The Rockies, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon & the Navajo

Labor Day celebrated, Sept 2, 2013

Flagstaff AZ

Today our bus driver, Dwayne announced that we’ve traveled around 4000 miles in the past five days. I’m feelin’ it too. It’s been a good trip though. Let me explain how we got here by backing up about 1500 miles.

From Iowa City we deadheaded to Evergreen CO, a little alpine bedroom to Denver, only 45 minutes away. I am told Willie Nelson used to have a place here. We parked in front of our destination, the Little Bear Saloon.

DSC07775 DSC07777 Cuz played here back in 1987. George Thorogood, Delbert McClinton, have also been on this tight stage. It’s a Colorado landmark, with a couple hundred women’s bras hanging from the stage. I didn’t care to ask how that got started. Tonight, the owner added an American Flag & bunting.

IMG_5408After the show, it was an all night drive to Flagstaff AZ. The next morning as I entered the front lounge, I was immediately pummeled by the awe-inspiring views as we rolled through Monument Valley.

DSC07815-EditDSC07853-EditNot even time even for a cup of coffee.

DSC07818-EditSome of God’s best work is here. Every angle and every minute of the day he gives you another masterpiece to absorb.

DSC07825-EditDSC07858-EditVisually, it just never lets up. No wonder John Ford filmed so many Westerns here, and no wonder I’m draining my camera battery and filling up my memory card.

DSC07857-EditThat afternoon we arrive at our 4000-mile mark in Flagstaff. We luxuriate with long hot showers, stretch our legs, explore downtown and spend the night in a nice hotel with beds that don’t move……ahhhh, heaven. My body needs it tonight.

Usually, side trips don’t route, but the next day, Sept 3rd, we’re lucky. Around 9 am we climb back onboard the bus and head to the Grand Canyon.
IMG_5428Marty and Paul have never been, and as we stand at the rim, whether you’ve been here or not, you are awe-struck with the view.

DSC07903Like Monument Valley, pictures just don’t do it justice. You have to experience it for yourself.

DSC07911After we each take it in for ourselves we suit up for a few pictures. Marty takes my official Grand Canyon photo in full show clothes.

DSC07974An hour and a half later, we’re back in Flagstaff to sound-check for our show at the historic Museum Club.

DSC07982Established in 1931 first as a taxidermy museum then later as a rough and tumble roadhouse, it stands right on Route 66.

DSC07992Entering through the giant forked ponderosa pine, this stage has seen everyone from Bob Wills and Wynn Stewart to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Tonight however, it’s us.

DSC08007It doesn’t feel like things have changed since 1931, except for a few flat screens showing all the ESPN channels and an off-track betting area in the corner.

DSC08009DSC08010DSC08014Johnny Western, the composer and recording artist who gave us the song “Have Gun Will Travel,” for the TV series of the same name, visits us before the show.

DSC08023The next morning we leave Flagstaff in the rearview, we head to our last show of this run, Window Rock AZ for the Navajo Fair and Rodeo. But not before a quick stop at the Hubbell Trading Post.

DSC08039John Lorenzo Hubbell established this trading post in the late 1800’s approximately ten years after the Navajo returned from government-imposed exile back to their decimated homeland. While in exile, the natives were introduced to white man staples such as sugar, coffee, baking powder and canned goods. The trading post helped the Navajo rise from economic ruin by establishing exchange of goods between the Anglos and the natives.

Entering the post is a step into a time machine.

DSC08047The floorboards creak and everything for sale and on the walls is the real deal. I love perusing the weavings.

DSC08049DSC08048I am amused by the back pick up window of one of the native caretakers.

DSC08051As we leave, Marty draws a crowd and visits with the staff.

DSC08062DSC08063A few miles down the road from the Hubbell, we arrive at our last stop on this tour, the tribal seat of the Navajo Nation, Window Rock AZ.

DSC08206We are the entertainment for the first night of the fair. As we get set up, the rodeo rider’s visit and get warmed up for the calf roping.

DSC08104DSC08140DSC08159Finally, the calf’s are released and the ropin’ begins

DSC08231DSC08235DSC08231DSC08334After the bull riding and an opening act, we get to do our thing.

IMG_5417As we leave the West we’re gonna add another 1400 miles or so to the 4000 we’ve already racked up. This has been one heck of a trip. The Badlands, the Rockies, twelve eagles, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Johnny Western, a historic trading post and an Indian Rodeo. The only thing missing was having my loved ones near me from home.

We’ve got the bus pointed towards Nashville now.  As we head into the sunrise and the inevitable truck stops, I give thanks for good shows and safe passage.

IMG_5402May God bless you, and thanks for taking this ride with me.

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