I only drove 150 miles today. Mesa Verde NP is getting ready to turn down for the winter -closed campground, closed visitors center, and only one guided tour. It takes several hours to drive the park and see all the ruins. I spent a long time at the museum and climbed down to one of the cliff dwellings. Tomorrow I will take the guided tour and then move on. Tonight I am at a Walmart in Cortiz CO. There are signs saying no overnight parking, but there are several campers and RVs here.
This morning turned out sunny with the promise of warm weather. I drove along the rim of Canyon de Chelly and stopped to admire the view from several overlooks. The view are totally awesome – sheer cliffs of hundreds of feet, colorful sandstone formations, meadows nestled in the valley below.
The park is located on Navaho Indian land so they take advantage of every oppertunity to sell their wares to the tourists. Every place you stop the Indians have their tables set up to sell jewelry and other trinkets. There is only one trail leading to Pueblo Indian ruins that you can go to unguided, all the rest require that you hire a guide or join a tour. You can probably guess which trail this high plains thrifter took.
It was a fun walk down the cliff face to the valley where the ruins lay. Some of the trail was chisled from the rock face and in a couple spots tunneled several yards through. At the bottom, I had to pass more tables of jewelry and a fence kept onlookers back over 100 feet from the ruins.
On the way back up it started to rain. I ducked under ledges when the showers became steady and hiked when they let up. At the top, I could see lighting in the distance so I decided to call it a day, get something to eat, and head back to the campground. Tomorrow I will head to Mesa Verde NP.
Today I visited Petrified Forest NP. The visiters center has lots of information about prehistoric animals and vegitation and a walk through scattered remains of petrified trees. The rest of the park is mostly a long drive, spaced with turnouts to view the colors of the Painted Desert, which by the way encompases all the area from the Grand Canyon to Abq NM.
I stopped at one site where ancestors of the Hopi Indians lived about 1250ad. Foundations of buildings and artistry on the rocks made more sence to me than the colors of the desert.
I’m staying a couple of days at a free campground in Canyon De Chelly Nat.Monument while I tour the area. I have given up on wifi and will just use my phone to post. Back east, every store, restaurant and motel has wifi, but out here it seems to be only truck stops and they want to charge you to connect. At least if I can get a cell signal, I can put something up.
I left Phoenix about 10 am and headed north on highway 87. In less than an hour, the road climbed higher into the foothills of the Arizona Central Mountains and I entered Tonto National Forest. At the time, I found it difficult to warm to the idea that a National Forest included desert and brust, but as I came closer to Payson, I was at an altitude that produced thick and tall pine trees.
I stopped in Payson for some supplies and then drove north to Tonto Natural Bridge SP. Over the centuries, the Pine river eroded the soft limestone underground and formed the world’s largest natural bridge. Well… It all depends on how you define largest-there is another one somewhere that is higher but not as thick. I took a few pictures but didn’t walk to the bottom of the gorge where the best views are-I am still babying my knee.
I’m writing this in a camping place in the Coconino National Forest, about 50 miles south of Winslow. There are pull-outs with fire-rings all along the forest road, so I don’t think anyone will mind if I stay. The altitude must be around 7000 feet and it’s getting dark and cold. No signal so I will try for a wifi spot tomorrow.
On Friday 10/15/10, Daryl and I traveled to Tucson. I was hoping to revive some memories of my youth and maybe bring back some of the feelings I had while growing up in Flowing Wells. It would be interesting to see what I recognized from over 40 years of absence. It seemed like such a long time ago, and amazingly still only just yesterday.
Most of the buildings I remember as a boy had been torn down and replaced with something else. Our house was no longer there, instead an apartment building with paved driveways. Daryl and I drove around the parking lot and tried to imagine where the shop and pool once were. Many hours were spent shooting at the basketball rim on the shop, and grass out front of the house would never grow because of our play. I thought about all the circles we made on motorcycles around the driveway before we had licensees.
Even Kilburn road seemed different – more rundown and strange. I thought I remembered more grass in front of houses and less trash scattered about. Maybe I just wanted to think that.
Some of the classrooms at Flowing Wells High School were as I remember them but that was about all. The football field was in the same place and I found the old cafeteria, understandably now used for something else. The parking lot was different and there were new buildings jutting from all sides. I had a desire to look inside some of the buildings and browse through the trophy cases, but in this day and age it is not a good idea for strangers to wander around a school. Donna later told us that school was probably closed because of a winter break and it might have been OK to ask if we could look around.
One thing that seems to stay the same is the names of roads. It was reassuring to know that most of the roads still went where they used to, or you still took this road to get here, or we could find something by going down this road. Oracle Road Rent All was still a business although the building is much larger. We drove out to see the area where Shamrock Dairy was and still is in business – an area where I loved to play, collecting wax to make melted hands and riding bicycles with my friend Wayne.
Before we left, Daryl drove across town to Davis Monthan AFB. One of my favorite things to do in Tucson was drive along the fence by the base and look at all the stored aircraft. You used to be able to drive for miles and view row upon row of obsolete airplanes abandoned to the ‘bone-yard’ of the dry Arizona desert. There were a few places where we saw planes but mostly now they keep you back and away from them. We did however find one spot by the fence, along an off road, maintenance path, and Daryl tried out his 4WD SUV.
It was a good nostalgic trip. Daryl and I did a lot of reminiscing and I want to thank him very much for taking me there. Maybe someday I’ll go back, but for now I’ll leave the past behind and try something new.