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We awake early.

Where we stayed… Not my typical forest…

Go to Love’s for coffee and wifi. I know I’m headed into an area where I’ll have no signal, so want to download a few podcasts. I’ve been binge listening to “Philosophize This”. The story of Philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to current. Fabulous.

After about the 10th episode, I realize that this is what I would have done if I’d stayed in School. I had a math scholarship to Michigan State. I had no interest in a school that big. I was a very scared, shy, depressed young man at that time. They suggested I consider Oakland University, an experimental college affiliated with MI State. This was a small school with pass-fail grading. I did one semester in Physics, thinking it would be similar to Math. It wasn’t. I couldn’t imaging ever using Calculus. (The drugs probably didn’t help much.) I switched to Philosophy which I loved. And a year later was infected by clay which leads to today and both threads being present.

I check the map to Chaco. Lookup the website and read about the roads. From the south, where we are, there’s a 20 mile dirt road that is sometimes impassable. The northeastern entrance is 16 miles and sometimes impassable. There’s a map that say is important to look at. That relying on a GPS may get you very lost. And they recommend calling for road conditions. I call. I’m told that both roads are pretty good. Ok. We’re headed in from the south.

As I leave I-40 heading north I call a friend. As we’re talking and I loose signal. I turn around and call back. I say that I’m concerned about the dirt road. Sherman acts quite traumatized on bumpy roads. The 20 mile washboard dirt road at Organ Cactus National Monument did him in. If the road’s that bad, I’ll turn around and we’ll go elsewhere. She asks if there’s a pillow on the seat. There is a folded up fleece blanket. I get a towel and wrap my pillow in it then place it on the blanket.

The drive to Seven Sisters where we get on the dirt road is spectacular red cliffs.

I’m pleased by the road. It’s a softer dirt and is smoother. Almost polished in sections. There are some bumps and Sherman goes back and forth between his front seat and his back padded blanket.

I see something ahead on a rock looking at us. Can’t quite make it out.

It’s a sculpture!! How cool is that? In the middle of the desert.

He’s mostly ok on his seat with the extra absorption of the pillow. About half way he gets on my lap and lays down. He stays there most the whole last way.

Getting into the Mesa area…

See that tiny little Butte off the the left of the Mess? That’s where we’re headed.

At the park entrance the roads are paved. Nice. But odd that they brought paving equipment 20 miles over poor dirt roads to pave the park area.
We get our entrance permit. Free with my senior pass. I ask about the campground. A sign said full. The ranger, named Ranger Cornucopia– really! — says there are two spots left and a couple just headed out to look at them. They are in one of the spots. So we get the last spot. 😎
Timing is everything. Last spot. 20 min until the afternoon ranger tour/talk at Pueblo Bonito, the largest structure here. 600+ rooms. Many Kivas.
The talk is mostly the history of discovery, since no non-Puebloans know what the complex was used for. Lots of guesses based on artifacts. These large buildings don’t seem to have been primarily residential. There are not enough cooking hearths. Not enough farming in the area. Not enough trash. Not enough burial remains. So, the guess is ceremonial.

These people used to be called the Anasazi. But that’s an Apache word that has connotations of enemy. So they are now called Chacoans. Or Ancient Puebloans.

I walk through sections of Pueblo Bonito that are open to the public. An amazing amount of work. There is evidence that it took 3-400 years to build  this complex. All wood was carried 50-60 miles from the nearest forests. The whole structure covers three acres.

One of two Great Kiva of the complex.

Ranger talk. We’re on the edge of the large public space.

The other Great Kiva.

From near one end looking toward the other end of the complex.

Love the curves. The only walk I saw that had aged in that shape.

Masonry detail. Thick, accurate walls.

A smaller Kiva. Amazing brickwork. Looked like an animal had slept in it.

The holes and poles in the wall are the floor level of the second story. Some of the buildings here were three stories.

I love receding doors or windows no matter when built. Pretty good alignment.

A reconstructed room with plastered walls and ceiling construction as original.
Not only are the buildings remarkable, there were also 20 foot wide built and maintained roads connecting important sites. And 40 foot wide roads near the main buildings. This was a connected civilization. Not a cluster of primitive humans.

There are hundreds of these Great Houses across the southwest. 3-4 stories. 50-100 rooms. All built before the wheel. Before pack animals. Every rock dug up, lifted, carried and put down in some predetermined place.

We go along the cliffs to Chetro Ketl. Another huge Great House. There are many Petroglyphs on the walls as we stroll.

Some pristine. Some damaged to destroyed by more recent graffiti around and over the originals.

This is one of the things I just can’t grok. Trash left along the trail in the wilderness. Carving initials into a tree or picnic table. And it’s no different than corporations externalizing the cost of their cleaning up their waste. SuperFund? Why are taxpayers paying to clean up those messes? It’s the same level of not being aware of what one is doing. My humble opinion… This is what Jesus is pointing to when he says, “Forgive them Father. They don’t know what they’re doing.” It’s not about his being tortured to death. That’s the end result of living with this kind of ethical, spiritual, integral unconsciousness. Enough from me…

Seeing these Petroglyphs stirs my desire to see more. So we go to the end of the road and hike out to the Petroglyph Trail.

Mature masonry. Notice all the chinking stones in the mortar. They are a consistent size and also make a sub pattern.

Chetro Ketl

Nearing Kin Kletso on the hike to Petroglyph Trail.

People starting up the cliff trail to Pueblo Alto trail we’ll be on tomorrow. I’m watching them disappear into a crack in the cliff. Hmmm…

The long straight walk here that tracks the suns path on the Solstice.

Hearing thunder from across the canyon.

Balancing rock and rain across the canyon.

Lots of these sweet flowers along the trail.

Cool rock at the start of Petroglyph Trail.

As we’re just at the carvings thunder is booming from the other side of the canyon.

And it’s blowing our way. We walk fast back to the van. Drive back to our campsite and the rain begins. A good steady light rain for about 45 min.
Sherman hasn’t eaten all day and doesn’t eat a lot tonight. We’re head down at dusk. Feels good.