Tuesday, August 28, 2007

(15) pt 2 Montezuma Castle, Tuzigoot, Jerome, Arocsanti Arizona

Part II

Montezuma Castle National Monument Az
Tuzigoot National Monument Az
Jerome Az
Arocsanti Az

I didn’t think I’d done that much this week, until I started to look back at the pictures I’d taken and looking at the map to see where I’ve been. Distance wise, I haven’t traveled that far, but I’m sure finding lots to see and do. I’m north of Phoenix on I-17 at this point and stayed at a small motel/Rv park (at Cordes Junction) for a couple of days and then decided I’d better get to a nice place before the Memorial Day weekend arrives. Having already explored the area, I settled on a state park, Dead Horse Ranch. It’s next to the town of Cottonwood and is a great place to explore Sedona, Prescott valley the stunning red rock mountains and all the National Monuments in the area.

I’m going to try dry camping at the park, but I have the option to plug in for a few extra dollars if it gets too hot. The camper does magnificently on it’s own solar power, so except for a/c, I couldn’t be more happy.

Touring, I went to Montezuma Castle, one of the best preserved cliff dwellings. Tourists used to be able to climb all over the 5 story structure built by the Sinagua Indians, then the park decided, they’d better do a better job of preserving it and now one can only look from the valley floor up to the dwellings. It’s still well worth the visit, and it doesn’t take long to view them and a secondary pueblo structure on the valley floor, hugging the side of the cliff. The rangers only go into it themselves about twice a year. The structures were used until the late 1300’s.
Over in Cottonwood and Clarksdale is another part of the National Monument called Tuzigoot. It’s a really impressive 110 room Sinagua Indian pueblo on top of a rounded hill overlooking the lush valley and river below. My campsite is about a ¼ of a mile away from this site and I can see it from the top of a couple of hiking trails next to my campsite. Now that’s cool. I’m living in the land of the Sinagua Indians.

From my previous campsite at Cordes Junction, I drove through Prescott and took a very scenic route to Jerome on Alt 89A and looped back to I-17. Now let me tell you the word “very scenic” is actually defined as, “unbelievably twisted road, on the edge of mountain”. Which also means, as the driver, I didn’t see a bit of the “scenic” route, until I stopped at the one and only “scenic viewing” spot which wasn‘t that great of an idea since I now was fully aware of how dangerous this route is.

But like every rain shower, there’s a rainbow at the end, I discovered the ghost town of Jerome. Actually about 600 people now live on this cliff hanging town with it’s winding road hugging the sides of the mountain along with the houses and buildings in town. Many on top of 30 foot stone walls. What an awesome view of the valley below. The stores all have incredibly huge windows facing the valley and your drawn into them, just to look out and see the view out back.
I had to buy a T-shirt from a restaurant/bar called the Mile High Club. After all the town is over a mile high!

Oh and I visited a place called Arcosanti. You can look it up on the internet and get more information. It was designed by Paolo Soleri an architect who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright. His concept was to build a city without streets and roads. Thus eliminating one of the major causes of pollution today. Use of passive solar heating and cooling, wind energy and solar. The structure is slowly evolving, but his ideas are worth looking into. When you think of it, it’s an evolution of the Indian pueblo design isn’t it.

He has designed ceramic and brass bells that his pupils make and they sell all over the world. About 20,000 a year. That helps to pay for the people who come and donate their time and effort to building this architectural structure. It started in 1970 and has been slow going ever since. The buildings that hug one side of a canyon are arched to provide shade during the summer months. Small hostel type living quarters are tucked everywhere for the mostly unpaid staff of volunteers. It’s much like a commune. Albeit a very poor commune. Windows are cracked and dirty, residences have second hand, second hand furniture. It’s like watching a dream slowly die. Never to be completed or revived. The idea of building dwellings so that less energy, space and impact on the environment can be achieved is a worthy cause. Perhaps someone else will have a similar dream and be successful at it.

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