Friday, May 14, 2010
Exploring the Great Houses such as Pueblo Bonito and Chetro
Ketl are always interesting and we could take a week exploring
all the different ruins here, but we were most interested in
visiting ruins that we hadn't visited before. This would involve
a bit of hiking, which we definitely up for. The first site we
checked out was Kin Kletso. At one time, it contained about
55 rooms, 4 kivas and 1 tower kiva. It was actually built by
McElmo phase people who came from the north, late in the
period in which Chaco was occupied.
Much like the other sites at Chaco, almost all of the wood had
to be brought in from miles and miles away. Kin Kletso's beams
were no different. Quite a task for a people who didn't know of
I enjoy seeing the different masonry and doorway styles in
each of the pueblos.
Along the trail, there were a number of petroglyphs. Chaco was
also a huge center of astronomy and we found a circular design
that might have been used to measure the seasons. The sun
would shine at different points of the circle on major astronomical
events of the year such as solstices and equinoxes.
Another small site we visited was Casa Chaquita. It's currently
unexcavated and was probably built around 1100. It was also
a good place to stop for lunch!
Because this area is very dry, there isn't a lot of wildlife in the area,
but we did see a fairly large number of lizards.
At the beginning of the day, we had bold ambitions. The boldest of
which was hiking the Pueblo Alto trail. This would mean hiking up
the cliff side (the difficult part) and then hiking across the top of the
cliff side to overlook Pueblo Bonito and visit the Pueblo Alto complex.
Wait...not so fast. When we got there, we looked at the climb...steep,
but not un-doable. It also included a VERY narrow section where one
has to squeeze through between several huge sections of rock.
We started up and found the trail to be very rough. It hardly qualified
as a trail at all. We took a quick vote and decided to save it for a time
in which the trail might be improved. Rest assured Mom...your youngest
child isn't a complete idiot!
As we were headed back to the car, we saw this couple scrambling
up the cliff side and decided we had made the right decision.
With our hiking for the day completed, we had the option of checking
out other pueblos, going back to the campsite to read (me) or knit
(Lynn). Instead, we decided to exit out the south end of the park
toward the Navajo town of Crownpoint. The sign warned that the
road would be rough. Ha! it wasn't lying, As rough as the road is
entering the park from Nageezi in the north, this road was much
However, there were lots of beautiful views available.
I'm pretty sure we were never "quite" on this angle while driving the
road, but it certainly felt like it sometimes.
Along the way, we drove by a Navajo ranch that had a number of
jewelry items for sale "Self Serve". A few little signs near each piece
asked people not to steal them. It's interesting that people would
actually think of doing so.
We came to a sign that left us scratching our heads. Were we headed
to Heaven...or Hell?
I was interested in visiting Crownpoint. For one reason, it is one
of the few areas of the Navajo Nation that we haven't visited and
I also grew up near the town of Crown Point, in Indiana. The town's
name was definitely where the comparison ended however. it's not
a bad little town. Just very remote and much much smaller. We
stopped at Basha's (a southwestern-based grocery chain that has
locations in lots of the larger Navajo Nation towns such as
Kayenta, Ganado, Window Rock, etc.).
The southwest is known for it's dinosaur relics, but we didn't think
we'd see one on this trip! Maybe it's even the remnants of a dragon.
Albeit a happy one!
We did a bit of stargazing before bedtime. One of the reasons we came
during this time period is that we knew there would be a new moon and
this is one of the most remote areas in the Lower 48 to view stars.
There is very little light pollution. Unfortunately, there were also more
clouds that we would have liked and way more wind than we would have
liked. It made for a short sky-watching evening. Fortunately, we had a
nice fire and it made for a cozy evening.