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Four Impressive (3 Very Good Looking) Diné (Navajo) Folks From Our Stay In The Navajo Nation.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:Canyon de Chelly by Anura Guruge
a. Northern Arizona’s Top 5 
b.
Canyon de Chelly revisited, 2015.

c.
 Grand Canyon experience, 2013.

++++ Search on ‘Arizona‘ for some other posts >>>>


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He was a vendor at ‘Four Corners’. We didn’t buy anything from him, but did so, from his niece, in the stall next door. As soon as I saw him I thought he looked like a movie star Navajo. He agreed, quite graciously, to be photographed. I think he has some classic features.

She worked as a cashier at the “Thunderbird Cafe”, at “Sacred Canyon Lodge”, Canyon de Chelly. I was struck by her looks. Alas most of the Navajo women do not look like this, So she stuck out even more. Even Deanna commented on how pretty she was. She too let me take her picture. She thought it was funny. But she also admitted that people would often comment on her looks. That is good.

Antonio Carroll, Canyon de Chelly — artist, raconteur and ambassador. We met him at the first outlook, on Day 1. He engaged us in a conversation as soon as we stepped out of the car. Very nice guy, very talented. There was no way Deanna was leaving without buying one of his pieces. We ended up with two because he took a liking to Deanna and gave her an offer that even I could not refuse.

Very nice, jewelry maker, who we met on our third day, while touring the northern rim of Canyon de Chelly. Yes, Deanna bought jewelry for herself and the girls from him. He insisted on having his picture taken with us.


The Diné. Lovely people. ‘Navajo’, as at least three of them pointed out to us, quite forcibly, is the ‘Spanish’ or ‘white’ name. They like to be called Diné.

I started spending time in the Indian reservations in Arizona from my very first visit in 1980. When I was 30 pounds heavier than I now am I looked like a Navajo. The first time I visited Canyon de Chelly, in 1986, the locals would often talk to me in Navajo and be surprised when I could not talk back.

Lovely people. I am very fond of them. Deanna took an instant shining to them. We spent a lot of time chatting with them on this trip. We gave rides, on two separate days, to two different female hitchhikers, one old, one young. They hitchhike a lot because many don’t own any transport. In the case of the latter we drove 22 miles out of our way! It was 2pm, it was hot and she was, at best, in her late teens. She didn’t say much. The older lady, a mother of eight, talked non-stop. Told us all sorts of things including stories about rattlers and how one of her sons got bitten by one on a fishing trip.

Just wanted to share these pictures with YOU. Enjoy.


Northern Arizona’s Top 5 Tourist Destinations.

Canyon de Chelly by Anura Guruge.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
a. Canyon de Chelly revisited, 2015.
b.
  Grand Canyon experience, 2013.

++++ Search on ‘Arizona‘ for some other posts >>>>


1. Petrified Forest National Park.
2. Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
3. Four Corners (Navajo) Monument.
4. Monument Valley (Navajo) Monument.
5. Grand Canyon National Park.

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Petrified Forest, Monday, April 27, 2015.

Canyon de Chelly, Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

Four Corners, Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

Monument Valley, Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

Grand Canyon, Friday, May 1, 2015.


This was Devanee’s (14) trip and she wanted to go to Canyon de Chelly, Four Corners and Monument Valley. Petrified Forest, basically on the way to Canyon de Chelly, was a bonus. The Grand Canyon, which we had visited, for 4 days in 2013, was a surprise. I had it all planned but I never let on. Deanna and the kids had no idea until I pulled up at the entrance to the Park. They were delighted.

Though I had driven by it multiple times I had never been to the Petrified Forest National Park. Glad we went. Definitely worth going. We only spent 2 hours but saw most of the ‘landmark’ logs and sights. Got some great pictures.

We stayed at Canyon de Chelly, at the ‘Sacred Canyon Lodge‘ (née ‘Thunderbird Lodge‘), which is inside the ‘Park’, for 4 nights. That was our base for this trip. What can I say about Canyon de Chelly other than that it is my favorite place in the whole wide World! Canyon de Chelly is just magical.

I had never been to Four Corners and doubt whether I will ever go back. It really is in the middle of nowhere. Long, long drive through vast, barren, desolate landscape. I did NOT like it! The spot itself is hemmed in on all four sides by ‘cheap’ concrete vendor stalls — that look like bunkers. It makes the whole place feel cheap and tatty. ‘They’, the Navajo Nation, charges $20 entrance. I do NOT have a problem with that. I also have NO problem with them trying to sell their wares — and we, at various places, including Four Corners, bought a far amount of stuff (as is our wont). I am happy for the Navajo to make as much money as they can. They are entitled. I just wish that they had done this Monument with a bit more decorum and taste. C’est la vie. I will not hold it against them. They are entitled.

I have been to Monument Valley before; definitely once, possibly twice. The first time, in 1986, which was also when I discovered and fell in love with Canyon de Chelly, and I remember, vividly, that I was in a yellow rented Camaro — which was not the best car to drive through the sandy roads at the Valley. But I managed. This time, just because I knew we were going to visit Monument Valley, I rented a SUV — a Chevy Captiva (which was OK, but really was ‘gutless’). I would never buy ‘that’. It was way too underpowered and poorly-geared for my taste (and driving). Monument Valley is monumental. Striking. But it was PACKED. Liked going to Disney World — and this was still April, i.e., not prime season.

The Grand. It was at least my 8th or 9th trip. The second for Deanna and the kids. They just love the Grand. They were so excited, especially since it was a total surprise. The Grand is like no other. It is magnificent. As I was telling a Park Ranger, there were more people at any given stop (on the South Rim) than we encountered during a whole day at Canyon de Chelly. I don’t think we ever encountered more than 24 people at any one spot at de Chelly. Most of the time the car parks were empty or just had one or two Navajo vendors. That is very much a part of the attraction for me. The solitude and serenity. I gather it is ‘packed’ in June and July.

So that was our 5 days in Northern Arizona. 1,409 miles on the Chevy Captiva (from Enterprise), 2 hours on horseback and 4-5 miles of hiking.


Two bonus pictures.

The kids at Spider Rock lookout at sunset on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at Canyon de Chelly.

Anura Guruge April 2015 in his latest headgear.

I am always in the market for new headgear to cover my receding toupée. This might work. At the Grand Canyon.


‘Canyon de Chelly’, The Most Wonderful Place On Earth, Revisited.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
a.  Grand Canyon experience, 2013.

++++ Search on ‘Arizona‘ for some other posts >>>>


Click to ENLARGE.
[These are RESIZED 396 KB images.
I will post a few of the full-size 4.7MB images later.]

Copyright will be enforced.

Canyon de Chelly by Anura Guruge

Anura Guruge and family (4 of 6) at Canyon de Chelly in April 2015.


2 of 5 short, shaky YouTube videos.
Click to access.

Canyon de Chelly video on YouTube by Anura Guruge

horseriding in Canyon de Chelly video on YouTube by Anura Guruge


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.


Disney World Deluxe Dining Plan — Rapid Fill Refillable Mugs Limited To Hotel Use.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013...
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by
Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> 5 days at Disney World
>>May 3, 2014.
>> Disney Deluxe DiningMay 5, 2014.
>> Changing Dining Reservations —
>> May 7, 2014.
>> FingerprintsMay 6, 2014.
>> Splash Mountain — May 4, 2014.
>> Epcot with Siemens is WRONG — May 4, 2014.

++++  Search on ‘Disney’ or check Category ‘Disney’
for other Disney related posts >>>>


This as with the other posts about the gratuities and changing reservations is just to give you a heads up prior to you getting to Disney so as to minimize the number of surprises when you get there.

It is spelled out clearly in the Disney brochure but it is easy to overlook its true significance until you are there clutching a mug. The refillable mugs you get with the Dining Plan can ONLY be used in hotels. In other words you can’t use those mugs within the parks. That is the catch.

Click to ENLARGE. Use link below to access the Disney Deluxe Dining brochure, from Disney, as a PDF.

Click to ENLARGE. Use link below to access the Disney Deluxe Dining brochure, from Disney, as a PDF.

Link to access Disney Deluxe Dining brochure, from Disney, as a PDF.

I guess that that caveat didn’t register with me.

Not that it really matters. It is not an option on the Dining Plan. If it was I would have been a bit miffed. It is but a feature of the plan. So these RESORT refillable mugs only come in handy if you spend a lot of time at the hotel rather than at parks or dining. With this dining plan you get refillable drinks (non-alcoholic) during meals. So if you plan to spend a day or two around the pool these mugs will sure come in handy. Wasn’t much use for us since we only spent about 4 hours in total in or around the pool.

So just a heads up in case it helps.


Click to ENLARGE.


Disney Epcot Soarin’ Ride — It Is A Lot Of Fun, BUT Disney Could & SHOULD Do Better.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013...
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by
Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> 5 days at Disney World
>>May 3, 2014.
>> Disney FastPass+ Tips
>>May 9, 2014.
>> Easily changing reservations
>> at Disney
 — May 7, 2014.
>> Disney Deluxe Dining
>>May 5, 2014.
>> FingerprintsMay 6, 2014.
>> Splash Mountain — May 4, 2014.
>> Epcot with Siemens is WRONG — May 4, 2014.

++++  Search on ‘Disney’ or check Category ‘Disney’
for other Disney related posts >>>>


Click to access Disney's pitch about this Epcot attraction.

Click to access Disney’s pitch about this Epcot attraction.

Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ 

soaringytlegs

A decent 11 minute video of the whole experience — which shows the distracting dangling legs! Click to access YouTube video.

Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ Θ 

The DANGLING LEGS. Click to access the original and more photos at 'touringplans.com'.

The DANGLING LEGS. Click to access the original and more photos at ‘touringplans.com’.


Soarin’ at Epcot was one of our FastPass+ reservations. It looked good when we were looking through the attractions and it was INDEED fun. The ride we got was the same one shown in the YouTube video (above) and was a trip over California — which was fun since Deanna and I had done the San Francisco tourist ‘thing’ in 2005.

Good ride.

But, there was something that was NOT RIGHT.

You had feet from the other riders dangling in front of YOU and to your side.

That spoils the whole illusion and hoped for effect.

If this was anywhere else I would not bitch about it.

But, this is Dinsey! Disney can and SHOULD do better.

In the scheme of things it shouldn’t be too hard for Disney to come up with a way to fix the dangling leg distraction.

New York Empire State Building equivalent. Click to access.

New York Empire State Building equivalent. Click to access.

Come on, Disney … where is your magic?

So this was poor — as is their insistence on having a discredited German firm, viz. Siemens, sponsoring Epcot.

What would Walt do?

A few years ago when we visited the Empire State Building we did a similar ride. I could be wrong, but I think it was better. So this is just a heads up and a request to Disney. Please make this ride better. Thank you.


I am good at playing the tourist part. Note the yellow FastPass+ bracelet. Click to ENLARGE.

Making sure Teischan got her share of Character Dining was a key goal. Click to ENLARGE.


Disney World FastPass+: Tips For Getting The Most For Your Bang.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013...
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by
Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> 5 days at Disney World
>>May 3, 2014.
>> Easily changing reservations
>> at Disney
 — May 7, 2014.
>> Disney Deluxe Dining
>>May 5, 2014.
>> FingerprintsMay 6, 2014.
>> Splash Mountain — May 4, 2014.
>> Epcot with Siemens is WRONG — May 4, 2014.

++++  Search on ‘Disney’ or check Category ‘Disney’
for other Disney related posts >>>>


Click to access Disney FastPass+ promotion.

Click to access Disney FastPass+ promotion.

A yellow Disney RFID FastPass+ bracelet on my right wrist to complete my yellow ensemble for the day. This was late Wednesday afternoon around 5pm. Bucketed down, but it was OK. I had a big hat to protect me. Click to ENLARGE.


“It is a Small World” — still fun (and rejuvenated) after all these decades. Click to ENLARGE. Actually click ANY to ENLARGE.

Go course, given that we had bought a complete all-inclusive Disney Experience package, replete with Dining Plan, (from AAA), we had Disney FastPass+ on our RFID wristbands.

Given that everybody, i.e., AAA, Disney reps and other folks, told us that we MUST book the FastPass+ rides before we left, I did so, 3 weeks ahead of time after I had made the Dining reservations. As far as I can see they only let you make three (3) reservations (3) per park, per day — and since we didn’t have a Park-Hopper pass, we were limited to one park a day (which was fine with me).

I made and used nine reservations during the first 3 days (of our four day visit): Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Meet Cinderella & Rapunzel (during which Devanee and I did the ‘Carousel of Progress‘), Magic Carpet of Aladdin, Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s a Small World, Mission: Space, Spaceship Earth and Soaring.

FastPass+ works. That is without doubt or debate.

They give you a full hour window to make your reservation, e.g., from 10:15 to 11:15.

First TIP: From what I found there is still, as there should be, a possible 15 minute GRACE period tagged onto the end.

Magic Carpet of Aladdin.

We were late for Soaring because our lunch, at the amazing dining within an aquarium ‘Coral Reef‘ (at Epcot), was leisurely. We didn’t make it till about 15 minutes past the end of our 1 hour time window. But, our bands still turned the sensor GREEN — and that is all that matters. If your bands denote GREEN — it is all GO. So we made it though we were late. So, I think there is, at least, a 15 minute grace period — as there should be. That is good. So keep this in mind — and don’t kill yourself.

Second TIP: Disney restaurants (and hotels) can give you a FastPass+ pass to use in lieu of your band. Remember that! We had a remarkably nice lady, originally from NY, as our waitress while we were having lunch at the ‘Coral Reef’. She had been there for 19 years. When she realized that we were in a hurry because of our FastPass+ reservation she INSISTED that we chill out and that she can take care of it. According to her ‘they’ have very little power but FastPass+ reservations was one thing that they could influence. Within minutes she had a manager at our table who filled out and handed to me a FastPass+ PASS. Basically entitled us, all 4, to a FastPass+ entrance. Me being who I am, I studied it carefully. It was not restricted to any ride, any specific times or dates. It was a FREE pass. I put it in my pocket. As I said above we were NOT that late for our ride — just 15 minutes. The bands still worked. In my old age I don’t volunteer ‘anything’ unless I have to. So I had kept my Free Pass safely inside my pants though Devanee kept on telling me to fish it out. Heck no. When the bands worked we did the ride.

I now had a Free Pass for another ride! All legit. Didn’t do anything wrong. We used that to do the ‘Test Track by Chevrolet‘. Worked like a charm — as it should. Was a fun experience. Glad we did it, but as I told teh girl I shared a car with the ride really isn’t that fast in that it does not exceed 80 mph. Well that is not really that fast for me! But, unlike others I am not going to shoot my mouth about exceeding the speed limit.

Mission: Space — entrance.

Third TIP: If there is rain scheduled during your trip exploit that. We had downpours on Tuesday and Wednesday — late in the day. We had seen that in the forecast. Once the rain ended there were hardly any lines for the outdoor rides! So we got to do the ‘Tomorrowland Speedway‘ without a wait even without FastPass+ That was Tuesday. Ditto the next day. We got to see ‘Mickey’s PhilharMagic‘, which was very good, without a wait.

Fourth TIP: Even with FastPass+ you, in the end, end up getting merged with those on ‘standby’ standing in line — though you get a good 20 to 50 headstart over them. But FastPass+ does NOT mean that there is no line. There is always a line at the end! With FastPass+ you miss 80% to 95% of the wait — but, in our experience, never all 100% of the wait. So if you know, by asking folks or checking on the Web, that a ride typically has a wait time of 20 minutes or less — do NOT WASTE one of your FastPass+ reservations on it. Just stand in line.

Fifth TIP: As with Dining reservations FastPass+ reservations can be changed once you are there.

Sixth TIP: They try to get you to ‘waste’ your FastPass+ reservations by using them to get preferred locations for parades and fireworks. I would NOT do that. IF you are halfway savvy enough you should be able to find plenty of good places to watch parades and fireworks WITHOUT sacrificing a FastPass+ reservation. We did.

Hope these tips help. Enjoy.


Always happens when I am in humid climes. My hair turns orange and grows like weed. Must get a haircut soon. Click to ENLARGE, if you dare.

Never worked out whether you could get into this castle. We didn’t. Just admired it from afar. Click to ENLARGE.


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