Camp Verde, AZ is our final caravan destination. It is a small town with a good museum and quite a casino. We visited Montezuma’s well among other sites, toured a couple more museums, went up to Jerome, Az – a copper mining town perched overlooking the Verde Valley, and had an elegant dinner at the premier restaurant of the local Casino. Then it was HUGS AND GOODBYES to new friends and fun times. We learned so much about the area, the tour is designed to dig into culture, geology, geography, history, archeology and architecture of this portion of the southwest and it does an darn good job of it! I look forward to doing the tour again in two years!
Barb and I were on our own! We explored the area some, made plans to meet up with Tina (our boss) in Albuquerque and planned to travel to our visit family in the Albuquerque area. We were both pretty exhausted. I’d simply had it with my hearing aids and scheduled an appointment with an audiologist in Albuquerque to have them adjusted.
We went to Winslow, AZ – Homolovi State Park – merely to camp and clean the RV after working but the visit was much richer than we anticipated. Homolovi is a wonderful State Park that includes trails and tours of extensive Puebloan / Anasazi ruins of pit houses and communities. We’ve stayed there several times and explored the park more each time. Pottery sherds!
Barb found out about an 1850’s ranch, still in family hands, north of Wilcox. Both of us were entranced by the rock art – pictographs & petroglyphs we had been learning about on the Tour – this was a natural extension. Rock Art Ranch.
Barb made us an appointment and we headed out on the appointed day with directions in hand (“GPS don’t work out here so good.”). Miles of dirt roads and strange geologic formations later we turned in to the ranch. Mr. Baird is the great-grandson of the original buyer of the ranch – I think I have that right, or grandson. He discussed the family buying the ranch and talked about when he was a youngster on the ranch.
He described working cattle after a windstorm and coming upon a large Puebloan-Anasazi black and white ware pot exposed by the wind, sitting on it’s rim in the dust. There’s a picture of him with that pot – it’s also in several of the books that have been written about the ranch. They have an extensive collection of ancient pottery that was found on the ranch – museums would love to get their hands on it!
The ranch has a pit house – that was excavated by the University of New Mexico who “Made us put a roof over top of it.” Mr. Baird’s granddaughter (our tour guide) explained. There were pottery sherds all over the ground inside and outside the pit house. It looks very much like Homolovi but here are layers and layers of sherds here.
We continued the tour out to a funny parking lot with an even funnier outhouse. That had a fully functioning bathroom inside!
The parking lot led to a tin building that was perched on the rim of a small canyon carved by a creek. Until we saw the canyon we had no idea it was there! The family had build the rough building and outfitted it so experts could study the canyon’s contents. The stairway down incorporated those carved foot holds that had been made hundreds of years ago. The canyon walls are decorated with some of the most unique and ancient pictographs in the area. Some are so old, desert varnish has nearly erased them. Desert varnish can take from 50 years to 2000 years to form, depending on the area.
The pictograph of Woman and Birth is the only such known in the US. There are hundreds of unique works, antelope, raptors, goats, people hunting, snakes, maps, birds, frogs and lizards… Some are picked out over top of others and one can see faint outlines behind the fresher works. We were told that the art has been dated to between 5000 BC to 1400 BC. We spent at least an hour in the canyon, alone, with the water gently running past and imaginations picturing the People resting, eating and working the art into the rocks.
Breathe deep and slow