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This dragon has a tickle in her tummy. Arno, Andrew and myself went to see the 91st Annual Intertribal Indian Ceremonials in Gallup this year. Ceremonial is always interesting, and I have fond memories of watching it from an upstairs window of a relative's shop with a cousin when we were little. I had tried talking other people into coming, as an Arcadia event, but people were either strapped for cash this year or uninterested in coming to the desert in the beginning of August.

We had intended to do more things than we did, but due to some confusing directions and a couple bad turns, we ended up at our first touristy destination, El Morro National Monument, too late to gain entry. It was an interesting time being lost, though, as we ened up driving down a little track next to the highway out toward Manuelito, trying to find something that joined up with the highway again. On the way out, we passed a big group of horses and horseback riders, probably taking the animals into Gallup for the rodeos and parade. (There were surprisingly few horses in the parade though, and only at the very end... Sanitation reasons, I suppose.) I finally managed to find a spot to turn around and cross the highway... only to be stuck in the traffic held up by the horses.

We got back into town, checked into our hotel room and crashed for a moment before heading toward El Morro... but I had two sets of directions, and in using my Mom's nicely printed out set, we got sent the long route through Zuni, rather than following I-40. As I mentioned, we got there at closing time, and the gate was already shut, but we were treated to a nice rainshower and a beautiful sunset on the way back. We also got back so late that our dinner plans were shot... I bumped them to lunch for the following day. I can't go to Gallup without getting some green chili soft tacos at Don Diego's.... I'd kill for them. In any case, we ended up on the outskirts of town, and still a bit disoriented, I ended up driving around until I got my bearings... I've been to these areas numerous times, but haven't driven most of them myself. Big difference. In the end, I got us back on Route 66, through downtown, and up to Blake's Lottaburger for some chili-cheeseburgers... but man was that some hot chili! The day was kind of a wash, in my eyes at least, but we had fun. Wherever you go, there you are.

We set an early wakeup call so we'd have time for breakfast at Earl's, and afterward headed downtown, about an hour and a half before the parade was due to start. I'll let Arno talk about the parade in more detail, but I will say that the number of participating tribes has dwindled quite a bit from what it was when I was younger... economy, interest, gas prices, etc. I'm betting in another 9 years though, the tribes will be coming out of the woodwork to participate.

After the parade, we returned to the car and attempted to weave our way though traffic to Don Diego's... downtown was blocked off for several blocks that weren't even part of the parade route, so we spent a lot of time being rerouted directions we didn't want to go. I eventually got back on 66 and found the restaurant though. I noticed while eating and commented to the guys that, "I think we may be the only white people in this whole restaurant."

We followed up lunch with a trip through the Painted Desert, which is extremely pretty... though it was it was in the high 90's temperature wise, if not over 100, and in the dead of the afternoon. There were quite a number of stops along the route as well... so we'd get a little bit of air conditioning as we drove another 1/4 mile down the road to the next stop. We did manage to get out and walk some of the trails without collapsing from the heat, though I think we went through most of my supply of water. (For those not in the know, always go into the desert with a flat of bottled water. It's good to have, even if it's like drinking extremely weak tea rather than a nice cooling drink. I think I went through about six bottles on my own over the course of two hours!)

We made it home in the evening, and Andy's mom met us in the morning to ferry Andy back to Prescott. We ate at Coco's for brunch before they returned, and I discovered a wonderful localized specialty: the Wicked Breakfast Burrito. The thing weighed about two pounds and was stuffed with eggs, rice, chorizo sausage, green chili, tomato, avocado and jack and cheddar cheese, and came with roasted jalapenos and tomatillo salsa. OMG, yum. I ate more than half, before donating the rest to Ann and Andy to try when they got home, because they thought it was interesting, but were too full to try a bite of mine at the time. (I went back later in the week for another one and managed to eat 3/4 of it this time... only stopping because I didn't want to make myself sick by finishing it off. The jalapenos didn't help any either.. spicy things kill your appetite!)

Sorry, guys, for taking so long. Especially since Beedoo! refuses to draw more comics so long as I haven't posted. I have been busy with work, and while it's not so much time-consuming, it saps energy. As I type this in the weekend I'm actually available to be contacted on behalf of a big customer; I'm not even really allowed to leave the house! Still, this gives me the opportunity to finally upload the pictures - the pictures that Beedoo! kindly resized for me, I might add!

Anyway, on to the more interesting bit... Beedoo! had insisted on taking me to see the Ceremonial parade, and I have to admit, I had some private misgivings. It did not mesh well with my desire to only visit Arizona in the cheaper off-season (flights are expensive otherwise!), and I was not sure whether I would enjoy the parade a lot. I'm not good with standing around and watching stuff pass that's supposed to be interesting. So, imagine how surprised I am at how much I enjoyed it!

It's not that strange, I suppose. For people in Arizona the Indian reservations are a plain fact of life. For me, Indians are actors who put feathers on their heads and pretend to shoot arrows at cowboys. As much as I know about the existance of Native Americans, I don't know much of them. Heck, when the animated series Gargoyles had an episode with kachina dancers all those years ago, it simply left me confused. I had no idea what that had been all about. Contrast this with Beedoo!'s knowledge on kachinas and various tribes. I am Dutch. This stuff all lives far away from me.

So perhaps I enjoyed it because it was real. These were not people playing pretend, but people showing something from their culture and history that sincerely mattered to them. It's hard to dismiss that kind of sincerity.

Anyway, the Ceremonial parade took place in Gallup, New Mexico, famous to my dad for being in a song about Route 66. I had been there once before, and remember fondly how a tiny little tumbleweed made friends with my ankle, but it was only for a brief time, and for the sad purpose of Sis's funeral. My recollection of New Mexico was solely that of a windy, dusty state. So, I was quite amused when we entered the state and it announced itself as the Land of Enchantment (I joked about dragons swooping down and snatching up the cars on the road, and still enjoy that mental image). Initially, this claim seemed ridiculous. However, when Beedoo! took us on a trip to El Morro National Monument, we got to see the more nice-looking parts of the state.

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Even though the monument was closed by the time we got there, I still consider the trip to be a success. Everyone's been really impressed with the sunsets we managed to capture!

But what of Gallup? Gallup is one of those places that Dutch people don't believe exist for real. But they do...

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What I had not noticed the last time I had been there, though, was the large amount of art that seemed to be all over the place. That took me by surprise:

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At the morning of the parade we got up early and ate at Earl's, one of the places where Beedoo! really wanted to eat. Some of the native American serving staff wore beautiful garb. This one was ours:

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Afterwards we went over to the parade route and tried to find a place to stand or sit. Happily we did find a place to sit, albeit in the hot desert sun. There we watched the various vendors that identified this as an American event sell their wares.

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That, gentle but easily panicked reader, is Andrew. When we (read: "Beedoo!") planned this trip we invited the entire Arcadia Clan to join us, as well as Beedoo!'s Australian friend Andrew. Of those, only Andrew actually came (what gives, Arcadians?! Don't want to hang out with us anymore? o.O) Andrew is therefore the only one in the above comic, immortalized as an anthropomorphic Kangaroo. We refer to him as "Anderoo" now. ;)

Right, so, anyway, after a while the runners came. Running is, so Beedoo! tells me, a big thing in Native American cultures. Then some more vendors, and then, the parade finally began:

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(Anyone notice the Navajo code talker in there?) (addendum from Beedoo: This WWII vet may be the last of his kind, if not the last one ambulatory enough for a parade!)

Sadly, our view was not great because the lady next to us used an umbrella to block both the sun and any view of what was coming. I suppose it's somewhat understandable, because man was it hot, sitting out there in the sun for hours. And afterwards we went to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, to ensure that we were properly cooked all the way to the core of our beings. But, ultimately, it was worth it.

The end. :) .
Oh, fine, have some Painted Desert then...

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The end!

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