Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cliff dwellings and ancient pueblo ruins

Thursday:  I'm sitting ALONE in the RV, sipping a nice micro brew beer with the golden evening sun slanting through the windows, listening to the kids having fun outside. They are playing in an oak grove with little natural pools at a remote campground.
Steve is shooting the bow he made himself before this trip. He keeps exclaiming, “Damn, this thing shoots good!”, which must be saying a lot about the excellent quality of the bow. Steve is the most humble human being I know, and he never shows off. If he is openly impressed by the bow he made, it must be good.

We had another sun-filled day, and it got up to 70 degrees! We spent the morning doing math with the boys, or rather forcing the boys to do math, washing dishes, knitting in the sunshine, while the kids played at our camp spot.  I got to hike and run all by myself in the Superstition Mountains. Afterwards, I even got to shower and (imagine that) wash my hair!

It doesn't take a lot to entertain these kids.  A little gravel, a little sand, rocks?  You got it!
I'm knitting a dress for Miss Eva.
Thanks to our good friends Brandie and Bradley, we found the most enchanted spot today. They described it to us via landmarks of tunnels, guardrails and pull-outs by the highway, since the spot is not marked and therefore only known by insiders. We scrambled up some rocks and found ourselves by a magical waterfall with a series of ponds, with water so green and sparkly, you just know that fairies congregate there! Steve, of course, had to jump in, although the water was freezing cold.

We were surprised we found the spot!  See how rugged it is?
Another photo of Steve lugging Eva around.
Here is one of the little natural pools.
Mister Tough Guy jumping in the freezing cold water, pretending to be a salmon.
Lukas is mad that we didn't allow him to jump in the water.  
Eva wasn't allowed to jump in either, but we let her be naked instead.
Friday:  Today was filled with educational homeschooling opportunities (and I'm not talking about the teeth-pulling hour of math). In the morning, we went to a museum in Globe, an old (ugly) mining town, where they extract copper and gold from the earth. The museum was about the history of mining in the area, the settlers, and a little bit about the Native Americans who got displaced. There was some interesting stuff in there, but I always feel so terrible about the fate of the Indians that the gringos, their greed, and their one-sided view of history always annoy me.
We drove half an hour on a scenic road to find an archaeological park, with ancient ruins of a pueblo, where we learned what life was like more than six hundred years ago. The kids loved exploring these excavated ruins. If Eva hadn't been such a psycho, I'm sure Steve and I would have enjoyed it more.

We were all really impressed by the cotton that grew in the botanical gardens at the pueblo.
Next: Tonto National Monument, the home of the prehistoric Salado people of the Salt River. These are cliff dwellings overlooking what is now Lake Roosevelt --- impressive indeed.

See the cliff dwellings, up in the cave?  Sorry for the bad quality of this picture.
This is her new dress I knitted for her.
Room with a view!

As we were hiking up there and cajoling a pouting Eva along, I couldn't help but wonder how these people dealt with their crazy three year old kids. Did they just pass them on to an aunt or older sister to give the mother a chance to cool down and grind her corn in peace? It takes a village to raise a child, it really does... And how on Earth did they restrain curious toddlers so they wouldn't fall off the cliff edge? (Maybe they didn't restrain them, so natural selection would take care of the more.... spirited children.  Ahem.)
On the other hand, these ancient people had harder things to deal with than the terrible twos and threes. Survival, for example. The cliff dwelling we visited today is only one of hundreds of once-thriving communities in the Tonto Basin. Thousands of people farmed and thrived there, but during the early 1300s, dramatic climate changes and catastrophic flooding messed up this serenity, and people ended up fighting for dwindling resources. This is when people moved into the cliff dwellings. Hard times... populations declined, and crazy three year olds probably were really, really low on the list of things to worry about.
Later in the day, we found a spot by Roosevelt Lake, where Kai gathered clams, which he wanted to cook up and eat. I managed to convince him that this might not be the best idea, what with food poisoning and shell fish toxicity and all... Lukas found the jaw of some dead animal, and Eva entertained herself by throwing rocks into the lake. A good day (except Eva's tantrums), a good sunset, and a good dinner.

I made im wash his hands real good before dinner, I really did!
Our view from our camp spot.  The price is right, too - it's free.  You can park anywhere in Arizona's National Forests.


  1. Isn't the desert a trip? My Grandpa lives outside of Phoenix. Once I get out of the city I'm always pleasantly surprised by how fruitful and tough the desert is if you look up close. The giant boulders and trees look like pebbles and shrubs from afar. All the animals and plants have to fight so hard for every drop of water and it shows in their behavior and morphology, respectively, in ways we dont' see up here. It's a special place that I'm happy to see you enjoying. And knitting in too!

    After a couple weeks of fog we finally got a nice day up here. But really, I don't mind the clouds and the cold, it helps me stay inside and study/get distracted by knitting. Of course, enjoying the winter helps when there is plenty to do and good people around to help enjoy the time.


  2. Hey, good to hear that you are getting knitting done!!!!