As we navigated the Jeep over the puddled, rocky road to park at our lodge, I asked my travel companion, "Are you ready to watch sunset with me?"
"I don't think so," she replied.
She looked at me out the corner of her eye. "I hope you don't mind if I shower and just take a nap."
We had arrived at Monument Valley after a five hour afternoon drive- with various stops along the way- from Page, Arizona. Six hours ago, we were touring Upper Antelope Canyon, marveling at the rays of light illuminating the slot canyons. My wanderlust high had yet to come down and I was highly anticipating what Monument Valley had in store. I had been wanting to visit Monument Valley since I was a kid without cable television. After cartoons were off, my afternoon tv entertainment was a mix of Shaw Brothers kung-fu films, NBA games, and old Western movies.
The latter are what inspired this journey. I imagined myself one day starring as the first black lead in a John Ford film. Only I'd be fighting alongside the Comanche against the former Confederate soldiers. We'd win and I'd make love to my female lead under the stars as the massive buttes were silhouetted in the distance. Roll credits.
So it was on this day that I wasn't a handsome cowboy saving the day, simply a handsome tourist in urban cowboy gear seizing the day. After putting the luggage in the room, I set grabbed my photography gear and headed out to see the landscape I had dreamed of for decades. Among several dozen selfie-snapping travelers, I knew I could not get the photographs I wanted at the View's vantage point, so I repacked my gear and began walking away from the hotel.
The View Hotel is a marvelous Navajo owned business located within the Navajo Nation and the Navajo Tribal park at Monument Valley. Opened less than a decade ago, the hotel and lodges (opened in 2017) feature intricately designed accommodations, serving visitors from around the world while blending with the environment. The outside visage of The View does nothing to detract from the beauty of Monument Valley. The hotel itself has 95 rooms, each one with a private eastern facing balcony with views of Monument Valley's majestic buttes. The new lodges- which is where I stayed- are away from the hotel (about a 10 minute walk) and offer butte facing balconies and huge bay windows that allow you to gaze at the buttes while cozy in the lodge. The lodges have a main bedroom when you walk in and a smaller bedroom with a bunk, along with a spacious bathroom. Wi-fi in the room works great, so you'll easily be able to upload your images and make friends jealous with your stories from here. In the hotel's restaurant, you can enjoy local Navajo foods as well as American and Mexican style cuisine while admiring the buttes. Every detail at The View has you enjoying the views in mind.
Enjoying the views I did as time slowed to a crawl and the colors in the horizon changed with each passing minute. Alone I stood, with thoughts of those who loved me smiling upon me as they saw my dream come true. From the moment I could remember, I've been told to hold on to my dreams and never give up on those dreams coming true. With that in mind, I closed my shutter, sat on a rock and let the sun set on the Valley of the Rocks (Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii in Navajo).
Have you discovered a place you dreamed of seeing as a child? I'd love to hear about and share your stories.