This started when I was given a set of books about life as a girl in various Native American tribes by my grandmother. Each book described a different tribe or group of tribes - one was about the Eastern seaboard, one about the Plains, one about the pueblos of the Southwest, etc. They were very detailed about type of dress, jewelry, food, daily life, etc., and had wonderful artwork. I can still picture the illustration in one of the Pueblo books about the girl gathering multi-colored corn and then having to climb up the outer walls of the pueblos using only finger and toe-holds to take the corn to her mother for grinding. Between those books and several childhood trips to Bandelier and Mesa Verde, I've always had a fascination for Native American history.
So, I was really excited to learn that there were ruins that were easy to visit along the route that we would take from the Grand Canyon to Sedona. The place is called Wupatki and even though the high winds were still making it difficult to be outside for too long, I just had to stop and check things out.
Here's an initial view of this large, multi-room location taken from the deck of the visitor's center.
This view shows a large circular structure that the materials say was most likely used for large group gatherings and/or ceremonies. There is a smaller circular structure off to the right (out of the photo) that is thought to be a ball court.
Here's a slightly more up close view of the main section. Would you believe that the first park rangers had to live in portions of these ruins in the 1930's? And they were charged rent for it, too! Their rooms were located on the back side of the tallest structure in the top left of the photograph.
It's pretty ingenious how all the stones are fit together and held in place with clay mortar so that this much of the structure still remains standing today. Information at the visitor's center indicated that the men put the stones in place, but the women were master potters and therefore had the knowledge about the clay so they were the ones in charge of applying the mortar. The women did most of the cooking and childcare, but the men did the weaving.
Mortar stones used for grinding corn.
Continuing further south on the detour that contains these ruins, you can stop off at Sunset Crater National Monument. I had intended to do this, but we had already done the Watchtower and Wupatki and still had 1-2 hours to drive to Sedona and between everyone getting tired and me not wanting to drive through Oak Creek Canyon (twisting, two-lane, mountain road approach to Sedona) in the dark, we ended up deciding to pass on hiking up to the crater. I did get the quick reward of seeing a pair of Steller's Jays flit in front of my car just as we were leaving the visitor's center, though. Super bright blue and so pretty!
Next stop...the red rocks of Sedona!
P.S. I promise this is all about to become bead-related in some future posts so don't give up on me yet!