May 26, 2010

Travelogue Day 6

Arizona - Utah

I'm blogging from a long porch that runs in front of the second floor rooms at the Recapture Lodge, in Bluff, UT. This town is an interesting mixture of tourists, artists, authors, and river expedition guides. We had a wonderful dinner across the road at one of three organic restaurants in this town of 200 people! We took their option of splitting a plate, which in our case meant that we each had salads, a polenta cake, incredible steamed veggies, sour dough bread, and we split the pecan crusted chicken breast. Sounds so healthy huh? Well it was, but the real reason that we split the plate was because this place is known for it's homemade ice cream - we had to leave room of course! We also enjoyed two different local beers, mine being an orange "tingled" wheat beer and DH opting for the porter - very relaxing after all the driving, and stopping to take photos over and over!

This was another day of incredible sights and fascinating history. The Navajo National Monument was our first stop. Fossilized dinosaur tracks were in abundance throughout the park.
As were interesting little creatures like this one.

There were also many unique plants, like this "Grizzlybear, Pricklypear" cactus! The signs along the trail told the many uses of all the plants growing in this region. This cactus of course was commonly eaten by the native people here. Can you imagine the prep on this one?!
But the real reason for taking this one mile hike was to see the remains of the cliff dwellings that are being preserved in this park. Yes, today we saw ACTUAL cliff dwellings rather than the made-up name of a dinky town! Here is the overall view of one of the caves, called Betatakin, where the homes were built, and the park signs noted that eventually every little ledge and dent in this rock became home for the Puebloan people that inhabited this area from about 1250 to 1300.
A closer shot shows the incredible detail of this dwelling. These people were hunters and farmers, growing beans, corn and squash that were in fields as far as a mile from the caves, but the caves offered such ideal living conditions that the trek was apparently worth it.
The closest shot that DH took shows the archeologists who were at work in the caves this morning. Wouldn't that be a cool job?!
BTW, these were discovered by a rancher who just happened to pass by them, and they were full of pottery, baskets, and stored foods. It appears that these homes were abandoned very quickly, but no one knows exactly why.

The next part of our journey has a theme. Today was John Wayne's birthday, we are from John Wayne's birthplace, and today we visited Monument Valley where John Wayne filmed many of his movies, including Stagecoach, which was the very first film every made in Monument Valley. Do these scenes look familiar to you?
Beyond Westerns there were many other movie scenes shot here, including parts of Forrest Gump, and 2001: A Space Odyssey - but the magnificent landscape was much more impressive to us.

And to this man on horseback, this landscape is home.
See you later.

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