Thursday, October 15, 2015

On The Road to Ruins

I totally enjoyed every day we spent at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, but it was finally time to move on. If you want more information about going to the Fiesta, Nina over at Wheeling It has written three excellent posts about all of the details, including volunteering to crew on the launch field. Whether you plan on going someday or not, these are great posts about a wonderful event. Thank you Nina!

We only went 19 miles from the Fiesta grounds on the first night. Craig wanted to get our Blue Ox towbar serviced, and the easiest way to do that was to take it over to the LaMesa RV dealership that was just down the road from the RV park where we stayed a few days before the Fiesta. This also gave me a chance to catch up on nine days of wash, and to get our holding tanks emptied.

We had held off making any travel plans in advance because we know that the weather at this time of the year can fluctuate. Since the temperatures look good, we've decided to head northwest towards Mesa Verde and Monument Valley, then swing down to the Four Corners area, and eventually Canyon De Chelly.  We have a month long reservation in San Diego starting just before Thanksgiving, but that is still five weeks and more than a thousand miles away.

These plans might change on a day by day basis, so we're not making plans or reservations for more than two days ahead. If it gets cold and rainy, we will head south sooner.

Our next stop was the small town of Aztec, New Mexico.We stayed two nights at the Ruins Road RV park just a few blocks from the Aztec Ruins National Monument. 

This is the first of several ancient ruins we will be visiting during the next few weeks.  

We learned a lot about the Plains Indians and their way of life during our travels this summer.

These ruins are of complex buildings built by the early Pueblo people. No "Aztecs" were involved. It seems the early Spaniards referred to all things "long-past Indian" as "Aztec", and the place was named by early Anglo settlers. It was built by the Pueblo people between 1000-1200 AD. It was a public building containing hundreds of rooms. 

We followed the provided trail map and explored the site.

There were many small rooms with low connecting doors.

Modern Pueblo people say the Ruins are not dead, and that the spirits of their ancestors are still there.

I felt a presence.

The site was excavated between 1916 and the 1930's, including the reconstruction og the Great Kiva

This is what it might have looked like inside.

When the Kiva was in use, the walls  were surfaced by a coating of mud "stucco". The roof was made with large logs harvested many miles away.

Seeing, feeling and exploring this site, motivated us to drive fifty miles South to an earlier ruin at the Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

From Highway 550 the drive into the park was not pleasant, even with a Jeep.

We went some miles on a nice paved road, then about 10 miles on a gravel, county-maintained road, followed by five or more miles of horrible, rough, washboard, unmaintained road that led to a short stretch of paved road into the park. Upon arrival I asked a Ranger about the roads and was told that the Southern route was just as bad. Despite this the dry camp campground was full!  I would never bring our Alfa into this place. 

We first went to the Visitors Center, watched the movie, and the drove the loop thru the park stopping at the Pueblo Bonito complex.

 The canyon is not deep, but the walls overlooking the pueblo were impressive. 

These huge sandstone rocks are what is left from when the cliff-face shed a formation called "Dangerous Rock" in 1941. It crushed 30 or so rooms of the Great House ruin.

The rock fall came close to this wall. The tapering profile of the wall shows how the addition of a second and third story was planned from the onset of building. 

We enjoyed exploring this site and learning more about the history of these peoples.

No one knows why the Pueblo peoples abandoned this and other sites, but these ruins remind us of the fact that there was civilization and engineering long before the arrival of the Spaniards with their missions and Christianity. 

What will archeologists think about the remains of our great cities in the future?


  1. 1000 miles and five weeks till your thanksgiving?..quite the adventure the two of you are on!
    thanks for sharing the pictures from your 'jeep tour'.

    1. Actually this part of our adventure is much slower-paced than the previous part. For example, we now have a Jeep electrical problem that may be hard to figure out, but it's not a big deal because we have only the San Diego endpoint as a specific place at a specific time. Jello!

  2. It took us a month to get from your point "F" to point "B" a few years ago... So much to see and a gorgeous area to just hang out and enjoy life. Love your plans of adventure!

  3. Oh, Merikay, I am so glad that you made the effort to get to Chaco. We loved that place when we were there last year. One of the great hidden treasure in my opinion. Such a mystery and fascinating.

  4. Interesting place. Your photos really give an idea of what to expect if we ever get there. I'm sorry to hear the problem with the jeep. If it isn't one thing it's another. Hard to avoid when putting all those miles and earthquakes into your home and transportation. Safe travels.


Leave a comment, or send an email.