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20071016: Day 7: Across the Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation/Reservation is an independent political entity. Although within the United States (and covering parts of 4 of them), it is essentially its own country. Maybe that's why Google maps didn't have the Navajo Nation roads that we took.
Window Rock to Flagstaff, New Mexico. This map looks different because didn't have the Navajo Tribal Roads! I used for this stretch across the reservation.
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But, this is how the day went:
I heard pounding in my dream. No, wait! I hear pounding on the door. I glance at the clock and blearily see that it is a bit after 6 in the morning.
More pounding. I throw off the covers and find and don my trousers before I open the door.
"Yes?” I ask the young Navajo man politely.
He steps back and says politely, "Sorry, wrong room.”
I grumble under my breath and crawl back into bed. But I am awake. My restlessness wakes Karen.
By seven, she suggests seeing the sunrise at Window Rock. I get up and dressed and bundled up (it's cold up here at 6,800 feet in October), and wait in the car. The clouds in the east are already pink.
Up at dawn at the Navajo Land Inn and Suites (formerly Days Inn) in St. Michaels, AZ the gateway town to Window Rock.
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Dan at pre-sunrise Window Rock
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Between the crack of dawn and sunrise, Karen considers each name on the Navajo Nation War Dead Memorial at Window Rock.
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First touch of light on Window Rock in the morning
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Karen took this shot of the newly lit rocks over the picnic area at Window Rock. She was taken by the blue-glowing table tops. But her camera couldn't capture it.
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A half hour later, Window Rock now is well lit, as is the Code Talker memorial (lower left)
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Karen joins me and we race (at the speed limit) to Window Rock about 10 miles away. The clouds are wrong for pictures. But once the sun hits it, it is worth the wait. We stay until after eight.
Traditional Navajo hogan in front of the Navajo Museum Library and Visitors Center at Window Rock. This fascinating modern building is not so much for tourists as to help educate the young about their own cultural heritage.
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Sculpture in front of the Navajo Museum. Note the U.S. silhouette base it stands on.
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This is the local market at Window Rock. This early on a cold morning, it isn't jumping, but several truck vendors are set up, and some of the food stands are open.
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M-m-m-m, Fry Bread, Mutton Burrito with egg, and a corned beef chile burrito for breakfast. Well, we'd been up for hours.
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Then we head to the Navajo Museum, and spend an hour reading about Navajo history and humor.
Then a stop at the Ch'Ihootso market for a breakfast of mutton burritos and fry bread.
Finally back to the room to pack up and get out by 11.
First stop: The Saint Michaels Mission Museum. After all, we were in the town of St. Michaels.
The alter at the old St. Michaels mission. Note the 18th century illuminated bible pages. Those Franciscan's kept busy, though. This mission has been active since its inception.
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The new St. Michaels mission building, as seen from the front of the old.
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The bleeding man himself greets us as we ascend to look around the new mission.
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Then on the road. State Road 264, that is. First we pass through the Navajo Tribal Forest. Forest? Apparently, a small patch of the reservation is moist enough for a cedar forest. We drive on to the Hubbell Trading Post Nat'l Historic Site.
At the Hubbell Trading Post, they still have the bread oven that baked for the settlers and passers-through.
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Note the modernity of the doors on the bread oven, out in the elements all these years. It gives an indication of how dry it is out here.
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Karen rides a mower in the courtyard of the trading post.
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Front door of the Hubbell Trading Post. I'll describe the interior in the Log.
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After walking about, and buying some spicy asparagus, we get back on the road. Navajo Nation 15, this time. We have a navigational failure during a jog on Navajo 6. We spend 40 minutes going almost back to I-40, and back up to where 15 continued.
Mottled light on mottled mountain on the Navajo res. Pretty, but indicates wind and rain.
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This cinder cone weathered into a pyramid with interesting markings.
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Scattered showers, highlighted by a beam of sunlight.
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Looks like a lonely butte
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Long road to the pastel mountains on the Navajo Reservation. Note the adobe-colored blister just left of center.
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Then we stopped at a Birdsprings Chapter House. Tsidi To'ii in Navajo. This is an unusual dome building that serves as a community center and senior center.
So we stopped in at the Bird Springs Chapter House.
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This dome is a new architectural style that may be durable, but has won no hearts among the people.
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Handicapped entrance, so what's that sign on the door? (next pic)
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Don't Climb the Dome. Good advice for the wheelchair set.
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I should have done this as a video. Rain falling across the plains. And dust streaming in ribbons across the asphalt. I got buffeted and sandblasted quite thoroughly taking this picture.
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Hitchhiker sees no car coming for miles, so head down into the winds he starts to walk.
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One elder there complained about all the new buildings that are going up in spite of well documented Navajo preferences. The shape, the orientations, and the distributions of these buildings are the cause (he maintained) of the rising crime across the reservation. There are 4 entrances, one facing the direction of each of the four sacred mountains. It was a windy day. A small sand bar collected by our car in the time we were there.
There's rain in them thar hills
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But, no rain, no rainbows (Hawaiian proverb, different tribe). Doesn't this look like a good enough road for Google to map? They didn't.
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More driving along 15 until it becomes US 505 on exiting the reservation, and cuts through the Coconino National Forest. We drove through some rain, and saw a rainbow. Then another navigation glitch that got us an unintended drive through one of the bedroom communities outside of Flagstaff.
So, into Flagstaff during rush hour on wet roads. Tired, and frustrated. We had motel coupons, so we started with a Budget Inn. The clerk spoke some English, but had no authority to negotiate. The price went up by $7 compared to the book. We went across the street (wet rush hour, 5 lanes) to another motel, and they were even higher. We called another, but they couldn't guarantee working WiFi. So we checked in at the first place.
Our room at the Budget Inn has sagging mattresses, the carpet is stained and burned in spots, the curtain is stained, the floor lamp didn't work, and the WiFi turned out to use a third party service.
Getting online: I had no problem reaching the router. But then I was blocked. I spent an hour with the tech support guy before getting upgraded to second tier support. Two more phone calls and a total of 3 hours and I finally was on. What crap.
But then I started having chills, and my stomach cramped up. I crawled under the blankets. Then I asked Karen to double the comforter over me. The room was already up to 75°, and my teeth were chattering. And my belly churning. By
about 10, I could no longer hold it in. I made it to the bathroom, barely. After the unpleasant episode, Karen cleaned up while I lay in bed and moaned.
To make a long and gross story short, we took turns praying at the porcelain alter for a Buick, and got little sleep.
Not our finest ending to a day of travel.
We suspect the breakfast burritos, although the roasted pinion nuts that we got from the back of a truck played a notable role in our gustatory reversal.
Next: Day 8: Canceled destination, fever, and turning back

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