Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Visit To The Past

This past weekend Max and I visited with her mom on Saturday, and on Sunday I spent the early afternoon watching the Chiefs game. We then headed over to Betty and Randy’s to visit. I was just in time because Betty was getting ready to start baking her yearly Christmas cookies. Nobody never told me that I did not have perfect timing. Thanks sis for the carry outs!

One of the things that I want to make sure that we get to see as we travel are the “Real” historical sites. Now I am a kid at heart and always fall for the tourist traps like western gunfights at the OK Coral. But I really like seeing the remains of old ghost towns, or old log cabins and I wonder what life was like. Why did they choose this location to build, how did they get food, water, cable tv etc….

I have always been fascinated with cliff dwellings. We did not go to Mesa Verde in Colorado due to someone who I know and love falling out of the RV. But I digress… We are about 2 hours from Tonto National Monument and the Cliff Dwellings located there. We found out that the path to the lower dwellings was paved and was only about a half mile. Uphill of course, but we figured that Max might be up for the challenge. Besides, they have benches along the way to stop and rest as you go up. So we decided to take a day trip to see the dwellings.

It was a very pretty ride and we arrived at the park right at lunch time. We went into the visitor center and paid our entry fee of $3.00 per person. We then went out and ate our picnic lunch looking up at the ruins.


The path zig zaged up the mountain. It was a pretty steep incline and Max did pretty good but I knew she was hurting. Thankfully there was benches were we could rest. On the way up I took a few pictures of the views overlooking Lake Roosevelt.



Approaching our goal, I could not help but wonder how the people lived and traveled in such a harsh environment.


Around A.D. 1150, the Salado culture, named for its dependence on the nearby Rio Salado, or Salt River, took hold in the Arizona valley now known as the Tonto Basin, where Tonto Creek joins the Salt River. The Salado culture combined customs and characteristics of several American Indian groups who lived in the area, such as the Mogollon, whose pottery styles and burial traditions they adopted. Like the Hohokam people, the Salado channeled the river's waters to create farmland in the desert. They built Pueblo-style buildings. The Salado left no written records; their stories are largely told through archeological discoveries.

The lower cliff dwelling included 16 ground floor rooms, three of which were two story structures. Ladders and hatchways in the ceilings provided access to the second stories and rooftops. Based on the artifacts found in certain areas, archeologists determined that some rooms were used as living space, while others were work rooms where people ground grain and other plant products. Still other rooms were storage rooms and held surplus food and various tools.






The Salado knew and used their surroundings well. They learned to cultivate crops in small patches of fertile land on the craggy hillsides. They collected rain water for later use. Some group members wove textiles from native plants, including cotton; others made pottery from local red clay and decorated the vessels with intricate black and white designs.

The Salado walked away from their cliff dwellings sometime around A.D. 1450. By this time, the population had grown so large that demand and overuse led to a scarcity of resources, and the quality of life declined. Internal strife, drought, and disease are other likely factors that caused the Salado to abandon their lofty homes.

After touring the ruins we headed back down the path. Going down was actually harder on Max’s leg then going up. By the time we got back to the bike she was ready for some Tylenol.

We made it back home around 6 pm and relaxed from the days adventure.  The rest of this week we will be getting the usual stuff done like laundry, groceries and such. Not everyday is a play day, but it is close!

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