April 1, 2013
This morning I looked for items the family left behind after a full weekend of Easter fun. Ken left his tennis shoes. Doug left a Care Package of chicken alfredo he wanted to take home. And Virginia left her shopping bags that she had previously left in my car when I returned to Murphys weeks ago.
The kids colored a glob of eggs. Ken colored one egg with a rock band symbol and told the boys aged 10 and 13 whoever found that egg on Easter morning and could name the band, he would pay $5. The boys got on the internet, figured out the band, Blue Oyster Cult and conspired among themselves that they’d share the 5 bucks and that way, no matter who found the egg, they’d both be winners. Smart kids.
Even though they are too old for the bunny, the fun is in the egg hunt. With 23 hidden eggs, it took them two hours to find them. The hardest was finding a purple egg hidden among the bouquet of lilacs, invisible among the flowers. And, one brownish egg hidden in the woodpile next to the stove. And, we who hide the eggs take pleasure in providing a challenge. I took great pictures.
Cedric loves to bake and he made a wonderful woven Easter bread. We all enjoyed card games, the food and sweets. Ken and Virginia are training for a 65 mile ride, so they got out twice on the bikes. Easter morning they road 45 miles with hills before the rain set in. Ah, well, we have to count our blessings. We had good weather between storms. The lightening show was fantastic. We skyped family members who couldn’t come.
But, getting pictures up in my blog is a challenge that get’s worse with everything I try. Maybe next week.
June 11, 2012
It is the only major cliff dwelling in the park that can be seen from an overlook. I was disappointed in my pictures of the Weatherhill Long House, but here you can see the dwellings from a distance and get an idea of what the whole settlement looks like in two photos.
The tour starts on the left and moves off to the right.
A tighter shot also taken from the overlook. Notice the tower in this photo and a comparison of what the site looked like when it was first photographed by a Swedish Scholar, Gustaf Nordenskiold, in 1891. He was the first to scientifically study the site though it was officially “discovered” by Weatherhill, local ranchers and curiosity seekers knew of its existence.
Quite a difference. Much debris from many years of neglect, but hey, the 1100′s was a long time ago. From the overlook, our group proceeded down into the canyon.
Jim is moving a bit slowly. He was in pain this morning from overdoing a things a bit yesterday, despite the meds.
Then up this small ladder and you are at the beginning of the tour.
Because the ancient Anasazi (the preferred word is now Puebloans) seemed to have abruptly vanished, Bill Slaughter, our guide, posed some questions to think about as we viewed the site: Who are the ancient Puebloans? Where did they go? What made them leave?
There is much scientific study about the ancient Puebloans. They speculate that because there are so many kivas at this site, those who decided to leave their nomadic way of life as hunters and gatherers and build cliff dwellings, supported a greater community of Puebloans in the surrounding Mesa Verde area. I believe he said the palace has 11 kivas. From local Native Americans who still use kivas for political and ritual uses, scientists speculate that the same was true of the ancients.
Other kivas we’ve seen could only be entered by a ladder through the roof. This advance in building skills allows the person to walk into the kiva through a “keyhole” entrance.
A three-story “apartment” house, and other buildings on site are so straight, scientists speculate they may have used a plumb bob to align their buildings. Small rocks with a hole drilled through them were found on site that could have served that purpose.
A crevice above the dwellings was used to store corn and beans to keep it from rodents and birds and weather.
The Puebloans built round as well as square buildings with great skill. Sandstone is a good, long-lasting building material when not subject to harsh storms. They could hand chisel rocks to fit. It had to be a major decision to give up their nomadic lifestyle and hunker into the cliff sides and build such protected houses. Most likely, for some protection from conflicts. There were probably 30 to 50 thousand Puebloans in the area. And while there is no sign of conflicts in the cliff dwellings, conflicts arouse over a diminishing source of food and game and other resources like wood in the greater area below the mesa in what is now Cortez and surrounding areas.
Examinations of bodies show a people somewhat protein deficient. All of the big animal bones were gone from the upper layers of the middens, no deer, elk or sheep bones. The Puebloans were living on small game, like rabbits and turkeys.
The cliff location provided protection and water. They dry farmed and depended on winter snow melt and summer rains to grow their corn. A 23 year drought may have driven them to take up their nomadic lifestyle once again. They didn’t just disappear,they moved.
There is plenty of evidence linking the ancients to the local Ute and Hopi tribes. This is their ancestral lands. Even some DNA evidence.
The climb out of the canyon is steep and about 180 feet up.
We, at least, had steps and handrails. The ancients made it up the cliffs barefoot. Their hand and toe holds could be seen carved into the rock at this spot.
The final three ladders are bolted into the cliff. If you go, the rangers give you excellent information about how strenuous each tour is. I didn’t find this a strenuous trip, despite the altitude of 7,500 feet. It is possible to do two tours, or even the three major dwellings in one day. The most challenging is Balcony House. Since Jim was in no shape to attempt a second tour we skipped it, but I told him he’d have to drag me back here to take it another year.
There is much more to do here if you can hike two to five miles. And there are longer hikes to see hidden dwellings and petroglyphs described by yesterday’s, guide, Pam Slaughter, as “very beautiful.” The museum is excellent. Don’t miss the 25 minute film. We drove the loop and looked at views of lesser dwellings on the way back to camp. Then we enjoyed watching the deer eat while we enjoyed our own supper.
I always take way to many photos, but if you’d like to see my album, click on the link:
December 14, 2011
Everyone speaks well of the Boy Scouts. One in four boys joins the Boy Scouts. Of every hundred who join, thirty drop out. But even those who drop out claim they learn something enjoyable or valuable from scouts.
Only four percent of scouts per year go on to attain the highest ranking in scouting, Eagle Scout. I am proud to present my grandson, as one of those honored few.
An Eagle Scout must earn 21 meritorious service badges to attain Eagle ranking. The skills are demanding, and challenging.
An Eagle earns badges from a surprising array of personal services such as Orienteering, Camping, Lifesaving, Swimming, Public Speaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Environmental Studies, Art, Emergency Preparedness, Soil and Water Conservation, Community, National and World Citizenship. He pledges to conduct himself with honesty, clean living, useful citizenship and honest work.
Scouting is changing, the challenges are different, but the total development from boyhood to manhood depends
upon physical, mental, and moral growth expressed in the Scout Oath. Add to that the many activities and interests clamoring for young people’s attention, computers, gaming, the demands of school and sports, band and music, discovering girls and driving. Preparing for college and jobs. It isn’t surprising that so many drop out and so few tread the road to complete the course from Cub Scout to Eagle. The Eagle Scout badge stands for strength of character. The Eagle Scout badge is a symbol of what a boy has done, but, more important, it represents what the boy
will be in the future as he grows to manhood.
An Eagle Scout is a marked man, he has earned the right to call himself a quality citizen. He pledges not to exploit his fellow man, but dedicate his skills and abilities to the common good. I can’t say strongly enough how proud our collective family is of this young man. And, he has stellar company among some famous Eagles Scouts:
Thirty-three astronauts, President Gerald Ford, Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, Pulitzer Prize winning authors, Wallace Stegner and Harrison Salisberg. Five members of the House of Representatives, Three Senators, Two Governors. Journalist Walter Cronkite, film maker Steven Spielberg, Generals, Heroic Soldiers, Great Sportsmen…the list goes on and on. Scouting gives us faith in the future of this country.
July 7, 2011
Coffee proved to be the most important element of the morning on Sunday for most. No formal, fancy, magazine breakfast for this reunion. People wandered in at various times, and chose their eats. Leftovers, as in chili dogs for some; cookies and or blackberry apple pie for others; Boston cream pie or jalapeno kettle chips with dip. Someone had macaroni salad. More conventional choices, mostly the kids, chose cereal, apricots and bananas, cherries, toast and peanut butter. But who cares?
Tom spent the night fully clothed on the trampoline and claimed it made a comfortable bed. But, he was glad to have his electric “fly swatter”. The mosquitoes drove him in for an early breakfast. The kids thought the swatter was really cool and borrowed it for hunting expeditions at various times of the day.