Monday, March 30, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (5): Canyon De Chelly National Monument

As soon as I entered the small town of Chinle I directly followed the GPS and headed toward the destination: Canyon De Chelly National Monument. It didn't take me long to get to the parking lot of its visitor information center and I got in. I guess if I remember correctly all of the US Forest Service people in there were Native people, possibly from Navajo Nation whom are the people of the area. After a little chat with the lady, I learnt through her how to get to south rim and drive through to see whatever was available. I did a little shopping in their gift shop. Prices are a bit high especially for someone like me who has an exchange rate of $1.29 for his or her currency but that's the case through all the US nowadays and was the case throughout the entire trip. That was why I refrained from over-spending. Whatever I spent was just for essentials and I guess I will have a post for just what my expenses were which I truly believe not many can travel like that. 
Anyways there are different lookouts throughout the south rim and they all give spectacular views. Surprisingly I saw Native people at almost all parking lots trying to sell their handcrafted items. I of course was not there to purchase anything. The Lady wouldn't wear any jewelry of that kind, not that she dislikes them. She's just not a found of foreign jewelry of any kind. Other stuff such as sculptures and paintings are normally good first of all for people who spend money on these type of items, secondly for someone who wants to decorate his living room. For me who lives in a tiny rental apartment that would look silly. 
Hundreds and hundreds of bottles and cans are scattered through the State of Arizona and particularly the town of Chinle and Canyon De Chelly. I guess I heard that recycling places unlike Canada does not pay anything to the collectors and for that reason people don't care bringing them in! This type of Pepsi can I believe was discontinued a long time ago but apparently has been sitting on the grounds of Canyon De Chelly for a long time as it's rusted and will be sitting for many more years unless these Native people overcome decades of their laziness! 
Millions of years of stream going through the cliffs and rocks moving up and down has created a wonderland. It is incredibly beautiful but similar to most North American national, state of provincial park, people live in the park and here in case of De Chelly the Native people or Navajo people are the ones who do the most damage to the environment. They drive their trucks everywhere, trow empty bottles and cans and other garbages and have no respect for the environment. In fact if I had hauled all of the cans and bottles I saw during my trip to a bottle depot in Alberta, I would have been able to make big bucks! So I enjoyed the view and tried to avoid the Native because they were peacefully and patiently were sitting on their butts waiting for the rich tourist to sell their stuff to. 
At one point you reach White House Overlook which in fact is a trail-head for White House Ruins on the bottom of the valley. It is a very easy hike down but very beautiful. The path is well-maintained and you can see many hikers but it's not over-crowded similar to other popular hikes you see. The major hikers on the trail are Native people who come in large groups and they look at you meaning that you're not supposed to be there. This looks like a pilgrimage to them. people, majority of them normally great to each other in hiking. I've seen it everywhere and by majority I mean at least 90%
Another amazing view of the cliffs of Canyon De Chelly. You can see tire marks on the bottom of the valley and that's where the Natives drive their trucks. I think it would have been much nicer, had the visitors not to see anything by nature but I guess it's hard to make people understand that a unique environment requires much attention or will go bad! I will have to have more post about the Natives and I will have on particular about a Native girl who was shown on TV weeping in regards to the land that the oil companies have leased for Oil Sand ore extraction in Alberta
There I didn't see one single Native giving a smile or nods as a sign of salutation but that's how they are. The hike or walk down to the White House Ruins which is a very beautiful place to see is about 01:45 round-trip. That includes frequent stops for photography because you just cannot pass without taking pictures of all the beauty in and around. I saw people from everywhere and it was a surprise how they have found it. I talked to a young couple who were trying to get to Grand Canyon and they had come from England! I also heard people talking in German and as I said a big portion of the population comprised of Native pilgrims! As I was closing to the site - which is separated by a fence - I saw a few vendors in the area. One of the a Native woman in probably her early or mid 30's - as it's hard to guess how old these people are - greeted me and showed me a bear sculpture that she claimed she had made it herself. She was asking $35 for it. She showed me how to hold the bear so its healing power could be towards me. I told her that I would consider that and would come back to her later after I got my thought together! I later on saw similar bear with different painting on it in different locations. Stores were asking around $39 for it. I of course never bought one because things such as this are never on my list. 
As I said the White House Ruins are separated from the visitors by a fence and that's good because if they had not done it, it would have been gone by know! I'm very happy that I had the chance to go down in the valley and visit the ruins because that is the only place in the entire Canyon De Chelly, which people could visit without a permit from Navajo Nation or guide. In fact just a few meters away from the ruins' fence there was a sign which prohibited the visitors going beyond that point without a guide unless they wanted to be prosecuted! That path were leading to the other parts of the valley and I'm hundred per cent sure that there were a whole lot more to see but my plan was just to have the day in there. I went back up and tried the other overlooks one after another. 
White House is the ruins of that dwelling which is seen in the cliff above that brick building. That of course is not the only ruins left from the first inhabitants of the area. That's the only one I visited and available, as I said in the post, to visit in South Rim without needing a permit from Navajo Nation.
As I said there were people who lived there as well as a few visitors. I almost forgot to say that the canyon was a place that the Spanish and Native people collided a few times and in fact the name is a sort of Spanish name translated from Native language of the original inhabitants. I unfortunately didn't have the chance to check north rim my plan suggested to spend half a day in the area and I'm happy again saying, that I did that. Normally 2 days are required to see the entire region and by two days I mean one day for each rim plus extra time for available hikes and breaks. 
(Photo, top: Amazing cliffs in Canyon De Chelly National Monument. A palace to enjoy and to remember if we exclude the Natives, not all of them, who may bug you during your visit. US Forest Service has No Vending signs at spots and truly I didn't see any vendor on those places but there are at other places here sitting and waiting and I should probably not use this metaphor but they look like Buzzards! It is a bit of exaggeration but it's sad too see such a beautiful and unique place is filled with garbage and no Native does anything to clean or improve that)

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