After leaving the Canyon on Friday, not Saturday, we headed down to Hubbell Trading Post but we arrived quite late in the afternoon and so they were closing. We decided to return on Saturday. So we backtracked about 50 miles. We stopped first at Window Rock, which is the capital of the Navajo Nation, which is as large as the State of Rhode Island. There is a lovely park and an impressive statue representing the Navajo code-talkers of World War II. Des had told us the day before that until the War the Navajo language was strictly oral, that is, not written. Des and his family speak it mixed with both Mexican and English words. The Marines recruited to send messages among American forces developed the written language that is now used in Navajo schools—they created new vocabulary—such as the Navajo words for floating and islands used together to mean the Phillipines. Des says he can speak but cannot read the language. He also told us of a Navajo Marine captured by the Japanese. He was brutally tortured in an effort to break the code, but he was not a code talker and had no idea what the code entailed. He could not help them, even if they tortured him enough to break him.
We went out to Hubbell and then returned to Gallup, went to the ATM for cash, our first time since leaving home. We’d paid Mr Henry cash for our pendants—that left me with $1.00 in cash and Barb not much more!!!! We continued over to Perry Null’s where I renewed my acquaintance with Mel, who told us that Acoma was closed to non-Natives this weekend for a fiesta. He said that the Navajo Fair in Shiprock was open to the public and he was headed up there after work. We said, nope, it’s in the wrong direction. Karen had left that day for a trip to South Africa. I got a couple of rings and a bracelet. Quite modest for me. Barb was a bit more extravagant—but then, I stop every year and this is her first visit.
I then took her to El Ranchero for lunch. It is an elegant hotel dating back to the heydey of Hollywood and is located on Rte 66. A few people were at the large lobby table and it seems they were gathering for a banquet to celebrate their 60 th high school class reunion. Had a few pleasantries with them, wished them health and happiness and then took off toward Grants by way of El Morro. Guess what? After 4 pm so they closed the trails—said we’d be back the next day. Also mentioned that Acoma was closed for the weekend. Ranger said she didn’t know that but she’d check it our and let us know the next day.
Made our way into Grants and found that my reservation was somehow for the next night and they were totally booked. The week long balloon festival in Albequerque was just starting. Cancelled that reservation and went across the road to the Quality which the guy at Comfort called. They had one room left—smoking with a king bed on the second floor. Got over there and gave the girl my membership number and miraculously a non-smoking , two queen on the first floor was available. Considering we had to backtrack yet again we decided to book for two nights. And so it was, that we crashed, tired but happily settled in a comfy room.