|Soy marinated mahi mahi on lettuce wraps at The Range, Bernalillo NM|
I forgot my camera for this 25th anniversary visit to one of the most historic historical sites in the nation, so I've borrowed a free photo from Wikipedia. And while I appreciate having the opportunity to borrow this image, since virtually every photo one finds on the Internet is copyrighted (learned that the hard way), no photo that I could take would convey the majesty of such a haunting, austere, picturesque place. Our group of four joined scores of other visitors on a day with sunny skies and temperatures at late morning hovering under 70 degrees. When we arrived at the national park visitor center at mid morning, it was still only 54 degrees.
Attentive to the signage that explained in brief what we were seeing, most was left to speculation and questioning, even though we are told the approximate dates that Chaco was a "major center of culture" for the "Ancient Pueblo Peoples" (AD 900 - 1150). One significant footnote of an Anglo presence in the canyon is a small fenced-in cemetery, with the grave sites of husband and wife, Richard and Marietta Wetherill, who came to Chaco in 1897. According to information available on the Internet, Richard dug for Anasazi relics and established a thriving trading post with the Navajos. He was also killed by a Navajo man in 1910. As our small group made its way around Pueblo Bonito, a young family of father, mother and two children--presumably Hispanic or Native American--the father commenting to us that there was a cemetery about one-quarter mile away, if we wanted to go see it--"White man, not Indian," he added. Yet another story for the curious to investigate.
Several of the ruins are at automobile level. More sit atop the canyon wall, requiring a climb, which in some places is a crawl. It is more than a little challenging, especially to me, the oldest guy in the group. In a way I was celebrating my first official climb since getting a heart stent last November 15th. No slacker am I, however, because I walk often and briskly. Climb/crawling a canyon wall is a different matter, but I'm here to tell about.
It would have been enough just to make the drive to Chaco Canyon from Albuquerque. The scenery heading west from the Rio Grande Valley, up the plateau from 5000 to 7000 feet, was stunning. If you could see inside my mind, you would know. I urge you to go see for yourself.
The lovely plate pictured here? My very late lunch, or early dinner if you choose, a delight of grilled mahi mahi nested with condiments on butter lettuce leaves, accompanied by black beans and rice worth eating. No doubt, it was fare that any ancient puebloan would have loved. Ah, yes, the cold one-half pint of brew, made it all the more satisfying.