How the Ancient Puebloans Lived Large in the Grand Canyon Even Though Water Was Scarce

ancient Puebloans
the Grand Canyon

Enjoying September at the Grand Canyon

Stare at this view. With a backpack full of food and a water bottle handy, we had the privilege of doing this for as long as we wanted without worrying about how we would survive. Gazing across the Grand Canyon, we let our minds wander about how it might be to live there.

We wondered how the trees could root around to find enough water to turn even the spiniest needles green. But suppose we had to depend on this view to house, clothe, and shelter us?

That thought made us grateful for the stores and modern conveniences we enjoy today without considering how they got there and continue to exist. Indeed, with the coming of the ubiquitous Amazon online grocery stores, the rumor is that we will soon be able to buy everything we need from Amazon and in some locations enjoy a two-hour delivery time. Humans today may never have to leave their homes to even gather food.

But that was not the case for these ancient desert dwellers.

Ancient Puebloans
Tusayan Museum and Ruin

Visit the Tusayan Museum and Ruin

This easy paved path to the museum and through the Tusayan Village or gathering loop makes a beautiful walk through the park. Yet it was very unlike what the natives must have faced living here day after day.  Merely lining a path with the abundant decorative rock, makes it a thing of beauty. During the days of habitation, though, it is doubtful that so much greenery and stones would be used only to beautify the environment as it is today.

Ancient Puebloans
The Gathering Loop

The Gathering Loop Where the Early Puebloans Shopped

Like the sign says, it’s only a .01 mile loop shopping center. What could you do with a yucca and a pinyon pine? There was not a lot of variety here to provide needed items for food, clothing, and shelter.

The daytime weather in September might not warrant a need for many clothes. The temperatures soared into the high seventies by mid-afternoon. By night they ancient Puebloans might have needed at least a blanket. They might make a basket out of pine needles, but a pine blanket would be somewhat scratchy and not very cozy.

To make baskets out of pine needles requires that you soak them in water overnight first to make them pliable enough to bend, twist, and weave into a basket. We did not see an abundance of water springing out of the ground at this site. So we wondered how they made baskets.

Ancient Puebloans
a daisy inches off the path

Possible Food

Off the trail, a few inches this beautiful daisy grew amid some sparse grasses. Probably you could eat the daisy, but it would not be very filling. You might weave the stems into a basket, but the petals would not last. Maybe the pollen would attract bees, and you could harvest the honey for food. The dead tree might be useful to create some shoes or better yet, digging tools. There might be some tasty bugs living on the decaying wood. The grasses might be soft enough to weave into some light-weight summer clothing or a blanket. Small sizes only!

ancient puebloans
Along the Gathering Loop

Caring for Trees

Walking along the path, you see more fallen logs and branches. We learned that they did use wood in their buildings for ladders and frames for the rocks which they piled together to build walls. If they wanted windows, wood frames were essential. One guide told us that in the days of habitation there would not have been this many trees along the path. Shopping would have been more limited than it is today.

Possibly, however, the trees were in better shape because the ancient people harvested from them and cared for them. The oak trees in Central California were undoubtedly more prolific and better cared for during the time with the Yokuts Indians inhabited the rich Southern San Joaquin Valley. Since they harvested the acorns for making flour, the native people took better care of the trees, and no doubt saved some of the acorns to plant more trees.

Ancient puebloans
the Living Quarters

Ancient Puebloan Housing

Here you can see the foundation of their houses. Possibly in the middle circle, there was a place for a fire. You can imagine how the Puebloans would use every small scrap of wood.

The rectangular shapes of the stones look perfect for stacking. Don’t you wonder how they transported them to their housing sites? Were there plenty of rocks in one area, so they built several homes here, or did they have to scavenge the flatland and carry their stones to the homesites. Possibly the remodeled and added to the rocks that had been built by an earlier inhabitant that had moved on or died out.

ancient puebloans
the Living Quarters

Here you see how nicely the stones stacked. They might have held them together with dirt mixed with urine to make the mud. Apparently, that made a durable cement. In the foreground, you see what we would use as ornamental flowers in our yards. I wonder what gems these tiny yellow flowers held for the native desert dwellers.

ancient puebloans
rocks and daisy

Appreciating Subsistence

As you can tell, subsistence in this location would be difficult. They might have gathered insects that swarmed out from under the rocks when they dug them out. Flowers and grasses would not have sustained them for very long. Maybe the kids ate rocks like the children in the book Stone Soup or my brother when he was young. More likely they used the rocks to kill or wound larger animals which would have provided more adequate clothing, blankets, and food.

ancient puebloans
finishing the Gathering Loop

It did not take long to complete the .01 mile loop. You can imagine that it took several days for park workers to create this beautiful path that only takes visitors minutes to amble around. Yet, as they walked along the way, what thoughts do you think filtered through their minds? No one talked much, so it’s hard to say.

What’s your impression?

For More Photo Challenges

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How to Get Someone Out of a Grouchy Mood Even If You’re at the Grand Canyon

What a Beautiful Place to Be Grumpy!

Grand Canyon grumps
“Or not!”

Hopefully, like the cheerful woman in the picture, you have to wonder how anyone could be grumpy in such splendor.

However, for some families, traveling together is like packing two large dogs after a run in the mud, a couple of old grouchy cats, and a gopher in your suitcase, and hoping your clothes come out unscathed.

Do you know someone like this? They’d rather be home. They like their own bed. They hate crowds?

Grand Canyon grumps“Don’t plan a bunch of stuff that we have to do. I don’t want to do anything, just relax.”

Traveling is an ordeal with grumps in your family even if they are your favorite people. Ms. G. Stumpy might even be you. But even Sensitive Sam and Grumpy Stumpy go to some of the most sought-after vacation spots in the world and have a great time.

How do they do it?

Will you ever be able to get your Sensitive Sam past the front door?

Grand Canyon grumps

Before you take off consider these basic needs. You can make it easier for Grumpy Stumpy and in so doing will make it easier for yourself and the rest of the family when you travel.

Allow Grumpy Travelers to Help Plan the Trip

We decided to drive to the Grand Canyon, and you can read why in an earlier post.

Some of the views, like these, are only accessible by car, while others are just available by tour bus.  You can catch this stony tower and the rest of these travel shots at the East Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon grumps
Desert View Watchtower

One step you can take so that everyone has fun is to let others plan the trip. It’s just like cooking, if they grow the vegetables and help cook the food, they will enjoy the meal more.

If you are ordinarily a planner, this means that you may have to step back and be satisfied with what they plan. Some travelers prefer to have others make the decisions and be flexible about the results. For the planners, here is a great video to plan your Grand Canyon trip.

Grand Canyon grumpsGive them a job that they love. Even little ones adore being the photographer.  Keeping busy behind the tripod might be the emotional safety net that the teen or adult in your group needs to enjoy the trip.

Grand Canyon grumps

Everyone Needs His or Her Own Space

Grand Canyon grumpsTraveling puts people in tighter quarters than they usually have at home. Unfamiliar roads, eateries, beds all add to travel anxiety. When you get to a place where you can spread out, take advantage of it.

None of this man’s family is sitting with him on the edge of paradise. There’s a reason for that. In families, different members enjoy different experiences.

You may be the one to make compromises and watch the kids or wait behind while someone takes a few minutes to themselves.

Grand Canyon grumpsOr possibly you are the one who wanted to go down the trail, and your family member decided he’d sit at the top and watch. This may be stressful for family leaders who wish to make everyone to do what they want to do.

Hopefully, someone in the family has a sense of humor and is willing to follow the leader. With sensitive/grumpy families it’s probably best not to travel in groups of three where there are two leaders and only one follower!

Grand Canyon grumpsEight Cures for Tightly Packed Grouches

Finding emotional space when you’re in tight places, like the car may be more difficult.

If conversations heat up and the volume rises higher than the temperature in Arizona in August, try these temper tamers.

  1. Get lost in a book and have plenty of books, paper, audio, or digital for everyone to have an escape.
  2. Play a game.
  3. Allow the grumpy one to choose the music, or
  4. Take turns choosing the music.
  5. Bring earphones!
  6. Ignore the grump. Let your mind wander, soak up the scenery and block out the family disputes.
  7.  Maybe someone in the group is a captivating storyteller. Remind them of a story you’ve enjoyed, and let them regale.
  8. If there’s a motion sensitive grump in the group, audiobooks work well to distract and stimulate.

When All Else Fails – Eat or Drink

Grand Canyon grumps

Actually eating and drinking is a great diversion, no matter who does it. In this case, the squirrel built an entirely new community around its own needs. Everyone else forgot what made them grumpy.

If someone suffers from travel grumpiness, it may be that they suffer from low blood sugar. Travelers get hungry when they’re not on a schedule. You think about packing food for kids, but sometimes it’s the adult who needs sustenance to stay healthy emotionally.

Grand Canyon grumpsSo pack nuts. They travel well and are easily accessible from anywhere along the trail. You might lace the nuts with chocolate chips and dried cranberries for some added flavor and zing.

Squirrels eat nuts too.

Grand Canyon grumpsThis traveler had a long straw coming out of a water supply inside the backpack that sort of hung around his neck. Unlike the squirrel, he could take a sip when he wanted.

You might add some sandwiches, chips and cold drinks in your cooler. At the Grand Canyon, lunch costs almost as much as an egg during the Gold Rush. You stand in a long line for a sandwich from the refrigerated case. If you drive, pack a lunch. If the place you go has a great restaurant, you can eat your lunch later.

Grand Canyon grumps

Summary

This trip provided enough interest so that everyone could do something they enjoyed, from sitting next to a loved one receiving a gentle back rub to a talking your girlfriend into taking a dangerous-looking hike down a canyon trail.

Grand Canyon grumpsMaybe you can relate to some of these stressful vacation situations.

You may be the grump, or you may be the smoothie. Either way, you can help the vacation by packing emotional health tricks as well as your digital camera.

So turn that family grump into a photographer or blogger, storyteller, or reader and enjoy more of your next vacation.

For more fun walks around the world check out these two blogs.

#Which Way Challenge #Monday Walks with Jo

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A+ Book Review Traveling Hints to Keep More of Your Clothes On

Resources

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201306/how-manage-your-partners-bad-moods

www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201409/10-quick-ways-get-out-bad-mood

https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/ways-highly-sensitive-people-survive-vacation/

Why We Didn’t Take the Train to the Grand Canyon from Sedona

“The only thing I REALLY want to do when we go to Sedona, Carrie said, “is to take the train to the Grand Canyon.”

While taking the train from Sedona to the Grand Canyon has a romantic appeal, my husband convinced his son’s girlfriend she would enjoy driving better.

Little Colorado River Gorge

Little Colorado River Calls
Little Colorado River

First of all, you would miss seeing the Little Colorado River Gorge. Sure enough, a Navajo Parks and Recreation clerk collected $5 per car from her toll booth set in the middle of nowhere.  None of us had ever heard of this seldom discussed tourist site of Little Colorado River Gorge.

 

Little Colorado River Calls

The picture deceives the eye. It seems that you could touch the other side. It looks like rugged, barren countryside that had been fenced to keep the cattle from straying out of the area.

Nothing was further from the truth.

Little Colorado River Calls

Perfect Weather in September in Arizona

We enjoyed breaking up the two-hour car trip from Sedona to the Grand Canyon and stretching our legs.

The weather was perfect, sunny in the mid-70s, as we left the car to view the spectacle you could not see from AZ Highway 64. Coming from the hazy Central Valley in California, we enjoyed these fake-looking skies. Even without a filter on my phone, they looked dazzling, don’t you think?

Little Colorado River Calls

Unlike the Grand Canyon, this gorge looked like a fissure in the rock. No big deal, right? But wait, look down.

Little Colorado River Calls

Next Exit 3,200 Feet Down

You might want to climb down 3,200 feet to the bottom of the canyon, but we chose not to do so. Probably wisely so. We went as far as the guard rails. The river looked muddy in September which might have meant that they had a flash flood before we came. Little Colorado River Calls

Commonly the river is tinged blue or turquoise fed by springs and groundwater. Not everyone who ever saw it loved it. The first Americans to visit and tell about it, would not have made the best tour guide salespeople.

“It is a lo[a]thesome little stream, so filthy and muddy that it fairly stinks. It is only 30 to 50 [yards] wide now and in many places a man can cross it on the rocks without going on to his knees … [The Little Colorado was] as disgusting a stream as there is on the continent … half of its volume and 2/3 of its weight is mud and silt. … It seemed like the first gates of hell.”

—George Bradley and Jack Sumner, August 1869

Little Colorado River CallsThe Mormons who struggled to cross the shallow river in 1876 in wagons discovered quicksand as well as water. Do you think some of their journals might have had some ungodly words describing that journey?

Little Colorado River Calls

Nature did not paint the rocks a deep luscious burnt red as the Sedona rocks or even the salmon and copper patina of the Grand Canyon.  Yet you could admire the time it took the little river that could to carve down to where it flows today.

Little Colorado River Calls

As proud as Vince was to have found this stop that the train tour for $206 per person would have missed, we did not stay long.

Little Colorado River GorgeVince might be holding on a little tight to my shoulder, don’t you think? At least he wasn’t pulling me toward the edge! However, this was our last stand in front of this view. Like Carrie, we wanted to see the Grand Canyon, not the Little Colorado River Gorge.

For more fun walks around the world check out these two blogs.

#Which Way Challenge #Monday Walks with Jo

Road Trip Anyone?

Where have you been recently? Leave me a comment, and I’ll come check out your road trip.

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Five Lessons to Learn at an Ancient Sinagua Indian Ruins

The Mystery People of Sedona

#adventure #hiking Which Way Challenge  Monday Walks with Jo

Mystery describes the Sinagua Indians.  They lived in the Sedona area for hundreds of years, then in 1420, one hundred years before the white man arrived, they left.

Five thousand of them, gone without a trace.

Some scholars thought they migrated then intermingled with the Hopi Indian.

Nonetheless, they left a rich heritage for you to enjoy when you visit Sedona.

The Most Popular Pink Jeep Tour

You can’t help notice the shiny pink jeeps all over Sedona and the surrounding area.

The company is brilliant. they took one of the men’s favorite sports, bouncing around in the backcountry, and painted it pink. Then they market all the attire and everything else Pink Jeep.

Women love it. Men love that women love it.

This slightly bumpy tour to the Sinagua ruins is a favorite of the Pink Jeep Tour company. It’s an easy drive through West Sedona on AZ Highway 89A, then a short trip on a public unpaved road into the protected ruins.

At the end of the road, we entered a fenced in area, and our tour guide, Chip Roberge, led six of us on an easy path back to the Sinaguan homes dug into the cliff.

A Quick Pit Stop then Off to the Path

“I used to be a banker,” Chip Roberge told us as we started up the path to the Ancient Sinagua ruins just outside of West Sedona, “but I started doing Pink Jeep tours years ago and I’d never go back.”Ancient Sedona Ruins

Lesson One –  Trees

About an hour before sunset on a warm September evening, our party of six entered the ruins through a half-mile long, lightly forested, rocky footpath.

“This wasn’t the land flowing with milk and honey. There is no river near. In the desert, you can spot the water where you see a clump of trees. In fact, this area here would have been bare when the Sinagua Indians lived here. They would have used them all.”

Normally found in only the highest areas of Sedona, this interesting specimen, an Alligator Juniper definitely reminded you of an old alligator. Don’t get too close!

SNAP!

No worries, it was just a branch, but be careful. You might see a rattlesnake.

Lesson Two – Fruits

Chip pointed out several plants along the way. We passed a withering vine. The poisonous effects of the prickly melon fruit on the Sacred Datura could kill a human.  If you were lucky it could put you into a four-day hallucinogenic spell. I saw one of these in the Woodlake Botanical Gardens and dug it out.

Another prickly fruit, the prickly pear, you can pay about $10 for a permit to pick them. Since I’m not fond of pears, I passed. Beware, they will stain your mouth red. To pick them, stick a finger in the center indentation and wiggle it off the cactus. It seems like a lot of work to peel and eat each prickly bite.

Lesson Three Buildings

It didn’t take us long to meander the half mile up to the ruins once we stopped taking pictures of the plants along the way.

In spite of the relative luxuriant of the meadow today, I thought of being exiled here. I wondered if maybe these were the outcasts from the more robust societies along the river banks. Nonetheless, their homes showed creative similarities to Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle.Chip said they used lumber to prop open the rows of windows. It looks like rocks to me.

With the scarcity of water, creating this much mud mortar must have been difficult. They used urine instead of fresh water. Since the last Sinaguans left in the 1400s, you can assume that it worked well. Scholars think that the Hopi Indians might have used these homes. It was unclear to me whether the tribes ever lived together, however.

Here you can see the windows more closely.

Lesson Four – Art

As you look up, high on the side of the hill you could see several markings on the different buildings. This distinctive seal marked their home much like a family crest identified families in Europe.

These pictographs displayed horses and people, but Chip suggested that horses had not come to the area at the time of these paintings. Can you see the ghost on the right side of the next picture? Some people could not spot it at first. Apparently, it is fluorescent and can be seen under a different light.

Lesson Five – The Rock Formations

Rock formations near the Sedona Ancient Ruins include Thunder Mountain and Chimney Rock and Lizard Head Rock.

Here’s the secret.

None of them are mountains. You can’t go to the Sedona Mountains because, according to our guide, they are not mountains, they are sedimentary rocks. Just rocks.

I’d like some of these rocks in my backyard, wouldn’t you?

Almost Sunset on Chimney Rocks.

In the next picture, you see Thunder Mountain (not a mountain) looming to the left of the pink jeep.

The driver took some sunset pictures using our cameras. Even though we were in the jeep with no windows to hold us back from the views, we couldn’t see as well from the right side.

The tour hour had expired but the views were so spectacular that the driver slowed down to allow us to take more pictures. (I’m sure he tells everyone that but we felt special nonetheless.) He did drive fast the rest of the way back.

If you are unable to walk for a mile or stand for 45 minutes to an hour there are three National Parks nearby Sedon you might enjoy more.

  1. Montezuma Castle has an easy walkway, but you don’t get close to the ruins.
  2. Montezuma Well is also on Highway 17. If the Castle is a #1 walk, then the Well is a #2.
  3. Tuzigoot is my favorite. Not only can you walk amid the ruins there is a museum with a Junior Ranger Guidebook that children can complete as they walk the park and the museum.

If you haven’t read your 19 minutes yet today and want to consider a further investigation, here are three references I used to prepare this post.

For Further Reading

https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2015/05/03/sacred-datura-pretty-poisonous-and-hallucinogenic/

https://www.verdevalleyarchaeology.org/EarlyInhabitants

https://www.gatewaytosedona.com/chimney-rock-andante-and-thunder-mountain-trails-easy-to-challenging-sedona-hiking-trail-network

https://www.pinkjeeptourssedona.com/honanki/