Sunday, November 22, 2015

Aztec Ruins

It's easy to get tired of seeing ancient ruins from a great distance, tiny without binoculars or a zoom lens and restricted from access.

Aztec Ruins in New Mexico is different. Many of the rooms – mostly authentic and some reconstructed – are open to visitors. You can duck through the low doors, touch the finely fitted stones and walk from room to room in what appears to be the ancient version of an apartment building.

Aztec Ruins is not really Aztec; it was misnamed by early explorers and
has been stuck with the name. It's really puebloan ruins, built by early southwestern tribes.

The round building (reconstructed) is the Great Kiva, a ceremonial building for the whole community.

Some of the doors were low and I had to duckwalk through them. Some were higher, like this T-shaped door. I don't know why it's shaped that way, but the sides looks like a handy place to set your coffee.

Look above the door — some of the wood is still intact. I was particularly impressed with the inner rooms, like this one, that still have original, 900-year-old wooden ceilings!

Decorator touch — the oldest walls had intricate stonework. This outer side has stripes of dark green stones.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Crazy Life of a Work-at-Home Entrepreneur

I never know what the day will bring.

7 am. Drank coffee. Scanned e-mails. Downloaded pictures off the camera from a Saturday event. Wished I'd taken a few more.

9:15 am.  Arrived at a local church for an interview, hair still wet. Got introduced to about 50 preschoolers who were told to impress me with their singing. Sang "Do Lord, Oh do remember me." Good interview.

10:30 am. Drank coffee. Wrote cover letter for a magazine job.

12-1 pm. Distracted as I went online to find the right editor's name. Nothing online. Convinced the printer to print cover letter and resume. Fixed lunch.

1:30 pm. Found the magazine in my bedroom, listing lots of editors' names. Took a nap.

3:00 pm. Called the school to get a quote to add to the church article. Felt self-conscious about uncoifed hair while talking to busy principal. Maybe if I get the magazine job I'll work on my appearance.

3:30 pm. Checked mail and discovered it was warmer outside than inside. Took kitties out on leashes and took papers to edit.

3:45 pm. Amelia leaps into the edge of the creek, plays around on wet leaves. I have to kneel on the muddy bank to reach down and scoop her out. As I try to wrangle both to go inside, Galina backs out of her leash and falls into the middle of the creek. Panic ensues. She splashes upstream until finding an exit. In summary, Galina does not enjoy her first shower, given by me, fully clothed (for my own protection). At one point she opens the sliding glass doors and runs out. I realize just in time that the edited papers are in my back pocket. Papers survive. Cat is grumpy. Amelia gets off with just a paw-washing. We all survive.

4:30ish pm. Put on dry work-out clothes. Wrote a blog post.

5:30 pm. Met my sister at the gym for step class.

6:30 pm. Cooked dinner and watched a show on Netflix.

8:30ish pm. Washed towels from today's adventure. Decided it was too late to start budget work for an upcoming board meeting. Changed into pajamas from chilly sweaty workout clothes.

9ish to 10 pm. Finished revising cover letter and resume in bed (I don't  normally work in the bedroom). Final review and finding links to published clips will have to wait until tomorrow. Sweet kitties are already fast asleep on the bed.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Four Corners

Four Corners, the intersection of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, was high on my list of places to see in the Southwest.

After standing in four states at once and watching the creative photo ops of other tourists, I browsed the market, set up in sheltered booths on the four sides.

I think I bought a souvenir in New Mexico, but the vendor had to step over to Arizona to get cell phone reception to process a credit card.

On the way out I missed a turn and ended up in Colorado.

Believe me, turning around with a camper trailer on a 70-mph highway with no exits or shoulders requires creativity of its own.

(Please pardon the format. Blogger has been moody all weekend.)

Monday, November 09, 2015

Canyon de Chelly

What can I say about Canyon de Chelly? (That rhymes; it's pronounced "de shay.")

As part of my dream cross-country trip I wanted to visit the Navajo nation, known to fans of author Tony Hillerman as "Hillerman country." Many small-to-medium towns on the map had familiar names to me from reading his novels, including Chinle. Chinle is at the base of Canyon de Chelly. 

Unlike the Grand Canyon, which seems to have started all at one level and been worn down in chasms by the Colorado River, Canyon de Chelly rises up from the high desert like a "V," with Chinle at the junction or starting point. 

There are many overlooks along the north and south rims, easily accessible by road and short walks, but the floor of the canyon is still inhabited by Navajo families, off limits except with approved guides.

Some of the overlooks view ancient cliff dwellings, like White House Ruins.

I didn't visit them all, but several had open paths away from the railing, where you could walk along the weather-worn stone and look at different views — with no railing.  Believe me, I kept my distance from those sloping edges.

Local people brought their crafts to a few of the overlooks to sell their wares to tourists.

At Sliding House Ruins, I got to walk along and look at the scenery to the sound of traditional flute music. Marc Begay, a young man who lives near the canyon, was playing in the parking area for tips. (If you're interested in buying his CD, e-mail me for his contact information.)

I stayed at a Navajo-owned, primitive campground near the top of the southern rim.

I'd planned to stay here several days, to finally relax after all the driving and sightseeing. But "primitive" means no electricity. My refrigerator wasn't working (food was spoiling), and my gas heat only worked when it felt like it (about every other night). It gets pretty cold at night in the high desert!

So I decided to pack up Monday morning and head for home, or at least for the campgrounds with amenities near cities and major highways.

It was a beautiful place, though. The campground was peaceful, and came with a friendly dog that liked to greet me whenever I stepped outside.

This is Spider Rock, the last overlook on the south rim, not far from the campground. It's also at the end of the paved road. The canyon continues off into the distance, and so does the rough dirt road, cutting its way to New Mexico. 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Rough Rock Friends Meeting

I like to visit other Friends (Quaker) meetings when I'm traveling. Rough Rock is off the beaten track in the Navajo Nation in Arizona, not far from Chinle and Many Waters. They meet for worship on Sundays. That is, if somebody goes to get the pastor, because she has the key. Somebody with four-wheel drive, because it rained and the dirt roads are rutted. On October 18, that somebody was me. Hey, it's one way to meet Friends!