While I am sad that I had to leave Bryce Canyon, I felt it was time to go as I had exhausted my options for photographing the hoodoos. I will have to save the rest for another time back, which is most certainly worth it. After heading up to Bryce Point for one last sunrise over the hoodoos, albeit an extremely windy and cold sunrise, I had to pack up and head out. Monument Valley was my next destination. On the way, I would pass two destinations that I orginially planned to hit, the Paria Wilderness, aka the Wave, known for its petrified sand dunes that resemble a wave form, and the Antelope Slot Canyon of Page, AZ. The Slot canyons are some of the most interesting geological formations that I have seen. They almost look like a martian landscape, thin wavy canyons cut through for millennia by water. The light that enters the canyon is magical and ever changing. You can see shafts of light peak down from hundreds of feet above and then see amazing differences in color ranging from magenta and red, to orange, yellows and blues. Although I decided it will have to wait for another time, as it is pretty expensive to hire a guide to go in, and is also very touristy and not very fun to photograph so I’ve heard, I was instantly regretting not stopping, as I drove by. I figure I could have made some magic happen down in those canyons. But I drove on, to Monument Valley, another masterful example of natures work on a landscape.
I got here, early afternoon, when the sun was high in the sky and the light, very unflattering. I felt like I missed out on the slot canyons and I immediately wanted to go back. But I did not, as it was two hours in the wrong direction and I was here so I might as well take a look. After heading on the scenic drive, which was unpaved and hellish to drive through, I noticed all those great scenics that I had seen of the Valley…the Yei Bi Chi Totem, Hunts Mesa, were all off limits to anyone unless they hired a guide. I was instantly crushed as the Totem was the one thing I was hoping to photograph. With the sand dunes in front leading your eye to this thin Totem pole lit by the reddish glow of sunset, but it was not to be. According to the Navajo, who own the land in Monument Valley, the land is very sacred and they want to keep it as unspoiled as possible. I understand that and respect their traditions and beliefs, it’s just a pain to come all the way here and then realize that. So I decided I would head out and set up camp at the campground down the road. I came back later for sunset and was absolutely amazed with the following results. While it is nothing unique, the images I took really satisfied my photographic appetite and soon made me forget about those slot canyons.
Now I sit here under the untouched night sky of northern Arizona and can realy feel the majesty of the great outdoors. It’s really amazing how much light pollution can have an affect on the night sky. I sit here with almost a complete new moon…only two days old, a mere 2% of it lit by the sun, and I can make out the dark side of the moon. Even after staring at this computer screen, I look at the sky for no more than five seconds and I see more stars than I have ever seen before. Even the faintest of the faint stars in the sky, I can make out clear as ever. That truly is amazing in my mind. As I let my eyes adjust further, I notice the Milky Way splitting the sky in two. Tonight will most certainly be a night to try some night photography and star trails.
If you look at Monument Valley on a map, you probably will see no major town for at least 30 miles in any direction, and you can really feel like you are at peace out here…and that is probably how the Navajo like their sacred lands to be.