Drive to Navajo National Monument

Friday, August 12, 2022

67 degrees at 6:00, going to 91 deg.

Sunrise from our campsite in Natural Bridges National Monument

At 8:00 we set out for Navajo National Monument, turning south on 191. I desperately needed to get the Virginia Airstream newsletter out. With no cell phone service recently, it has been difficult. We could have turned left to the nice Visitor’s Center in Blanding, but hoped to find something in Bluff. We turned at sign for the Visitor’s Center and parked in the shade. 

We were greeted as soon as we entered, showing us pictures and an exhibit. I had read a sign in front of Natural Bridges National Monument about the Hole in the Rock, wondering if it was the Hole in The Wall gang, but it was not. It is the amazing story of a group of 236 Mormons assigned on a mission to the Four Corners area. Their 200-mile trip took six months in the winter. They had to cross the Colorado River, widen a slot canyon through the west wall of Glen Canyon and build a road up the solid rock San Juan Hill. Exhausted and out of food, they stopped in what would be called Bluff, Utah on the San Juan River, irrigated, planted and made a trading post. As our guide said, “It would become the Walmart of the time”. 

Hole in the Rock
Then going up San Juan Hill

We watched three cool movies in three rooms describing the events, then toured the center. Outside were cabins, wagons and tools showing what it was like in those days in 1879. It was cool, but I HAD to get a newsletter out, so we sat down at a picnic table and went to work. It took me 45 minutes to update new members. I’m sure there is a better way to merge an Excel spreadsheet with gmail. I thought I got everyone, but would latter learn I had missed at least one.

It was noon by the time I was finished, or as finished as I was going to get. We filled with diesel at $6/gal and got some ice and orange juice. We turned west on 160 toward Kayenta through increasingly drier land. Temperatures fluctuated around 90. We turned north toward the Monument where a sign warned not to bring trailers over 26’ due to limited turn-around areas. We were 25’, so we drove on. 

We went into the nice, and busy Visitor’s Center. I showed my Senior Pass, but the lady said. “This is a no-fee park.” She explained the two camping areas that are first-come first-serve. With this crowd, we hurried to the small campground, but it was almost empty. We drove around three times, trying to pick a good site, settling on #4. We wiggled around 15 times before we were satisfied with our position, but still, I could barely put the awning out.

View from the back of our campsite

We went back to the Visitor’s Center, which was now quiet. It is an historic site where people lived 1,000 years ago. Well, they probably lived here much longer than that, but this was the building era of the Anasazi or The Ancient Ones. the Center had beautiful basket, pottery and tool displays. 

We walked out back where trails led to views of the ancient sites. It was getting late and a storm was brewing, so we went back to camp. Soon a big thunderstorm came with a lot of greatly-needed rain.

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