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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Montezuma Well AZ

Montezuma Well, a natural limestone sinkhole also containing Sinagua dwellings used sometime between 1100 and 1400 AD, was purchased by the federal government in 1947 and is considered a detached unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument.  I just published a blog on that.  Boasting a unique ecosystem and oasis-like environment, Montezuma Well is 368 feet wide with a consistent depth of fifty-five feet and 74 degrees warm. This natural limestone sinkhole is continuously fed over 1,400,000 gallons of water per day by underground springs. The water emerges from the well into an irrigation ditch on the opposite side before flowing into Beaver Creek.  Water from the Well is highly carbonated due to high levels of carbon dioxide. The temperature difference at the outlet can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the water along the rim of the Well. With very little oxygen and high amounts of carbon dioxide, fish cannot live there.  A tiny crustacean that looks like a small shrimp feeds near the center of the Well during the day. At night, they are hunted by leeches. The leeches do not suck their blood, they eat the crustaceans. The crustaceans try to escape by fleeing to the surface and toward the water's edge where they must remain until daylight being very still to avoid being eaten by another predator, the water scorpion. These three are the only forms of life found in this water.

The legacy of the Sinagua culture surrounds you with cliff dwellings perched along the rim to large pueblo ruins and an ancient pit house. 

This pithouse dates to about 1050. The two largest holes in the dirt floor held the main roof support timbers. The holes around the edge are where the wall posts were placed in the ground.
This is a depiction of what the pithouse would have looked like.
Take your time as you explore the trails at Montezuma Well and discover the tranquility of a site still considered sacred by many local tribes.  
It is an easy walk from the rim of the Well down to the irrigation ditch.  Once there, it is hard to leave this cool, tranquil place.  If you are lucky, you may encounter a gentleman who visits about three times a week. He moved to the area three years ago and clearly has a passion for this place.  He sits quietly listening and watching. We were fortunate to have a conversation with him as he shared some of his vast knowledge about this beautiful place...its history...what he experiences here during his quiet visits. He lets go the magic and the magic gives back.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Montezuma Castle, AZ

Montezuma Castle was declared a site of historic and cultural significance by President Roosevelt in 1906. 

Prior to that, looting destroyed much of the original artifacts, but many artifacts were uncovered in 1933 when a 45-50 room pueblo ruin was excavated revealing nearly 4,000 square feet of floor space spread over five stories. In 1951 public access to the ruins was discontinued due to extensive damage  by visitors who were allowed access to the structure, which sits about 90 feet up a sheer limestone cliff, by climbing a series of ladders up the side of the cliffs.  The National Monument now protects a set of well-preserved dwellings built and used by the Sinagua people for over 400 years beginning approximately 1100 AD.  
Back then, access into the structure was most likely permitted by a series of portable ladders, which made it difficult for enemy tribes to penetrate.  Perhaps the main reason the Sinagua chose to build the Castle so far above the ground, however, was to escape the threat of natural disaster in the form of the annual flooding of Beaver Creek, which flooded during the monsoon season.  
The Castle sits about 90 feet up a sheer limestone cliff facing Beaver Creek.  It is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America.
Alcoves and cavates may have been formed by Mother Nature, but the Sinagua enlarged them to use as shelter and storage.
The walls of Montezuma Castle were constructed almost entirely from chunks of limestone found at the base of the cliff as well as mud and clay from the creek bottom.  Arizona Sycamore trees were used for roof thatching.  These beautiful trees still grow here as reminders of one of the natural resources used in the construction of the castle.
There is an interesting display of what the Castle may have looked like back in the day.
Hopi say their ancestors purposefully settled and left villages like Montezuma Castle for a reason, one that involves fulfillment of a spiritual covenant. This is definitely a place to let go some magic. Thanks Teddy.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

The information board tells us that in 1943, a volcano erupted in a corn field near the Mexican village of Paricutin, creating a cinder cone almost identical to Sunset Crater, which is located near Flag Staff.  The volcano in Paricutin helps us understand what happened at Sunset Crater nearly 1,000 years ago. This eruption, which covered about 810 square miles in ash and rocks, destroyed the fields and homes of Native peoples who had lived in the area for centuries. Elevation 8,039 feet. It has partially revegetated with pines and wild flowers.

Hikers damaged the area so in 1973 the National Park Service closed a trail leading to the crater.  You can still hike the base of the trail, which Boone and I did.

And speaking of humans, the volcano site was declared a National Monument in 1930 by President Herbert Hoover in response to a public outcry to protect the site.  Why?  Well, the motion picture company that produced Zane Gey's movie Avalanche wanted to set off explosives on the side of the Crater so that they could produce an avalanche for the film.  Yipper.  We can be thankful that Mother Nature is taking care of things.

Let go the magic.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sedona/Flagstaff Fur and Feathers

I saw cattle guard signs everywhere, but no cows.  Neither did I see pastures that contained anything a cow would eat.

The first time Boone yelled out that a jack rabbit was running across the road in front of our vehicle, I thought I was looking at a small deer before I noticed the big floppy ears.  I did not see much of it that day, but a few days later I, or my camera, got up close and personal with this fella. 


Boone spotted this tarantula crossing the road as he was driving (Boone, not the spider).  How did he see this guy?! Boone turned the car around, driving close enough to this spider to allow me to open my door for this photo.  No, I did not get out of the car!

I read that tarantulas can eat a small lizard.  Like this little guy.

This is a mule deer. Check out those big ears, much like a mule's ears, and one of the differences between a mule deer and a white tail deer.  Another difference is that the mule deer has a black spot on its tail.

Birds of a feather....

Seeing this dog, I could not resist asking if I could photograph him.

OMG Dolly.  Not the same thing!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sedona Rainstorm

Beautiful blue, cloudless skies accented the red rocks most days during our travels in Arizona. Then there was that one day that a thunderstorm followed us as we drove along in search of Pueblo ruins.

(from Feeling The Storm by Leisa M Dierdorf-Lessard)

Closing her eyes and inhaling - slowly,
letting her skin savor the moisture in separate, single increments.
It was as if every cell of her body had come alive,
dancing with same electrical intensity as the lightning
that surged through the sky.
The thunder, an angry grumble of nature rumbled over head.
In those few moments, she felt joyously alive...
And she knew no fear.

Locked in a spell of the elements...

Feeling the storm...

Bringing her peace...With herself...
Bringing her peace...With the world.