Flag Counter

Albert Maywood Courtright II

Reminiscences of Maywood Courtright

On to the Grand Canyon of the Colorado

Mesa Verde is in the extreme southwest corner of the state of Colorado. Leaving it the next morning we drove south across the New Mexico border slightly east of the place in the U.S. where four states meet at right angles, the only spot in the country where that occurs. Almost the whole distance between the border and Gallup, NM is occupied with the Navajo Indian Reservation. The Ute reservation is just to the east of it and south of Gallup are the Zunis. We saw many Indians, riding horses along the edge of the road or herding sheep and in Gallup the streets were full of them, men, women and children; the men dressed in cowboy clothes, many with braided hair and turquoise beads and the women with long, wide skirts. Nearly all of the women wore jewelry of silver and jade, rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces; the Navajos, Zuni and Hopi were well-known silversmiths.

At Gallup we turned west on R66, a principal east-west highway which at that time, of course, was only 2-lane. It is now no. 40 of the Interstate Highway System and 4-lane, divided. The road angles southwest for about 50 miles where we stopped to visit another national park, The Petrified Forest. The so-called Painted Desert lies to the north of the highway and we could see the many different colors of the sand from the car so we did not bother to stop and drive in. The Petrified Forest was not what any of us had expected. We could see no vegetation at all as we drove thru the gates. The whole park is surrounded by a high chain link fence and there was nothing to be seen but a small museum and hills of black sand with planks and stones laid on the ground to indicate which way we were to go. Visitors were allowed to wander around as they pleased but signs were everywhere saying nothing was to be taken out of the park. As we walked over the paths we realized that what looked like pieces of rock were actually tree trunks and pieces of logs, all turned to stone, agate, to be exact. As the museum many sections of petrified wood had been polished showing [the] struction of the wood. The designs and colors were beautiful and as we left to get in the car the temptation was very strong to pick up a small piece and hide it in our pockets. As we got outside the gate, I stopped the car and we searched the ground. All of us found several nice pieces. We kept ours as souvenirs for many years.

A little farther west, just beyond Winslow, I turned south at Rimmy Jims to visit Meteor Crater tho no one else was interested in it. It was about a mile south of the highway on a gravel road. As we drove up to it it looked like just another hill but a very regular one, as tho it had been built by human hands. It was privately owned and they charged two dollars admission on the inside. There really wasn’t much to see, just a huge bowl formed of broken rocks. It has been known for some time but nobody knew what caused it at first, then it was suggested that the hole [was] left by a gigantic meteor, in which case there ought to be a lot of iron buried underneath. Efforts were made to mine the iron but without success. The owner probably makes more now by charging curious tourists to see it than he would from mining the iron. Since the advent of artificial satellites many more such craters have been discovered, many of them much larger than the one near Winslow, New Mexico.

Flagstaff, where we found rooms for the night and looked over the town, is almost at 7,000 ft. altitude and the highest peak in Arizona is only a few miles north of town. The air felt crisp and cold after the heat of the desert we had just come thru. Indians and cowboys were plentiful in Flagstaff too but not so numerous as in Gallup. I had undoubtedly gone thru the town on the train in 1924 at the time I made my trip around the west but I don’t remember it.

The next day we continued west on R66 to Williams where we picked up R64 running north to the Grand Canyon. After exploring a little on foot around the park headquarters - there were crowds of tourists there who had come in by train and bus - we got in the car again and drove east along the rum of the canyon very slowly. I stopped and we got out whenever we came to a good viewpoint. All too soon we the south run road met R89 running north out of Flagstaff at Cameron where a high bridge crossed a side canyon. A short distance north of Cameron, only a few houses and a post office, we noticed a dirt road running to the east across the desert and a sign pointing to Moenkopi, 2 miles. The map showed we were in a Navajo Indian Reservation; it continued clear to the Utah border. We decided to take a chance on the road and visit Moenkopi.

Table of Contents
Mesa Verde National Park

Last modified on 15 April 2021 17:59