Monument Valley & Four Corners - 03/21/2012

Published at 10:56 PM in , ,

In Monument Valley
 Today we continued our drive through northeast Arizona.  Most of this area belongs to the Navajo Nation, including Monument Valley.  Monument Valley is one of the most photographed places in the United States, and encompasses what many think of when they think of the desert southwest.

Inside the Burger King
We stopped by a Burger King in Kayenta to learn about the Navajo Code Talkers.  These Navajo tribesmen were recruited into the Marine Corp during World War II.  The Navajo language is a complex and unwritten language - perfect for transmitting messages during the war.  The Japanese were never able to crack the code, either.  The original 29 Code Talkers were awarded Gold Congressional Medals of Honor in 2001, and the remaining Code Talkers, over 300 of them, were awarded Silver Congressional Medals of Honor.  As such an important part of the American victory in World War II, it is a shame it took so long for these heroes to be recognized for their efforts.

The Navajo Hogan

There were also Navajo hogans outside of the Burger King.  A hogan, pronounced hoo-gan, is a traditional living structure for the Navajo.  Although many live in traditional housing today, the hogan is still used in some religious ceremonies.  These hogans were filled with common items used by the families that lived in them.

Buying hand-made Navajo jewelry
While we were looking at the hogans, we were approached by a young man selling hand-made Navajo jewelry.  It was very detailed and intricate - and Jim insisted on buying a necklace.  It is silver and a light pink stone.  Very pretty!  It was evident that this was a way for the young man to make a living.  He said he had tried selling jewelry at a flea market booth nearby, but there wasn't a lot of tourist traffic that day, so business was slow.

That was one sad part of the reservation - the poverty.  Native American lands are known for their poverty and alcoholism.  It was evident that these areas probably had the same problems.

In Monument Valley

When we finished at Burger King, we headed into Monument Valley.  What beauty! The sandstone formations were unbelievable - better than you can even see in the pictures.  We drove several miles into Utah (another state!!), and headed towards the Monument Valley Visitors' Center.  We decided not to go in, but to enjoy the scenery instead.  We got stopped at one point by some sheep that crossed the road while being herded by a dog.  There weren't any people around, though, so that made it really neat to watch.

Herded sheep

We eventually turned around and headed back into Arizona.  The drive to the four corners area was only about an hour and a half.  The Four Corners Tribal Park encompasses the point where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet in one place.

In 4 states at once!

4 States and two time zones!

We had a lot of fun here and stayed until the park closed.  There were several vendors set up selling their hand-made goods; they had everything from dream-catchers and jewelry to magnets and key chains.  Rachael bought a necklace and Chrissy bought a dream-catcher.  Then we took pictures in all four states (Colorado - a new state!!).  We had fun being silly and taking pictures.  Make sure you look at the Photo Gallery to see all of them.

Shiprock in the distance

After we left the Four Corners Tribal Park, we headed into New Mexico.  We passed a monument called Shiprock.  This is named for the large sandstone formation that resembles a ship.  It was formed from volcanic activity millions of years ago.  It plays a part in tribal religious ceremonies and legends.

It was a long but exciting day.  Tomorrow we are headed into Santa Fe to the capitol!

Lots of pictures in the Photo Gallery - check them out!

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