Saturday we had a date with Dezwood Yazzie's Arizona Jeep Tours to go into the del Muerto side for a few hours. I'd asked for Sylvia Watchman and gotten her. But first....the classic breakfast at the Thunderbird Cafe. USED to be the Thunderbird Lodge as well, (as God intended), but now that's been re-named Sacred Canyon Lodge.
The cafe used to be famous for using sheep oil for cooking, leaving patrons with a faint, back-of-the-nose sensation all day. As far as I could tell they have gone canola like everyone else. Pretty good breakfast. Then seven of us stuffed into an old Suburban and away we went, into the canyon.
A four-square breakfast is just what a man needs.
Conditions were nice and moist in the Canyon. Plenty of surface water, but not too much. They ran out of money for cutting the invasive species in the canyon. Too bad. They really opened it up in some areas. Canyon has turned into a brush-choked slot over the years.
An old Ansel subject.
We walked through several sections, including the grand overhanging gallery, Martini Rock.
Got out the Hasselblad and shot a bit.
Several places had been fenced off, including Baby Pee trail and the shaman's cave. That's probably the future. I'd like to take my camera up the Baby Pee. Still might.
Over and over.
A quick layout by the girls.
Katie along the way.
Bunny Man, up past Blue Bull cave.
Tourists behind Bunny Man flake.
Calculating cave sheep capacity.
Some of my favorite Cottonwoods in the world in the flat past Blue Bull Cave.
Walking around inside this incredible artwork, seeing new things, old favorites, changes that have happened. Makes for a very internally seismic experience.
More hiking down through an especially beautiful spot.
Sylvia shows us how to prepare and eat Prickly Pear. Now we know.
Sylvia was born at Standing Cow Ruin. I surprised her with a photo.
Antelope Ruin stripes.
Old stone friend.
No sadder feeling than bumping along the track out of Canyon de Chelly after a full day inside not knowing when you might be back. We rolled out, paid the bill and headed back to the Best Western for a late meal at the Junction. I'd pulled out the 5X7 three times.