Yesterday we drove the parts of Monument Valley Tribal Park that are accessible to everyone. But we wanted to see more, so we hired a local Navajo woman with a Jeep who was authorized to take us wherever we wanted to go, which turned out to be wherever she thought we would like. It was fun with someone who spent her life so differently from us. While she had spent 13 years working in Phoenix, she had never been out of the Four Corners area. Her grandma's home was near one of the valley monoliths and she grew up here and missed it very much while she was gone. She drove us through thick sand as if we were on an a sign posted expressway. We went to a huge stone amphitheater with a hole eroded in the ceiling and she had us lay on our backs and look up. While we did she sang a Navajo song and it echoed off the stone walls. A moving experience.
We saw petroglyphs scratched into the rocks by some of her ancestors. We went to one of the remaining round homes made of clay and twigs that dated from the 1700's, nestled beneath a cliff. There used to be more, but weather has taken a toll. We saw a building left behind by the John Ford crew who made so many films in the valley. Most of the fake front sets were taken down and reused elsewhere, but today cattle use this little building to get out of the hot sun.
But most importantly she took us to one viewpoint after another as the shadows lengthened and the moon appeared in the sky. The setting sun reflected off the rocks and accentuated the ripples in the sand dune. It was dark as we drove back through the park - something we would have never attempted on our own. A special day.