South for the winter!

Once again we have decided to return to the Arizona desert, choosing a drive that takes us over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains into the San Luis valley on our first visit to the

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

The huge dunes, the tallest in North America, are only a small part of the 330 square miles of sand.  This sand eroded from mountains, was shattered by freezing and thawing, then tumbled and moved by streams and the wind to be shaped into dunes.  Mount Crestone and Blanca Peak, both over 14,000 feet loom high overhead.









Medano and Sand creeks flow seasonally around the dunefield.  They carve out and carry sand from the eastern, western, and northern edges of the dunefield and redeposit it to the south, where the wind eventually recycles it back into the dunefield.  Spectacular is the only word to describe this wonderful creation of God!




David got a chance to catch dinner at our camp in Bayfield, Colorado, a very fat 16 inch Brown Trout.







Four Corners Monument

Four Corners is the only site in the United States where the boundaries of 4 states meet.  The SW corner of Colorado meets with Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico here, a picture site and vender area for the Native Americans living in the area.  This monument is located on the Navajo Nation Reservation and charges $3 a head to enter.




Mesa Verde National Park 

Mesa Verde National Park is located high on a mesa top east of Cortez, Colorado.  The park includes more than 4,500 archeological sites, from pit houses on the mesa tops to the 600 or so fantastic cliff dwellings of the Anasazi people.  We enjoyed the visit to Spruce Tree House, a cliff dwelling so named because of a great Spruce, now gone, growing up from the village enabling the rancher Wetherwill brothers to access the location from the top of the mesa in the 1880's when it was discovered.  This is one of the largest villages in Mesa Verde (Spanish for "green table") having 129 rooms and eight kivas (underground chambers). 


Kiva is a Hopi word for ceremonial room that may be comparable to a church.  Based on modern Pueblo practice, these Ancestral Puebloans may have used kivas for healing rites or to pray for rain, luck in hunting, or a good crop. 


Entry was by a ladder through a hole in the center of the roof.  A symbolic entrance to the underworld, called a sipapu, is a small hole is dug into the floor of each kiva.  The Anasazi lived in the cliff dwellings for less than 100 years.  By about 1300 Mesa Verde was deserted, its residents traveling south into New Mexico and Arizona, settling among their kin who were already there.






Stanton, Arizona
10/30 through 11/8/06

We come to this part of the desert looking for gold.  Rich Hill is the peak in the background. 

In the 1860's, a Mexican in the company of Captain Pauline Weaver, while looking for stray animals, discovered loose gold nuggets on top of Rich Hill.  Stanton is a ghost town now owned by the Lost Duchman's Mining Association, and used by member prospectors as a camp in the desert.  We are camped just down the road, near Decision Corner.  Lots of previous mining activity in the area, both placer and hard rock mining was done extensively here.









Our desert camp at Stanton.  The Octave Mine is in the background.


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