Enchantment, Preserved

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October 11, 2021, Cuba, NM- The message was unequivocal, as I drove past the highway that led to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and towards Farmington: “We are giving you THIS day, to honour the ancestors!” I turned around, and drove towards Chaco, promising myself that I would not continue along the unpaved road that led to the place, if there were any spots with high centers or jagged rocks that would reach up and take a bite out of the rental car’s oil pan or gas tank.

I needn’t have worried. There were spots with mild washboard, but nothing that harmed the Chevy Malibu. My new friends, Michael and Pat, were less fortunate, losing a water jug to the one spot on the road that had a hairline rupture and shook their vehicle. I think I went over that spot at 10 mph. Probably, the harbinger for what turned out to be an excellent observance of Indigenous People’s Day was this sight, along NM Highway.

Another half-mile along, a friendly rancher had arranged this greeting.

Today’s visit brought me to Hungo Pavi, Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito. The above, and the next two photos, feature Hungo Pavi.

I moved along to Chetro Ketl, one of the four clusters of buildings in Chaco that use a mix of round and square.. Chetro is located directly west of a fine collection of petroglyphs. Here is one of these.

As large as Hungo Pavi and Chetro Ketl were, they were mere suburbs of Pueblo Bonito. The central community was also the major trading hub for the Four Corners region, and likely as important to the commerce of at least the western half of North America, as Cahokia and Serpent Mound were to the east. Here are three views of that enormous place.

I will be back in this phenomenal place, perhaps as early as December. The spiritual and historical significance of Chaco Canyon, to both those who settled here and those who came after, is still being realized.

Stay on Game

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October 10. 2021, Gallup- Today is Double Tenth, the popular name for the National Day of Taiwan. The country is on watch, as it has been since 1949. Taiwan is staying vigilant, on game.

On a smaller scale, I, too, have to remain vigilant, on game-for a different reason. Life is getting more frenetic, I’ve noticed. More people are casting discernment to the wind, with me being one of them, for a split second too long, on September 23. The lesson was to not take eyes off my surroundings-in any situation.

After a morning that became whirlwind-a breakfast at Post 6, delayed a bit by human error (not mine), I hosted an online meeting-starting on time, but with seconds to spare. It all worked out, very nicely. A phone call to my mother, before all that, soothed any concerns I had about her well-being. She was more concerned that I was recovering from 9/23. I am, and just about completely.

Packing was fairly light, though I am ready for the vagaries of October-winter gear is mixed with near summer wear. I set out a bit after noon, noticing that there was a huge volume of traffic headed from Payson to the Phoenix area, for some reason going west to the Verde Valley, then south on I-17. I was headed in the opposite direction, but found it took seven minutes to be cleared for turning left so as to head north to Winslow.

There was no further delay in moving towards Gallup. I did stop for coffee, in the small Navajo Nation border town of Chambers, AZ. The restaurant attached to Days Inn was closed, but the convenience store had coffee. A well-meaning lady brought a stray dog into the store, pleading with the attendant to find a place for the scared puppy. Apparently, the finder was from Phoenix and had no way to care for the dog, which she said had been wandering around near the large semi-trailer trucks parked nearby. It being Sunday, and Chambers being a good hour from the animal shelter in Ganado, there wasn’t much the attendant could do, save put the dog outside and tend to her at shift’s end. Me? I am driving a rental car, have no pet carrier and would not be able to keep the animal at Home Base. I left a small group of people there to sort it out as best they could.

Once here, in western New Mexico’s regional commercial hub, I found no fewer than four motels closed for renovation. All can definitely use a world-class makeover, including the Lariat, where I stayed the last time I was here. El Capitan Motel is open for business and is definitely of recent renovation. The place is at least as good as a Motel 6, if not better. Who says Mom & Pop have nothing on the chains?

I am modifying my itinerary a bit, foregoing a drive into Chaco Culture National Historical Park, as the skinny on the roads into the park says there are very rough sections of the dirt roads, just before the park entrances, on either side. I am driving someone else’s vehicle and discernment precludes taking it on a rough route. I can drive a paved road, along the periphery of Chaco, which will suffice for now. Monday will thus be a day of familiarizing myself with the edges of the Bisti Badlands and the areas around the towns of Farmington, Bloomfield and Cuba.

My vigilance, in several instances of craziness, mostly pertaining to traffic, was much sharper today. I find that most reassuring.