Tuba City Day 3
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I woke up early and worked. At a little after seven thirty in the morning I wandered outside and looked at the sky. The entire horizon was on fire. The sky was dark blue with long clouds stretching from east to west, horizon to horizon, reflecting in differing intensity the rising sun. I ate at Hogan again, the fifth time I've eaten at the restaurant next to my hotel. A Hogan is the name given to the traditional Navajo dwelling. It is a sacred place. The restaurant serves good food and I did not find myself wishing for another place to eat
After working for several hours I began the long drive back to Phoenix. It was around 1:00 in the afternoon and the sky still had those same clouds. They appeared to emanate from the San Francisco peaks at Flagstaff. That was my interim destination. I wasn't hungry so I'd make it to Flagstaff and get something, maybe something from Starbucks. But Flagstaff was far away. I had a long road ahead of me and started driving.
On the way in I saw a sign for Dinosaur Tracks and on a whim I stopped on my way out. There were a few people there selling beads and blankets. A young man came to my car as I parked and announced that he was my tour guide. I didn't see that I had much choice so I said okay. He said there was no charge, but I knew he'd expect a tip and tried to remember if I had any money in my wallet.
In my mind there are few things as cool as fossils. We walked in a place that dinosaurs once walked. There, under my feet (though I tried not to step on anything) were countless footprints. We saw dinosaur eggs. In one place there were bones. I wanted to have an entire day to wander about and explore. The young man pointed to the distant hills and said they were five miles away, and on those cliffs were paintings made by the ancients. I was there for barely twenty minutes, but it was incredibly cool.
The drive to Flagstaff was incredible. Stretched in front were the San Francisco peaks and Sunset Crater. As I was coming in from the north I got to see the mountains covered in snow. Once I got to a certain elevation snow began to appear on the north side of everything, from hills to tree trunks to ditches. I used the GPS on my phone to find a Starbucks in Flagstaff. I drove through the town a bit on my way to the store, located in a Safeway supermarket. I didn't get to see much of Flagstaff, just a little on the east side of town along Route 66. My mind was constantly churning over the work I wasn't doing, work that was piling up with every minute spent on the road.
South of Flagstaff the views are incredible. It was getting late in the afternoon and the sun was beginning to set. After descending from the higher elevation the snow thinned out. I decided to take a quick trip to Montezuma Castle, a cliff dwelling a few miles off I-17. I had never seen a cliff dwelling except in pictures. It was a spur of the moment act and that made the anticipation all the more intense. I paid the five dollars entrance fee and proceeded down the path. It is a 1/3 of a mile loop. After about a hundred yards the dwelling becomes visible and it took my breath away. There, high on the cliff, under a large overhang, was a series of buildings. They clung impossibly to the limestone, and there were signs that warned of the danger of erosion caused by modern humans. There is no access to the dwellings; they must be viewed from afar. But that was fine with me. I took numerous pictures and slowly walked the path. Just after the 'castle' is an area where another dwelling once stood. It amazes me. Hundreds of years ago families eeked out a living on that sparse land next to the small river that would become a torrent when rains came or the snows melted.
I spent a half hour at Montezuma and got back in my car. The rest of the trip is uneventful. I drove to Phoenix. I took pictures of cacti. I dreaded with every mile the approach of that great city and my hotel where I would have to sit and work. But such is life. Travel is rarely done in and of itself. Even if I'm on the road for pleasure work is always there, waiting. As long as I have a phone I'm accessible to customers, to managers. I looked out on the wide desert and tried to think what it was like in those days when the pace of everything was slower. There was no contact. Employers had to simply trust their employees much more than they can today. But it's better to explore under the burden of work than to be completely unable to explore at all. At least I have found a place to come on vacation someday, and that is a great thing.