Saturday, April 30, 2011

More PowWow!

We had bought two-day passes to the Gathering of the Nations PowWow, but waited until late this afternoon to go back. We were fortunate this time and found parking in a lot just across the street from the Pit for $5 -- 1/2 the price of where we parked yesterday and about a half-mile closer. We went to the back of the arena to where the food and other vendors were set up. We had Indian tacos (made like a tostado, only with fry bread instead of a tortilla as the base) made New Mexico style with green chiles. Then we split another fry bread sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. It was almost as messy as eating beignets in New Orleans. With the breeze, the powdered sugar flew all over! We strolled through the big tents where vendors were selling everything Native American you could possibly think of: from jewelry to t-shirts; from drums to tanned hides; from cds to jackets.

We went back into the Pit and found seats (NOT an easy task!) in time for the evening Grand Entry. The parade of dancers was proceeded by a gentleman carrying a bald eagle on his wrist -

He had the bird trained to fly up every time he raised his arm --

Leading the Grand Entry Parade was an honored elder carrying the Eagle Staff --

And then came the dancers -- all 2678 of them! They just kept coming and coming...

There were some very different dancers wrapped in red and black robes with conical hats, much like the ones we've seen on our coastal tribes in Washington State --

We were told they were Canadians, but seeing the orca whale outlined in buttons on the back of this robe, I would wager they were from the west coast.

These are veterans dancing the honour gourd dance. Many of the veterans wore blue and red stoles. A blanket was placed in the middle of the floor and people kept coming down and throwing money on it during the dance.

These children were part of a dance troupe from the school where the reigning 2010 "Miss Indian World" teaches.

And this is the 2011 Miss Indian World who was crowned tonight. She is an Alaskan native and is actually wearing furs under those presentation blankets. The two ladies dancing immediately behind her are the runner-ups and dancing behind them are her family members. The ladies in the pink jackets are the Board Members who run the pageant.

This delightful lady is her grandmother, dancing in the typical calico dress worn by many Native women in Alaska --

This is the Lead Woman Dancer, dancing a traditional jingle dress dance --

Her solo dance preceded the jingle dress competition --

which was the last dancing we watched. We would have like to have stayed later and watched more of the competition dancing, but by this time it was already pretty late and we couldn't tolerate sitting on backless bleachers any longer...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Gathering of Nations PowWow

The walk from parking to "The Pit" at the University of New Mexico was long; the ticket line was two blocks long as well. But everyone was patient and we eventually made it to the front of the line. We got the two-day admission bracelets for the Gathering of Nations PowWow, so tomorrow we won't have to stand in line! This is one of the West's largest Native American gatherings, with more than 3000 singers and dancers.

The Pit is where UNM plays basketball -- it's a long way down to the arena floor from where we found seats to the dancing. I wasn't sure whether they would allow pictures, so I didn't take my camera. These pictures were all taken with my iPhone. There were lots of cameras, so I'll be sure to take mine -- with my telephoto lens -- tomorrow! These are some of the Grass Dancers --

The dancers got into -- and out of -- their regalia right in front of us in the stands --

This is the back of a Fancy Dancer who was sitting with his family in the rows right in front of us. The streamers form a bustle that is one of two in his regalia --

These are Fancy Dancer finalists. The young man in front of us came in third! You could see close-ups of the dancers on the big screen on the far wall.

We left the dancing at the end of the afternoon's contests as we had an invitation to dinner at our RVing friends, Tom and Juni. They have a lovely house in Albuquerque (we spent Christmas there with them in 2009). What a feast we had. Shrimp, barbecued steak, spinach salad with strawberries and pecans, baked potatoes and corn on the cob!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hidden Valley RV Park, Tijeras, New Mexico

As we were hooking up the Toad this morning and getting Auntie Violet ready for today's trip, we kept seeing all of the prairie dog/ground squirrel activity around us. I kept trying to sneak up on one to get a picture, but all I managed to get was a picture of a hole --

I finally got this picture of one from quite a ways away. Can you spot it over there by the sidewalk of the Church Rock Post Office?

And I did have to go get just "one more" picture of the spectacular sandstone cliffs near the campground --

Then we were off again. It was a fairly short day, just 138 miles along Interstate 40 through Albuquerque to Tijeras and Hidden Valley RV Park. This park is part of the Resorts of Distinction group, but it is obviously a very old park. The first site we were directed to was a back-in site up on the hill with some very tight corners. We got there all right and Forry backed in just fine. Then we discovered that the outlet connection for the sewer was ABOVE our tanks! We went back down to the office and figured out another site, which was a pull-through, but around another set of tight quarters. We finally got ourselves all settled in and I actually got a couple loads of laundry done.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Red Rock Park, Gallup, New Mexico

Here is Auntie Violet settling in for our night camp at Red Rock Park just east of Gallup, New Mexico. (This used to be a state park, but had been "acquired" by the City of Gallup.) The 640 acre park encompasses a rodeo ground, pow-wow dance theatre, museum, conference center, a post office, 600 horse stalls and an RV campground with water and 50-amp electric hook-ups. We are one of only three RVs here tonight...

Tell me it hasn't been windy the past few days? Look at the sand drifts across the campground roads...

The RV park is located right next to the spectacular red cliffs of Entrada sandstone --

Oh, I had forgotten to tell you, we have a new stow-away. This coyote joined the rest of our motley crew when we were at Walnut Canyon --

Today we drove east on Interstate 40 through a variety of landscapes --

We skirted the edge of the painted desert --

Until we left Arizona and arrived at the red sandstone --

Of New Mexico --

We went back into Gallup to do a bit of shopping and to have dinner at the historic old El Rancho Hotel and Motel. The dinner special was steak and enchiladas (with rice and beans and salad and tortillas). We decided to split the meal -- and it was still almost too much!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Day to Recover!

  • We decided last night that we needed to take a day off from running around in the wind -- we needed to recuperate! It was another VERY windy day today. When I went into the office to pay for one more night here at Meteor Crater RV Park, one of the staff told me that it's not going to blow tomorrow. I'll believe that when I see it!

  • I slept in this morning. It really felt good. I don't think I even stepped outside of Auntie Violet except for my trip to the office. We spent some time on the computer trying to decide where we would head next. I want to visit my Navajo friend in New Mexico, but she is off visiting her terminally ill brother in Albuquerque, so that may wait a while. We will move tomorrow to Red Rock State Park near Gallup.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Walnut Canyon; Sunset Crater Volcano; Wupatki Ruins

We were going to take a shorter round trip today -- only 134 miles -- but it turned out to be an even longer day than yesterday.
We hadn't counted on the trip to the bottom of Walnut Canyon to see the cliff dwelling ruins. You are at 6950 feet of altitude at the rim of the canyon and descend on the Island Trail which passes through 25 of the cliff dwelling rooms.

The trail has sheer drops so that you can view some of the dwellings made from shallow caves eroded out of the limestone walls.

To form walls, the builders gathered limestone rocks, shaped them roughly, then cemented them together with a gold-colored clay found in deposits elsewhere in the canyon.

There are more than 240 steps in the 185 drop to the bottom --

Wooden beams reinforced the doorways and finally the walls were plastered with clay inside and out.

The dwellings were heavily looted and vandalized before the canyon received the protected status of a National Monument.

Once we returned again to the top of the canyon (a good hour's trip), we followed Highway 89 up the road to the next National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano.

Now off-limits to climbers, the volcano started erupting sometime between 1040 and 1100 and formed this cinder cone --

The Bonito Lava beds surround the area around the mountain where lava oozed out of a vent on the side of the volcano.

Then on up the road to the pueblo ruins at Wukoki --

The ruins of this three-story pueblo were occupied during the 1100s, but by 1250 it stood empty.

By the time we got up the road a bit further to Lomaki Pueblo ruins, it was beginning to get dark.

This pueblo was built out of sandstone blocks in the same area. These are just a couple of the many abandoned ruins in the Antelope Prairie of the Wupatki National Monument.

We were pretty exhausted by the time we finished the loop and made it back to Flagstaff. We picked up some take-out at Micky D's and headed back to Auntie Violet. I think we'll stay home tomorrow!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert

Today we took a 175 plus mile road trip in the Toad through the 94,000 acre Petrified Forest National Park and the vast Painted Desert. We entered through the north end of the Park on Interstate 40.

One of the main reasons I wanted to see the Park was to visit the Native American ruins and petroglyphs I have heard so much about.

If you look closely at the rock below, you can see the bird with the figure in its mouth that is shown on the sign above.

This boulder has several figures. Can you see the human footprint and the snake?

These are a portion of the ruins of the Puerco Pueblo. It's a 100-room pueblo built about 1250 that may have housed as many as 1250 people near the Puerco River. The Spanish explorers found the ruins abandoned when they came through in 1540.

This is the high desert country of the Painted Desert --

These are known as the "The Teepees." The distinct white areas are sandstone. The cap of The Teepees is clay. Dark layers are caused by high carbon content. Darker reds are iron-stained siltstone. Reddish bases are stained by iron oxide or hematite.

According to the Park brochure, "this high, dry grassland was once a vast floodplain crossed by many streams. Tall stately conifer trees grew along the banks. The trees fell and swollen streams washed them into adjacent floodplains. A mix of silt, mud and volcanic ash buried the logs. This sediment cut off oxygen and slowed the logs' decay. Silica-laden groundwater seeped through the logs and replace the original wood tissues with silica deposits. Eventually the silica crystallized into quartz and the logs were preserved as petrified wood."

In the 225 million years since the trees lived, this region was uplifted. Over time, wind and water have worn away the rock layers and exposed the petrified tree remains.

Can you spot the rock logs pieces tumbled down from the log on the ledge high on this sandstone mound in the picture above? The log in the next picture lies exposed in the grassy flat.

How about the remains of this hollow log --

You can see the age rings in the stone of the one below --

Here's another broken log alongside sandstone boulders --

The logs look exactly like someone had taken a chain saw and neatly cut them into chunks ready to be split for firewood --

There are literally thousands of these petrified logs lying about. Yet the area was heavily looted before it was made a national park. They tell stories of early adventurers carrying petrified wood out of the area by wagon-loads and railroad car fulls. It's hard to imagine how many there must have been.

It was a long day today and we were both really tired when we returned to Auntie Violet for a late Easter dinner. We had taken many of the short hikes and loop trails to see close-ups of the trees (though I got in one more than Forry when he elected to take a nap at the Crystal Forest loop..). The altitude is higher at the park then in Denver and the wind was just as nasty and gusty as it was yesterday!