A Room the Size of a Canyon: Canyon Memories (3)

If a room has a floor, walls, and a ceiling, then Canyon de Chelly is a giant outdoor room. From above, you can see the canyon floor with spring-green vegetation, the tall cliff walls all around, and the sky as its ceiling:

fertile canyon bottom

In fact, there are probably several large “rooms” in the Canyon, each with its own unique characteristics:

a long way down

My favorite “room” in the Canyon was right here, where a small group of us got to write, breathe, and play for a week. The green area was our very large living room:

Canyon from above

This “shade hogan” was our dining room and kitchen:

Shade hogan

Shade hogan

During rainy weather, a traditional hogan was a dry living room warmed by a wood stove. It was very much needed for the first three days; then the sun sent us outside. The hogan is a one-room dwelling built out of wood and earth:

Traditional hogan

Traditional hogan

Each of us had our own bedroom called a tent:

Tents under cottonwood trees

Tents under cottonwood trees

The shower stalls also were tiny little rooms that required a bag of sun-warmed water to be suspended above to serve as a shower:

Shower stalls

Shower stalls

The toilet was an outhouse, one of a few square rooms in the neighborhood.

the outhouse

Now that I have shown you around the various rooms of our Canyon home, let’s take a look at the walls. How about striped wall paper with a horse motif?

horses dwarfed by canyon wall

Or colorful splashes of lichen serving as abstract art?

colorful lichen on rockwall

Or maybe, you’d prefer shelf walls with living vegetation?

rock ledges with vegetation

with a bit more paint added?

colorful canyon walls

There was plenty of room for everyone to spread out, either horizontally or vertically:

room for everyone

The floor was quite dusty, sometimes flat and covered with grasses:

grasses and trees

sometimes a bit curvy and hard as rock:

rock floor

The ceiling was the sky, always changing its colors and lighting. Sun and length of shadows were our timepiece.


This house of grasses, rocks, and wind, sky ceiling and cliff walls was full of sounds: the cawing of raven, the hoof beat of horses, the rustling of wind in the cottonwood trees, the chattering of cliff swallows, the call from the rim from someone who let us know they reached safely, a lullaby sung from a rock ledge. The sounds echoed back from the stone walls, reverberating, serenading us and inspired this poem:

Resting in the Peace of Wild Things*

There is a place inside of me
that opens wide
into meadows of grass and flower,
that grows tall to caress
the stony face of Mountain,
that snakes quietly
down the currents of River.

There is a place inside of me
that falls wide awake
with the scratchy cawing of Raven,
the plaintive moan of Cow,
the serenade of Cicada,
and a sudden rush of Wind
through the tree tops.

There is a place inside of me
that sweeps with the Wind
down the valley,
while he tussles butterfly wings,
while he crashes fiercely through the brush,
listening hard for anything
he might fling my way.

*Title borrowed from Wendell Berry

Thank you to Jeff of Jeff Sinon Photography and Seonaid of A Breath of Green Air for inspiring me to weave nature into this week’s Photo challenge: Room.

About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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29 Responses to A Room the Size of a Canyon: Canyon Memories (3)

  1. LaLindaArtStudio says:



  2. Jeff Sinon says:

    So many wonderful photos of such outstanding rooms.


  3. Wonderful pics of your canyon habitat, Annette. Great take on the challenge, and that sunset is gorgeous. 🙂


    • The sunsets (and sunrises) were always spectacular and always different. The tops of the canyon walls were the first to be lit up by sunlight in the morning, then the sun slid down on the canyon walls until it reached the bottom….and the reverse in the evening.


  4. This looks like an incredibly special place. Those red weather worn cliffs look so inviting, and the lush green valley so soft and safe. Simply beautiful…..what an inspiring place to spend the week outdoors in contact with nature 🙂


  5. Aggie says:

    You wrote the poem? You capture what it is to be in nature, communing with wind’s soul, rock wall’s soul, etc.


  6. Could this possibly be more beautiful? Love the “wallpaper.” I’m dying to hear more about this amazing adventure. And how does one rinse the shampoo out of their hair with a bag of sun-warmed water? Does it all come down on you at once? (You see that I am obsessed with practicalities but will refrain from asking about the toilet facilities.)


    • Hi Barbara – you actually only used HALF of one shower bag! Glad I have short hair…We all went the first 3 days without showers because it was raining, muddy and too cold for the water to get heated up. Oh, how one treasures the simple luxury of a bit of warm water on a sunny day! The water was rationed because it had to be driven into the Canyon in large barrels. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the vehicles.
      More to come, stay tuned 🙂


  7. How gorgeous! I’ve never done anything like this – stay in tents and use an outhouse – but the beauty of the surroundings might make it worth it 🙂


  8. Barneysday says:

    Absolutely gorgeous, and what a wonderful experience for you. Nature is still the most painting there is.


  9. Incredible, Annette! Such a unique way to show ‘room’.


  10. Suzanne Fluhr says:

    A visit to the Canyon de Chelly is affixed quite high up on my “to do” list. (I even know how to pronounce it!) I’m not sure about the outhouse, showers and tents, but the rest of your rooms are magnificent.


  11. jpeggytaylor says:

    Oh how magnificent are those images! It truly looks an awe-inspiring place and creatively inspiring too – love the images and your wonderful poem – you really demonstrate the spirit of the canyon.


  12. Very creative work once again Annette. All the images are so grand and every room is spectacular. Your poem was the icing on this cake, I mean post. 🙂


  13. mpejovic says:

    These are great pictures for this photo theme!


  14. Thank you soo much for sharing. What a delight to live there (except when the temps are over 100).


  15. mirirallalla says:

    Sehr beeindruckend, diese Ausmaße…


  16. jazzytower says:

    I hope someday to visit. Beautiful!


  17. Tish Farrell says:

    “There is a place inside of me that falls wide awake…” Love this line.


  18. These are a different kind of luxury accommodation all around, Annette. 🙂 The wallpapers are lovely. And your poem is wonderful. What an inspiring time this must have been. 🙂


  19. I first heard of Canyon de Chelly in one of the old Sierra Club books many years ago…Navajo Wildlands, I think. Your images rival those from that edition.

    Liked by 1 person

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