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Friday, November 12, 2010

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


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."


  1. Yes, that formation looks like a foot to me, as well.

    Also, I remember going through Globe on the cross-country trip we took in 1969--unless it was the way out to CA from Albuquerque in 1967. I have a vague memory of cotton candy, but that may be from some other place. We went through Prescott as well.

  2. Your memories of long car trips as a kid sound a lot like mine. I come by my wanderlust honestly, having spent most of my childhood summers in the back seat of a car.

  3. Ahhh, the drive to Mogollon! The single most terrifying stretch of road I've ever been on in my life! It's actually probably easier on the driver, but from the perspective of the passenger seat, there's nothin' on those edges but AIR.... (shuddering, remembering) Though yes, the ruins are fascinating, it's a good thing they were memorable because I'll be content with that, thanks; I will never, ever return.

    I love the country around Silver City. It is some of the most beautiful in this state (and heaven knows New Mexico *abounds* with beauty!). I've loved reading about your whole trip, but this part, through landscapes and cities I know and love, has been really fun for me. Thanks, Meg!

  4. You know, it's funny, but I don't remember any steep dropoffs on that road. Maybe I was just too busy trying to keep from rearending myself [wry g]. I doubt I'll ever go back there, either, but mostly because it's a long, long way from home for me.

    I'm so glad you're enjoying reading this, because I have really enjoyed writing it.

  5. Glad you enjoyed the Cliff Dwellings. Great time of year to travel Highway 15. Enjoy your travels!