We both felt much better after a good night’s sleep. We headed out for some pueblo ruins and Andrew wanted to use a “shortcut” on a dirt road that was getting more and more rutted and rocky as we were on it. Our shortcut was not working out, so we found a spot to turn around and went back the way we came in.
We went back thru Flagstaff and on to Wupatki National Monument This whole area is dotted with some of the best preserved pueblo ruins from 800 years ago! The dry climate has preserved them quite well. Some structures even have wood beams still existing. Tree ring dating has determined that these trees were cut down between 900-1200 AD. The Spanish explorers came thru around 1400. When we entered Wupatki, we stopped first at Lomaki Pueblo and Box Canyon Dwellings. These pueblos were built on a natural earthen crack. This flat area at the bottom of the crack collected more water and silt than the surrounding areas, improving the soil and making it better for farming. We also stopped at Nalakiho and Citadel pueblos. Our next stop was the huge pueblo of Wupatki, built around a natural rock outcropping. This pueblo is significant because it also has a ball court similar to those found in Mexico built by the Aztecs. They found remains of ball courts in several areas and feel ball games were a great source of community activity. Also, near the ball court, was what they called “The Blowhole”. It is a small opening into a large underground cavern that blows cool moist air. It’s like Anasazi air conditioning! If this was used to cool the ball players or the heads of the community, it’s anyone’s guess.
We drove thru Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument nearby, which was still an active volcano during the time that the pueblos in the area were inhabited, about 800 years ago. It’s thought that the volcanic ash that was produced helped the poor soil in the area hold moisture and aided the production of crops. Perhaps when the volcano went silent, the inhabitants were forced to find more fertile ground and moved on.
We grabbed a quick lunch in Flagstaff and moved on to Walnut Canyon National Monument. This is a very steep canyon with cliff dwellings in several areas of the canyon. Our trail took us about halfway down the canyon and thru several of the structures built under an overhanging ledge on the canyon wall. These people are also called the Sinagua people (named by the Spanish: Sin-Agua= without water; the people of Sierra Sin Agua= Mountains without water) who they believe later became the modern day Hopi. They did what is known as “dry framing”. They didn’t irrigate their fields, they were solely dependent on the rain. They farmed deep in the canyon and up on the mesa, climbing up and down the canyon walls as they needed.
Our next stop is Winslow, Arizona. The famous line from the Eagle’s hit “Take It Easy” written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey; “Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, My Lord, in a flat bed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.” The city has an art exhibit on the corner of Second St and Kinsley Ave depicting a bronze statue standing on the corner. According to the owner of the gift shop on “the corner” the story goes like this: Jackson Browne was in Winslow and thrown in jail for drunk driving or something. The next morning he was having coffee in the drug store (then on this corner) and was talking with some folks about his experience, playing with some song lyrics. He said he was going to write a song about this. But he didn’t, not right away. His roommate at the time, Glenn Frey, liked the beginning of the song and they worked on it together to finish it. It was the Eagles first really smash hit (of many). We asked the store owner, so is it Jackson Browne or Glenn Frey depicted in the bronze statue on the corner? Neither! It seems neither one would give their permission to use their likeness. The artist of the statue has a son named EZ and it’s actually his image that’s in bronze. Of course, there’s a red, flat bed Ford parked right in front of the exhibit. Sadly, in 2004, a fire destroyed the building that provided a wall where the mural and exhibit stands. The area was a corner park, but is now all fenced off due to safety concerns.
While in Winslow, we stopped at La Posada, a hotel and restaurant designed in the 1930’s by Mary Jane Colter, the architect that designed many of the buildings at Grand Canyon. This is supposed to be her best work. The train stations and restaurants of the Fred Harvey Company were bringing “civilization” to the Wild West, but also tourism. The staff at these places were more than waitresses, they acted as tour guides, spoke several languages and helped travelers plan their trip (with many stops at Fred Harvey establishments, of course).
We finally made it to Homolovi Ruins State Park and got a site at the campground.