Day 5: Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona - Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona
Woke up in the backcountry at Petrified Forest National Park around sunrise and hiked around a bit more.
Leaving the park, we got to cross Old Route 66, and found this old car as well as some old power lines from the old route. Later, for lunch, we stopped at a little diner place where we got some navajo tacos and fry bread.
Still inside the park, we visited the petroglyphs and old foundations from the Pueblo Puerco people, where about 200 people lived around 1300 AD.
After failing to see the second exit of the park on the map, Melissa navigated me 24 miles to the other exit of the park, where we then got accused (jokingly... I think...) of steeling a fig tree from the park. (They inspect each car as you exit the park to make sure you aren't plundering the petrified wood or anything else, and Carlos (my Bonsai tree that was traveling with me) was sitting in between the two front seats.) Carlos soon proved to woo all the ladies as we passed through the gates at the parks.
After leaving the Petrified Forest, we stopped in the small town of Holbrook where an old western guy in the visitor center with a holster and gun helped us to the information we seeked. It was also here that we found out Canyon de Chelly is pronounced "Shay."
There is some absolutely beautiful Navajo land in between the Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly.
And then we arrived at Canyon de Chelly, arguably one of the coolest sights to see that I had never heard of.
The only unfortunate part about Canyon de Chelly is that because it is still operated by and used by the Navajo people (they still live in the Canyon floor), you cannot go down there without a guide. The exception to this is one trail that you are allowed to hike, called the White House Ruins Trail, which we didn't hike until the following morning. There are lots of overlooks that are accessible by car and offer fantastic views.
We ended up camping for the night at the Cottonwood Campground. The campsite cost $14, however, when a random Navajo man entered our camp at night and insisted on selling us rocks, Melissa gave in and spent $5 more. However, he initially started off asking for $5 for one rock, but quickly lowered his price to $5 for two rocks, so at least she got a great deal. I think it went something like this: "Yeah yeah, okay okay, yeah yeah, two for five dollars, yeah yeah, okay okay." For the rest of the trip, he was known as the "Yeah Yeah" man.
Oh, and that was followed with him insisting we take a picture with him and the rocks so that everyone would know their authenticity. Melissa decided she liked both rocks and insisted on keeping them both herself even though she made me take the picture.
So here you have it: authentic navajo rocks: