Homol’ovi

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November 14, 2020, Flagstaff-

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.

Navajo Tacos, Urban Nomads and Essential Oils- A Journey to Salt Lake City: Part One

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September 17-20, 2014– There are a number of interests which have presented themselves to me, in the past three years.  The latest such is the wellness-inducing power of essential oils, when used properly.  Let’s be clear:   Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils can, and do, relieve many conditions.  They cannot be said to cure communicable, or progressive-degenerative diseases.  With that said, I share some snippets of my recent attendance at a business convention, in Salt Lake City.

I set out around 10 AM, on September 17, with the goal of getting up to Salt Lake by 10 PM.  The first stop, for lunch at Cameron Trading Post, about 50 miles north of Flagstaff, brought me back to an old stomping ground.  I worked in the Tuba City Public Schools for five years, in the early 1980’s.  We had several visits to Cameron, an interesting Navajo crafts center situated on a bluff above the Little Colorado River and always enjoyed the traditional dishes available at the restaurant there.  It has become a favourite stop for busloads of retirees, as well.  On this day, there were seventy people in a group ahead of me, so I moved to the side of the scrum that was closest to the Host’s station, and got him to seat me at a table by the west wall. Time was a factor.

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The interior of the dining room, in which I enjoyed a “fill-you for the day” Navajo taco, is preserved from its Victorian-era beginnings. Not wanting to disturb other patrons during their lunch, I took these shots of the wall near my table,and of the glass ceiling- one occasion when that term is not offensive.  By the way, a Navajo taco is a hybrid dish, using fry bread (itself devised by enterprising Native Americans of various tribes, as a use for the worm-shot flour given them as ration, during the 19th Century.), pinto beans, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and shredded Cheddar cheese, with salsa or hot sauce available on the side. Some people add ground beef to their tacos; the Navajos usually do not.

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I made it through the northern Arizona and Utah back country, not stopping, save for a picnic supper from my cooler, at the Hoovers Rest Area, north of Panguitch, UT.  The area was deserted, save for me and a skittish deer, which took off as I got out of the car.  There is a small restaurant and store across the road, but I ate my fill of my own stock, and kept going.

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As you can see, Utah has lots of beauty, and I will be back in the intervening areas, over the course of the next two years or so.  Salt Lake City continued to beckon, though, and I drove on, arriving at 9:30 PM.  I settled into a cheap motel on South Hwy 89.  It turned out to be owned by fellow members of the Baha’i Faith, and I was warmly welcomed, and was safe among the urban nomads who reside there.  There were conflicts between a few of the people, which were resolved by the Baha’is getting the contending parties to sit down and talk it out, rather than having to get police intervention.  Nobody was anything but kind to me, though.

The first session of the convention began bright and early on Thursday morning, and included some Samoan fire dancers in performance.

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Considering that Salt Palace was host to upwards of 18,000 people, I was quite happy to have even this vantage point.  The overriding message was clear:  The translation from Mandarin was “God helps he who help himself”.  This was how I was raised, and it is a major tenet of the company.  I will have more to say about the oils, in Part 2 of this series.