On the road in Utah, part two

Our afternoon in Monument Valley had been completely … um, well … monumental. The three of us had immediately, upon entering this stunning piece of the Navajo nation, figured out a superb and superior way to travel the famed 17-mile loop road. We popped two of the mountain bikes off the rack and then alternated between riding bike and driving the S.U.K. through the park, with two of us riding bikes at any one time and the other in the vehicle, listening to Robbie Robertson’s Native American soundtrack. It turned out to be a real good call, since riding an “acoustic convertible” gives one so much more pure vision-power compared to bumping along under a hardtop.

If you ever get down to the Four Corners zone, give yourself at least an afternoon to savor this place. Don’t rush it. And if you’re camping, by all means stay at the M.V. campground. There are four or five campsites there with astounding view points that will orgasmify your optic sense in a way no other spot on this planet can do.

As we left, we drove past the unpainted particle-board shacks used by the Navajos as their jewelry and craft stores and cafes. Being late February and the off-season, there wasn’t much activity, but one of the cafés was open, advertising its “mutton plate.” We figured, correctly, that we had to give it a go.

The joint was so freaking third world. Cool isn’t the correct adjective here; somehow, “far out” is a much better choice. The floors were … well, there were no floors, just red sandstone dirt. Perfect. We ordered up—one mutton plate, one mutton stew, one Navajo taco, each costing five bucks. As we sat at the picnic table out front, we could see the old Navajo proprietor throw the sheep meat on the barbecue in the back. I thought for a second that this actually might be some pretty good chow. Negative. The mutton, as we half-expected, was tougher than a Harvard entrance exam. But it didn’t matter. We were sitting outside a Navajo café in Monument Valley, soakin’ it up and jokin’ it up. Life was very fine at that exact point in time. Next time, though, you gotta go with the Indian taco.

There was still some daylight to burn, so we drove off and turned onto some nameless reservation road, looking for whatever was out there. Salvation? Shamans? The Truth? A fantastic yet parched patch of Koyannisqat-sold real estate, desperate for a deluge of liquids, filtered through Caucasian kidneys? Bingo. We pulled over and wandered toward a sandstone gulch, a red rock mini canyon that was maybe 30 feet deep. As we got to the edge and peered over, we saw something that was nothing less than shocking. I mean, it was the last thing I would have ever expected to see out there, and it almost dropped my jaw and stopped my stream.

Oops. Outta room. I have to make you wait a week. Oh, the suspense!!!!