On the Road and In Your Backyard

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Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!


And really, my kind of pics – the great Southwest of the USA, where the Earth’s history is laid bare for our ogling.

Today, pictures from valued commenter J R in WV.

Back in Spring of 2008, my first year of retirement, we spent 3 weeks in New Mexico and NE Arizona, Navajo Nation and related national parks. It was a wonderful experience, we learned a great deal about the history of the area, saw so much great art and spectacular views. This is one slice from that experience.

Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Canyon de Shay) is a National Park of the Navajo Nation. No one is allowed into the canyon without a Navajo guide. People still live in and farm in the canyon, although the history and terrain somewhat deters year-round habitation. It has historically been a place of retreat for the Navajo people, a shelter where they could protect the nation from outsider influence.

The trails are not passable by regular cars, and quicksand can swallow up a vehicle forever in no time at all. Our tour was on a large Army-surplus 6×6 truck of Korean War vintage, and our guide was a former police officer from LA, a rodeo champion with the belt to prove it. He pulled a car with a scared family, Grandma in the back, attempting to drive to the family farm for a visit, that was sinking in quicksand out of the danger during our tour, which lasted nearly all day.

Ancient Cliff Dwelling in Canyon de Chelly

Taken on 2008-05-31

There are many ancient dwellings and wonderful origin stories in the Canyon de Chelly Park. No one is allowed near the ancient dwellings as Navajo tradition requires that no one disturb or go near any place where someone has died, ever. There are woven wire fences to keep people AND livestock out of the ancient places.

Nikon D70s 105mm f10.0 1/320 sec

Cliff dwelling in Canyon de Chelly

Taken on 2008-05-31

This is a different perspective and shows the sheer walls of the Canyon clearly. In places the Canyon is narrow and deep in shadow, while there are wide open places with lots or elbow room.

Nikon D70s 27mm f11.0 1/400 sec

Canyon de Chelly Window Rock

Taken on 2008-05-31

One of the very many geologic wonders of the Canyon park. Window Rocks are not uncommon in the Navajo Nation. They seem to have some importance, but I don’t know any of the old stories about them.

Abandoned stone home in Canyon de Chelly

This is a more recently abandoned home in the canyon, where someone lived and farmed in living memory. Very probably abandoned after someone died inside.

Mrs J in foreground.

Nikon D70s 72mm f10.0 1/250 sec

Spider Woman Rock

Taken on 2008-05-31

This spire marks the spot where Spider Woman taught the Navajo about weaving. It is awe-inspiring in so many ways. We are not close to the stone spire because it is so huge.

Nikon D70s 27mm f11.0 1/400 sec

Geology in Action – Erosion in the Canyon de Chelly

Taken on 2008-05-31

You can see blue sky through the stone wall of the Canyon, a sign of the forces of geology and erosion in action.

Nikon D70s 105mm f11.0 1/500 sec

Traffic in downtown Chinle

Taken on 2008-05-31

This is the big intersection in “downtown” Chinle. The town isn’t crowded together, there are a number of buildings and stores, but it is not a city. It’s a rural ranch town, obviously.

Nikon D70s 105mm f5.6 1/5000 sec


Thank you so much J R in WV, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


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18 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    rikyrah says:

    Loved these pictures 😄
    The cow just going about it’s business 😄😄

  3. 3
    eclare says:

    Great photographs!

  4. 4
    opiejeanne says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: I posted to you in the previous thread. It wasn’t Travel Town, it was MelodyLand Theater in Anaheim. I don’t know why I associated it with Griffith Park. It was on Harbor, across from Disneyland.
    Several huge scandals associated with it after it became a church with a large campus that included a high school. They tore it all down in 2003 and built Garden Walk; the new movie theaters sit where the old theater in the round was.

  5. 5
    opiejeanne says:

    Great photos. We’ve thought about visiting Canyon de Shelly but I’ll probably settle for Acoma.

  6. 6
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Canyon de Shay) is a National Park of the Navajo Nation. No one is allowed into the canyon without a Navajo guide.

    When I was there in the mid-late 90s that was not so. We wandered as we wanted without guides but there were limits as to where one could or could not go and it was made very clear that this was Navajo Nation and one needed to respect their beliefs and practices. My bet is too many tourists thought “Surely they don’t mean me…” as they bent over and picked up a potsherd, or climbed up to the White House ruin for that perfect selfie.

  7. 7
    Schlemazel says:

    Thanks! This is on my bucket list along with all those National Parks you probably enjoyed on the trip.

  8. 8
    Van Buren says:

    in 1992, my then fiance, now wife, and I volunteered to get bumped off a flight from West Palm Beach to NY in exchange for 2 tickets anywhere in the continental US. We went to Albuquerque and spent a week poking around Mesa Verde & Canyon de Chelly. I regret to this day not springing for a 4 wheel drive rental so that we could go to Pueblo Bonito.

  9. 9
    opiejeanne says:

    @Van Buren: Here’s my grandfather at Mesa Verde with a movie camera, sometime between 1909 and 1922.

  10. 10

    Thank you, J R, for bringing back great memories of New Mexico and Canyon de Chelly. I first went there in 1978 with a school group and it’s still imprinted.

  11. 11
    debbie says:

    Wow to those cliff dwellings!

  12. 12
    Van Buren says:

    @opiejeanne: I imagine it was a bit tougher to get to in that era.

  13. 13
    opiejeanne says:

    @Van Buren: Oh, yes. I have pictures of him crossing the Continental Divide, traveling from the Chicago area to Hollywood. One of the crossings is in Nebraska, another is in New Mexico (I think). He and his brother traveled part of the way with a group of other cars, which broke down periodically on the trip.

    Here’s one. My dad thought one of the cars is a Packard, which would put it in 1922. Grandpa had a Ford. He was a professional photographer, moved to Hollywood to work for the studios, starting in 1909. This one is at Navajo Lodge, at 8500 feet


  14. 14
    J R in WV says:


    Thanks Bill. That means something coming from you.

    @Mustang Bobby:

    Some places have such deep meaning they stick deep into us for along time. I can close my eyes and BE in Navajo Nation. That’s why the Navajo are still there in spite of the weather, the bare rock, etc.

    @Van Buren:

    Pretty sure Alain has a set from Pueblo Bonito and other shots of Chaco Canyon. We also visited Hubble Trading Post National Historic Park, which is an authentic Trading Post from 1917 or so, still in business, although some of the historical stuff isn’t for sale any more. Thank goodness for digital cameras, which provide the ability to shoot a ton of material on any given day!


    Wholly Cow, what a great picture! I hope you got to know that guy, he looks like a real character with stories to match. I got a good big dose of my paternal Grandfather, who lived next door, but mom’s dad died before my first birthday, he worked in a coal tipple for 40-odd years and the dust and the Camels got to him.

    Thanks everyone for sharing your enjoyment, it means a lot to us photogs. Alain, let me know which of the other days of that trip are already sent to you. I know I did a Santa Fe set and a Chaco Canyon set. I’m pretty sure I still owe the Hubbell Trading Post. And Monument Valley. It was quite a trip!!

    Did I send the Toadlina Two Grey Hills trading post? It’s still a real trading post as in they trade credit for weavings, but don’t have so much retail stuff to sell. It’s half store and half museum, literally.

    Now I’ma gonna take a morning nap. Got lots to do today. One car won’t start, has two recall notices, need to get it into the dealership for that. Other car needs the snowtires put on, which means wrestling 4 wheels/tires into the back of the little SUV. Plus wife has a hair/pedi appointment to work in there.

    Keep up the good work, everyone!! Happy New Year!

  15. 15
    opiejeanne says:

    This is the Nebraska shot:

    https://flic.kr/p/jajMG. I don’t know what year this is.

  16. 16
    opiejeanne says:

    @J R in WV: I lived next door to this character of a Grandfather, my dad’s dad. He died when I was about 14. When I was really little I adored him but he was sick with kidney disease for the last few years of his life and was kind of difficult.

  17. 17
    J R in WV says:


    It’s hard for young kids to understand those processes. My paternal grandparents lived next door, and I was there a lot as a little kid, playing with Jerry the Great Dane, etc. Grandfather knew he wanted his 8 grandkids there a lot, so he built a very primitive pool, a concrete box with a spigot at the top end and a fllor drain at the bottom.

    We drained it every month and scrubbed it down with Lysol to get the green off the walls and floor. It was straight out of the trout stream that supplied pubic water to the whole area, town, farms. Cold.

    Then Grandmother had a stroke. She recovered somewhat, but couldn’t do any of the things she had done all her life. No garden club, no meals with the family, couldn’t really speak clearly. So she cried out in misery. And our parents really encouraged us kids NOT to go see her, because it upset her and the grandkids. I was maybe 8. She lived several years with a nurse (or nearly so) around the clock. This was in the 50s.

    She taught me to paint, a little bit.

    So I know about you and your grandfather, a little. That change from adorable to different is so strange to a kid. And it scrambles the good memories when they get mixed up with the less good memories.

    Mom’s mom lived to be 93, and played piano nearly to her dying day, ragtime Sweet Georgia Brown, Maple Leaf Rag, so many more. I can play the piano pretty well, but Ragtime eludes me still. She was sweet, the essence of grandmother, till the very end.

    ERA: Wow, quite a bunch of great historic family pictures~!!!

  18. 18
    Miss Bianca says:

    @opiejeanne: wow, that is so cool. thanks fior sharing!

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