|We spotted this Downy Woodpecker right outside the motorhome window while Dad was out helping hook up the truck!|
We started with showers at the RV park we were staying at. All the boys were troopers and even Seth managed to get a little cleaner. Then we had breakfast in the motorhome. We had eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns. Somehow Mom manages to make it as good as at home. Then we got on the road.
We stopped just briefly to look at a weird hot spring just outside our campsite called Pinkerton Hot Springs. It was a strange conic lump of minerals much like you might see in Yellowstone. It was nice to look at, though the water wasn’t really very hot. Just as we were going to leave Seth took a step in the soft, slippery mud and went right down. It was a short fall, but there was a massive amount of mud on his shirt and shorts. There were hardly any tears, and we were glad we brought extra clothes.
|This picture is just seconds before the mud incident.|
We cruised into New Mexico, which is the ninth state for all three boys and stopped at a small town called Aztec. We wanted to visit Aztec Ruins National Monument, which is one of two companions to Mesa Verde. The monument is pretty small, but it was also fascinating. We watched a short film and looked through the tiny museum, and then we went out behind the Visitor’s Center. There is an amazing ruin there that is massive. There were hundreds of rooms all built of stones set in mortar much like Mesa Verde, but these are free-standing structures. They allow you to walk through some portions, and you can still see the yucca mats that were used for doors. Many ceilings were intact, too. Perhaps most interesting of all was the reconstruction of a great kiva, which was made to look like the largest known kiva in nearby Chaco Canyon National Monument. The walls were plastered to look original, and the steps and ceiling were intact to make it look like what a kiva may have looked like 800 years ago. Best of all, we saw a few bats nesting in the ceiling of one of the rooms just a few feet over our head. We also saw rabbits and lizards at Aztec Ruins and the boys enjoyed earning their second Junior Ranger badge of the trip. I think that makes 10 total this year between Zion, Bryce, and New Mexico.
|You get a feel for the ceremonies inside the great Kiva that has been reconstructed.|
|This is the family of bats we spotted inside the Kiva.|
|A family picture in front of Aztec Ruins.|
|Another Family picture in the section where you can walk in and explore.|
|There are some pretty low doorways.|
|The ruins are quite big.|
|This is actual ceiling constructed 800 years ago and still intact.|
|No one is quite sure what the green stones are for, but we think it's their form of decorating, you know, like a chair rail!|
|This shows most of Aztec Ruins.|
That wasn’t the last one today, though. We were so impressed with the Aztec Ruins that we decided to stop at Chaco Canyon. This wasn’t on the itinerary because we thought it was too far off the beaten path (21 miles on unpaved roads), but we unhooked the truck and drove it out to the monument. These ruins were astounding. The masonry was so tight, and there were hardly any gaps between the rocks. Tiny rocks had been snuggled into any small gap, and the walls were at least three feet thick at the bottom. They tapered down to about eighteen inches at the top and some of the structures stood three stories or more. We were allowed to walk through several of the buildings again, and the villages were huge. We visited three huge cities and one had a massive kiva that had to be 60 feet across. This was the one that we’d seen reconstructed at Aztec Ruin. After the boys earned that tenth Junior Ranger badge, Glen spoiled them with the cutest little Junior Ranger vests you’ve ever seen. Seth was so cute; he said he was not taking it off even to sleep.
|Chaco is very impressive with tall walls with very tight stonework.|
|Look how thick the walls are!|
|We were lucky to have Glen to take all these family pictures.|
|The Chaco ruins are massive, and this is one of 4 areas we visited.|
|The doors are so small.|
|The four of us explored this ruin while Laurie, Glen, and Seth rested in the car.|
|It had a very small doorway that we all had to crawl through.|
|This is the great Kiva. I couldn't fit it all in one picture.|
|The vests are pretty awesome! Our boys love them.|
It was a long drive the rest of the way into Albuquerque, and we couldn’t find a place big enough to park the rig and eat in any of the small towns along the way, so we ended up eating at around 7:30. It was ten o’clock by the time we got all hooked up and settled in and got the kids to bed. They’re going to need to sleep in one of these days!