Friday, May 20, 2016

A Litte Bit Of Everything Near The Four Corners

After we left Santa Fe, our friend Gordon, graciously welcomed us to his house on the edge of a National Forest outside of Albuquerque. Here, Scott worked on the truck for a week, and we ran and biked in Gordon's backyard.

Not only did Gordon offer his house, property, and tools, but he also got down and dirty with Scott

Near Albuquerque, we also met up with our long lost friends from The Long Way South! They've moved on from adventuring in their pickup truck to a newly refurbished VW Westfalia. They were in the process of driving it from California back to Maine.

The last time we saw Sarah and Nate was in Michigan 2 years ago.
They were returning from their trip to the tip of South America

Next up, the "four-corners" region. We barely scratched the surface of this area.

Our travels had us approaching the four-corners from the south, so we missed out on a lot of the Colorado and Utah portion. A common refrain these days seems to be "we'll be back!".

Mountain biking was the focus as we visited Gallup, NM and then up to Cortez, CO. Gallup was once known as "Drunk Town, USA", and Mother Theresa even listed Gallup along side Calcutta, as one of the world's foresaken places. It has a couple good mountain bike areas. The town is still a little rough around the edges, but then, so are we. Everywhere we biked, fellow mountain bikers talked about an epic trail near Cortez called "Phil's World". Someone online described it as "a trail you must ride before you die". We're both in good health, but decided not to put it off. It was indeed epic. It was FAST, relatively smooth, with a portion resembling a natural BMX park - jumps, banked turns, giggles, and smiles.


A few miles down the road from Phil's World is Mesa Verde National Park. It protects the 900+ year old Pueblo Indian cliff dwellings as well as some gorgeous landscapes.

A short little hike in Mesa Verde NP

The ancestral Pueblos inhabited these cliff dwellings for only about 100 years between the 1100s and 1300s AD. It is theorized that they left (or died) because they had depleted their environment - sadly, the human's common story. 

One of the bigger dwellings that was not open to the public yet (tours start every June)

We signed up for a guided tour of one of the accessible dwellings for only $4/pp - it was totally worth it. We were a little surprised that we were able to walk and climb through these ancient relics.

This ladder was not part of the original dwelling - only necessary to enable a one-way tour

The dwelling we got to tour - you can see the ladder in the lower right of the picture

 Part of the tour included a tunnel that Scott was a little nervous about. The ancestral Pueblos were small people, averaging around 5'3".

This tunnel was a little claustrophobic even for me - I felt bad for Scott and the giant man behind me

The guy behind me was 1.5x the size of Scott, with a giant belly, broad shoulders, and quite a bit older. He barely made it. Surely people routinely get stuck in this throughout the tour season!?

The northwestern corner of Arizona  is entirely Indian reservation (Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe). We stopped for a night in a reservation town called Kayenta. We parked off the highway between Ace Hardware and a pizza place. The security guard pretty quickly sought us out, and suggested we park under a light in the middle of the parking lot. He was worried about us being parked in a dark place with a lot of foot traffic. We felt like we were back in Peru, where the locals' paranoia about crime against tourists was overwhelming. I feel bad that people have to live in an area with so much fear and crime.

While we were parked in the "dangerous" spot, a nice local asked Scott to fix his tire

It's cool to realize how many places in the USA we visit that we've never been to (or even heard of) before. Without a doubt, we'll be back to this area again.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I love that you got Mother Theresa and Scott being a good samara tin all in 1 post!