In my travels to and from California, I make it a habit to stop at ancient Native American sites like Chaco Canyon and El Morro National Monument.
Living in the lanscape seems to be something of a lost art these days, but the ancient Pueblo peoples, their ancestors, and some of their descendants seem to have married their need for shelter and sustenance with what may be an even deeper need to acknowledge place.
These two shots were taken on the same trip in December 2003-January 2004. For the first, we took the loop south from I 40 at Grants, New Mexico, and were greeted by the remains of a snowstorm. El Morro was almost empty, and the snow about three feet deep. It was white, pristine, and quiet. I was primarily there for the petroglyphs, but the natural beauty of the place is really distracting--so I took almost as many pictures of the cliffs against the sky as I did of anything else. (The photo I used for my Earth Day post yesterday was also taken at El Morro.)
On the return trip, on New Years Day of 2004, we also left I 40 at Grants, but this time drove north to Chaco Culture National Historical Park. It's hard to get to, because the road isn't graded (and the turnoff is easy to miss), but well worth seeing. The second photograph is of the back wall of a small pueblo, Hungo Pavi. The day was cloudy, but I love clouds, and the dreary skies provided a terrific backdrop for pictures of the ruins. Because of the holiday, this park was also nearly empty (except for a van-full of archaeology students from Arizona), and the combination of striking views, ancient buildings, and sheer quiet was hard to leave behind.
Happy Skywatch Friday, everyone--and I hope most of you are getting over winter's chill and on into springtime--or enjoying fine fall weather in the southernmost part of the Skywatch range.