Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Hey there Campers:  

3We started today off with breakfast at the Sky City hotel. We continued on to Acoma Pueblo. It is known as Sky City. The drive is very serene. Half way there we see the Enchanted Rock. No one is allowed to climb it. So if someone thinks they can scale it they better think twice since it is on the Acoma reservation and the Indian police has control.

The Sky City Cultural Center was very impressive with pottery bowls that date back to 1600's. The tour starts off with a movie that talks about the spiritual and physical aspects of the tribe. We hopped a shuttle bus that takes up to the bluffs. The homes on the bluff are 370 feet above the desert floor. The Acoma tribe dates back to 1100 A.D.


Our tour guide is Kristin. She told us that there are 300 homes on the top of the mesa. The homes are made of adobe and sandstone. The homes are owned by Acoma Pueblo females. Did you know that most Indian cultures are matriarchal? Most people do not live atop of the mesa year round. Most live in another villages that are 10-15 miles away, They return to the mesa when the leaders request it or there are ceremonial events. There are no paved road.

We are not allowed to take pictures inside the church (San Esteban del Rey Mission) or the cemetery. The church does not have pews. The mission was built in 1629 and completed in 1640.. The roof was made of ponderosa pine.. The ponderosa pine was from Mt. Taylor. Mt Taylor is many miles away. Friar Juan Ramirez had the Spanish army at the mission. He made the Indian tribal men walk to Mt. Taylor chop down the pines, but them on their backs and bring back to the mission. If the wood touch the ground the Indians would be disciplined.  They torn down the spiritual Keivas to put up the church. The Indians were not happy about this. Legends says, when the Spanish army left the tribe took the Friar and through him off mesa. No one is sure what is real. There was a revolt in 1680 against the Catholic church. Some families who had converted to Catholicism hid oil painting and church artifacts. Those families still take care of the church today. The church does not have water or electricity even today. The cemetery has burials from 1690. There are 4-5 layers of people buried in the graves. Every 75-100 years they add a new layers for the graves. Only Elders and religious people can now be added to the cemetery.

Everything taught is done orally in story form because there is no alphabet in their language.

In 1599 the village was almost destroyed. A Spanish conquistadores brother was killed by someone in the tribe. Instead of the conquistador locating the person who did the killing he took it out on the whole tribe. He took every man & boys 12 years and above and put them in servitude for 20 years. He also cut off one foot so they would not run away. He left the sick, old men and kids. He thought this would kill off the tribe. They survived and became stronger. The men did come back after their servitude. The tribe is one of the largest in NM.

Rain water is caught by a cistern. In the old days that was the only way the tribe had water. Most people haul their own water to be used while in the home. Kristin told us modern tribal members do not like drinking the tadpoles out of the cistern. I don't think I could even look at that brown water to drink.

As you can see these homes are still basely primitive. The ladders are how the people got into their homes. This tribe is related to the cliff dwellers. The people would climb up the ladder. Go into the door and then climb down to the first floor level. There originally was not a door on the first floor. To this day most still don't use the bottom door to get into their homes.


Standing atop of the mesa looking to the valley mesa.

The pottery was all handmade. The average small bowls were $50.

Most people still have dirt packed floors in their homes.

We asked why was there a rock on the door. Kristin told us that the winds can be up to 90 miles an hour. This is just to hold the screen in place.

This house has an unusual window. It is made from crystallized  gypsum. It lets in light and ventilation.

The only cars allowed on the mesa are ones from people in the tribe. Even if they have visitors they would have to go down and pick them up.

These are the steps leading down to the mesa valley. You need to be in very good shape to walk these steps as there are no rails.

We returned to Cultural Center and got into Connie to go back to the Hilton. We went a different direction for. What a great drive.


We drove on to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest.

Here is something fun to do. The National Parks System has a Passport book that you can collect regional stamps. It is fun to go to a park and get your stamp so you know you went there. The passport book is under $10.

The last time we went to the Painted Desert it rained so hard we could hardly see the colorful desert. So we decided to try it again.

We went to the end of the desert and started there since we saw the rain was a coming.

The Petrified Forest is the only National Park in the country with a portion of the Historic Route 66 within its boundaries. With the line of telephone poles paralleling its alignment through the park. This part of the road was open from 1926 until 1958 and was the primary way millions of travelers initially experienced the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. Did you know that in 1920 there was a roadside zoo with lions that was a part of the Painted Desert. Imagine if those lions got loose. Can you say Safari.

Stages of how Petrified Forest started. John Fletcher Lacey was a strong advocate for protection of public lands and resources. He is known for the Lacey Act of 1900 which protected plants and wildlife. He was also a part of the Antiquities Act that the president signed in 1906. This made the Petrified Forest the second designated National Monument. The Black Forest and the Pained Desert were added in 1932. The Petrified Forest Expansion Act of 2004 included more preservation.


Whipple Point - Army Lt. Amiel Whipple was surveying for a railroad route when he found deposits of petrified wood along the banks. He called it Lithodendron (stone tree) Creek. The Indians were the first users of the petrified wood for knives and tools. Lt. Whipple was the first person to report about it.

Nizhoni Point - he upper black layer is basalt that flowed from a volcano that erupted here. The lava unconformity indicates missed layers, or a gap.

Desert Vistas - Because of the air quality in and surrounding the Petrified Forest one can see the San Francisco Peaks are 120 miles away near Flagstaff. Long distance visibility allows one to see Painted Desert's vibrant colors extending out to the horizon.

Chinde Point - The Navajo word means ghost left behind after a person dies. There are traces of ancient plants and animals. Fossil bones of an early dinosaur were first discovered near this point in 1984.

Color in the desert.





Desert Inn

Tawa Point - The Rim Trail hugs the edge of the windswept mesa.




Remember the rain pic earlier, well it caught up with us just as we got to the Hilton. Since it did not stop we hooked up Connie. Talk about getting everything hooked up in 5 minutes. This rain does not play. I now have  good concept of Monsoon Rain. The rain stopped before we pulled into Winslow, AZ.

It is raining, lighting and thundering again tonight. We will just sit back and enjoy it.

Question of the Day:

Name another culture that is base on the matriarch?  

Bonus question:

Who was president who signed the Antiquities Act?

Well, until next time Campers

Lo & Bren


  1. Beautiful country! I've always wanted to see the pueblos ... maybe some day. Until then, you'll have to give us a full slideshow when you get back.

    1. ...yeah, I was thinking it looked like a good place to go camping. In January. Although, the flash floods/rain would probably wash us away...

  2. The Navajo and the Tlingit in Alaska are matrilineal cultures... as are the Parkers and the Brandys.
    Teddy Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act.

  3. I just ran across our National Parks Passport from 20 years or so ago. Love them. It's a great way to help your memory on dates of visiting, etc. And the different stamps are really cool to see and have.