We made it to the place where Forrest Gump stopped running! That’s Monument Valley (Navajo Tribal land) behind, we didn’t bother going in – a tour was $75 per person or $20 if we did it ourselves but Chris read that the road wasn’t great and we only had a normal car.

If you haven’t seen the film Forrest Gump then you need to watch it or be a loser.

tmp_14911-IMG_84171078446359We did however go to Navajo National Monument, a bit further south and saw this awesome Betatakin place down the valley below- where the Puebloan Ancestors built a village (1220-1270 AD).

tmp_3786-photo(2)1988635308tmp_14911-photo(45)750213771The best bit though was talking to the ranger, Billie Jean Little about her Navajo culture and about the stories they tell and even a story about why stories are normally told in the winter. I won’t embarass myself by trying to repeat what she said but if you’re interested you should check it out. There’ll be a little more on Navajo culture if you can’t get enough of it!

We headed further south to Flagstaff for a bit of a break from the desert and lack of people – we’ve discovered that we’re more city people. Flagstaff was interesting, we didn’t expect such a green town with big trees in Arizona! Also, no one said it was monsoon season!

We treated to ourselves to a meal out, whoo (catfish was awesome) and visited their saturday market and had our first tamale!

tmp_3786-photo(5)-276804369tmp_3786-photo(6)1991203200W also went to Sedona, a small town south of Flagstaff. it’s pretty but once you’ve seen Capitol Reef, Arches National PArk etc, it wasn’t as impressive as it would have been although the cacti are bigger. Alas our eyes have been spoilt by lots of red rock.

We headed towards the north rim of the Grand Canyon – we hear the south rim is way more touristy (probably because it’s easier to get to). So the South rim is more deserty and a sharp drop to the canyon beow where you can see the Colorado river. Why these differences? Well to keep it short and sweet, the North rim is a lot higher in elevation so is cooler (better for green stuff) and tilted down towards the canyon so the water runs towards North rim (I believe). It’s pretty interesting – I mean even the squirrels on each side have evolved differently!

tmp_3786-photo(12)1315895635tmp_3786-photo(13)-1854661891tmp_3786-photo(17)-237471586tmp_3786-photo(16)-3981895tmp_3786-photo(19)-1537897866tmp_3786-photo(20)922215839tmp_3786-photo(21)-23030129I went for a mule ride whilst Chris opted to hike the same path down the canyon but further down to Roaring springs (it wasn’t roaring). The mule ride was good fun and I had a good chat with some of the other tourists. My sarcasm failed big time on them though…one of the mulesnamed Festus kept farting a lot so I said, what on earth do they eat?? One of the teenage girls behind me said hay, straw, the wrangler (term for mule/horse rider) would know more. Then one of the people ine front of me turned out to be a science teacher and started explaining why herbivores can’t digest everything they eat and so produce methane.By the way, a mule is not a horse – a female horse for a mother and a male donkey for a father plus they’re born sterile.

We were fortunate to see the Grand Canyon during a temperature inversion (it only happens a few times a year). Ooh doesn’t it look mysterious? By the way, that’s not fog, it’s cloud.

tmp_3786-photo(15)1712833460It’s also monsoon season in the Grand Canyon. Dangerous times because of the lightning! Which brings me to my next topic – trees and fire. in a nuthell,  fire is good, it helps the environment and releases nutrients into the soil. Natural fires are caused by lightning and you can see this Ponderosa Pine was hit by it in the past. (It also smells sweet like candy).tmp_3786-photo(24)295599445tmp_3786-photo(25)344958669tmp_3786-photo(26)679440746

The Ponderosa Pine is pretty nifty, it’s built to withstand fire – it drops the lower branches so the fire can’t reach the crown and has thick bark that peels away easily. It’s a selfish tree as it releases acid into the soil to prevent other stuff from growing but when there’s a fire, the ash deposits neutralises the soil. Isn’t that cool?

There’s a recent fire (think it was still happening) and we could still smell the smoke.

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When there hasn’t been a fire for a while though, everything burns with a high intensity like this picture below back in 2006. But stuff is growing back!

tmp_3786-photo(31)1754250451tmp_3786-photo(32)-167637265I’m not sure how many people think of a forest and meadows when heading to the North rim of the Grand Canyon but that’s what you encounter on your drive in. it’s really impressive. The meadow is meadow and not forest because there’s a layer of clay on top of the kaibab stone and trees don’t like it (not because the National Park Service mow it).

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We went to a talk about Navajo culture by John Rich Jr of Jacob’s Inn (44 miles from the Grand Canyon entrance). It was really interesting and I want to highlight that if you ever see Navajo weaving, it’s their life there. it represents their life, their culture and in one example we saw the wool used in a pattern was descended from the sheep they were given as a dowry (as a mark of a respect that the husband can provide). They use an upright loom and the way its set up initially with the width and length means that the Navajo weaver already has the pattern in her mind from the beginning – there’s no flexibility to change. The pattern isn’t written down either. I forgot to take pictures but go google.

An observation, grocery stores are interesting in America. I mean this is a pretty good indicator of a good store. It’s always snack time. If you’re allergic to peanuts then America may be a bad place for you, there’s tons of peanut butter here and the varieties too! So far, I have discovered people eating peanut butter with bananas, apples or just by itself. Peanut butter does make bananas tase less bad.

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Some people either don’t like fruit and veg or cannot afford it – it was extreme in the Walmart picture, just one tiny aisle and compare with the more upmarket Harmons.

That’s all you get for now, I need some dinner. Bye!

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