Sunday, November 30, 2014

Back in AZ - Sedona

From Monument Valley we headed down to Camp Verde for a couple of weeks. We visited some friends that we met on the road (in NY) who bought a house in Cottonwood and did several trips to Sedona to hike.

We are now back down near Phoenix for a while before moving on to Tucson in January.

View from Cockscomb trail

View from Cockscomb trail

Panoramic pic from Girdner trailhead

View along Girdner trail

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Monument Valley

From Aztec New Mexico we went over to Monument Valley on the border of Arizona and Utah in the Navajo Tribal Park. It had been twenty something years since we had been there so we wanted to go back. This time we did a guided tour (deluxe) through the Goulding's campground where we were staying. This turned out to be a great decision as our guide (Joe) was very informative and enjoyable to listen to. He is a Navajo and gave us great insight into the Navajo culture as part of the tour.

Monument Valley - Mitten

Monument Valley - Three Sisters

Traditional Navajo Hogan

Monument Valley - Totem Pole (left)
and dancers

Monument Valley - wind cave called
Big Hogan

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Aztec National Monument

Our next stop is Aztec, New Mexico. We visited the Aztec Ruins National Monument. I must first repeat what they said - the Aztecs of Central America were never here. The first discoverers of the ruins misnamed them, and the name stuck. That being said, the Pueblo people of the area lived here from around 1100 to the late 1200's. The masonry work here is the most impressive that we've seen in the many ruins that we've been to in the Southwest. Plus, they hauled in the stone from up to 3 miles away and the wood supports from 50 miles away without the aid of machinery or pack animals. Wow, what a feat!
National Park Service link

As with all ruins, looting and "re-purposing" of artifacts and materials took it's toll. Even with that, this is an impressive site to visit.  Many walls, and a few ceilings still stand after 900 years. Yikes. I'm glad we stopped for a visit.
View inside compound

What is left of 800 year old yucca
"screen door"

900 year old ceiling still intact

Inside compound

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Great Sand Dunes National Park

We left Denver to head to Arizona for the winter. We've driven by the road to the Great Sand Dunes many times and decided to take advantage of beautiful weather and go that way on this trip. We went west on US 160 off of I-25 and stopped at a tiny RV park in Blanca. The next morning we drove the 20ish miles to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Remember, pictures never do justice.

Dunes from Visitor Center
left half of view
Dunes from Visitor Center
right half of view
The base of the dunes is at an elevation around 8000 feet and many are 600 and 700 feet tall. The Sangre De Cristo Mountains border the east and north and the San Luis Valley is to the south and west. The San Luis valley used to be a lake bottom. When the lake dried up, the prevailing winds blew the sandy bottom to the northeast to the base of the mountains. Storm winds and water wash the sand down to keep it out of the mountains. The sand ended up piling up in dunes at the base of the mountains where it just keeps recycling. Read all about it at: NPS site.
View going up trail to lookout

Panoramic view
The San Luis Valley was the furthest most range of the Spanish dating back to the 1600s. Navajos and other Native Americans have inhabited the land for over 11,000 years.

San Luis Valley from the park