THERE IS AN ODDITY of cartography that draws thousands of people to a dusty, flaming hot and remote spot on the desert land of the Navaho Nation.
I really can’t tell you what state it is in because it is, and it isn’t, in four different states simultaneously.
This spot of dusty Navaho land is called “The Four Corners Monument” and it is where the borders of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico meet in a pinpoint of bureaucratic, “I’ll be darned.”
For some reason, thousands of people every year drive out into the desert, fork over the price of admission to the Navaho land, and the pose for pictures while trying to stand exactly on the spot of congruence.
I was there myself not long ago. It was a hellishly hot day and there was no shade. There was a line of people (couples, families, bikers – I don’t understand that one either) all waiting to have their pictures taken.
The best ones to watch (because that is what I do) were the kids who thought it would be cool to pose on all-fours sticking a hand or foot in all four states at once. Of course the kids, and more importantly their parents, overlooked one important detail – it was over 100 degrees out there and that large metal disk marking the spot in the concrete had been baking there since sunrise.
It was like watching that scene from the first Indiana Jones movie where the slimy little Nazi reaches into the fire to grab the sacred medallion.
Yikes-o-matic! The little Nazi branded himself but good and it wasn’t a heck of a lot different for the little kids slapping their palms onto that almost molten metal disk.
“Pose for Mommy!”
Skin slapping hot metal quickly followed by,
“Mommy! Help! It’s too hot!” again quickly followed by crying from the kid and a mommy wondering what to do with a screaming kid out in the middle of the desert. And five minutes later another kid will pull the same dumb stunt. Enter another singed pre-teen.
What to do?
Go shopping, of course!
Surrounding the Four Corners Monument is a wreath of individual souvenir stands owned and operated by some Navaho merchants.
You can buy jewelry (some better than others), T-shirts saying all sorts of relevant and irrelevant things, weavings (some of which I suspect were made in China), and an assortment of other stuff I can only categorize as “trinkets of unknown origin.”
The Navaho people have firmly embraced the concept of capitalism. If you are on Navaho land to see something of interest – you are going to pay for the privilege. If you want to park your car –it’s gonna cost ya. If you need to buy a ticket to see something – don’t forget your wallet – a full one. And, if for some reason you have cancel going to the event for which you bought the aforementioned ticket-
“Sorry, No refunds.”
I’m not saying that they are being dishonest or shady (there is no shade, remember?) I’m just pointing out that they aren’t going to leave a penny lying on the table long enough to get sufficiently hot to brand a Nazi.
I do suggest going out to see the Four Corners Monument in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and/or New Mexico. It isn’t that far from Monument Valley where you will towers and buttes rising up from the valley floor with unimaginable beauty. If it was good enough of a backdrop for several John Wayne movies it is good enough for you and me.
And you might get a chance to see some kid act really stupid in public.