10/16/2007: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.