Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Ghost of a Hotel along a Ghost of a Highway

"What? We can't not stay here!"



To borrow a line from the very strange 2017 indie film Bottom of the World

The El Rancho Motel was originally built as a residence for movie stars working on films in the vicinity of Gallup, New Mexico.


It once sat astride the legendary Route 66, which still surfaces here and there along its original route like a broken snake weaving its way through the Southwest 




The film makes powerful use of this 80 year old edifice.  I thought scenes of the lobby were shot in some weird art deco sound stage, but the lobby is indeed a kitschy marvel.

Reviewer Andrew Hope called Bottom of the World David Lynch Lite, which is actually a pretty interesting compliment.


We shall have to find an excuse to stay there some day soon...

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Another Trip to the Baby Canyon Group

To explore a site we'd seen on Google Earth and in a paper, but had yet to visit in person...


Starting at "New Windmill" [four rights, several steep hills, and two cattle fences from Bloody Basin exit off Interstate 17] we walked overland for two miles instead of descending/ascending (twice) the canyon like we did last time. Our path was marked with Junipers. Two miles doesn't sound like much of a walk but the ground is as much uneven volcanic boulders as it is soil.


We encountered several unexpected dwellings as we hiked in and out across Perry Mesa. Some had a half dozen rooms, others were vague outlines. This rectangular pattern of rocks was once a home, a 1,000 years or so ago...


A broken stone projectile point. The back third where it it would have been hafted to a shaft is missing. Normally we see the flakes remaining after the tool is made but not the tool itself.


The point was not made of the poor quality quartz usually seen on the mesa. The obsidian used to shape the flake on the left would have been imported from the Flagstaff area.


A wall of rock delineates our objective. One learns to look for an unlikely pile of rocks each of a size movable by one person.


The boulders ring an ancient circular courtyard cleared off in the middle.


The more remote the site, the larger the potsherds. Here most of the fragments were unadorned orange/red clay pots.


Some walls are still standing at close to full height.


A commanding view to the east. The breeze blowing across this promontory must have made for pleasant evenings.


The view to the west and and the site we visited last time about half mile in the distance.


A sheep petroglyph waits in the shade of the cliff across the saddle from the Baby Canyon Pueblo. Should have put something in the frame for scale; this was about a foot across.


A petroglyph of a deer on the rocks south of the Baby Canyon Pueblo.


The view from our lunch spot on the saddle of the Baby Canyon Pueblo.


Another break on the walk back. We carried plenty of water and it was cooler this time. 


Almost back to the "New Windmill" and the jeep. we saw several groups of hunters but heard no shots all day. We saw a group of mule deer close enough for a pistol shot and a very smart herd of pronghorn antelope on a ridge with miles long views in all directions.


Amazing what will pass for civilization after a day in the past.

After three visits to the Baby Canyon Group we’re ready for some less accessible sites.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Fourth Time is the Charm

Finally made it to Baby Canyon Pueblo in the Agua Fria National Monument...


[Click on the images for larger views]

The least steep way down

The descent begins

 
A rattlesnake's previous skin

Vicky taking a picture of our descent... "What's on that boulder?" 

"Could it be petroglyphs?"

"Oh, yes, they are!"

Corn symbols and a spiral

And perhaps a face

Just sitting there, minding it's own business, for 600 years

A walk down the wash before our ascent

Life is recovering from last year's wildfire

Potsherds like someone spilled a bag of pennies

Baby Canyon Pueblo

Several panels of rock art just below the pueblo 

Petroglyphs of game, mostly bighorn sheep

Deer we think

Geometrics

Mission accomplished

The saddle between the plateau and pueblo

Remains of several of the 100 rooms

Mud mortar still fills the joints

Modernity in the distance and six centuries in the future

Off the map so still in pretty good shape

Broken matates, potsherds, and lithic fragments found by others

An abrader I think

A quartz core

An intact mano

The view of the path home, down, across, and up

The view back up our descent route

Another walk in the wash before starting back up

A last view of our goal