Cowboys

Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
1
29
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Trip End May 05, 2011


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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monument Valley is perhaps the most distinctively American landscape imaginable.  Red dust on the high plateaus of Arizona are broken by the massive sandstone monoliths.  These unique decorations inhabit yet another unmitigating landscape.  Wild dust storms blew the loess across our faces.  Soon it intensified so that passage through here would have been impossible without roads or coverage.  As we battled through this storm largely without vision, my mind's eye wandered.
In these swirling red vortexes, John Wayne filmed four of his films.  No doubt these and subsequent movies of my generation shaped what I imagined of the Wild West.  Trusty steeds, dashing rides in the night, outlaws and sheriffs.  Tough men defending helpless damsels.  Yet those descriptions were perhaps a little romanticised.  Although picturesque, it was once again hard to imagine why anyone would settle into this lawless land. But settle they did.
The Navajo had lived in these plains since the ancient times.  They braved the elements and forged a thriving community here.  When the European settlers arrived and claimed lands around them, the Navajo resisted.  Perhaps in part due to their knowledge and resolution in the land, they were able to retain all of their land, now the Navajo Nation.  They have since profited handily from their endeavours due to rich natural resources, but most still reside in their tribal lands.  We were told the land still holds a mystical meaning.  The rocks were earthly vestibules for Gods and the Sky and land hold the key to life and death.  Perhaps the true romance is where you find your meaning, if you dare to brave it.

As an aside, we passed through the four corners, an odd man-made geographical landmark for at the junction of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.  Itself not a wholly exciting landmark once again, but for some reason we found those who were more than enamoured by it.  Their overwhelming enthusiasm made me wonder if I had been less than expressive about the wonderments of my trip so far.  And also how much noise they would have made at any other more impressive landmark.
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