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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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/

How to Get an Easy 10,000 Steps in Sedona, AZ

Do You Sit Too Much?

#Which Way Challenge #Monday Walks with Jo

It’s not easy to squeeze in 10,000 steps after spending hours getting to your destination?

Here’s one way we solved our sitting dilemma in Sedona.

10,000 steps in SedonaDaily

It might easiest be to get up in the morning and walk in the neighborhood before starting the day. Try a walk down to the nearest shopping center. Grab your cup of coffee and continue back to your hotel.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Castle Rock on the left, Bell Rock in the middle.

Added to a one or two-mile walk at the start of the day, you will get in your anticipated steps even if you sit a bit along the way.

Sedona 10,000 stepsSit Happens

The data is everywhere. The Mayo Clinic states that walking 10,000 steps a day helps you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mood
  • Improve your balance and coordination

The Ten Thousand Steps Program was first popularized by Japanese pedometers in the 1960s according to UC Davis Integrative Medicine.

How to Measure Your Steps or Mileage

You may have a Fitbit, but if you don’t, you can buy a simple pedometer. If I remember, I stick my iPhone in my pocket. When I’m photographing and forgot to put my phone back into my pocket, there goes my step count. But I get a good idea of how far I’m going each day.

If you don’t have a device to measure your steps, measure time. Most people can walk one mile in at least twenty minutes. At that rate, one hour will earn you three miles, and you’re three-fifths to your goal. The remaining 40 minutes is easy just walking around from chore to chore.

But the point is to start moving.

Sedona 10,000 stepsHead Out of the Bell Rock Inn Parking Lot

If you’re looking for a great vacation spot where getting in your 10,000 steps is a pleasure, you can’t find a better place than Sedona, AZ. This walk measured about 7,400 steps. I ended the day with nearly 12,000 steps.

Sedona has two main highways, 179 and 89A and a million roundabouts. This trip we stayed at Bell Rock Inn Diamond Resort on Highway 179 across from one of the most beautiful rock legends in Sedona.

“In 2006, The US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration awarded State Route 179 its highest designation within the National Scenic Byways Program: the All American Road designation. … It is a tourist attraction onto itself.” The Premier Gateway

For views, Bell Rock Inn ranks a 5 even though it’s probably the smallest of the four resorts we’ve stayed in Sedona. The neighborhood walk ranks about 5 as well.

Bell Rock Diamond

Just outside the door of our suite the sidewalk that lines the highway spans about 4 feet wide and runs for miles. So this morning I headed up the road. I walked past Famous Pizza. At 7:30 no one but the crow wanted pizza. He did not pose as I approached him to take a portrait shot.

The shopping center next door

Along the way were two more hotels, a Holiday Express and one other as well as a strip mall. I watched early morning tourists pose next to the mural which spans the restaurant. It was about 70 degrees at 7:30 this morning, perfect for a walk.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Castle Rock

As you head north on Highway 179 back towards Sedona, you can see Castle Rock to the left and Bell Rock near the middle. Low maintenance plants and red rocks line the sidewalks adding interest.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Bell Rock predominant in the background

Even though the traffic can be heavy, especially in the spring, the sidewalk provides a beautiful safe place to walk. I took this picture of the Jack’s Canyon sign for our friend Jack, who did not know he had a Canyon named after him.

Highway 179 has scenic turnouts at the rocks so that you can park and walk. Like our son did, you can take a trail almost to the peak of Bell Rock without having to rock climb.

Sedona 10,000 stepsAlong the way, you meet a few passersby. Most of them are doing what you are exercising, not chatting.  Headed away from Sedona, the view is not as spectacular, but there’s more shade. I stayed on the shady side going both directions.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Shops in the Sedona suburb of Oak Creek

I passed at least four strip malls like this one during the 1.5  or 2-mile morning walk. This is the Village of Oak Creek. We ate at Cucina Rustica, a beautiful Italian restaurant behind the white arch on our last night. More sitting and eating, so I was glad for the morning walks.

In the spring there might be two miles of traffic caught up on the 6-mile strip from Highway 17 to Sedona. You may be able to see yourself in this link to the live webcam.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Golf Course next to Bell Rock Inn

Another walking option is to golf and weave your way around among the beautiful shade trees. The beautifully maintained Country Club golf course is open to the public, one block from Bell Rock Inn.

The gardeners don’t appreciate the public walking on the path during golfing hours but you may walk undetected and undisturbed early in the morning and after 5:00 at night.

Sedona 10,000 Steps
Wildflowers

These wildflowers with their bulbs and tiny flowers borrowed my camera/pedometer for a few seconds.  These look like Penstemon, Golden beards. Any flower experts out there to back me up?

Sedona 10,000 steps

These juicy cacti fruits, prickly pears, bloomed ubiquitously in September. You can pay $10 to harvest them. Our Pink Jeep tour guide suggested that nobody would notice if you just picked one. You needed to pick with great care, though. The fruit has to be peeled, and it will stain you bright red.

Sedona 10,000 steps

Heading back to the resort you can see Bell Rock on the left and Courthouse Butte on the right. Courthouse Butte has also been known as Cathedral Rock, which makes it confusing to visitors who hear both names used interchangeably.

These formations are all sedimentary rocks, sandstones, limestones, and shales. Guides don’t recommend them for rock climbing as they are very soft.

Some believe that Bell Rock is a spiritual place with special energy called a vortex. Everyone I’ve known to hike up there, including me, has come back from the hike at a level five – tired to level ten – exhausted and not a number one level – energetic, though.

Sedona 10,000 stepsYou can see that even the small rock formations provide a lot of shade. Building this highway caused some controversy as it tore up some of the beautiful rock formations.

Sedona 10,000 stepsWalking away from the resort seemed like the path would end at any time. Each time I thought I would walk to the end and turn around, the road curved around some vegetation, and disappeared from sight. So like a woman hypnotized, I kept walking and walking. Finally, I accepted that the sidewalk might not go all the way to heaven, but it could easily go on for many miles.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed Scenic AZ Highway 179. It reminds me of the Arizona Highways magazines my grandfather loved in the 1950s and 1960s. There I was, living his dream, walking along one of the most beautiful Arizona Highways.

Call to Action

If this post brightened your day, please leave me a comment either here or on social media. If you want to make my day, reblog or share this on social media. I’d love to return the favor. 🙂 If you have a related post link, feel free to leave it in your comment section.

For more walking and hiking posts, check out #Which Way Challenge #Monday Walks with Jo.

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Sedona Oddballs at Sun Silver West Gallery

Sedona Oddball Whimsical Garden Art

Want a friendly pig?

Sedona Odballs
Sun Silver West Cop on Duty

A new wagon to carry your load?

How about a dancing frog?

Sedona Oddballs
Dancing frogs show no inhibitions

Do you have an insect problem at your house? It’s nothing compared to this!

Sedona oddballs
Ant Invasion

Someone even created a look-alike for Puppy Girl

Sedona Oddballs
Puppy Girl’s metal twin.

Do you need to practice being charming?

Sedona oddballs
“May I help you, misssssss?”

Sun Silver West Gallery looks a little funky, but there’s plenty to like in this shop. They even warn you before you enter the store.

Sedona oddballsWatch your pocket-book, the sign should say! 🙂

sedona oddballs

I think these guys got bored golfing. Or maybe they would rather be golfing. What do you think?

Visit Cee’s Oddball Challenge for more oddball pictures.

Sedona Oddballs

Sun Silver West Gallery

Address: 1476 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ 86336-6540
Phone Number:
+1 928-282-3580
Accepts Credit Cards
Yes
Parking
Private Lot
Bike Parking
Yes
Wheelchair Accessible
Yes
Good for Kids
Yes
By Appointment Only
No

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