We stopped through Kayenta, Arizona, to refuel on our way up to Monument Valley. We got gasoline at a gravely station and we used the bathroom at a hotel.
And stopped into the grocery store, Bashas’, to get some snacks for the road. Somehow, we ended up talking to a woman in line for a long time – I had written a note to self, a year and a half ago, when I was drafting this blog post, to write about that little anecdote. But now, too much time has passed and I just don’t remember. I recall speaking to her for a while near the checkout. She lived fairly far away but this was the closest supermarket. There were some family issues that I cannot remember. Something about her husband who had a work-related disability?
I do still remember pondering her situation of living so far away from a grocery store. It was a 45 minute, maybe an hour drive? And it was the type of store with their own store-brand Bashas’ soda machine outside and walls made of identical cans of Golden Sweet Whole Kernel Corn. What a different way of life compared to our complaint-worthy 15-minute walk from the nearest grocery store here.
Once on the road again to Monument valley, we stopped by a little dreamcatcher stand on the side of highway 163. It was hot, and dreamcatchers shifted in the breeze. Other little items of jewelry rested on the table.
It was a quiet stand. The whole time we were there, only two other people stopped by. There were other cars in the lot, but they appeared to below to the people who staffed the stands. I wonder how many people stop by over the course of a day?
The turn onto Monument Valley is pretty easy to spot. Just a right turn off of 163. We parked in the parking lot of The View hotel, looked through the gift shop/trading post. I peeked my head into the restaurant. There’s a lot of nice seating outside of the restaurant and a large viewing area. The hotel rooms looked like they suited they suited the hotel’s namesake. What a sight to look out to.
We wanted to get a move on and drive the Monument Valley loop before the sun went down, so we decided to come back and check out the rest of the hotel later.
It’s a pretty mellow drive. Some parts are quite sandy, so be aware of that. Our car nearly got stuck a few times, and then actually did get stuck about 2/3 of the way through the loop. After a few minutes of amusement that turned to minor panic, a group of people who were stuck behind us helped give our car enough of a push to help us get out.
But before that, there are plenty of mesas and sand to look at. The main driving loop surrounds Rain God Mesa, and there are a number of points on the map where you can stop. We stopped at all of them. One stop had a pink food truck:
That stop was probably John Ford’s Point. Also there is a cowboy and a horse stationed for a photo-op. It looked hot and uncomfortable to spend much time out there in full garb. But it does make for quite a scene.
It was great driving around the mesas and buttes, but honestly, I think the best view is from the hotel. I think the North Window Overlook was my favorite part of the loop.
We returned to the hotel, and sat outside in the shade to watch the sun set.
I noticed this carved into the wall of the viewing area. I don’t know what it means. But I can see the attempted “translation”: “I like Chow Miene”. I don’t think that is what it says.
While we watched the sunset, we ate our snacks and ate some dinner from the restaurant. The combination of wide open space and tall rock formations makes for looooooooooooooooong shadows.
It was incredibly peaceful to watch the mittens despite being surrounded by a number of other people. Some were chatting with one another, there were a fair number of kids, and there were also a bunch of photographers, with and without tripods, taking photos of the unfolding sunset. Some kids even had brought a football to toss around.
It was such a profoundly peaceful and beautiful place. It felt uncomfortable to be there in the harsh afternoon heat and direct sun, but at the same time, you could look around and be in awe of the vast expanse surrounding you. I had hyped it up to myself a lot, and it was a strange combination of being underwhelming (I had wished for more clouds?) and more beautiful than I expected all at once.