Day eight of our bus trip took us to Monument Valley. We had been warned not to wear white as the red dust would stain it. It turned out we didn't have to worry about dust. Rain had drenched the area settling the expected dust, but triggering different problems. Rivers of water had caused washouts up and down the valley.
Usual tourist travel was curtailed in the park. No private vehicles were allowed on the park roads. Only guided tours went past the visitor center, so we were okay.
The two small tour buses that met us had obviously seen better days and a lot of rough miles. Bob and I took seats up front, near the driver. I knew about the natural rock monuments called the Mittens because our daughter Rebecca and her husband Andy had vacationed there previously, but I knew little of what to expect from our ride.
Our morning bus journey was definitely something out of the Wild West. The path taken by our driver could never be a straight one. He had to dodge washouts and charge up hills. Often it sounded like we would never reach the top. The motor often sputtered and coughed.
When we made it through one particularly rough section, our group cheered our driver's skill. Some may have doubted our driver's ability, but not for long. He took us through newly formed gullies and kept us going.
When the bus sounded like it was about to stall, some of our group volunteered to give it a tune up — we had a lot of old mechanics on our tour, including my husband. Bob thought the bus could use new plugs, but it didn't matter, we kept going, seeing the sandstone spires, buttes, and mesas.
(By the way, because this park is on the Navaho nation land, it did not shut down when the other National Parks closed.)
Our driver told about beautiful rocky landscape as we bounced along. Then it happened, after one stop, the bus battery gave out. No problem, our driver hopped out while the driver transporting the other half of our group came forward with a different battery. In no time, we were bouncing on our way again.
Lunch break was in a picnic area of Monument Valley. Over a wood fire steaks were being prepared for us by a group of people, also of the Navaho nation — for me, Monument Valley was a big hit.
Another night Bob and I were too tired from our daily adventure to head out for supper. It would have taken a walk from our motel to find food so we thought about ordering in a pizza, but even having a pizza delivered didn't suit us. Actually we weren't very hungry. There was a snack vending machine in the lobby, so we decided to check that out for a nibble.
In the machine, Bob and I found all sorts of chips and treats. On the lowest level, there was a boxed container holding chicken salad spread and crackers. We bought two and headed back to our room to eat. Coffee was provided by the inn.
We enjoyed the chicken salad and laughed at the tiny plastic spoon that came in the package. Lucky for us, we had saved plastic utensils from another meal so we didn't have to use the mini spoons.
It turned out there was more chicken salad than crackers. Bob volunteered to return to the vending machine to get a bag of potato chips so we could finish eating.
It took Bob longer to return than I thought it should. Eventually, he showed up with four bags from the machine. He tossed a Chex Mix bag on the table. "I pushed the wrong buttons and got this bag by mistake, so I tried again." He tossed down a second bag, again a Chex Mix. "I pushed the same wrong buttons." Bob laughed.
"I finally got the right buttons pushed for the chips and the bag got hung up in the machine. Wiggling didn't help, so I put more money in and pushed the buttons for a second bag of chips. That helped knock down the first, but when they fell one settled on top of the door. I tried reaching in to get our chips and almost got my arm stuck. The door grabbed hold of my watch and held tight. I thought I'd never get loose."
By this time I was laughing so hard tears were running down my face.
There were many more adventures, but I'll end here.
By the way, Bob never did wear his new shorts during our vacation, but he did say he would put them on for a photo. You'll have to send us a self-addressed stamped envelope for a copy. No way will Bob allow that photo to be printed in the paper.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.