For my last birthday my daughter and son-in-law gave me an America The Beautiful park pass. It allows me free entry into all of the National Parks. Well... I dusted that baby off and made good use of it today. I spent the morning at Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot (pronounced toozie-goo). Montezuma Castle was awesome! Stories passed down through the generations of local Hopi indians... many of whom report they are direct descendants of the earlier inhabitants who left in 1425... is the only history experts have of this place.
Archeologists have discovered this tribe were salt miners and farmers. Apparently pottery was not their strong suit... however trading their salt for pottery gave them the most beautiful pottery collection ever. The most interesting find were fossil bones of a macaw... a bird that came from Mexico... leading historians to the conclusion that even traders all the way from Mexico came to trade for salt.
The castle is built out of limestone, clay and mud. Harsh weather would erode the front. To protect it, the women would gather clay from the river and apply a fresh coat every 3 years or so. The process still continues today, using only clay and supplies found in the area... just like the indians did many generations ago... explaining the different coloring on the building.
This castle... or living community reminded me so much of Acrosanti that I visited the day before. The indian families who lived in Montezuma built their home on a south facing mountain to allow for passive solar heating in the winter, and shade in the summer. The same is true of Acrosanti. The only real difference being the indians built their home into a mountain, Paolo Soleri is creating his own mountain with cement.
Next I traveled to Jerome... an honest to goodness ghost town. I really wished someone else was driving up the twisty, curvy, steep mountain road. Not because I was scared... no... because I wanted to look at the breath taking scenery and snap a few photos. I just couldn't do both at the same time... and not careen off the mountain. My ears kept popping as I ascended 5,000 feet.
I was told I just HAD to go to Jerome, that I would LOVE it. Well... I liked it well enough, but didn't LOVE it. Yes, it was quirky... yes it has it's own 'attitude'... yes it was 'artsy' and so glad I went... but I was disappointed with how many shops sold things made in other countries that they were trying to pawn off as 'local'. Also... jewelry was a big item. I watched as guy after guy stood by as the female tried on piece after piece of turquoise jewel to find the 'perfect' item her sweetie would have to shell out plenty of wampum for. This scene was repeated store after store after store. I don't know... maybe it's me... but I don't define that as fun.
To me... people watching was so much more fun. Oh how I wish I knew someone with a motorcycle. The weather was beautiful, the scenery fabulous. I was so jealous of the couples riding up and around the mountain roads just enjoying the day. I got the biggest kick spotting old VW Beetles, rusty Ford Flatbed Trucks, jalopies and a turquoise painted motorcycle with a side car delivering pizzas!
Jerome is an old copper mining town. Saloons and brothels were the mainstay businesses 'back in the day'. Many colorful stories abound... and one particular store aptly named “Store of Joy” caters to the history of the local brothels. Now THAT was a store which caught my interest. When the mines dried up, so did the town, leaving it vacant. About 100 locals remained and re-invented the town as a 'ghost town'... relaying and embellishing stories from the past.
The town is built on the side of a mountain with a 30 degree incline. Over time gravity pulled quite a few of the buildings down... including the town jail... much to the cheers of the prisoners!!
Late in the afternoon I headed to Sedona... up historic highway 89A. So far all I have seen as far as scenery goes is brown and tan with dots of green mountains. All of a sudden as I look into the distance is... HOLY COW... the most gorgeous mountains striped in red!!! SPECTACULAR!!! They are far off in the distance and hiding behind a sheer film of haze... but their majestic beauty shines through. I can't wait to get there!!! Do I hear angels singing???
Pictures will have to come later... I can't get this extremely S-L-O-W internet connection to upload them. UGH!