Saturday, May 12, 2018

Dead Horse, Dead Cow...that's one similarity anyhow

Deadhorse Sunset
We opt for a traditional campground, Deadhorse State Park, the name a nice companion to our dead cow hike. Hot showers, a picnic table for the stove, and easy (or so we think) access to three ruins.

The cow was freshly dead, but the horse died in the 1940s.  At the time, a family from Minnesota looking for an AZ ranch to purchase opted for the one where they had seen a dead horse.  When the family donated the ranch to AZ, they asked that the name remain.

Deadhorse is at capacity, but we are allowed to take Q into the tent loop. The loop is filled with families and the giggles of kids set free.

The first ruin we visit is Tuzigoot the cute name remains because archaeologists asked Apache people to name the site - and liked the sound of the answer. The original Apache word is Tu zighoot (TWO-see-WHOODT) means something like crooked river.

The Yavapai people called it Aha-gahlahkvah meaning crooked water. The ruins sit riding on a ridge above the bend in the river. The view from the top is the entire Verde Valley.It is easy to see why this location was perfect.

At the top we meet Ranger Brian who fills in details of the story of the discovery and partial restoration of the site. He is past retirement age, so we discuss aging and travel. He carries concern for retired people who by necessity live the nomadic life, taking work as they find it and camping along the way. We feel gratitude for having the choice.

We return to camp and find that we can see Tuzigoot. It is at the center of the photo below as a mere dot.  May be it isn't too surprising that we didn't notice before our visit there?

Tuzigoot magnified

The other two sites of this part of the Road to Ruins Tour are supposed to be easy to find. The ranger who takes our walking tour reservation for Palatki tells us to ignore the GPS oracle because she will misguide.

We opt to visit Honanki in the morning in order to arrive in plenty of time for our 2:15 guided tour of Palatki.

The map and ranger’s instructions tell us “when you come to a fork in the road, take it” (- Thx, Yogi). There are two forks!
The lower fork has the same number (followed by a small letter 'c').  The upper fork is the one that the ranger instructions and other minimalistic maps indicate for our awareness.  We briefly speculate that the maps and road identification (lack thereof) may be part of a business model for the pink jeep tours out of Sedona.  A 3 hour pink jeep tour of Honanki is available for $95/adult.  Otherwise free.

Our cost: taking the first fork left brings you here:


As we drive these rugged back roads we find many primitive, dispersed camping options.  Good info for our next trip to AZ.

The sign we discover after we pass it and look back tells us that we've been driving the Outlaw Trail. It is in the parking area for the short hike to the Honanki Ruins.

At the ranger kiosk we obtain our hiking permits and hear the ranger ask with a "please" that we not interrupt or interfere with the pink jeep official tours.

What we didn't say: Who removed all the road signs on the way here?

Honanki Cliff Dwellings

Current resident of Honanki

Now the drive to Palatki should be easy. We set off to find the other fork. We forget the ranger’s warning to disregard GPS and end up circling back to Honanki - even as she tells us that we have arrived at Palatki. Time races ahead as we travel against the deadline for the 2:15 guided tour. The road isn’t as rough as the Outlaw Trail. Alex and Q manage to get us there with minutes to spare.

Ruti is a volunteer ranger from Montana. She fills in some of the knowledge gaps for us while also quizzing us to see what we already know. A natural teacher, she asks if we know the name of this grinding stone. Says Alex, “Rhymes with Tecate” so that i can say “metate”. Such a comedy team. We are also able to supply the three sisters crops: corn, beans, and squash, but her question about another crop stymies us. It is cotton.  She recommends the museum in Casa Grande to see the weaving exhibit.

She reminds us that these Sinaguan people likely didn’t just disappear. They were friendly with their Pueblo neighbors and probably intermarried and moved as water and weather became less helpful. My reading of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel reminds me that some may have made another sort of exit.

The second part of the Palatki hiking tour takes us to petroglyphs that range in age from archaic, ancient, and just very old.  Volunteer Ranger Robert points out various forms and colors and speculated meanings.

He reminds us that the costume designer for Star Wars took inspiration for Princess Leah’s hair from the Navajo young woman illustrated in this petroglyph.

After-the-fact application of D-Stretch reveals more than the original photos (or our eyeballs) could.

Moon, human, animals

D-stretch reveals figures otherwise lost in smoke

Before we leave Cottonwood we revisit the best source (yet found) of ginger pigs, and fulfill the sub-theme of the Road-to-Ruins Tour: the search for the most delicious ginger pigs north of the border.

It is a somewhat inconspicuous store front, Romeros Panaderia.  It sits on a small street angled off the main drag through town.  It is all-together too easily missed if you're driving south out of town. 304 N. 15th St. in Cottonwood, AZ.

The pan dulce is beautiful, as are the smiles.

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