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LBA TX/AZ/CA Trip ? Part 1: Monument Valley

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On 9/25/04, my wife and I left Austin, TX in our Jeep Liberty 4X4 heading to San Francisco for a 7-day stay, with intermediate stops at Monument Valley/Canyon de Chelly/Sedona, AZ and Yosemite, CA. Thanks to all of you who participate in the internet Fodor.com and Frommer.com forums ? your comments and advice really helped us plan and enjoy our trip. Especially ?utahtea? in the Arizona area and ?Grasshopper? in California ? their advice was right on. We copied many of your notes, took them with us, and referred to them quite a bit. Since our trip was a fairly long 18 days, we thought we?d divide our comments into parts ? this Part 1 being on Monument Valley.

MONUMENT VALLEY ? We were driving in from Albuquerque and had planned to take US 64 and US 160 to Kayenta and then up US 163 to MV coming in from the south. However, we met a native Indian in Shiprock whose enthusiasm couldn?t be denied. He convinced us that the best scenic route was to go north on US 191 just before Mexican Water and come into MV on US 163 from the north. He was so right ? a great way to approach MV! If you?d like to see the view, please go to http://www.vacations.lbaboyd.com/ for our photos there on MV.

Everybody on these boards gave good info about the time difference between AZ and MV, and also about staying at Goulding?s Lodge. The room was nothing special but the view of MV from each room?s balcony is priceless, let alone all the added conveniences being right there together. It was a treat learning about Harry and Mike Goulding and their trading post and how they got Hollywood to come out to MV during the depression and start the making of so many films there.

We pushed our 1st day of driving so we?d be sure to arrive in the early afternoon for Goulding?s 3 ? hour Sunset Tour of MV at 4:00pm. As others point out, you can drive your own vehicle on the 17-mile rough road laid out inside MV, but only the tours can go beyond into the dry lake area where there?s more to behold, especially more pictographs and petroglyphs. We got some pretty good photo shots you can also view, if you?d like, at our photo site given above ? I?ll bet we got some of the rock formation names wrong; if you see any needing corrected, please let us know, ok.

We stayed right there at Goulding?s that evening, taking in the slide show, the trading post, John Wayne?s quarters while filming there, the gift shop and the restaurant. We shared a large Teriyaki Rib Eye steak dinner there, including a serving at their salad and soup bar ? all of which was very good.

The next morning we so enjoyed the view from our balcony of the sun rising above the MV mesa's and butte's. We then headed for Canyon de Chelly, stopping for breakfast at McDonald?s in Kayenta. We noted that we?d hadn?t seen many McDonalds decked out as nicely as that one located out there in the middle of nowhere. They have nice decorative mirrors on the ceiling and walls throughout, and a couple of TVs tuned to CNN for their customers? viewing ? a real nice touch for a McD.

Part 2 will be next on our travels to Canyon de Chelly.