11 years ago today, Day 74

Another day, another road that thought it was a Slinky. 

This one led north from Silver City to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.  Which is only about 45 miles from Silver City, but…  “I wound up and over ridges and down across valleys and around switchbacks so tight I thought I’d run into myself.”  The drive took me about two hours.  That tells you how twisty the road was.  The views along the way were pretty, however:

You can see a long way from the ridgetops in southwest New Mexico

And the drive turned out to be worth it when I arrived at the monument, which was pretty tiny.  “The mile-long trail to the ruins led along a small canyon with views of the dwellings, then switchbacked up the hill so that it’s possible to walk through some of them.  It was a small community, about 40-60 people, and they weren’t Anasazi.  They were a related group called the Mogollon (muggy-on).”  The Anasazi are the folks who built Mesa Verde in southwest Colorado, and I’d mistakenly thought till that day that they’d built all the cliff dwellings in the region.

Here are some of the pictures I took on my walk:

Doesn’t this formation look like a gigantic foot?

My first view of the cliff dwellings

Closer

And more dwellings

And really close

It’s amazing how much cooler it is under those rock overhangs.  Natural air conditioning, circa 1000 CE.

After my walk, I ate my lunch at the monument’s picnic area, in the company of rather a lot of Steller’s jays, and some smaller gray birds with a chestnut patch on their backs that I’d never seen before.

Then I headed back to Silver City, by way of a longer road that wasn’t quite so tightly corkscrewed, and got back in time to hit a used bookstore, where I got a cat fix from a little gray and white fur person named Rue.  Then I went looking for a library, and ended up at the University of Western New Mexico, which had Internet access for the public.

“I think I know which way I’m headed tomorrow.  Sort of.  Or at least I thought I did.  Either Show Low, Arizona, which is northwest of here, or Globe, which is southwest.  I guess I’ll make up my mind when my hands hit the steering wheel in the morning.  I haven’t been this indecisive on the entire trip.”