The Mogollon and Their Brief Haven


October 12, 2017, Gila Cliff Dwellings, NM- 

There are few places in the world that can claim a heritage that is chronologically brief, yet historically enduring.  I had the pleasure of being in such a place, this morning.

The Mogollon people lived in this rugged area for about 25 years, starting around 1200 AD.  Then, for reasons that may have ranged from drought to encroachment of other peoples, they left these cliff dwellings behind.

Here are several photos of the four inhabited high cliff caves, and the legacy of their only known inhabitants.  Note the charred ceilings and carefully built stone apartments.  I began by crossing this foot bridge, over a tributary of the Gila River.




The hike was 1/2 mile, up moderately steep switchbacks.  It took me about twelve minutes to get up to the dwellings.



Once on top, I passed by a cave that was never inhabited.


At cave 2, I was greeted by a volunteer docent, who explained that the community was organized into apartment units, with a common area for dining and religious gatherings.


Cave 3, the largest settled area, is accessible by ladder, as it was in the Mogollon’s time.


The curious T-shaped window afforded a broad view of the adjacent cliffs and a narrow enough egress, in times when cook fires were errant.


Note the remaining soot on the ceiling.  It is dated from the 13th Century.


This ladder is a Twentieth Century replacement for the log ladder, used by the Mogollon.


This is an example of the apartmental structure, in Cave 4.


The area below was a common gathering place, also in Cave 4.


Here is the eastward view that greeted the Mogollon.




Here is an apartment in cave 5, which is not accessible to the modern visitor.


Few pictographs remain, in the dwellings themselves, but here is one.


As with all parts of the mountain west, the Gila Wilderness has had its share of fire.  This is an area which burned in 2011. The gentleman at lower right, and his wife, are involved with the Everett, WA Botanical Garden, which I visited in 2015.


The Mogollon seem to have borrowed some construction techniques from the Ancient Puebloans, further northeast and from the Salado people, to the west.  Their ultimate fate remains unknown, though they seem to have made their way northward, after abandoning this site.

NEXT:  Silver City

Vignettes, but No Pictures


October 11, 2017, Silver City-

I am intending to get to bed shortly, so as to wake up in time for a 2.5 hour drive to Gila Cliff Dwellings.  So, there will be no photos of Besh Ba Gowah or the Gila Wilderness, for a day or two.

I do want to mention a few people I have met, over the past two days.  There was a little girl, about 3, who expressed concern about the bandaid on my left facial cheek.  I have it to guard a sun blister that is slowly healing.  No explanation was needed, but her concern was priceless.  Another little girl greeted me this morning, as I went to my car for an item.  She was pleased that I was on vacation, like she was.

At the Slow Food Prescott meeting, last night, I was able to invite three couples to our upcoming observance of the Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth, on Oct. 22.  It takes a lot for me to offer invitations, and two of them were accepted graciously, with the third being rather hesitant, but taking it anyway.  More importantly, a Convergence event was announced at this meeting.  It will be held from November 10-12, which I can attend for at least two days- and with some negotiation and calendar tweeking, three days.  There will be an all-nighter, on the last night, ending at 8 AM, 11/13.  Work the next day, of course, will keep me from that part.

When I got to Superior, I had to bang on the window to get the resident manager’s attention- no doorbell, and the phone is in the office.  It took ten minutes, but I got in my reserved room.  Tonight, in Silver City, my initial room had a dead magnetic strip, and a broken faucet handle in the bathroom, so I got a different room and a discount on top of a discount.

At Tammy’s Cafe, in Buckhorn, NM, this evening, the grill was overloaded, so it took several of us close to 40 minutes to get our meals.  The staff, though, is incredibly energetic, attentive,  and gracious.  No one is idle.  The food was marvelous, worth the wait.

In the meantime, I had a lengthy conversation with a young ranch hand, named Jason, who gave me a wealth of information about Gila Cliff Dwellings, Casa Malpais (in Springerville, AZ) and various cliff dwellings on both private and county land, between Silver City and Springerville.  Tammy, the cafe owner and one of her waitresses were also full of information on the prehistoric remnants of the area.

It’s always a good day, when I feel open to connecting with new people.



Break Time


October 6, 2017, Prescott-

It’s Fall Break, from now until October 16- when we return to our labour of love and our lead teacher has a birthday.  In between, there is a balance of rest and motion. I have a service jaunt to Flagstaff, bright and early tomorrow morning, to help install smoke detectors in several units of a large modular home development.  Sunday will be a day of rest- until it isn’t.  Monday, I head down to Superior,  reconnect with the SunFlour  people and maybe hike Picketpost Mountain.  Beyond that is time in Globe,  then across to Safford, Silver City and Gila Cliff Dwellings, before getting back here, sometime Wednesday evening.  There will then be two days of relative rest, before Saturday the Fourteenth, when everything seems to be happening at once.  More details will be in order about that, later.

Anyway, it’s good to change the channel and replenish, every so often.


The Road to 65, Mile 25: Truth, Consequences and Delayed Gratification


December 23, 2014, Lordsburg-  When I was a very young child, about 4 or 5, my maternal grandmother would occasionally babysit us, so both our parents could work.  Grama would sometimes have the radio broadcasting something about truth or consequences.  I could barely say the second name, but I knew what truth meant, and figured consequences were some kind of lies.

In March, 1950, shortly after i would have been conceived, the game show host Ralph Edwards, celebrating ten years of his successful radio show, “Truth or Consequences”, took an idea from a couple of staff members- to name an American town after the show.  The town selected was Hot Springs, New Mexico, which had the advantage of already being a prime tourist destination, due to its eponymous mineral baths and nearby Elephant Butte Lake, a man-made reservoir of the Rio Grande.  On April 1, Mr. Edwards, his wife and several crew members went to Hot Springs, for the official renaming, and the City of Truth or Consequences, “TRC”, was born.

I spent Monday night and Tuesday morning, enjoying the hospitality and vibrant civic spirit of this remarkable little community.  Here are some scenes from the Hot Springs Historic District and Geronimo Springs Historical Museum, Sierra County’s place of record.  The painted water tower and some brightly coloured homes reminded me of Bisbee, AZ.


The San Andres Mountains rise to the southeast.SAM_3439 Quirky shops and eateries are scattered throughout the town.SAM_3447 Geronimo Springs Museum is a well-ordered and delightful place in which to learn of west central New Mexico.SAM_3441 A display of coloured glass and ceramic greets the visitor, outside.SAM_3443 So, too, does a log cabin.

SAM_3442 SAM_3465 Inside the museum are many features of paleontology, anthropology, local culture and history.  I started with Pleistocene relics, a mammoth skull, and one of a mastodon.

SAM_3455SAM_3456 Going backwards in time, here is a Devonian coral.SAM_3459 Next, are some fern fossils.

SAM_3460 This is the tale of a chair, brought from the original Sierra County Courthouse, in nearby Hillsboro.  The two towns disputed which would be county seat, and the State of New Mexico ruled in favour of Hot Springs.SAM_3463 The historical exhibits showed portraits of Geronimo, Don Juan de Onate, and cowboy author Eugene Rhodes.  This local hero outshines them all, in my opinion.SAM_3468 I left “TRC” a bit later than I had planned, but some serendipity is worth delayed gratification elsewhere.  I would end up putting off a visit to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and a walk around Silver City, but along the way to that area, I encountered several little gems.

Hillsboro, the aforementioned rival, was mostly closed up for the holidays.

SAM_3470  Not far up the road is Percha Creek, with a truss bridge and adjacent walkway/overlook.

SAM_3479 Emory Pass, at 8230 feet, is the highest point along this exquisite highway.  Here, I encountered a writer from Martha’s Vineyard, who is looking to relocate to warmer climes.  I gave him a few possible sites to explore, in that regard.  Emory was definitely not one of them- but it is a place of splendour.

SAM_3485 I stopped for lunch at La Tienda del Sol, in San Lorenzo, before visiting the Mimbres Ranger Station, which confirmed my suspicions about Gila Cliff Dwellings closing at 4 PM.  This delightful little place was full into the holiday spirit, as was Sunset Grill, in TRC, last night and this morning.

SAM_3487 I headed to Silver City, in the end, spent a short time at Fort Bayard National Cemetery, then continued down to Lordsburg.  The dusty desert town has its own gems, among them the comfortable and inexpensive Holiday Motel (NOT “Inn”) and Kranberry’s Family Restaurant, open for lunch and dinner.  I was treated like royalty in both places.  Days like this will bring me back to this area in the Spring, and then we’ll see about Gila Cliff Dwellings and vicinity.

The Road to 65, Mile 20: Now, Then


December 18, 2014, Prescott-   I found out, early this morning, that someone had pushed the wrong button, in the course of my last financial transaction.  The deposit which should have been posted yesterday, never made it.  This will slightly alter my spiritual journey to western New Mexico, which I had planned on starting Friday night.  No matter, I will get a good night’s sleep here, and most likely be able to set out on Saturday morning.

Zuni, where Penny and I first met, in December, 1980, is first on my itinerary. El Morro National Monument, near there, is next, and I will head, in succession, to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, where we went crane watching, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and Silver City, which we wanted to visit, but never did, Cochise Stronghold (one of my favourite meditation spots), and Tucson, where a few friends await.

Christmas weekend will find me at the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, where I have spent each of the past twenty-two years, save 1997.  It is a good place for spiritual regeneration, and coming on the heals of my time in the forests of western New Mexico and the serene desert near Vail and Avra Valley, it represents a double dose.  Of course, the crowds at GCBC are large, but I draw energy from the youth, and regard many of them as friends.  I have watched so many grow up from infancy, in the time I’ve been back in Arizona.  Now, they are taking on the world, on their own terms.

I sat down this morning with several of the Red Cross Disaster Response Team members, with whom I would be working, if chosen for the position mentioned earlier.  There is a plethora of detail to be worked out, each time a disaster happens.  Good thing there is no ‘I’ in team.  I have had a lot of practice, these past two years, both here and in Europe, in being an effective member of a team handling somewhat chaotic emergencies.  There is a reason for everything.

This evening gave me an hour’s worth of study on Essential Oils, vis-a-vis women’s health issues.  It is also going to come in handy, and this area was not something with which I had much familiarity, until now. That goes to show, in this day and age, an old dog had best learn new tricks, and skills, without hesitation.