August 16 Chaco

August 16,

Albuqueurque to Durango via Chaco

The Tamaya Hyatt Resort was beautiful. We walked around biked and took lots of pictures. The appeal being in no small part due to the fact that it was so different than anywhere else we’ve been. The buildings, a warm ochre three story set of buildings, is built to resemble an adobe village, The first of the three pools was circular and called the Kiva pool – for reasons we were soon to discover.

August 16,

Albuqueurque to Durango via Chaco

Workers at the Tamaya Hyatt, Bernalillo, New Mexico

The irony,of course, it that the Pueblo people, whose villages provided the model for our luxury resort, do not live in nearly as nice conditions. We left the lap of luxury and drove up 550 past the Zia Village (home of the Zia sun sign, displayed on the New Mexican flag- their sign informed us) From the distance of the highway I took pictures of the town where the festival had been held the day before. A New York Times article noted about nine hundred people lived there.

The Zia Pueblo, on Route 550, New Mexico

Everyone assured us that 550 passed a lot of nothing. But the nothing was spectacular and we fiddled with the new Hero camera we bought for diving in an attempt to record some of it. On one hand the scenery was like nothing we had seen before, mile after mile of desert punctuated with canyons and buttes of earth tones stark against the turquoise sky, On the other hand, it felt strangely familiar, for the scenery before us we had viewed in so many western movies.


Chaco National Historic Park appeared on our left suddenly The left turn lane has some sort of work truck perched in the middle of it, I spotted the sign and swung around the truck about 110 degrees-exciting- and then we were on the road to Chaco. And maybe the Navajo Reservation as well. The road was long and mostly dirt and gravel. We passed single and small groups of animals as well as a few small homes. But we did have cell service for our telephones.

Navajo Reservation house, Road to Chaco New Mexico

And then a fairly amazing butte appeared to our left and a yurt with an American flag in front of us to our right and we were in Chaco.

Fajada Butte, Chaco Historic Site , New Mexico

The Yurt Visitor Center, Chaco, New Mexico

In the most desolate spot I had ever been in were a series of archeological sites attributed to the Ancestral Pueblo dating from approximately 850 CE to 1250CE. A word about political correctness here. When I went to school the people who populated the American continent before the Europeans were referred to as Indians, and the builders of the sites we would visit for the next three days were called Anasazi. And we were taught that the Anasazi disappeared. So let’s see what has changed in the last 50 years. The term Indian refers only to be people from South East Asia, the creators of the Southwestern historical sites are now referred to as Ancestral Pueblans and nobody’s disappeared. We heard several different versions of what might have happened to the people who built these sites.

Pueblo Bonito, Chaco, New Mexico

A variety of different guides, all sanctioned (and trained) by the US Parks Department in one way or another, imparted a variety of different materiel based on a variety of different interpretations. This is what we know for sure. At Chaco between 850 CE and 1250 CE a group of people built a series of structures, the largest, Pueblo Bonito consisted of more that seventy rooms. The young woman who showed us around under the full desert sun, reminding me of the saying, Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun, made a good case for the theory that Chaco may have been some sort of meet up center, that could host large groups gathered for ceremonial practices or even trading sessions.

The site itself could not probably support a large year long community,

We ate our emergency tuna fish packets for lunch. Unlike any other National Parks Department site we had ever visited, Chaco has no facilities, no food services, no souvenir shops, not even a cold soda refrigerator.

Back out the bumpy road, through the Navajo reservation and we were back on 550. As we left 1700 the unpaved road there were a cluster of cars and trucks hanging out by the main road. Eric wondered what they were doing there. And the school bus pulled up And Eric had his answer.

We continued northward toward Durango. We passed a work crew paused in the middle of the road, hard hats in hand, they seemed to be engaged in a prayer service right at the highway’s median.

Casa Bonita, Chaco New Mexico

A wrong turn took twenty miles to the east and then on the return trip east we took yet another gravel road as a short cut back to 550.

The scenery turned greener and soon the roads took us in between irrigated farm fields. We had reached Colorado. And then we went down into the valley of the Walmart and we had reached Durango.

Wendy, Daniel and Denny were waiting for us, with home-cooked dinner, eaten overlooking another valley surrounded by mountains. Another continent another dinner with a view.

Casa Bonita, Chaco New Mexico

Casa Bonita, Chaco New Mexico


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