Who We Are

We sold our home in June, 2007, and spent the next 7 1/2 years traveling full time in a Cross Roads Fifth Wheel. (We had been traveling during our summers for several years before going full time.) We loved the full-time lifestyle! Each summer we spent a month or two volunteering in State Parks, first in Indiana at McCormick's Creek State Park, near our family, then in later years as the grandchildren got older, at the Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico. We spent 6 months each winter at Cactus Gardens RV Resort in Yuma, AZ, where I worked mornings in the park office. The remaining months were spent on the road, seeing this great country of ours. Our favorite places are our National Parks. Anita loved photography and the freedom of digital photography, taking sometimes hundreds of photos in a day. We hiked as much as our legs will allow. We also really enjoyed square and round dancing as we travel across country, and meeting all the wonderful people who dance and/or travel.

But as in all things, there comes a time for change, and we decided it was time to create roots once more. In the fall of 2014, we purchased a home in Cactus Gardens, and in the spring of 2015, sold the 5th wheel. Anita also retired in the spring. We will continue to travel each summer, but for a shorter period of time. We hope to continue blogging about those trips, but it will obviously be on a more limited basis than in the past.

Please explore our past posts if you are interested in traveling this great country. You'll find an index in the left column. We hope you enjoy our blog, and appreciate all comments

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki By the late 1100s, thousand of Pueblo people were farming on the land now known as Wupatki (Woo-POT-Key. or in Hopi, Big House).  It’s quiet now, but standing among the ruins, you can almost hear the echoes of those long ago voices. 

Unlike nearby ruin sites with only one major structure each, Wupatki contains more than 800 identified ruins, testament to just how many inhabitants were once here.  Only 5 of the largest ruins are open to the public.

The park, just north of Flagstaff, is essentially a “drive-thru” park , with the road connecting at the southern end with Sunset Crater National Monument.

2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1016 First stop of the drive is near the Box Canyon dwellings and Lomaki Pueblo.  A short trail leads to the ruins.  The Lomaki  dwelling is built right on the edge of a shallow, vertical-walled canyon, with the San Francisco Peaks looming in the west.  The uniform slabs of red sandstone, arranged in an orderly stack, reinforced with clay-based mortar, resulted in extremely well built pueblos.

The one statement that impressed me most this day is from one of the interpretive signs at this site:

2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1069”The inhabitants of the pueblo also placed numerous pottery jars at the base of overhangs to catch rainwater.  When the rain did not come they had to walk 10 miles to the Little Colorado River drainage to fill their pottery jars.”

I gazed out at the stark, dry desert landscape, and could not imagine what it would be to live here all my life, with the nearest reliable water source 10 miles away.2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1015

Box Canyon Dwelling

Nalakihu is a partly restored pueblo. There are indications that it was started as one room, and gradually enlarged overtime.2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 10422010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1041

A short trail leads upward to the Citadel Pueblo, sprawling across the top of a small hill. 2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1044 The few remaining walls, the outsides jutting straight up at the edge of the hill are evidence of the building skills involved.  2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1053We found it interesting that in this structure’s walls, the volcanic rock seemed to have been combined decoratively with the sandstone slabs. 2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1055

The pueblos were part of a large community.  At least eight other sites can be seen from this hill.

The most impressive ruin is Wupatki, situated behind the Visitor Center.

This three story structure contained over 100 rooms, and was home to as many as 300 people.2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1080The structure has been partially reconstructed.  At one time, a couple of rooms was even home to the first park manager and his wife, and such modern conveniences as a gas range was installed!  Evidence of their occupation has long since been removed.2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 10892010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1102As was common among pueblos of that time,   an open arena “community room” was constructed in front.

2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1076

Unusual here, however, are ruins identified as a ball court, similar to the courts found in Meso-America and in the Hohokam ruins of southern Arizona. This is the northernmost example of this kind of structure.2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1075

Here’s a closer look at some of the many rooms.

Many of the rooms appear to have been constructed with a large rock as part of the wall.2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1091

This room has been identified as a “burial room”.  Note the stoned up door and window.  Did that mean no more would be buried here?  Does it denote a spiritual belief?2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1096

How would you like this conversation piece as part of  your wall?2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1098

About two miles off the main road lies the Wukoki Pueblo, another distinctive ruin, as the house is built on an isolated block of sandstone, visible for several miles across the flat surroundings. 2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1134 The structure is quite tall, centered on a square, three story tower with a series of intricately constructed rooms at one side. The bricks have a deep red color, and the
building merges seamlessly with the underlying rock.
2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1119 2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1121

The park road connects the Wupatki National Monument with Sunset Crater Monument, which seems fitting, considering how the Wupatki community was affected by the volcano. 

Did the people have warnings of tremors before the ground begin to emerge in a swiftly growing hill, and then exploded and showered cinders upon them, or did it occur without warning?  Did they see the flowing lava as doomsday, as a punishment of sorts?  Sunset Crater One of the displays in the Sunset Crater Visitor Center explores the legends of three tribes:

The Hopi tell “of the ground having ‘boiled’ and come up.  Strong winds came, and the lightning swirled around the peaks.  More than one explosion occurred.  Sunset Crater is a living reminder that something exists below.  If we stray from our religious ideals and lifeway, there may be another eruption.”

Navajo legend relates “Long ago, there was a pond on top of Sunset Crater where buffalo drank water.  As time went on, there was a dispute between the buffalo and the Sun.  The Sun got angry and blew up the crater with boiling hot fire.  The land was smaller then, and it grew larger and changed.”  Today, Sunset Crater is one of the offering places used by the Navajo Medicine People.

Zuni members are a little more guarded with their stories of the event for fear of creating another catastrophe.  This belief is if people continually dwell upon negative events those events will happen.Sunset Crater area

Regardless of tribal explanation, the eruption at sometime between 1040 and 1100 changed life in the area.  Many of the farmers were forced to abandon their lands, but by 1180, new farmers had discovered the area to be even better for farming, as the layer of ash enriched the land, and aided in water retention.  Why then, by 1250, were all the pueblos abandoned? It’s a mystery that no one will ever solve.

Sites such as Wupatki hold a fascination for us, a glimpse into the far past.  They cause us to stop and think what life then would have held for us.

Primitive culture? By our standards, definitely.  Yet there were organized recreational activities (ball games), 2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1068

outstanding pottery creations, 2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1071

and I was especially intrigued by a tiny piece of finely woven open-work cotton cloth, almost lacy in appearance. 

2010-09-22 - AZ, Wupatki -Sunset Crater National Monuments - 1071






Primitive?  800 years from now, how primitive will our present culture seem? It’s all relative, isn’t it?


Panguitch to Flagstaff

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing! As usual, your photos are wonderful and your ability to describe what you are seeing paints a word picture, too. I'm really impressed with how you come into an area, explore and document things other people (like us) wouldn't even know was there! Diann