What an amazing adventure this was…
We set out from Prescott on a four day adventure at Canyon DeChelly.
The first day was all on the motorcycle traveling there, it took us about seven hours to get there after stopping a few times. Once we arrived in the town of Chinle, nessled at the mouth of the canyon, we started seeing wild cows and horses walking across the street. Cars would stop and let them go by as if they were a part of the family there. The town itself was fairly small, one grocery store, one major hotel with a restauraunt and several laundromats. It seemed that every dwelling was either a hogan or a mobile parked near a hogan. A hogan is a traditional Navajo home. Its round in nature and made of logs mud and juniper bark. The door is always facing east to allow the blessing of the sun to shine its first rays of daylight in. I notice even the modern day mobile homes front doors were facing east as well.
We arrived at the Spider Rock Campground around five thirty where we were met by our wonderful camp host Howard and his lady Katie. They showed us to our hogan where we would be staying for the next three nights. No electricity and no running water, I was looking forward to living as close as possible to the way they did hundreds of years ago. We unpacked our things and settled in. It was cozy and quiet, very quiet. At night the only thing we would hear was a few coyotes in the distance. We slept well and got up with the sun the next morning, as our door was also facing east to let the sun in.
We woke refreshed and started planning our day over a cup of fresh coffee that Howard prepared for his guests. Near our hogan was a sweat-lodge area and we saw Howard preparing a large fire. Bear walk over to him to say good morning and also to inquire as to what he was doing. He was preparing for a sweat-lodge ceremony and he asked us if we would like to join him. He had a Navajo elder named Alfred coming to facilitate the lodge and three other people that requested the lodge for their friends healing. Bear got so excited and somewhat emotional that we may be able to attend, it would be his first. I had experienced the ceremony several times in the past and was over due for another one. So much for our plans that morning, the whole ceremony lasted from 9:am to 1:45 pm. It seems that the Great Spirit had other plans for us, it was an unexpected gift, and an honor.
Once the ceremony was complete we all went to The Junction restaurant for some real Navajo food. We stopped at the local grocery store for other food and supplies, gave a needy Navajo two bucks and rode back to camp. Had another peaceful nights sleep.
Woke up at dawn for a day full of traveling around the canyon stopping at every suggested point on the map. Bought a few things from the Navajo vendors along the way. Took a lot of pictures and hiked three miles round trip to the White House Ruin. The only one you can walk up to without a guide. This consumed the whole day finishing off with the shadows setting on spider rock. Back to camp for a grilled steak and squash dinner and another unbelievably quiet nights sleep except for the coyotes howling again. The sound of their eerie but peaceful howl actually put me to sleep.
Woke refreshed the next morning, had our coffee and said our goodbyes to Howard, Katie, land, and the canyon. I miss it already but I will return.