Saturday 24 th.
We leave our lovely Airbnb after yet another magic breakfast and set off for Fredonia. On the way we aim to drive the Wupatki loop that takes us around Sunset Crater, an extinct volcano, and on to the Wupatki National Monument where we hope to find out more about the Pueblo ancestors and the Hopi history.
The two sites are intertwined it seems. Just before the volcano erupted in the 11th century the local people, in tune with their environment, moved away and settled further North. The ash from the eruption had a beneficial effect especially on agriculture and a settlement grew. There have been people working the land ever since until quite recently when it became a National Monument under the governance of the National Parks. The last remaining native families were moved off a couple of decades ago because of alleged ‘overgrazing’ issues. Now it has an educational purpose only.
Among the displays are some written testaments from the families who were moved and to say they were pissed off is putting it mildly. Like a lot of the forced movement of these people they seem to accept it and move on.
Soon we are back on the main Route 89 and cruising through Navajo lands. We stop at the famous Cameron Trading Post and I have Navajo stew with a delicious Navajo flat bread. Marilyn’s disappointing salad has a prickly pear vinaigrette which is interesting to say the least.
I take some time to look at the exquisite woven rugs but sadly don’t have the spare four thousand dollars to purchase one.
We detour on the scenic route 89a and immediately the scene changes as we drive towards high red cliffs on a flat plateau.
We stop at Navajo Bridge where North and South Rim of the Colorado are joined by two short bridges. Today is the release of two Condors as part of a conservation project and we overhear a couple talking about having seen the release earlier. We keep a look out but can’t see any. Apparently the juvenile birds come down to roost on the bridges.
We continue this fabulous drive with high cliffs to our left. These are rightly called the Vermillion Cliffs and when the sun strikes them the colour is unreal.
Soon we are climbing. After a coffee rest at Jacob Lake where the cookies are to die for, we are soon descending again to our Airbnb in Fredonia.
We are staying in the home of Cowgirl Ronnie. A small, comfortable home with a wrap around veranda with rocking chairs and glider ( a kind of rocking sofa ). There is an outside kitchen as well as the interior one and she has a sheep wagon in the garden which she often sleeps in.
Cowgirl Ronnie is nursing a sick pheasant on the rocker as we arrive and delivers it back to its coop muttering about maybe having to put it in the pot.
She is a fully signed up member of the National Rifle Association and is proud of her right to bear arms. Her house is filled with cowgirl parafennalia including her holster and pistol.
She is full of stories about the life in the Kane Beds ( according to her this is a kind of lawless no- go area in the backlands). She tells us of her role as a brand inspector to combat rustling and all mixed in with a bit of her love life and the capricious nature of cowboys who are all testosterone. Apparently they have no emotional intelligence at all and their feelings are all in the seat of their pants which makes them such good riders of horses. They have to boss a horse a dog and thousands of cows and usually are men of few words she tells us between showing us how the coffee machine works and where to find the delicious fresh eggs.
She has made a large beef chilli the day before on her first log burner fire of the fall and she generously offers it to us. We accept and eat while we hear a short history of the Mormons around Colorado City where apparently the chief prophet has been jailed for underage bigamist activity as well as fraud with the dairy herd.
It is fair to say that she is a character and obviously has a heart of gold. However, we are pleased to finish our delicious chilli and retire to our room.
I manage to sneak out to witness a star filled sky so close I can touch them if I had a stool.
And then bed.
Tomorrow is the much anticipated North Rim of the Grand Canyon.