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Old Stuff And A Big Hole

Posted by on December 18, 2015

That’s quite the title for a post, right? Old Stuff And A Big Hole. Usually, I’ll name a post based on the town we’re staying in, but that doesn’t really work for this area. We stayed 20 miles from Winslow and 30 miles from Flagstaff at the Meteor Crater RV Park. I couldn’t call this post Meteor Crater because that was such a small part of what we saw. So, I went with the title you see. It fits.

Moving on!

The northeast corner of Arizona is chock full of ancient pueblos and dwellings. We find them fascinating and can’t seem to get enough of them. So far, each dwelling or pueblo we’ve seen has been a little bit different than the others. Each providing a new hint or clue as to how people once lived.

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Welcome to Walnut Creek Canyon.

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We spent an afternoon walking the Island Trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument where the Sinagua people lived more than 800 years ago.

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The Sinagua weren’t the first to live in Walnut Canyon. Artifacts found there show people were in the area more than 1,400 years ago.

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The Island Trail  takes you by big boulders perched precariously above the trail and down 240 stairs. It’s not the down that gets you…it’s the up and the fact that you’re almost 6,000 feet above sea level.

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Down in the canyon there are these sandstone rock formations. The diagonal lines or cross-bedding shows a record of the changing winds. Those used to be sand dunes.

IMGP9194The cliff dwellings were built between 1125 and 1250. The builders took advantage of natural recesses in the limestone walls to build their homes.

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There are some amazingly preserved homes at Walnut Canyon. The doors would have been covered with whatever they had (like an animal skin) with a gap at the bottom. See the little cutout in the wall above the door? It’s a pretty ingenious design. The air enters the home through the gap in the door then circulates through the home and takes the smoke from the fire with it out through the hole at the top of the wall above the door.

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Sometimes a picture will explain it better. See the square at the bottom right of the photo above? That shows how the smoke would be carried out of their home.

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This photo gives you a better idea of what the dwellings used to look like.

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We spent an entire day between the Sunset Crater Volcano National National Monument and the Wupatki National Monument. There’s a 35 mile scenic drive that connects these to parks.

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Sunset Volcano last erupted about 800 years ago. This eruption is the most recent in a six-million-year history of volcanic activity in this area. The photo above was taken on the A’a Trail.

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The boys loved seeing icicles hanging from the old lava flow.

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Here’s a picture of Littlest standing in front of one of the flows so you can see how tall they are. And yep, that’s snow you see!

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At the top of the Lenox Crater Trail we were rewarded with a wonderful view of the San Franciso Peaks. Interesting fact…the San Franciso Peaks used to be one big volcano.

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Here’s a shot of Sunset Volcano. There’s not a trail to the top to actually see the crater which we thought was a big bummer. But, apparently there was so much damage done by people trekking up there it’s now a big no no. Personally, I think if you name a National Park after something there should be a maintained trail to see it.

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After an eruption lichens begin breaking down rock into soil.

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I didn’t find any flowers, but I did find a ton of these Apache Plume that had gone to seed.  We thought they were very cool.

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Next up was the Wupatki National Monument. There are several pueblos in this park and we tried to see as many as we could with a snow storm moving in.

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This is the Wukoki Pueblo. Wukoki means “Big House” in modern Hopi.

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The Wukoki has a pretty nice view from it’s porch.

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Wukoki was once home to two or three families that they believe came from the Kayenta Anasazi culture.

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One of the things we find so interesting about this pueblo is how small the doors are. That’s Jerl crouching in the doorway and Littlest standing beside it so you can get an idea of the size.

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This is the Wupatki Pueblo.

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The location and size (100 rooms) of the Wupatki Pueblo makes archaeologists believe that this wasn’t a typical village but a special meeting place for the surrounding areas.

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One of the coolest things at the Wupatki Pueblo was the blowhole. I’m not going to pretend I completely understand how it works…something with light warm air and cold heavy air.

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We all had to take turns standing and leaning over it. Jerl wasn’t expecting the wind to be so strong and his hat blew right off his head!

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The Wupatki Pueblo had a pretty fantastic view too.

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See the two wooden beams in the photo above? They’ve been in place for over 800 years.

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There was some amazing pottery found in the area.

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And some newer pottery for sale. I would have taken any of the ones in the picture. Love them!

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This was the Nalakihu Pueblo. Farmers once lived here. See the snow clouds getting closer? We got snowed on back at Sunset.

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The ruins really do dot the landscape. Can you see the two different ruins in the photo above?

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These two pueblos were built on the edges of a canyon. We saw these while we were walking the trail to get to the Lomaki Pueblo.

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And this is the Lomaki Pueblo. Notice the leaning walls? I wonder how long they’ll stay standing. Interesting fact…when a family or village would decide to move to a new area they would take all of their valuables with them, including the roof support beams or sometimes they would plug all opening to the building and leave some of their valuables there, as if they had plans to come back. One of the things that has really stuck out to us about pueblos is the way the structures are melded into the landscape and are oriented to the sun and seasons.

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It spit snow on us a couple of time that day. Nothing bad. We enjoyed watching the snow clouds.

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I stuck this picture in to show y’all how many cinder cones dot this area.

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So, the other thing we did on this stop is visit Meteor Crater. I snapped a picture of a picture so you could see the whole thing. The real photo is in the Meteor Crater Visitor Center.

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There was a neat little museum. The boys loved this booth.

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The booth played a video of what scientist think happened about 50,000 years ago.

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We took the guided tour along the Crater rim. It was interesting and the guide made it fun. I don’t have a wide enough lens to get the whole crater in one shot. The Crater is 4,000 feet across, and 550 feet deep. It used to be about 700 feet deep but because of erosion, it’s being slowly filled in. To help you visualize just how stinkin’ big this crater is…there could be 20 different football games going on along the bottom and around 2 million fans could line the sides to watch. Big, right?

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I can’t leave the food out! We ate at a place called Mama Burger in Flagstaff. My burger had green chilies, jack cheese and hot sauce. I’ve been a little obsessed with the green chilies lately. I think it’s because they’re so good.

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This was the burger Mr. Man got. I don’t remember everything on it but it was huge and messy with bacon and he ate it all!

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We ordered fries and tots to have along with our burgers. We didn’t realize they were going to come out in completely filled pie plates. And the price was really decent! If you’re ever in the area you should definitely go to Mama Burger!

See y’all on the road!

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