On contract in Fort Defiance Arizona (staying in Gallup, NM)
CAIRN TRAVELER VLOG | EP 34
With the summer heat in the desert comes the afternoon storms, snakes, wildflowers, flash floods, and mosquitoes. I also take you along this week for a look at the Fort Defiance/Window Rock area and a tour around the area that I lived and worked in for a almost a year.
Be creative and find your adventure this week!! ✌️😎
More southern sites such as Phoenix or Tucson may have more specific times of the year for “desert blooms” but as for Gallup, we had lovely scattered flowers for most of the summer but these really accentuated during rain periods. We have little to no cacti in Gallup and northern New Mexico/Arizona/Utah other than the very small ground variety, whereas you would find the varieties of Saguaro, Barrel, Cholla, etc. in the southern regions.
On many drives through the South-West you will pass dry “river beds,” gulches, drainage ditches, etc. and you may wonder if you are in some post-apocalyptic world where water is no more . . . and then come the desert monsoons. Toward the end of the July, the extreme hot air leads to overcast and stormy skies by noon and true monsoons come in August into September. As you will see in the footage, the actual rain can be dozens of miles away but the water winds its way through all of those ditches, culverts, and channels; resulting in some fairly awe-inspiring flash flooding which can be there one minute and gone the next. This is the most dangerous time to be exploring the desert, particularly the slot canyons of Utah - keep in mind that something made those slots.
At first I thought mosquitoes were not going to be a thing in the South-West - I was wrong - with the precipitation comes the mosquitoes. Thankfully, this is a very short-lived couple of weeks versus the months of mosquitoes in my home state of South Carolina.
While I stayed in Gallup for my time working here in Arizona, I actually worked 45 minutes away in Fort Defiance (several miles from Window Rock - the capital of the Navajo Nation). This is one of the longer commutes (I had an hour-long commute in Colorado) but is mostly a straight shot and a beautiful drive but as you can imagine a 12 hour shift plus 45 minutes at either end can be rough and there were many times I had to pull over and take a quick cat nap before continuing home. This is a very rural area in a low socioeconomic population - many still live in the traditional octagonal hogans and many without running water (you will see a great deal of water hauling in this area). Unlike the East Coast where cities are generally just one big continuous sprawl, in the South-West you will find clearly defined cities and towns. You will pass one town on the interstate and there will be literally nothing for 25-50 miles until the next (pay attention to fuel out here - not all small towns will have a place to refuel - I usually start looking as soon as I get under half a tank). While Fort Defiance is only several miles down the road from Window Rock, it is it’s own little town with the town of Saint Michaels also be close in this general area. Despite the rough conditions, this is nonetheless a beautiful place and I’m happy I get to show you around in the footage above.
(The last five videos)
Editing: Adobe Premier Pro (Creative Cloud)
Music: Epidemic Sound, MUSICBED, Soundstripe, YouTube Music Library
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