Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Canyon De Chelly with a Navajo Guide

A.C. Henry (our Navajo guide and Bobby, his cousin).  One cannot enter the Canyon, except for teh White House Trail) without a guide, period!  AC's cousin just happened to be filling for another guide who could not make it, so it was a surprise when we ran into his cousin and his party of three ladies from Taiwan, Japan and Scottsdale, at Spider Rock, about a 90 minute drive into the canyon.  AC is what the park service calls a non-fee guide.  AC and his extended family own several small ranches within the canyon and actully live in their small homes and hogans at various times of the year.  Those times include planting and harvesting their crops and fruit trees, as well as taking all the extended family children in for summer vacations for a month or so.  Let tell you:  These ranches/homes are very isolated and once in, you feel totally away from the rush of normal everyday living.  Truly a paradise in a way.
AC & Bobby in front of Spider Rock, a sacred place to the Navajo.  Prayers are offered by every Navajo who comes to Spider Rock.  It is a cleansing of the mind and wordly affairs when one comes here to meditate and contemplate.

A brief stop at the White House Ruins and the Navajo vendors.  We bought some jewelry and pottery from AC, as he is a silversmith and his family are also pottery and rock artists.  Their workmanship is just amazing.  Make sure if you go to Canyon De Chelly, to look up AC.   His email address is and phone 928-206-2729.  The character after his first name is an underscore, not a period.

Several Navajo rock art figures.  The one just left of center is the "caretaker" of the canyon, and his residence (legendary) is in a small cave near the junction of the two canyons, De Chelly & Del Muerto.

Note the antelope and far left is the caretaker with his flute, a little hard to see perhaps.

Two Navajo warriors chasing off a Spanish invader.

These were quite a ways up the cliff face, so they are a little vague.

These too were in the same place, up high.  The pictograph shows about five antelope in a line.  These were about 60 feet up this face.  Don't know how they ever did this!

About half way back to Spider Rock we took a leg and "necessary" break (for me and AC).  It happened to be at a "window rock".  AC said that many of his family and other canyon residents and visitors walk up to the window.  When one passes through the window, he or she is blessed and cleansed.

AC explaining to Nancy about the window rock, after his "necessary" break.

We saw many horses and several foals all along our ride in the canyon.  They have free run of the valley, but are branded and have owners.

No kidding, we must have crossed this small river 25 times in our eight mile ride back to Spider Rock.  And I must share with you that I didn't think we'd make it through several of them.  Deep and sharp banks that had been undermined by the river current.  Oh, and we had to cross all of them again on the return.  Pretty exciting ride!  AC really knows where and how to drive the road and travers the river.  And, we did ride IN the river off and on, for about a mile or so.

Thank goodness the river was never more than a foot deep.  It does have a hard bottom, so we were never in danger of sinking in the mud,

Spider Rock in the distance, rising 800' above the floor.

Joe & Nancy in front of Spider Rock.

Face Rock keeping vigil over the Spider (Woman) Rock.  Among other legendary Navajo folklore of the Spider Man & Woman, one of the Spider Woman's other function in Dine society is to enforce obedience in children. They are told that if they do not behave Spider Woman will carry them away to be eaten. The top of Spider Rock is supposed to be white because of the bones of children.

If you have the chance, next time you visit the Navajo Nation, do take time to go through the canyon with a Navajo, and look up AC or Bobby.

Well, we better go for now.  I have several short videos at our Picasa web album site, RVing Beach Bum Albums on the ride in the canyon.  We did feel more relaxed and accomplished at the end of our visit, as was explained by AC before we went in the canyon.  We will depart this morning for Mesa Verde for a couple days and perhaps on to Moab, UT and Bryce NP and Glen Canyon.  I sure wish the price of diesel fuel would stop skyrocketing.  Till the next time, RVing Beach Bums.