Saturday and today were absolutely awesome. A cold, but beautiful sunrise at Homol-ovi Ruins State Park was followed by a hot cup of Peets Major Dickison and a warm bowl of Bob's Red Mill muesli to kick things off. Then it was time to rumble.
The Homol-ovi ruins are split into two locations, with trails that lead from spot to spot to highlight their history. The Homol-ovi folks (the Hisat'sinom, aka Anasazi) lived next to the Little Colorado River in the 14th century. They built two and three story dwellings with ~ 2,000 rooms mostly from sandstone and clay to house a good sized population, considered by the Hopi to be their ancestors. Repeated flooding from the Little Colorado pushed them north.
Pottery sherds still evident at the site (don't even think about stealing them, Jethro) show the people's artistry and resourcefulness. Aside from the washout problems, this was a successful, civilized band of people for thousands of years.
After exploring the ruins, I stopped to hike a short trail between two small buttes. There are some pretty cool petroglyphs up there, but watch out for rattlesnakes. I got to see some wild burros kicking up dust, too, which just might be the most fun there is in a desert.
Next was the obligatory tourist stop in Winslow, Standing on a Corner Park. Sorry, no selfie. A nearby bar was blasting "Desperado" at 11:30 a.m. and oddball, weekend Harley Davidson folks were singing (yelling) along, already (or still?) toasted. This was both sad and funny. The Roaring of the Sheeple.
It's only about 50 miles from Winslow to Petrified Forest National Park. I stopped at the Rainbow Visitor Center and fell temporarily in love with yet another cutie pie Park Rangerette. She issued me a free backcountry pass which allowed me to park at milepost 24. The deal is that as long as you hike at least a mile away from the road, you can pitch your tiny tent anywhere you please. This park is the only one I know that allows this option. Five stars for certain.
I shook off Cupid's silly little arrows and picked my way cross country through littered bits of petrified wood and occasional biggo logs for about forty minutes. Then I camped in a wash at the head of a deep, dramatic arroyo and ate a cold-soaked dinner, enjoying absolute, perfect silence. No Harleys, no drunks, no desperation for miles.
I was awake at first light today and packed up for the quick hike back to milepost 24. Oh yeah, did I mention there was petrified wood all over the place?
The last time I was in this park was in 1955 when I was knee-high to Lanky Leo (my Dad). I remember how happy he was that day and how excited he was to tell me how petrified wood came to be. He had no idea what seeds he was planting on those trips back then. Or maybe he did?
I made a few more stops this morning on the way out to I-40. My favorite was Puerco Pueblo. There is a magically scientific petroglyph here. On the Summer Solstice at dawn (only then), a ray of sunlight strikes like a dagger of light right in the center of a solar glyph - a precise little celebratory calendar in the middle of the desert. The site is carefully roped off so you can't get too close, but this next picture is the rock. The ruins of the pueblo and the chunks of colorful petrified wood here were cool, too, but that Solstice thing and the other petroglyphs really captured me.
After that, it was on to Gallup, NM and a cheap room with WiFi. The cell signal was pretty weak in the park, about the only thing I experienced that wasn't absolutely awesome.
What a great, blessed, happy couple of days.
Peace, Love, and The Ancient Ones,