Find us on Google+ Rick and JoAnne's RV Travels: May 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sky City, Hubbell Trading Post, Canyon de Chelly

This post is a continuation of “Where in The World Are Rick and JoAnne” and #2 in my effort to bring our journal up to date.

Sky City

Before leaving Grants, NM we wanted to be sure and visit Sky City an Acoma Pueblo which is the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America.

Our visit started at the Sky City Cultural center, home to the very good K’aak’a restaurant, great little Haak’u museum and gift shop. Tours start here where you board a van for the trip to the top of the mesa. How many “towns” charge an entrance fee and require you to be accompanied by a guide?

While most Acoma people live in the valley about 50 families still live in Sky City and most Acoma people have ancestral adobe homes on the mesa top that they use during ceremonial times. This is a place with no electricity, no sewer and no water other than what is carried up from below.

Life in balance seems to be a core theme. All property is owned by Acoma women yet the political and religious power remains with the men. There is a mix and balance between their traditional religion and Catholicism – Kivas vs. Mission. More balance between - the modern Cultural Center and the adobe structures and the traditional culture in contrast to the modern culture complete with casino.

 We really enjoyed our tour of Sky City. It is a very interesting and unique place. Perhaps the highlight of our visit was the walk down and back to the cultural center via the ancient, hidden and very steep path. It provided a new appreciation of the work it took to build the mission and the daily effort required to transport food and water to the mesa top in ancient times.

More pictures here
Acoma - Sky City

On April 21 we pulled in the slides and headed west toward Canyon de Chelly - but first a stop at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site.

Hubbell Trading Post

Located just a few miles across the New Mexico border in Arizona this is the oldest operating trading post on the Navajo Nation. Basically, it is a general store selling everything from coffee and groceries to fine Navajo rugs and turquoise jewelry and has been doing so since the late 1870s. While there is a visitor center with a nice bookstore the real fun is visiting the trading post itself and marveling at the totally amazing Navajo rugs.

Hubbell Trading Post

Canyon de Chelly

After lunch in the RV we headed to Canyon de Chelly. We had been here years ago but decided to take a bit of a detour and visit again. We arrived mid-afternoon and found a good spot in the park’s Cottonwood Campground (no hookups). We unhooked our Honda Fit and headed out for a drive along the South Rim.

 The canyon is home to Navajo families who like the many clans and tribes who came before them raise livestock, farm and hunt on the canyon floor. The earliest evidence of inhabitance dates back almost 5000 years. The Ancient Pueblo people who built the ruins we see today lived here from 750 – 1300. The Hopi consider these Pueblo people as their ancestors and they used the canyon for seasonal farming until the Navajo arrived in the 1700s.

The history is amazing but so are the views from the canyon rim. We spent the late afternoon and evening driving the South Rim and taking all the short walks to the overlooks. Like so many times – the pictures do not do it justice.

I should mention that the drive to Canyon de Chelly became pretty windy by the time we reached the Monument. But more than the wind – the dust! Clouds of dust! On our second day here we had planned on hiking down to White House Ruin (a hike we had done on our first visit but instead drove the North Rim and then decided to leave in the afternoon and head toward Farmington. Enough of the dust!

Canyon De Chelly

We plugged in our destination on our GPS (RVND 7720) and headed out. When I saw the route I had some “doubts” as it headed right through and over Chuska Mountains on B.I.A. 13 Wow! The road was very, very, very steep and some of the switchback turns required us to come almost to a full stop and turn as tight as we could. How steep was it? Yes, we have a gas engine (Ford V10) but I can go over most of the passes in Colorado at 50 -55 MPH. In low gear and the pedal to the floor we were topping out at 8-10 MPH. Well, we were not in any hurry and the scenery was spectacular – an adventure for sure. So, why did our trusty GPS take us over this road without any warning? My guess … it doesn’t really know much about roads on reservation land. I wish we had taken some pictures but our focus was elsewhere. 

Once settled in at the Desert Rose RV Park in Bloomfield, NM a glass of wine was in order.

Stay tuned… Next up: Aztec Ruins, Chaco Culture and Bandeleir.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Where in the World are Rick and JoAnne?


No, we have not sailed off the edge of the earth. Actually, we are in our wheel-less home in Broomfield, CO. That is a statement of fact not an excuse for why we have not been blogging. The truth is we simply went on a sabbatical. The last couple of weeks of travel on our way back to Broomfield found us very busy exploring new sites and once home we were busy catching up with family and friends.  The whole blogging thing just got pushed aside.

One of the main reasons we write our blog is to serve as our own personal journal. It is the discipline that provides us with a chance to contemplate, reflect upon, critique and document our many wonderful RV adventures. Certainly we also hope our family, friends, followers, and readers find our postings entertaining, and/or informative.

So, today’s long overdue post will be an effort - a start - to bring our “journal” up to date.

After leaving Albuquerque on April 17 we traveled about 75 miles west on I -40 to Lava Land RV Park in Grants, NM and used this location as home base for visits to El Malpais, El Moro and the Acoma Pueblo of Sky City.

El Malpais National Monument

El Maplais – “Bad Lands” in Spanish lives up to its name. The landscape of this area south of Grants, NM is harsh and rugged with ancient lava flows and sandstone bluffs being the dominant features. We started our tour of the area by first visiting the Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center which was right across the road from the campground. This provided us with some historical and geological background as we headed out for a drive down the east side of the park.

As desolate as this area is it was surrounded by the ancient Puebloans as far back as 10,000 years ago. The Acoma and Zuni Pueblos of today consider these Puebloans their ancestors. In fact, the ancient Zuni-Acoma trial crosses the park and hooks up with the Continental Divide National ScenicTrail.

We spent all morning taking short hikes to the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook, the La Ventana Natural Arch (the iconic symbol of the park) and Lava Falls Area.

El Malpais

After leaving Lava Falls we headed around the south end of the park and then headed north toward El Morro National Monument.

El Morro

The drive north was typical of the desert landscape of much of New Mexico – flat and barren. Then seemingly out of nowhere rises a high sandstone cliff – known as Atsinna “writings on the rock” by the Zuni or El Morro by the Spanish.

There isn’t much water in this part of New Mexico. Yet, at the base of El Morro there is a protected, shaded, and permanent pool of water  - an oasis. This precious water source has been a stop along a major east-west trail since ancient times. As travelers traveled by, stopped and camped here they carved symbols and signatures in the soft sandstone as evidence of their passage. For Anglo-Americans it became known as Inscription Rock. Rock art, or a form of graffiti – no matter. What remains is a fascinating chronicle of the many generations and cultures that crossed through this area.

Of course our first stop was the visitor center where we watched a well-done movie and then headed out for the short hike up to and along Inscription Rock. Our only regret was that we arrived too late to take the hike to the top the El Morro to the Atsinna Pueblo which was first unearthed by archeologists in the 1950s. Oh well… Next time. 
El Morro

We left El Morro as the sun was starting to set and headed back to the campground. Next up… Acoma Pueblo. To be continued.