You know you’re in the heart of the Navajo Reservation when all the radio stations have Navajo commercials.

I’m writing this morning from Chinle, AZ. We are looking out the hotel window at the foot of Canyon De Chelly. After we eat breakfast Matthew and I will take a tour there. It’s one of those places that’s long been on my list to see. So why not today?

Yesterday we drove across the Southeastern part of the Navajo Reservation. (The Rez as those in the “know” call it.) Driving for miles across sparsely habited country reminds me of how big the Southwest US is. We started in the red rock country of New Mexico and after driving for a day are still just inside Arizona.

This is beautiful and varied countryside. Window Rock reminds me of the Payson area. Lots of pinon and juniper pine trees with beautiful mountains in the background. There are some areas that look just like the Mars Explorer photos with vast red rock blown into giant hills. There are also parts with high cliff mountains like Sedona. But much of the land is treeless. The piles of tumbleweeds caught on fences are the highest thing around. I was surprised at how green everything is–lots of grass for the horses and newly sheared sheep out grazing.

Oh, here’s an interesting tidbit. Guess what we saw in the meat department of the grocery store? Yep, mutton…and lots of it. Apparently the sheep aren’t grown just for the wool.

My husband is the only person I know who has travelled extensively up here. So he is a great resource of what to expect, where to stay, etc. As Matthew and I drove to Pinon (can you find it on the map? Right in the heart of the reservation land) I was chuckling to myself. “That Bob…he told me how bad the road was to Pinon and here it is 10 miles of straight, wide, newly paved road.” I could have easily driven 90 (you know the silver bullet is up for it) but Bob had also warned me of the police and reminded me the very high cost of a ticket…so I stayed at a reasonable speed. Anyway, just as I thinking how I was going to rib him about the road things changed. My first clue was a “tire repair” sign. “Well, that’s pretty strange for out here in the middle of nowhere…” Then the road narrowed… Then the road lost its new pavement and there were potholes galore… Then the road narrowed some more. Fortunately, just before it turned in to a horse path we arrived in Pinon. Lesson learned…listen to Bob…

Hope you are having as much fun as we are. Both the sun and Matthew are up so it’s time for us to get moving.

PS The first picture is one of the MANY stray dogs greeting Matthew, who is always happy to see a four legged creature… and the second a hogan outside of Pinon. There are still many hogans but it appears that most people live in a more modern style house next door.

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