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SW Caravan

Posted 01-15-2019 at 12:48 PM by mbubbaca

There was not a single day of this trip, including the drive out and back, that the richness of our county wasnít smacking me in the face.

I would challenge any diehard jihadis to travel on the ground across the USA and still think that they could bring this county to its knees. Not that Iím challenging any of you jihadis that follow my blog. Nor do any homegrown crazies need to test my hypothesis,

There are too many parts of our culture and those parts mesh in a way that is both symbiotic and independent. Most Americans donít really appreciate where they live. It takes maturity and travels to see what a great country we have.

Itís easy to get the coastal mentality, the media is driven by those live and work pushed against the Atlantic or Pacific. Thatís not all there is to us. As a country, we should not be defined by what we are fed via the media. The only way to get to know what the USA is about is to get out in it.

The southwest is as close to a frontier as some of us need to get.

Just not being around a Walmart is terrifying enough to be a frontier experience for some. Gaile and I avoid Walmart at home, they put too many small family businesses into the ground. Their prices are just OK if you take the time to shop around you can often do better or at least as good. Several of our fellow caravaners looked to Walmart as a beacon in the wilderness. Yes, they contain a plethora of goods and one-stop shopping is a help when you're dragging around a trailer. So we too jumped into the Walmart shopping cart a time or two. We didn't miss an opportunity to shop locally when we could.

One of the Ah Ha moments for me was early on the trip.

We had a tour of a Native American museum. The docent there was fantastic. He was a full-time history professor and his family had always lived in the Pueblo in Albuquerque. He spent a good bit of his introduction explaining Pueblos and their dynamics in the development of the Western US.

Iíll sum it up as best I can. Pueblo people have lived on the land, they were no relocated to a place from somewhere else. They have a very strong government that is responsible for everything within the confines of their defined geographic region. They are very proud of their heritage and have protected much of it from commercialization.

Part of the reason that New Mexico took so long to join the US was the debate on how to incorporate New Mexico's recognition of pueblos to what the US required for statehood.

In fact one Arizona pueblo we were hosted by imported a Plains tribe to dance for us because their dances were reserved for private religious ceremonies.

I'm reading a novel ( Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Thunderhead) and I'm stealing some of the descriptions about the Anasazi now re-named the Ancestral Puebloans, I'll keep the original author's nomenclature.

"But now, after three decades of mysterious and inexplicable discoveries, we realize that we know next to nothing about the Anasazi. We donít understand their culture, we donít understand their religion. We cannot read their petroglyphs and pictographs. We do not know what languages they might have spoken. We do not know why they covered the Southwest with lighthouses, shrines, roads, and signaling stations. We do not know why, in 1150, they suddenly abandoned Chaco Canyon, burned the roads, and retreated to the most remote, inaccessible canyons in the Southwest, building mighty fortresses in the cliff faces. What had happened? Who were they afraid of? A century later, they abandoned even those, leaving the entire Colorado Plateau and San Juan Basin, some fifty thousand square miles, uninhabited. Why? The fact is, the more we discover, the more intractable these questions become. Some archaeologists now believe we will never know the answers.Ē

I've said it before when the descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans were asked why their ancestors left, their answer was " It was time."

We spent a lot of time in Page, AZ. A boom town on the banks of Lake Powell. Again borrowing from Preston and Child,
"Beyond the town rose the three surreal smokestacks of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station, each climbing almost a quarter mile into the sky, issuing plumes of white steam."

I am happy to see the resiliency of the native people and their ability to pick and choose what part of progress they will embrace and what they will pass on. They recognize the need to generate their own power and put their people to work to fulfill that need for both power and employment. The towers are visible as you cruise past immense walls painted in Desert Varnish. The varnish has taken decades to develop, they were there before the generating plant and will be there when the coal runs out.

Between Page, AZ. and our next stop, we traveled through Winslow, AZ and The Petrified Forrest / Painted Desert.

Yes, there is a "flatbed Ford" on the corner. It was a must stop. Our incredible bounty of luck continued as we were there for the 20th Standing on the Corner music festival. It was very cool. I had Gaile jump out and take a movie of the GMC and Airstream as it cruised across the corner and the gigantic Route 66 logo painted on the roadbed. There isn't much there but I just had to go.

We traveled from Winslow to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forrest and had to put The Eagles on the CD for the drive over.

I've been to both before. The Old Man and my Sainted Mother took me there between my 8th and 9th grade. I knew what to expect and gave no preview to Gaile or BB as we traveled.

As we checked into the park, the Ranger asked what was the name of our poodle. An interesting question because usually, the only recognition of pets is a sign that says they must stay on the trail.

He then presented BB with a Certified Bark Ranger document, a cookie, and permission to walk anywhere in the forest or the desert except for the buildings. What a treat for us all. Usually, we would trade off staying in the GMC.

Gaile was looking for a forest, why not? We pulled into the park and she looked around confused. Then she clicked. She said she had been looking for a forest of vertical trees. Everything was so flat she was sure she could pick it out way before the entry gate.
Nope, the Petrified Forest is horizontal.

The Painted Desert is very muted. The colors are vivid against the dull desert pallet. The delicate colors of the Painted Desert would be lost in the visual overload of everyday exploration. But in the desert, the colors are dramatic. They're on the rainbow but no candy apple red or purple passion. The colors are the result of fluvial deposits. Fancy words for the stuff left behind by seas and rivers. Most of those deposits are sandstone, which can come in many colors, depending on their age, erosion and the climate at the time in which they were laid down.

Some of the Painted Desertís rocks contain iron and manganese, which can oxidize into reddish colors. However, when the water table is high there is less oxygen in the ground and that turns those deposits blue or green. Once again if you were moving too fast you would miss it.

So if you're in the Painted Desert or walking through a grocery store slow down. Question things for yourself, just because there's a wagon driving by, you don't have to jump on it. Just because a place says it has low prices, it might not be true.
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