Friday, 23 August 2013

Monument Valley and John Wayne

Monument Valley is famous for what it is – a magnificent area full of sandstone buttes and it is also famous (but to a

General view over Monument Valley

lesser extent) for being the location for a number of John Ford / John Wayne films including The Searchers and Stagecoach.

John Wayne Poster We saw both of these films and were highly amused by them in that in The Searchers, the same backdrop of Monument Valley appeared when John Wayne was supposedly in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. And in The Stagecoach, they seemed to make no progress at all in reaching their destination because the same backdrop kept appearing throughout the film. Maybe John Ford hoped no one would notice.

John Wayne Hut

Tucked away in one corner of where we were staying is an old building which was used as a Hut within which John Wayne lived in one of the films.

You can see a lot of Monument Valley from the road but the best way to see it is to drive off road around the buttes. Within the tribal area is a track leading off into the valley – track is a generous word in part but many tourists head down it in their two-wheel cars. Eventually they can go no further and hence we decided to go on a guided tour with a Navajo guide (not that we could have gone anywhere off road in our camper van).

Big Rock Monument Valley

There are many big buttes like this one

Big Butte 2

and this one.

John Ford Point-1 John Ford Point

This is a picture of John Ford Point and is a classic location for a film shoot – I could not decide which of the two photographs was the better record of an iconic moment – perhaps the first one because it has more of the valley in it. You decide.

There are a number of arches in the Valley,

Arch Eye of the Sun Petroglyph at Eye of the Sun-1Petroglyph at Eye of the Sun

this one is called “Eye of the Sun” and to one side of it are a number of Petroglyphs


 Big Hogan

 Big Hogan Hole

The size of the cave is obvious as is reason why this cave / arch is called Big Hogan. The hole in the top (as in a Hogan) is better seen in this photograph. If you make a sound in the cave, it resonates beautifully around the walls. It is very similar to one in the Bungle Bungles in Australia called Cathedral.

Ear of the wind

This arch is called “Ear of the Wind” (it does look rather like an ear) and there is a convenient dead tree in front of it to complete the photograph.

The desire to name every object in the park extends to

Totem Pole

everything, the column on the left is called the Totem Pole

Three Sisters MV

this group are called the three sisters,

One of the mittens

this is one of a similar pair and is called Mitten.

Cave with tyre dump

It was disappointing to see that rubbish dumping has spread even to Monument Valley. As we drove around, we past a pile of tyres just dumped out in the open (near a wrecked car which is the small white dot to the bottom right of the photo).

Original Goulding Trading Post

Our campsite was originally a trading post and the buildings of the trading post are still there

Original Trading Post

and the inside of one room is still set out as a trading post room.

Pat in Stage Coach Our Stage Coach view

Outside is a stage coach with a passenger and a nice view of the Valley.     

We also visited a Hogan within which was a weaver demonstrating her skills.

Hogan Outside

The Hogan (this one is a female Hogan) is a wooden structure covered with adobe

Hogan Inside-2

it is made out of Juniper branches and is held together by its design

Hogan Inside-1 Hogan Inside

with no nails or bolts at all.

As we left, the rains started and we could see a large rainstorm heading across the valley.

Rain over Monument Valley

It is a lovely iconic place but perhaps not as well kept now as it was 12 years or more ago when we last visited it.

As we drive out of the valley, we get two more iconic views

Iconic View 1

the view from the road out of our campsite

Iconic View 2

and the same view we saw some 12 years ago when we were here last time.

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