Chapter 22-2: Monument Valley

This is a land where shallow seas and dune fields once stretched to the horizons, today gorgeous orange-red steep plateaus (French for trays), mesas (Spanish for tables), and buttes (French for hills) and soaring spires now reach for the sky. Beyond Kayenta, Agathla Peak, another old volcanic plug, rises to the east above the sagebrush scrub.  Close by to the west sits Owl Rock, an erosional sandstone spire that indeed does resemble an owl. As I continued northwards, the orange-red mesas of Monument Valley began to appear on the horizon.

Agathla Peak

By midafternoon I turned off at Gouldings Lodge. From a distance I could see that in the intervening 16 years the whole area had undergone serious development. There now appeared to be a small village to the west of Gouldings and at the lodge itself tour coaches were everywhere. It was crazy busy. I checked in and made my way to the small village and found my little cabin.  I had come stocked with food to cook only to find a microwave was the cooker. So much for my filet mignon pre-birthday dinner. I stepped outside to be welcomed by the smell of sewage. Whoever had planned the layout of the village did not have the forethought to place the sewage ponds far away from the cabins.

The next morning, I awoke early and was eager to enter the valley before the hordes of tourists descended. I descended into the valley on a dusty, rocky road to John Ford’s Point and as I approached Totem Pole my car began to squeal. It sounded like it was coming from the front right tire. I pulled over, checked out my tires and they appeared fine. But the squealing grew louder. “What was wrong?” And of all the days to break down it had to be a Sunday. The nearest garage was Kayenta or Cortez and probably both would be closed. Well, I had no choice but to keep going.