What had been planned as a two-day visit to Petrified Forest/Painted Desert was interrupted by work, at the end of last week. Yesterday’s visit to Homol’ovi State Park sufficed, in its place. I have about a month or so left, of being available five days a week for subbing. In the second semester, my officially retired self will cut back to 2-3 days a week, and then because there seem to be so few people willing to take on the work. I am not doing any long term travel anywhere, until this pandemic lightens up enough for people to not feel leery of visitors. Right now, there is a return to Stay-at-Home orders in most neighbouring states-at least for the next two weeks. Thankfully, I can at least fly in and out of Dallas, and visit my little family, next week.
This week, though, I will be maintaining at least three days of work. Today, though I might have lazed the time away, was actually no different. A pallet-dismantling project, the eventual goal of which will be a winter residence for a homeless man, brought about twelve of us together, in a mountain community, south of Prescott. So, for nearly three hours, I busied myself with moving planks and removing nails from those planks.
The most effective way to remove nails from a board is to lean into the effort, thus putting extra pressure on the claw part of the hammer. Using a small piece of wood, as a brace, also speeds things up greatly. Of course, if I were really efficient, I would go out and get a pneumatic nail remover. The exercise was good for my upper body and forearms, though.
Leaning into any endeavour, with attention and perseverance, is the only way to approach a task. I am getting better at this practice, in my late middle age, and certainly feel an increase in satisfaction at each day’s end.
The day dawned, crisp and clear, with the news that our entire county was without Internet. I took that as an opportunity to set out early, from Cottonwood and towards Homol’ovi State Park, just north of Winslow. The route goes through Camp Verde, so breakfast at Verde Cafe was the first order of business. Many of the dishes there have a Mexican flair and the place is relaxed, with vivacious servers. Today’s meal did not disappoint.
It was a quiet drive up the hill to Strawberry Junction, then to Winslow, with remnants of snow all along the road, in the sun shadows. I got to Homol’ovi,a mile north of town, around 11:30, and had to ring the doorbell at the Visitor’s Center, to purchase my admission. The ranger seemed surprised, though grateful, that I was even bothering. Indeed, nobody else was stopping there, but I don’t take something for nothing.
Here is the Visitor’s Center.
There are two 13th Century ruins, and a 19th Century Mormon cemetery, preserved in the park’s grounds. I walked to Sunset Cemetery, the only remnant of the Mormon settlement of Sunset, which had been built on the floodplain of the Little Colorado River. As the Mormon party had had no experience with the monsoons of the Southwest, they felt it would not be problematic to build on the flat area. When the monsoons came, and the settlement was washed away, they left. The hilltop cemetery bears witness to their simple lifestyle.
The names of those laid to rest are on this one stone, set by the LDS Church and the State Park.
Above, is a description of Sunset, the settlement. Below, is a view of the cemetery as a whole.
The park maintains a small observatory, for Star Viewing parties, during more normal times.
Tsu’Vo, above, is a short nature trail, where there are petroglyphs scattered among the stones. I did not see any, from the trail itself. Tsu’Vo means “Place of Rattlesnakes”, in Hopi, but with the weather being cool, I didn’t see any of them, either. Below, there is much evidence of volcanic debris, which is this area’s legacy from the eruption of Sunset Crater, 60 miles to the west.
After walking around Tsu’Vo, I headed to Homol’ovi II, the larger of the two preserved ruins of the settlements built by the likely ancestors of the Hopi. Hopi spiritual leaders are regularly consulted by the park curators, with regard to preservation issues. The park has brought a halt to vandalism and theft of artifacts, which was worse here than at other parts of the area.
Below is a view of the central kiva, where religous ceremonies were held. This kiva was restored, after having been vandalized, prior to the park’s establishment.
The, as now, the San Francisco Peaks were regarded as sacred, by the Hopi, as well as Dineh and other Indigenous peoples of the region.
Removing pottery shards, or any other artifacts, is a Federal and State crime. Flat stones are set, off the trail, as a safe place where people may place any shards found on the sidewalk and view the collections.
Two herds of wild burros have made their home here, between the two main ruin sites. I spent a few minutes, silently conversing with the equines, then headed to Homol’ovi I, the first settlement uncovered by archaeologists. Below, is one of the few intact walled rooms.
The scattered remnants of Homol’ovi I’s central plaza are seen above. Plazas were, and are, the main gathering places of Pueblo dwellers, including the Hopi. Homol’ovi’s preservation, along with those of other civilized communities which pre-date European settlement, is a sincere effort at acknowledging the foundation of Man’s presence in this exquisite, harsh environment.
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