May 17, 2011

Painted Desert, AZ. Autumn, 1995

One of the stops along the way during the Tucson-Grand Canyon-Monument Valley-Canyon de Chelly-Tucson trip that Simon, David and I made was this one in the middle of the Painted Desert. Just north of Winslow on the way to Tuba City, it’s 146 square miles of rocky badlands, shot through with vast amounts of iron and manganese that account for the range of pigments seen in the landscape. The result of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, harsh sunlight, its layers of clay and sandstone really do look painted. I remember driving on Highway 89 through mountains one minute, flatland desert the next, deep canyons the next. Because Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time, and the Navajo Nation within the state does, and the Hopi reservation within the Navajo Nation doesn’t -- got that? -- we wound up driving through five different time zones along the same road in just about an hour. No wonder we couldn’t figure out whether we’d get to the Hopi pueblo during it’s open-to-tourists hours. We did, and managed to buy some of the unusual Hopi blue-corn ultra-thin sheet bread, one of whose ingredients is ash.

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