Wednesday, 10 November 2010

240 miles to Bryce Canyon

Just a mention before we set off for Bryce Canyon.  Kayenta, where we spent the night, is on Navajo Land, which means that signs in shops are in their own language, and the occupants are nearly all of Navajo origin.  Apparently the Navajo Nation is the largest of all reservations, attributed to the fact that they are skilled at adapting and assimilating.  Their territory extends over 17million acres across NE Arizona, NW New Mexico, and S Utah and between a quarter nd a half are Christian - so that explains the Christian churches.  After you've spent a few days driving around their lands, you get the impression that it could only be the Navajo who could manage to live in such hostile, desert environment.  There is a striking difference between the poorer Native communities and the more comfortable, affluent American towns and villages nearby.
Another point of interest- we called in to read a display about the role that the Navajo Codetalkers played in the war with Japan in WW2.  The weird thing was that the display was adverised as being in the Burger King!  It seemed that the Navajo language is so complex that it was indecipherable and so the Americans were able to communicate, without fear of comprehension by the Japanese.  Such a commendable skill praised in such a mundane setting.  Maybe the thinking was that plenty of native people would  see this information here and feel pride in their history.
Anyway, onward!
On the way to Kanab we almost ran into a Roadrunner bird, of Tom and Jerry fame!  Beep, beep!  Unfortunately moving too fast to get a photo.  A flightless bird, it's able to run at amazing speed, its legs a blurr, managing to successfully cross a highway!  So chuffed to have seen it.
We continued gradually climbing past Red Canyon, on to a high level, narrow plain with cows and horses and a few ranches.  up and up and we finally arrived at Bryce City, altitude 8000'+.  There's hardly anything here, and what is seems to be owned by Ruby's, who established a hotel and staging post here in 1820s.  There's two Best Westerns on the site, a petrol station, gift shop, restaurant and a few houses and that's about it- the City!  Remarkably, we'd covered nearly 300mls by about 1pm, with just enough time for a sneak preview of the Canyon.  With the temperature dropping to just above freezing, we set off on the Queens Garden Trail, having paid our $25 park entry fee.
This place is so WIERD!!!
Thousands of rocky "hoodoos", caused by erosion, rising up from the canyon floor, as far as the eye can see.  Looking like something out of Gaudi's imagination, like melting wax, like toy soldiers, like a cathedral, like ....nothing on Earth.  With snow flakes starting to fall, we weaved our way along the intricate, cleverly arranged paths which drop you down among the hoodoos.  Absolutely stunning, and culminating in a glimpse of a hoodoo named after our Queen Victoria, and it's pretty accurate. 
With deteriorating weather we drove back to our stop at the Best Western Grand, opposite Ruby's.  The Lonely Planet guide is disparaging about the city and its food reputation, but we couldn't fault it.  Great hearty buffet and reasonable prices.

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