Navajo Nation

We crossed into the Navajo Nation today. The geography is bleak but beautiful, mostly sand and rock. The Navajo are the most numerous Indians in the U.S. and their reservation is one of the few that is economically viable without gambling casinos. The economy is based on sheep herding and tourism. In the middle of Navajo country is Monument Valley, a place of great natural beauty where many Western movies were filmed. There are a lot of signs supporting our troops in Iraq and more American flags than you find even in most other places in the U.S., and I understand that the Navajo are eager participants in the military. Navajo soldiers were important during World War II as code talkers. The Japanese could break American military codes, but they had nobody who could understand Navajo, which was spoken nowhere outside the American southwest. U.S. units had Navajo who spoke to each other in their obscure native language that baffled the Japanese throughout the war.

On the way, we went past the Grand Canyon again. I have included some pictures. We also went past an Indian village ruin. It thrived until about 1150 when the climate became hotter and dryer (without the help of the greenhouse effect). Climatologists have managed to piece together a complete climate history using tree rings. The earth's climate is very unstable. It was warmer in the year 1200 than it is today. The Southwest has droughts that last hundreds of years. On the side is a painting of what it is supposed to have looked like. You really can't think of these things as cities. They are more like apartment buildings or townhouse complexes. The picture shows the WHOLE thing, so it would be a small apartment complex. Doors are on the roof. The ancient McDonalds and Seven-Eleven are not pictured.

Our campsite complex. It did get cool at night, as I anticipated, but the cabin stayed hot until the wee hours of the morning. We didn't get much sleep. This cabin thing is not as much fun as it seems when people talk about it.

The boys are the Grand Canyon.

Ruins of the Indian settlement.

Gorges of the little Colorado. The river is dry most of the time, but it managed to carve this canyon. It is not as big as the Grand Canyon, but it drops off more steeply.

Espen & Alex at the gorges. Notice how much nothing there is behind. I remain amazed by how much open space there is in this country.

Bluffs on the Navajo nation.

I see a lot of beach, but no ocean. This is bleaker even than the Sonoran desert south of Phoenix.

These are the traditional Navajo house and the more modern variety. Nobody actually lives in the traditional mud house (called a Hogan) anymore. It must be a lot like living in a hole in the ground. The trailer is probably more comfortable, although not as picturesque.

Beautiful downtown Kayenta, Arizona. Really - that's the town, although some of the suburbs (mostly mobile homes trail off into the distance. What else do you need? There is a shopping center, a McDonald's, Burger King, several gas stations and a couple of hotels. We are staying at the Holiday Inn, which is a nice place. The people around here are very friendly and have a real love & pride in their home. This is the kind of place you have to love or leave.

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