Tag Archives: Canyon de Chelly

2-7-1 Contact

9 Feb

Over the weekend, I watched Contact, a movie that I have seen countless times. It is one of those films that I can watch over and over and never get tired of it. This could be for several reasons.

It is Science Fiction placed into the real world.

It portrays the conflict between science and religion.

It has a pre-Alright/Alright/Alright Matthew McConaughey playing the religious soul of the nation falling in love with Jodie Foster, the scientific mind of the nation.

It has one of the coolest Howard Hughes-type characters not named Howard Hughes.

It has a government cover-up.

The list could go on and on, but, in short, the movie has everything.

However, this post is not about any of that. It is about the closing scene.

Before the pictures fade to black and the credits roll, Jodie Foster is sitting on the rim of a canyon and contemplating all that has happened. As the camera scans, the radio antennas that picked up the transmission from space can be seen in the background.Jodie Foster Canyon

I always found the radio antennas fascinating and wanted to see them after my first viewing of the film. A few years ago, I got my wish and traveled to the Very Large Array, or VLA. It was cool to see the antennas stretch over the landscape. I took a bunch of pictures but could not find them. However, I did get a picture of the t-shirt that I bought.image-21

Oh yeah, one other thing was interesting. They bent over backwards to make sure we knew that SETI did not use the facility. I guess people go there thinking that Jodie Foster really got a message from space.

I write all of that to write this. There is not canyon at the VLA. When Jodie Foster sat at the rim of the canyon, she was somewhere else entirely, and I wanted to know where. With a short venture into the Internet Movie Database, I discovered that she was looking into Canyon de Chelly. As it turns out, I have also been there.West 2010 209

The VLA is in New Mexico.

Canyon de Chelly is in Arizona.

According to the GPS, they are 271 miles apart.

When people talk about Contact, they criticize her trip to the wormhole for being stupid. She traveled light years to run into her deceased dad. They are focusing on the wrong thing. The trip to Vega was amazing, but it was nowhere near as amazing as Jodie’s ability to be in two places at once.

Listeria – Heartbreaking Historic Sites

22 May

The May 2014 issue of True West contains a great article about historic sites in the American West. It is titled “16 Historical Destinations That Will Make You Weep”, but that title is misleading. Yes, there is a list of sites that will bring a tear to your eye and a break in your heart. However, there are two other lists that, to me, are just as emotional.

In this outbreak of Listeria, I will describe the sites that I have visited in the weeping category.

16 Historical Destinations That Will Make You Weep

1. Great Plains of North Dakota: The Near-Extinction of the American Bison – The destruction of these beasts is one of the great tragedies of United States history. I tend to focus on the plight of humans rather than animals, but, in this instance, they are intertwined. The massive loss of bisons helped bring the loss of every aspect of life for the Native Americans of the Plains. North Dakota is not the only place this is felt. It can be felt throughout the middle of the continent.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 302

2. Acoma Pueblo: Acoma Pueblo Battle and Massacre, Acoma, New Mexico – If not for required meetings I could have been at Acoma this week. The article focuses on the conflict between the Pueblo and the Spanish, a conflict that remains in the hearts and minds of the people. However, the sadness continues. Every year, we take students to Acoma and always stop to see Norma Jean, a lady who sells pottery along the side of the street. Last year, we learned that her husband had cancer. When Trader Dave called to check on her, he learned that her husband had died and his family had kicked her out of the house. She owns a house on the mesa and moved there. However, on the mesa there is no electricity or running water.SONY DSC

5. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas: The War of Texas Independence – In Texas, this site takes on mythic and almost religious importance. I have not visited the site in years, but I remember that it was disappointing. It sits among downtown buildings and has been whittled away through the years. I figured if something was this important, then it would have been taken care of better.

7. Battle of Little Big Horn, Montana – I have written about this site many times and will not repeat myself. However, it is my favorite historic site and a place where the emotions of both sides of the conflict can be felt.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 126

11. Canyon de Chelly, Arizona – This is a sad and beautiful place to visit, but the surroundings affected me more. Driving through the Navajo Nation to get to the canyon takes you through complete poverty. If anyone wants to see the effect that United States expansion had on Native Americans, then they need to drive through this land. To get through the canyon, you must be guided by a Navajo whose family owns land within its walls. The tour is informative but talking to the guide about reservation life is the real education.

West 2010 214

The next couple of posts will describe places I have visited on the other two lists.

Listeria – Western Locales

12 Aug

The latest edition of American Cowboy lists twelve destinations in the American West that every cowboy must visit. Well, I’m not a cowboy. I don’t wear a cowboy hat, boots or Wrangler jeans. I don’t ride horses. At one time, my dad owned the top ranked herd of Angus in Tennessee, but I only went to the production sales to eat and watch the spectacle. Despite all of those non-cowboy things, I love the American West, and, of the twelve locations in the magazine, these are my favorites.

Grand Canyon National Park – I believe this is something that every American should see at least once in their lifetime.West 2010 313

The magazine says that people should visit Prescott, Arizona while they are in the area. I couldn’t agree more. Prescott has one of the coolest town squares I have ever seen. Wait, I guess I should call it a plaza.

Monument Valley – By far, my favorite place in the American West. It may be my favorite place in the world. It is the land of the Navajo. It is the land of John Ford. It is also the banner at the top of this blog.West 2010 258

The magazine suggests that people should also go to Canyon de Chelly. It is also in the Navajo Nation and is a place that should not be passed up. Although, be sure to go into the canyon with a Navajo guide.West 2010 213

Black Hills – This is the Holy Land of the Sioux, and the United States took it for the gold in the ground. Now, there is Mount Rushmore and a mountain being carved to represent Crazy Horse. The rest of the hills are covered with old mining towns, the most famous of which is Deadwood. No one should leave Deadwood without walking through Mt. Moriah Cemetery and leaving an offering at the grave of Wild Bill Hickok.

Yellowstone National Park – It is filled with natural wonders – geysers, hot springs, buffalo and more things than can be mentioned. This is another place that every American should see at least once, and they should enter from the original entrance to the north. If you are going to do it, then do it like they did in the old days.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 275

Those are a few of the places to see in the West. There are only hundreds of more that could be listed.