#139g Canyon de Chelly

Fleeter Log #139g
Canyon de Chelly
2009 April 28

Day 14 - Tuesday
April 28, 2009
182 miles
Gallup, to Chinle, back to Window Rock
Interactive Spotwalla map

Gallup, New Mexico (via Chinle) to Window Rock, Arizona

Since I haven't had any luck personally making contact with aliens or other world intelligence, today I will go exploring people of the past right here on Earth. I saddle up under sunny skies and a cool 43 degrees -- wonderful riding weather. Only the blowing wind might give me weather issues today.
(click on any photo to enlarge)

I leave New Mexico and ride into Arizona. By crossing this state line, I complete coloring the map of the lower 48 states. In April of 2006, I crossed my first state line by motorcycle. Three years later I achieve my goal of visiting all the lower 48 contiguous states. Maybe someday I will add Alaska to this list, but not this year. After 66,000 miles of wandering around the US over the last 3 years, I have managed to color in this map.

Many people ask me how it is that I can travel across the country on a motorcycle by myself. They are curious of the challenges I face as a solo female rider traveling alone across different geography, climates, etc. Let me take this moment to share with all the Fleeter Log readers what very well may be my biggest challenge: Time. More specifically, what time is it?

I find it hard enough to deal with time changes as I cross time zones, but when other complications enter the equation, I for most part just give up. Time Zones often confuse me enough that I arrive at visitor centers after they've closed. Seldom do I see a sign telling me when I am entering a different time zone. Signs would be helpful. Even when I know that I am crossing a time zone line, the problem is not automatically solved. Now I have to think about if we are in Daylight Savings Time (DST) or not. Next I have to determine if the State line I just crossed put me in a state that does or doesn't observe DST. So maybe I didn't cross into a different Time Zone . . . yet, but the time still shifted an hour because the state line I just crossed put me into a state that doesn't observe DST. But did time jump forward an hour or behind an hour? Then maybe 50 miles into that same state I cross into a new Time Zone. So did I just jump another hour ahead? Or did I lose the hour that I just gained and hour ago? Or did I just recoup the hour I lost 50 miles ago? Or did I lose another hour on top of the hour I lost when I crossed the state line? Whatever all those answers are to the above questions, now reverse them. When I change directions start meeting the sun as it travels across the sky rather than chase it the answers are different. So you think I'm just a bit slow when it comes to word problems in math? Maybe I am, but can you still do the logical math if you are traveling during those two perplexing mornings a year when we wake up reciting to ourselves a rhyme we learned as kids: Spring spring forward, Fall fallback. Then checking the clocks trying to determine if they need manually changing or are they the new smart clock that knows to adjust itself.

This may not be the kind of challenge that inquiring minds were thinking of when they pose to me the question of my traveling challenges. But this is my answer: Without a doubt, Time. What time is it?

Why do I bring this up now? New Mexico does observe DST, Arizona does not observe DST, The Navajo Nation does observe DST, the Hopi Nation does not observe DST (the Hopi Nation is entirely surrounded by the Navajo Nation. Part of the Navajo Nation is in AZ, NM, and UT.) Today I will be in NM, AZ, NN, HN, back to NM, then back to AZ. I will lose count by mid-afternoon how many times I would have to change my watch . . . if I wore one.

It's easier for me to just ask the motel clerk as I check in, "What time is it?" And if I get the simple answer like "ten til" then I'll just bluntly ask, "til what?" And, I will try to schedule any stops at visitor centers for the middle of the day and hope they don't close for lunch.

The Navajo Nation tries to help those of us that are time-keeper challenged.

My first stop today is in Arizona at the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. This trading post was operated by the Hubbell family from 1878 to 1967 when it was sold to the National Park Service. NPS ink stamp collected here.

Leaving the Hubbell Trading Post, I enjoy a nice ride along US191 until the wind whips up a nasty sand storm. That's not so much fun when riding a motorcycle.

Canyon de Chelly visitor center is to the northwest of Chinle.

Another NPS ink stamp collected here.

I parked by an obvious reminder that I was currently in an area observing Daylight Savings Time.

Canyon de Chelly is the home to preserved ruins of the early indigenous Pueblo and Navajo tribes that lived in the area over 800 years ago.

In search of a better view down into the Canyon, I parked the GS and find a scenic trail leading to the rim of the Canyon. On my way from the parking lot to the scenic trail, I passed an area were the locals had blankets spread out on the ground with their items displayed for sale to the tourists. In an attempt to help the local economy, I stop to see what they have that I might need. The answer was obvious.

Among the jewelry and pottery, I found just the thing for the GS: Navajo Ghost Beads. These beads are made of Cedar Berry seeds and strung as necklaces, anklets, and bracelets sometimes being combined with colorful plastic or metal beads. These are traditionally worn by the Navajo children to keep away evil spirits. Some motorcycle riders use a gremlin bell for similar such purposes. The GS has gone native and wears the Navajo Ghost beads with confidence.

I continued around the north rim of the Canyon as I head back east toward New Mexico on BIA12, passing a couple small lakes along the way. This small picnic area near Wheatfields Lake is the perfect place to pull over for a snack and a drink. Some moments are just too good to simply ride by; they need a bit more time to soak it all in for full enjoyment.

I continue south on BIA12 to Window Rock, AZ where I stop for the night at the Quality Inn.

Tomorrow: I find a corner to stand on in Winslow, AZ.

Copyright 2009 Fleeter Logs


  1. I just don't look at the time. I look at the sun and that is all really what one needs...
    Great show...
    Be well... Ara & Spirit

  2. Thanks for the comment Ara. You are right about letting the sun be your guide. Doesn't help me get to the Visitor Centers on time though. I have trouble knowing just where 5 o'clock is in the sky -- especially since I don't stay in one time zone long enough to get used to it.
    Peace ... Claye

  3. RussellD in TennesseeAugust 2, 2009 at 1:54 AM

    In case you are wondering...its 12:52AM...Central Standard Plateau Time in the Rockabilly Hills of Tennessee..; Ride Safe.

  4. This is a great post, but one correction. The Navajo did not live in this area 800 years ago. They were nomadic peoples who moved into the area in the 1700s. The Hopi and Pueblo people were in the area 800 years ago.