‘Canyon de Chelly’, The Most Wonderful Place On Earth, Revisited.
by Anura Guruge
a. Grand Canyon experience, 2013.
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2 of 5 short, shaky YouTube videos.
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A montage of the 1,217 pictures taken with my Canon Rebel T3i on this 5 day trip to Arizona in April 2015. I, Anura Guruge, shot 96% of these. Devanee, who intends to acquire this camera soon, used it to take some pictures — though she shot some 600 pictures with her Android smartphone. Deanna took some pictures with this THOUGH she shot 1,640 images with her new Olympus ‘point-and-shoot’ I got her for this trip. Teischan shot quite a few pictures with the $39.90 Nikon S3600 which I bought on a whim in early April. So in total we shot about 4,000 pictures — 800 a day! The joys of digital photography! [I am going to put all 4,000 on one USB stick. Lot to do.]
I have maintained since 1986 [i.e., for 29 years] that Canyon de Chelly National Monument, in Chinle, Arizona, is hands-down my favorite place in the whole world — Fountains Abbey, in Yorkshire, my next. I fell in love with Canyon de Chelly at first sight. This was my 3rd trip and now, in total, I have spent over a week in this majestic, magical place. Just to put some perspective, I though not as widely travelled as some, have in reality bummed around the world more than most. I have lived in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), France, India, Britain (including Wales) and the U.S. and am no stranger to the Grand Canyon (at least x8), Yosemite, Monument Valley (x3), Hawaii (x4), Alaska, Florida (xn), Disney (x2), Blue Ridge (x7), Acadia (x3), San Francisco (xn), Salt Lake City (x3), Switzerland (x3), Italy (xn), Tunisia (x3), Philippines, Sweden (xn), Denmark, Holland, Maldive Islands (x2), Belgium, Spain, Andorra, Portugal etc. etc. So, when I say that Canyon de Chelly is my all time, hands down, favorite place in the world, it does have some gravitas.
Canyon de Chelly is all about synergy and serenity. It is the most serene place that I have ever encountered that, nonetheless, still has paved roads and modern, indoor plumbing. The Grand Canyon (which we also visited, as a bonus, on this trip) is, of course, Grander. So is Yosemite. But neither affords you the intimacy possible with de Chelly. Monument Valley (which we also visited) is now akin to Disney World in terms of the hustle and bustle. You can’t really step back and savor the delight. There is too many people milling around. At Canyon de Chelly, even today, you can, 80% of the time, have it ALL TO YOURSELF. That is magical. That is where the synergy kicks in. Yes, it has beauty and that is complemented with tranquility, history (and did I mention ALL the cliff dwellings), culture and some wonderful Diné (a.k.a. Navajo) people. There is nowhere like it — at least for me.
What was SPECIAL about this trip was that it was Devanee (14) who wanted to go visit Canyon de Chelly! Last year it was Disney, this year it was to be de Chelly and I was NOT the one who made the decision. Devanee has heard me wax lyrical about de Chelly. She also had taken a good look at a souvenir book that I must have bought during my 2001 trip. She loved the Grand Canyon in 2013 and now wanted to check out this other place that Dad claimed was his most favorite place.
It gets BETTER. Deanna and the kids loved it — from the start. Yes, that we, the two kids and I (with Deanna abstaining because of her back), got to go horseback riding, in the Canyon, to see the ‘First Ruin’, for 2 hours, with a genuine Diné elder, named ‘Gabriel’, was the icing on the cake. Just the four of us. Teischan (9), during that ride, said it was better than going to Disney — and we went to Disney on her behest. The kids want to GO BACK — pronto. They want to go back THIS YEAR. They are already working out when we could go. That, to I, is MAGIC. The kids loved it and these vacations are for them. Deanna nor the kids had any idea that I planned to take them to the Grand Canyon AGAIN on Friday — on the way back. Because I took the back roads and never mentioned ‘Grand’ they had NO IDEA that we were going there until I pulled up at the Entrance station! That was great. Deanna and the kids love the Grand and they were so happy and excited. I am glad. I am NOT sure how many times I have been to the Grand. It is at least 8 times. But, I love it too — though de Chelly always has precedent.
OK. Over the coming days I will sort out the pictures and post more. Think of this as just a preview.