My mornings are grand. They start slow and easy with that perfect morning tea, morning newspaper and a sumptuous breakfast. Waking up at 5 in the morning, not having eaten a good breakfast or sipped on a good cup of tea was not exactly my definition of a grand morning. To make things worse, we did a zip through McDs crappy burger for lunch. The only person thrilled about McD —Neil. He got Batman, Robin and the Bat-mobile in the sack. What more could a kid want?
So by the time we did Wupatki and got back in the car, we were pretty much done for the day. Until, of course, hubby announced that there is some shopping ahead. Things started looking up again. As a tradition, we always bring home an artifact unique to the place we visit. So Cameron Trading Post seemed to have lots of promise at this point. It is located on highway 89, 54 miles north of Flagstaff in Coconino County, AZ, at the junction with the road to the east entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park. There is a giant billboard about a mile before you hit the post to let you know where to turn.
This place is art! There is so much of native American art here that I simply went around in circles trying to figure out what to take home. Pottery, jewelery, handmade rugs, sand paintings and so much more. The turquoise pottery in the photograph is my favourite. It has the artist’s name etched at the bottom. The trading post has an online store where I can look up the artist and understand his craftsmanship. Double whammy! The red stone block is made from the local rock here. What better way to remember a place than to be able to carry it away with you when you leave. Each time I look at it, I’m reminded of the majestic and brave warriors of this desert land.
The place mat was a total eye wash. I bought it because the patterns looked representative of the native American blanket designs. I love the geometric shapes and the colorful combinations. But when I got home and looked at the sticker to find the artist’s name, it read “made in India.” My only reaction to that—blink, blink! I’ll believe in my heart that some Navajo or Hopi descendant painstakingly imagined and brought this piece of cloth to life.
Much of the old charm about the building still remains. As you drive into the post, you’ll see a hanging bridge to your right. This bridge was built over the Little Colorado River in 1911 creating the first easy access over the gorge. A little after, two brothers, Hubert and C.D. Richardson established Cameron Trading Post. Back in the day, this post was visited only by the Navajo and Hopi people to exchange their wool, blankets, & live-stock for dry goods. It took days for horse-drawn carriages to reach the post, and therefore, the guests were always housed, fed, and taken care of like family. The housed and fed have now turned into a lodge and restaurant offering American and Southwestern cuisine.
Between trying to find that perfect gem to take home and keeping Neil from smashing down the pottery, we spent more time here than we intended to. On the drive to and from here, we noticed the township was lacking the semblance of a grand civilization. It was desolate for the most part except for clusters of homes every few miles. I suppose a lot of what we saw were the reservations. All along the way, there were small shacks that sold “authentic” native American art work. These are authorized and authenticated sites where the locals come to sell their wares.
We packed it again and got back in the car and drove on into the Grand Canyon! We had to make into the Canyon before sundown, so we drove like possessed peoples past wide-eyed deers, tall green pines, and curvy narrow roads. I’m not sure there is one way to describe the magnificence of this place. I’ll leave the Canyon to another post by itself.