A highlight of our trip so far – even though it has only been a week – has been the incredible visit to Chaco Culture NHP. The day and a half we spent exploring and hiking around the sites were full of wonder and awe at the incredible legacy of the Chacoans and the intelligent design of their amazing buildings and infrastructure (from 850-1250 AD). We started off on the right foot by going on a guided tour with Ranger G.B. Cornucopia (yes, that is his name… which stands for Great Bear, Gentle Ben, or Gray Beard, depending on when you knew him). GB has been a ranger at Chaco for 30 years! He shared his love and regard for the culture, history, and astronomy of the Chaco people in a warm and humorous way with the best responses – our favorite, that any answer to questions asked about the people was at best, informed speculation.
The night cleared of clouds on Saturday, and they had telescopes set up to view the moon and Jupiter, and (in the morning), the sun.
I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. The first set is of the largest building, Pueblo Bonita.
The hikes to see the petroglyphs and pictographs were well worth the views along the way as well…
Two of the 3 pictographs are evident, but that the star was actually a supernova viewed in 1054 and the moon was in the crescent phase when that occurred.
We have both vowed to return again – perhaps on the summer solstice, when the tribes come and dance and feast.
We have had a fabulous stay at the Chisholm Trails End B&B, high atop the ‘P-Hill’ overlooking Prescott and a hundred miles to the north and west. Brian and Lettie have taken good care of us in this Frank Lloyd Wright designed home, with an incredible view of the sunset. He has befriended the local javelinas, who come around at sunrise and sunset, and are very cute!
We met up with the organizer for the Prescott Women’s March, Pat Beitel, and two of her ‘Wild Women’ compatriots, Maria Lynam and Ceci Tower, and shared our stories and passions for standing up for our civil liberties and organizing for change locally, but thinking about the state and national political elections also. It has convinced Maggie and me that the Women’s Marches are absolutely a powerful grassroots movement with so much in common, and so much we can learn from each other, and that when we unite, we will be a force to be reckoned with. I am certain that we will all see each other again, and hopefully, at a regional convening of the Western Women’s Marches.
Ceci and Pat encouraged us to check out a wonderful hike on the Constellation Trails north of Prescott, amongst those beautiful red rock formations, preceded by a visit to the Phippen Museum of Western Art. Maybe we worked off the steak and shake from the day before?
Tomorrow, on to Chaco Canyon!
On our final day in Death Valley, we hiked to the lowest of 9 Darwin Falls and enjoyed the cool waters attracting monarch butterflies.
We ran into our new acquaintances from breakfast at Panamint Springs, Steve and Carlene. Steve’s mentor Robert Stebbins literally wrote the book on the Field Guide to Amphibians & Reptiles, and was so knowledgeable about how Death Valley became a national park.
We checked into the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort and being famished, went out hunting and gathering, and was attracted by the large sign, “Steaks and Beer” – which ended up being the actual name of the restaurant! Our server, Joe, brought us both, the best ribeye steaks that Maggie and I have ever had – seriously (thanks to chef Eric, who said he learned from French chefs who ‘yelled at him’…) – The secret: herb rubbed steaks with balsamic reduction, seared in a cast iron pan, then finished with red wine butter…
In the morning, after a wonderful breakfast at McNeil’s Barbecue, where he sliced up our leftover steak that we could eat later in the car with toast from breakfast, we noticed the very picturesque laundromat and Ford pick-up across the street.
Our last stop before leaving the Tecopa area was to stop at the China Ranch, literally an oasis in the desert, where the current owners have planted date palms. Maggie and I sampled their renowned date shakes, vowing to hike off the additional calories when we got to Prescott…
A brief recap of our two nights in Death Valley National Park with photos this time.
Maggie and I hiked Eureka Dunes our second day in Death Valley, before the winds whipped up.
At one of the highlights for us in the DVNP, at the Artists’ Palette portion of a beautifully ‘painted canyon (thanks Mike & Jane Cipra for the tip)!
More photos & stories later tonight… On da road again!
Maggie & Terry
Apparently I did NOT lose my Day 2 post – it just popped up, so it is below…
After a lovely stay at Maggie’s friend Carol’s house outside Truckee, where we were treated to five star hospitality and Carol playing the theme to ‘Outlander’ on her cello.
After a stunning journey over the Sierras, we arrived to set up camp in Death Valley National Park, just before sunset.
Last night we camped at the Eureka Dunes area in the north part of Death Valley. Beautiful stillness and contrast of the wild desert and big sky. Note to self – if one decides to hike on the dunes in the morning, make sure you break down your tent before 11 AM when the wind starts to blow!
Another night in the park tonight before really exploring the main parts of the park tomorrow!