Humbled in Navajo Nation


Note: I explain at the end of the post why I used a “blank” photo

It was day two of a three day road trip through some of Arizona’s and the Navajo Nation’s most scenic and iconic sites. My road trip buddy and I had just finished visiting Upper Antelope Canyon and were now headed for Horseshoe Bend. According to the directions, Horseshoe Bend was 2 miles south of the junction of Highways 98 and 89.

As we headed down Hwy 89 I marked the miles. After the third mile I realized that we were not on the road to Horseshoe Bend. So I decided to pull off the road to check Google Maps. As I began the turn, I noticed a Navajo man on a bike approaching us. He yielded the right of way, we turned and parked. As we began to look for the correct directions, we noticed that he had turned around and was now riding towards us. We didn’t know what to make but we expected the worst. We figured that a) he was upset because we had turned in front of him; b) we had unknowingly ventured onto land that we shouldn’t be on; or c) that he was crazy.

As he approached we noticed that his skin was dark and wrinkled. He wore jeans, a t-shirt and an Indian baseball cap. He looked like he was at least 70 but he could have been younger.

As he drew up to us he said: “You boys look like you’re lost. Where are you headed?” I blurted out Horseshoe Bend and he told us how to get there. I thanked him and made some lame “joke” about him being more useful than my iPhone. And then he rode away.

As we headed to Horseshoe Bend I commented to my friend just how wrong our assumptions had been about him. We expected the worst. We couldn’t  imagine anyone being so concerned and willing to go out of their way to help two strangers. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen in our world.

Speaking for myself, I was humbled. I had been given a lesson on simple decency along with plenty of motivation for self-reflection. I hope that this experience helps me to think less cynically.  And by posting this, I pay homage to our Navajo friend and hopefully inspire others through his example as we make our own retirement journeys.

Now as for the photo,  unfortunately it did not occur to me until later that I wish I had taken his photo. But since I am new to blogging I have not developed an eye for identifying potential stories in real-time. My goal as I evolve as a blogger is to become more aware of stories as they happen and even take a photo! If you’d like to see a few photos of some of the sites we visited, click here.

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