Monday, June 26, 2017

In Kayenta and Monument Valley

Reuben Myer Heflin and Toney the Navajo Guide: As you must surely recall (see The Road To Kayenta), Mr & Mrs Abq Jew & Alex just went on a magnificent Road Trip to Monument Valley.

When last heard from, they had just arrived in Kayenta, Arizona.

Their first overnight stop, therefore, was to be at the Hampton Inn Kayenta, one of the handful of hotels and motels that serve visitors to Monument Valley.

The Hampton Inn Kayenta is a very nice hotel with a very nice restaurant - the "Reuben Heflin Restaurant."

So Abq Jew wondered - as he is sure you, his loyal readers, also wonder -

Who the heck was Reuben Heflin?

Here is a brief biography [mostly] from Monument Valley Online. A more extensive bio appears on the cover of the restaurant's menu.
Reuben Myer Heflin (1910 - 1967) 
The Navajos from the area called him Bilagaana Tso (Fat Whiteman). Reuben Heflin was born and raised at Farmington, New Mexico. 
As a school teacher in December of 1937, he married another school teacher - Mildred Carson, whose parents were Indian Traders. Reuben and Mildred Heflin purchased their first store, Oljato Trading Post, and operated it from 1937 through 1945. 
[Mildred Heflin was born in Farmington, New Mexico, in 1913. Her parents, O.J. Carson and Jessie Smith Carson, started out ranching but soon took up trading, buying a trading post 30 miles from Farmington at a place now called Carsons. Mildred was educated at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and taught on the reservation for a year and a half before she married Rueben Heflin.]
In 1945, they sold Oljato Trading Post and purchased and operated Shonto Trading Post. In 1955, Reuben Heflin purchased the "second" Kayenta Trading Post - the "first" Kayenta Trading Post and Lodge having being built in 1911 by John Wetherill. 
During this time, all highway pavement stopped at Tuba City to the west and Shiprock, New Mexico to the east. 
The Heflins then constructed a "third" Kayenta Trading Post, which is still in operation today. Kayenta got its first Public School in 1959, and Reuben Heflin was elected to the School Board. 
In 1958, he started to build the "second" motel ever in Kayenta - The Wetherill Inn. 
Beginning in 1959, a new highway was under construction joining Tuba City and Shiprock, New Mexico. Reuben Heflin then constructed the Holiday Inn in 1965, which he actively operated. 
He had three daughters, one of whom constructed and operates the Hampton Inn of Kayenta.
Christmas Party-Heflin's, December 21, 1946, Navajo women in wagon

A Yid? A MOT? Maybe, maybe not.
And what about Harry Goulding?

There is a long tradition of German merchants and Jewish merchants (and especially German Jewish merchants) who became Indian traders in the American West.

Were Reuben and Harry part of that tradition?
You never know. But this is How The West Was Won.

Which brings us to US Highway 163, the Road from Kayenta to Monument Valley. Where Mrs Abq Jew had booked us a private tour with Monument Valley Safari.

Now, there are (there is?) a slew of tour companies to choose from. Mrs Abq Jew selected Monument Valley Safari for one very important reason - they offered tours in closed, air conditioned vehicles.

Oh - has Abq Jew mentioned the wind?
And how about the blowing sand?
That gets in your teeth and (worse) in your eyes.

Goulding's Lodge (of course) offers tours - but in open-back, multi-passenger jeeps. The same with other tour companies. On some days, this must be nice. 

But on the fiercely windy day we chose, Mr & Mrs Abq Jew & Alex were glad to have the Chevy Suburban. And very glad to have Toney, our Navajo guide.

Here is a video that shows the Monument Valley Safari experience.

Note: The "My" in My Edited video does not refer to Abq Jew.

But wait! What about the monuments?

Abq Jew took a ... load of pictures. Very few of which actually turned out well. Because it turns out that if you just point and shoot and plan on using PicMonkey to fix it later, you will be disappointed.

So - the Abq Jew found the photo above (taken from the Visitors Center) somewhere on the Internet.

And he found the photos below on the website of Alex Chihak, who claims to be "an amateur photographer just trying to get better at what I do."

Three Sisters    Photo by Alex Chihak

Ear of the Wind Arch    Photo by Alex Chihak

Hub Butte    Photo by Alex Chihak

Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei (Dancers)    Photo by Alex Chihak

Abq Jew thinks (hopes) that "Totem Pole" will soon be renamed

"Farewell Salute To Our Departing President"

And it turned out that Alex took a whole bunch of photos that really turned out great. Here are two of Abq Jew's favorites.

And it also turned out that our Navajo guide Toney could take really fine photos - he's had years of practice. With Alex's iPhone. Perhaps there's a message there.

More Road Trip blog posts! Click 
The Road To Kayenta & The Road From Kayenta

So as long as we're here, let's talk about The Wind.
The Wind is a 1928 American silent romantic drama film directed by Victor Sjöström. The movie was adapted by Frances Marion from the novel of the same name written by Dorothy Scarborough. It features Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson and Montagu Love. It was one of the last silent films released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and is considered one of the greatest silent films.
Here is the plot.
An impoverished young woman named Letty (Lillian Gish) travels west by train from Virginia to live at her cousin Beverly's isolated ranch in Sweetwater. On the way, she is bothered by the constantly blowing wind. 
Fellow passenger and cattle buyer Wirt Roddy (Montagu Love) makes her acquaintance and tells her the wind usually drives women crazy. 
Upon arrival, she is picked up by Beverly's closest neighbors, Lige Hightower (Lars Hanson) and the older, balding Sourdough (William Orlamond), who live 15 miles from her cousin. Wirt assures her he will drop by occasionally to see how she is doing. 
After endless miles in sand and wind, they arrive at the ranch .... 
The Wind immediately came to what little is left of Abq Jew's mind upon his arrival in Kayenta. Just as the wind dominates the film, so, in a way, did the wind try to dominate Mr & Mrs Abq Jew & Alex's stay in Kayenta and Monument Valley.

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