FST II : Day Five – To Monument Valley

Today’s travel changed our locale a grand total of about 45 miles. Given that our checkout time in Bluff and checkin time in Monument Valley were waaaay farther apart than the actual destinations, we had to find something to do for a while. Looking at the map, we decided to visit Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

Canyon de Chelly is a preserved area housing a pair of driving routes on both sides of a canyon concealing ancient ruins. This was a park we’d never been to before, and would’ve been a little off the beaten path were it not for our time-based conundrum. While we got as far as the visitor center, that was about it.

Much like our visit to Steamboat Springs a month ago, the National Park Service decided to reconstruct all the roads leading into the park. Ugh. And like Steamboat, they tried to keep traffic moving in and out of the park. One lane at a time. On freshly laid asphalt. Dodging road construction crews and equipment.

Yeah. That was fun.

The last straw came just after missing being hit by an asphalt hauler and hearing the sound of asphalt pebbles pelting the sides and underbelly of Darla’s new Acadia, we called it quits, and headed to lunch in nearby Chinle AZ. Man, was it windy.

Did I mention it was windy?

Fast forward to the drive toward Monument Valley. With all the wind, we saw loads of tumbleweeds cruising across the road. A couple of ’em were even brave enough (dumb enough) to challenge the mighty Acadia’s authority to the road, and… well… let’s just say that the tumbleweeds didn’t stand a chance. (Sorry if you’re a tumbleweed fan.)

When we arrived at The View, we were greeted to a sandblasting from Mother Nature. The winds were blowing up a terrifically impressive sandstorm, making unloading pretty dang difficult. In fact, we had to brush a bunch of sand out of the Acadia after we were through unloading. It was way sandy inside!

There wasn’t much time after we checked in until sunset, so I dashed out to the balcony, and started firing. It was a beautiful sunset, and a wonderful view from the balcony. This was taken in the dark, with the camera wide open — note Taurus rising among the monuments.

After the glow from sunset was gone, and the sand settled down a bit, we could view the stars more comfortably. My gosh, were they stunning! This is the first chance for me to focus on photographing the night sky with my 7D, and I couldn’t have been more happy. It really captured the essence of the night sky in this beautiful location.