Following in the footsteps of John Wayne

Trip Start Jul 05, 2008
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Trip End Sep 2008


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Flag of United States  , Utah
Saturday, August 9, 2008

We had driven to Monument Valley yesterday and checked with the Navaho tour guides at the visitors' center for a tour of the valley open to the public as well as a portion that is only accessible with a guide. The campsite is nestled in a small canyon that overlooks the valley in the distance. The next morning we met up with our tour guide, Jimmy Keith. Jimmy works for an independent tour group that gives tours of the valley. All of the tour vehicles are pickup trucks that have had the rear bed removed and had a platform installed that holds two or three bench seats under a small steel roof. This means that, while the driver is riding in the cab, you're exposed to the wind and dust in the back. It does have the advantage of not having to look out through dusty windows though. We took off after a little fare negotiation and entered the valley. At first Jimmy was a little reserved and offered only the canned spiel about each of the rock formations that we were looking at, Left Mitten, Right Mitten, etc. However, after we had talked with him at each stop he began to relax and tell us more about his life and life on the reservation. He had been a high steel worker for 36 years and had only recently returned to his clan in the nearby town of Olijeto. His major concern with his family is that they continue to understand and use their native language and respect their culture. He also spoke of the poverty in Olijeto compared to the "riches" that the clans in Monument Valley had due to tourism. However, in contrast to this, he also has a list of the many movies he and his friends have participated in while they were being filmed in the valley. In addition to this, he also is an accomplished musician, playing native flute and drum and also proficient in improvisational chants. I've attached several clips of Jimmy playing, though I'm not to sure how good the sound quality will be. Any lack in fidelity and quality is my fault. At the end of our tour, we returned to the visitors' center and our car. After checking on the dogs, we went to a group of shops along the main highway that featured arts and crafts. We did not find anything that compared in quality to the work that Beautiful Aspen of the Taos pueblo did. We headed back to the RV and made dinner since there is very little night life in this area.
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Where I stayed
Goulding`s Campground

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