A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Friday, September 28, 2018

My Five Not-so-good Things About RV Life

It is eleven years ago today I bought the Little House on the Highway
and it has proven to be one of the best investments I have ever made.

Recently a lady I know who has a YouTube channel made a video about "The five things that suck about being a fulltime RVer".  One thing she mentioned was her sensitivity to sound when she goes into a city.  Being out in the wilderness most of the time when she goes into town all the noise, traffic, the hustle and bustle she finds stressful now where she didn't before.  I thought about this and realized it was the same for me.  I'd even go so much as to say that my hearing has seemed to improve (I have tinnitus) from what it once was just by being in the quiet as much as I am.

Her other points were getting mail.  I agree.  Although I don't have mail needs as does she, ordering something online and trying to figure out where I will be at a certain time to have it delivered is a hassle.  Not having a printer was one as she still has to work (online) to support her lifestyle.  Well buy one.  They make them small and compact for a cheap price these days.  I don't recall the other one but her #1 on the list was vehicle breakdowns.  Well that can happen anywhere with any vehicle.  Its part of vehicle ownership.

Anyway, her video caused me to come up with my five undesirable points about RV life. 
I list them in frequency of occurrence more than how much they are a pain.

5. Having to change the time on clocks and watches every time I cross over into a new time zone.

4. Having to go to and use a public laundromat.  If you have ever used one, no more need be said on that one!

3. Getting and following bad directions from my GPS.  (Yes Claire, I am talking about you!)

2. Weak or no cell service.  The previous three in all honesty are pretty trivial.  This one is just part of RV life and although can be aggravating I can manage.  It's just nice to have a good connection to check on weather, look for possible camps in the future, see what silliness there is going on in the news, keep up on the YouTubers I follow and of course, updating my blog.

...and the number one item that is the worst aspect about life on the road...

1.  Seeing litter, trash, garbage, abandoned junk and dog crap at nearly every place I go to visit and camp at.  It is truly appalling the vandalism and defacing of our public lands I see and I spare you from having to see it by not posting pictures on the blog and refrain from writing about it. 
Sometimes I slip up on the last part for which I am sorry. 


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Box Canyon and Lomaki Pueblo

Wupatki National Monument
North of Flagstaff, Arizona

This would be the last of the ruins before leaving the monument and they would be my favorite.
Perched on the edge of the cliff above a deep canyon, these too were said to be NOT reconstructed.

Wall material that has fallen inside.

Still, as I closely looked at some of the mortar in place I had my doubts.

Here I could not believe what I saw: Not a single sign prohibiting me from walking out around the walls along the edge stating that it was dangerous and my life may come to an end.
So I went for it.

 Yup folks, at this stage of my life I no longer have the bravado (or stupidity) that I once did many years ago.  It was unnerving.  I tried to not look down as that would only make it worse.
It did.

This is nearby Lomaki Ruins and here I found my first normal sized doorway,
one I could go through without scraping my back or cracking my skull. 
Why taller?

Although the sign stated this was not reconstructed, how else could they have got these two iron header plates in the doorway without rebuilding the four feet of wall above it?

It was here I learned that most all of the waking moments of their lives were spent outdoors doing the necessities required for living and survival.  The rooms were only used for cooking and sleeping.  So why else to build a large doorway which would be a loss of heat or allow the wind to blow in dust and dirt?  The small openings that they most likely crawled through made more sense now.

As I walked back to the RV a man stopped me and asked "Are you the guy with the cat?"
It seems that when I am away Beans goes from window to window watching people pass by.
Little Miss Show-off.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Citadel Pueblo

Wupatki National Monument
North of Flagstaff, Arizona

The next set of ruins the sign informed me that they were NOT reconstructed but only that steps had been taken to stabilize the building.  Oh joy!  Finally something to see unmolested.
That to the right was rebuilt but the main building on top of the knoll was left as is after 800 years.

Here the reality began to set in with me.
That is a collapsed wall.

The debris on the ground is part of the wall above.

On top of the knoll this is all that remains of the pueblo.
So if it weren't for the "reconstruction" most all of these sites would be just a pile of rocks
and even I had to admit that wouldn't be quite as enjoyable to view.
I needed to realign my thinking about all the reconstruction I've been grumbling about.

Back at the visitor center pueblo I learned that these small little square openings at the base of the walls were a means to draw air in to the cooking fire causing it to burn cleaner without smoke.  Slabs of rock would be embedded in the ground on edge creating a path for the air to follow to the fire with a final slab cross-ways causing the air to go around and gently feed the flame.  Very ingenious.

Again the choice to build high up as they did could have been for defensive reasons
or simply the great view.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Wupatki Pueblo

Wupatki National Monument
North of Flagstaff, Arizona

We moved on to the visitor center where just outside the back door was a very large complex of pueblo ruins. I took the self-guided trail avoiding the maintenance that was going on.  The Park Service was doing something hauling in loads of cement in on this extremely noisy narrow tractor that barely fit along the pathways.

I got to #3 and an employee was blocking the way to #4 which was just down the slope a series of steps no way near their work area.  I had to continue on a different way which caused me to do the remainder of the tour backwards from #18 on.  It was on this pathway that irritating tractor was going back and forth with its loads of cement. So why send me this way?  It was a challenge to find the numbered rocks that corresponded to my guide book. I'd find I missed one and had to go back searching and not get run over by the irritant piece of machinery.

This is a close-up of the above scene which shows the reinforcement plates in place to stabilize the wall.  Yes, there was "reconstruction" here too.  It was here I finally reached #4 only to look up that stairway seeing the employee was sitting back down and people were coming down the steps!
Why did he make me go on around?!!

 Just as I concluded my self-guided tour I hear the tractor guy tell the other workers along the chewed up trail that that was the last load of cement and they were done.  The noise had ceased, the workers left and all was peaceful.  Just my luck, just as I finished.  Yes, I guess I was feeling a bit cranky as I got back to the visitor center and it wasn't because of a lack of water either.

Then I stepped inside and a new ranger had come on duty.  This guy was a LOUD talker and his voice level turned all the way up to 10 was inescapable inside the small center.  I felt bad for his fellow worker who had to listen to him all day and excused herself to "go take a break".

It was impossible for me to read and enjoy all the information present with loud talker booming but I tried.  I liked the pottery.  One part I got to read was about how the native Navajo of recent times had been displaced from the area by Park Service regulations and ranching that was taking place back in the 20's and 30's.  One sad story was an Navajo woman, born and raised here, had married a Navajo man who was employed by the Park Service as a guide, caretaker or something.  When she divorced him (he looked like someone who would mistreat a woman) she her children were then forced by the Park Service to leave and had to move far away across the "river".

By now I had had enough and moved away myself.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Wukoki Pueblo

Wupatki National Monument
North of Flagstaff, Arizona

I hadn't enough of seeing pueblo ruins.  I hadn't ever been to Wupatki N.M. either.
The first set of ruins just before the visitor center was off on a side road a few miles in. In the distance I could see it standing there against the horizon.  I got excited.  This one was very different.

The information said it was a three story high building and...

had been "reconstructed" by the Park Service.
So by now you know my feelings about that as most of this reconstruction 
is based upon speculation and often they get it wrong.

I went into this room and...

scraped my back in the doorway.  
Gee, these people must have been short.
Why else make a doorway so small you'd hit your back on it every time?

The view up which had a ceiling 800 years ago was made from log rafters, 
covered with small branches then a layer of mud with grasses mixed in. 

So what made them think Let's build our home on top of this rock ?
It was a high point where they could see for miles around and provided a good defense from enemies
or maybe just because it had a nice view.

Reconstruction aside, It was a pretty impressive build by the Pueblo Indians.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Fire Prevention

At camp near Walnut Creek National Monument

I found several of these ant colonies where the ants had cleared away all the vegetation in a six foot wide circle.  I like the idea that they did this in case of a fire.
Why not?  Animals are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Walnut Canyon National Monument 2

Near Flagstaff, AZ.

If you look closely, cutting through the photo midway you can pick out the trail I walked on in yesterday's photos.  Little does the visitor know that directly beneath him are more dwellings.

Enough time had passed since I was last here that it all seemed like the first time seeing it.
Oh the great part about growing old; its all new to you once again.
But I do remember two of these complete dwellings and you could go inside.
Not anymore.

This you could walk into.

Back in the 1880's people came armed with picks and shovels raiding the ruins of all the artifacts left behind by the inhabitants.  They even went so far as to dynamite the walls away to allow more light in so they could see what there was to pilfer. 
 All that knowledge we could have about these Indians was lost forever.
It is generally believed the Indians moved on and were assimilated into the Hopi culture.

South facing canyon walls got more sunlight.  North facing walls were shady and cool.  Those were thick with juniper and Ponderosa Pines while the sunlit walls were more barren.  It is believed the people switched from one side of the canyon over to the other side to warm up or cool down as the seasons changed.
Can you spot any dwellings?

Here I zoomed in on the above scene.  The people freely moved around back and forth along these cliff edges to tend to their crops, visit neighbors and socialize.
It just made me wonder how often accidents occurred especially with little kids.

More amazing was that their water source was at the bottom of the canyon, a bottom that I was never able to see from any vantage point.  It was a daily trek down and back up hauling water and yes, 
they feel it was woman's work.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Near Flagstaff, Arizona

Park Service humor.
The large print.

Like the Petrified Forest this is another place I was last at some 40 years ago.
Native Americans made these steep canyon walls their home
from 1125 to 1250 AD.

There are hundreds of cliff dwellings within the canyon
 but the park visitor can only visit a very few remains.

The "experts" think this is how the dwellings looked back then.

And they want us to imagine their living quarters looked like so.

The "experts" do not know how the Indians prevented rain run-off from the rock above from destroying the walls.  Here you can see how the Park Service has run a bead of silicone along the rock for the water to catch on and drip off.

More tomorrow

Thursday, September 20, 2018

My Last Favorite Find

Petrified Forest National Park

On one of my hikes in the park this collard lizard came out to greet me.
Moments like this you grab a quick shot to have at least something in the camera.

Then slowly move in for a better shot.

Next, move around to get better light on your subject.

Lastly, move in even closer for your best shot.

I thanked him for posing for me and with that he scurried off into the brush.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

One of My Favorite Finds

Petrified Forest National Park

We stayed at this place just outside of the south entrance into the park.  They had a free camp area and you can see our home way in the background.  Those cars parked in front are for looks, giving the image of visitors stopping by the gift shop and museum.  Notice the truck with flat tires.  This is a common practice with the gift shops in the area - park some junkers out front.
I like it.  Whatever to attract the tourist into stopping.

Inside amid all the petrified rock, other rock and souvenir gifts in the store, on the back wall were these museum pieces of Indian culture.

This was the real deal, dating back almost 1000 years in age.

These baskets weren't that old though but genuine no less.