Saturday, 9 October 2010

Blanding Utah October 8th
I have decided to stay here for the next few nights. Not because Blanding has anything especially to commend it, you understand. Far from it. The place is not merely barless but dry, arid and parched, in every respect. It is virtually all LDS. Those that are not are almost all Navajo, whose main religion is Christianity of either the mainstream type or completely wacky. The Navajo Reservation is just south of here. Some of the other indigenous population are from the Ute tribe. Their reservation is south-east of Branding. The girls on reception are both Navajo. They are totally integrated and consider themselves American first and tribe members second. That is not to say they are at all apologetic about their history, far from it. They are 95% certain to marry Navajo men and will pass on the oral and written traditions they had passed to them by their mothers. I had thought that there was enormous resentment amongst the tribes over the way they were forced to settle in designated areas, which were often hugely under-resourced. This is not the case with the Navajo people. They were fairly widely dispersed in the area of North Arizona and Southern Utah and have ended up with land that they feel is home. I have yet to discover whether they are able to exercise any political or financial autonomy.
The average Navajo female has, without wishing to be judgemental or inconsiderate, sound child bearing dimensions. I suspect this is considered a delicacy amongst the Navajo males. They live in scattered rural communities, or alongside the followers of Brigham the Bigamist in towns. The buildings in the rural areas look like those normally associated with a research station in, say, Grytviken. Again, I have yet to discover whether this is by accident or design.
Blanding’s only significant advantage is a geographical one. It lies neatly between three National Parks. Mesa Verde, Canyonlands and Arches. Of the three, Arches is the one I most want to get to. I have taught stuff relating to it for many years and the landforms are extraordinary. It is on the way to Denver from here, so I will probably go there on Monday.
I went to Mesa Verde today. It is famous for some remarkable Pueblo Indian cave dwellings. I was very pleased to have got there as I doubt if there is very much like it anywhere else in the world. The dwellings are built into natural alcoves, in otherwise near vertical cliff faces, which have been formed as water has seeped out between layers of sandstone. The Pueblo used rocks and stones to make some fairly advanced constructions, perched precariously on ledges. If I could work out how to include pictures in the blog, I would do so.

I have to confess that in the absence of anything much else in the evening, I have begun to follow the baseball play-offs. I still think it is a ridiculous game but there is some considerable entertainment value. Crowd scenes are my favourite. Not much evidence of polite applause and cucumber sandwiches. Raucous shouting, hot-dogs and fancy dress are the order of the day. Which I suppose, on reflection, describes the West Terrace at Headingly from about 1.30 onwards and the Holmesdale Road End every Saturday.

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