How does a Los Angeles-based film lover not visit Monument Valley at least once? That’s what I’ve been asking myself off and on for the last 29 years. If you have any regard for the visual genius of John Ford and for the seven films he shot in this breathtaking shrine (including Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine and The Searchers), there’s just no excuse.

I know a guy who’s as much of a Movie Catholic as I am, a guy who eats, sleeps, drinks and injects movies 24/7, and he hadn’t even thought of visiting Monument Valley when I brought it up the other day. He asked me where it is. C’mon!

One reason more people don’t go, I’m guessing, is that it’s a hump to get there. You have to fly to Pheonix or Las Vegas and then drive five or six hours, and then you need to stay at Goulding’s Lodge or one of the three or four other places in the area (none of which are cheap), and when all is said and done it’ll set you back at least $700 or $800 bills if not a grand. But L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan went there sometime around May 2007, and I’ve decided to finally do it next week. Flying to Vegas late Wednesday, spending two and half days there, and then fly back Saturday. And probably some really shitty (or at the very least spotty) wifi.

The highlight will be riding a horse (probably an old paint) over hill and mesa for three or four hours on Friday afternoon. The last time I rode was in the Belizian jungle in ’88.