarded by yard sale tables at every photo point.
In fact, the pictures I really wanted to take required that you purchase a “guided tour” which put you on the back of a 4×4 pickup truck and took you on some of the roads off-limits to those on the “self-guided” tour. The self-guided tour roads were not maintained (not as if they should be) but there are no signs limiting the vehicles or even warning them for that matter that the trail is pretty rough at points. I almost had to push an old couple in a Town Car back up to the main road.
Having taken my tour-o-the-Valley, I was back on the road in only a few hours. Heading back to the main road, I stopped for gas within the Navajo Nation. It was pretty cheap (under $4) so I filled up. I put the nozzle in the Jeep, set it and forget it and start zoning out waiting for the famous “click” stop. The wind is gusting there pretty good and at times I’m leaning in to it so I don’t lose my hat. Not paying attention all of a sudden I’m being sprayed with what I thought was water. It wasn’t water. The gas pump didn’t have an auto-shutoff (click) and gasoline is pouring out of my Jeep onto the ground and the gusts of wind are spraying it all over me. Being zoned out, it took me a few seconds to realize what was happening. By that time I was covered head to toe in gasoline. Awesome. I immediately stopped the nozzle, shut it off, and put it back on the pump as I cursed loudly several times. Gas was still trickling out of my Jeep and down the side. I couldn’t change right there, or anywhere close for that matter. I tore into my pack of wet wipes and attempted to at least wipe the gas from my skin. I got in the Jeep and figured I’d get out of town a ways, find one of the billions of dirt side roads, drive down a mile or so and change my clothes. Well, every side road seemed to have a Native American residence on it. The scent of fuel on me was starting to make me nauseous. I had all the windows down and was holding my head partially out of the window as I was driving. I finally got to the point where I was about to vomit and I whipped it onto the next dirt road I came to. I drove a little ways down and I could see a house with cars off in the distance. I didn’t care. I turned the Jeep to shield me from the house, stopped and dropped trough right there. That was the fastest disrobing and wipe down I’ve ever done.
With my clean set of clothes (and shoes – it soaked them too) I sealed the gassed up clothes in a plastic bag. Maybe I’ll wring them out when I get home and fill my lawnmower. With that little incident taken care of, I was off toward a quick stop at Four Corners. Nothing really to see here other than a landmark that indicates you are at the corner of 4 different states. (the only place in the country that happens) Oh and of course, more yard sale tables. I was floored as I approached an admission gate and a sign saying they want $3.00 from me to go look at a plaque on a staircase sitting on the ground – especially since I just paid $15 to drive around Monument Valley. I don’t speak Navajo, but I do speak a little French; f@*k you Sir. It’s not as if $3.00 is a lot ( I hear it used to be $6), it was just a principle thing at this point. I whipped the Jeep into a U-turn just before the guard-house, pulled off to the side, right before the guard-house on the hill, affixed my zoom lens and took a picture as if I was standing right in front of it. I got what I came for. Good day Sir.
And with that I hustled on eastward to Mesa Verde National Park.