Sunday, October 30, 2016

Old Grapevine Chain

A couple of days ago on a post about the Gila National Forest I mentioned that I had a photo of my husband back in September of 1971.  In the photo he is sitting on an anchor chain off of an old Navy ship. the chain was around a huge, very old grapevine. the oldest and largest grapevine any one knew of. A year later there was a heck of a flood that took out the grapevine and the chain which I don't think were ever found. It is possible one of the hunting outfits that pack hunters into the wilderness on horseback may have found the chain and never let anyone know they had found it. That grapevine and chain were right on the edge of the Gila River right were we would start wading in the river when we would go hiking into the Gila Wilderness. The campground there is still called Grapevine Campground. The main paved road has a bridge across the Gila River almost over the campground.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pie Town and Socorro

The next morning I left Springerville, AZ and headed back to New Mexico and my home near Rio Rancho. By noon I needed a break. I had always heard the stories of Pie Town, NM. A hundred years or so when it took many days to make the trip I was making in about 5 hours a resident of this little village decided to bake pies and offer them to the tired travelers that stopped here in their old Ford trucks and cars. So the tiny community became known as Pie Town. I'm not sure what else there is in this town but 4 eatery's that sell pies among other things and the people that own and run these places. I decided to stop at one of the oldest ones The Pie-o-neer which has been featured on several TV shows. It was open but someone hadn't know which was the brake and which was the gas earlier in the morning and had driven up the steps and almost into the building. The people that owned the place said their first though had been an earthquake. But they had gone on baking pies and selling them. If you go here remember this place only sells pies, although some of the other cafes do sell other kinds of foods. I had a really delicious piece of cherry pie and good conversation with owners and other people eating pie.

After leaving Pie Town I made it to Socorro, NM and took a wrong turn to get to the freeway. But that was alright as I found an old Spanish Catholic Mission Church and stopped for a few minutes. The church didn't look that old as it has been repaired many times. There was no one around so I didn't go in. As you can see by the signs below that they celebrated the 400th aniveresy of the church in 2015 and that it was actually founded in 1598.

This old adobe house was across the street from the church and is actually for sale. But to close to the street to suit me.

Going Back To Arizona

After our hike up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings and then back down again we were really tired. We wanted to spend the night in one of the RV camps near the cliff dwellings but it was now that we finally figured out that there was no - and I really mean NO cell phone service any where near the cliff dwellings or even in the Gila National Forest. Worried that our men folks would be starting to worry that it had been two days since we had contacted them we decided to drive to a point where there was cell phone service. We were glad they had both had enough since not to worry and to figure you that we just couldn't call out. It took about an hour but seemed longer as tired as we were but we finally got cell service just before getting to the small village of Membres. We had decided to make the Loop Drive all the way around and through the Gila Forest instead of the winding, twisting road we had come in on. When we saw an RV park at Membres ( as it is another Indian word it is pronounced Mem-brays). The RV park and the people there were very nice. Sarah and I didn't stay up long after our long day. A quick super, a quick dog walk, a glass of wine, and a concert by the local coyotes and we were in bed asleep.

The next morning, after a nice, hot shower at the RV park our co-pilot decided we should get down the road toward her home in Springerville, Arizona.

In an hour or so the co-pilot decided she wanted a walk and hopefully with out her leash. Sarah knew of a dirt road that had some huge cottonwood trees on it. The road says Bill Evens Lake, (we had been there when we teens) but we decided we didn't want to take a chance on getting into an area where we would have trouble turning the motor home and we knew we needed to get back as we were running a day later than planned and we both had plans for the weekend.

I have seen some large cottonwood trees in and around Albuquerque but nothing as big as these were. We wondered if this was where Geronimo and his band of Apaches might have camped and had these sheltered them then about 150 years ago.

This big cottonwood had fallen and made a good seat.

 This section of the Gila River was dry which was right by where the big cottonwoods were.
As we went on toward Arizona we saw many, many of these yellow flowers on the hill sides. We were not able to stop were any were close by to get a good, close look at them.

The two wild women and their wild dog made the big loop over to Silver City, New Mexico, the Gila Cliff Dwellings and back to Springerville, Arizona. We won't be forgetting this great adventure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Going Down

On  reaching the Gila Cliff Dwellings and looking around for a bit I took a good long rest on one of the concrete benches that had been put in for people to be able to sit on without sitting or even touching the ruin walls. Sarah went on and did some more exploring and photo taking while I rested. There were only about 6 other tourist there plus a Ranger so it relatively quiet. For many long minutes I was all by my self it seemed. I was able to really appreciate what the first people to live here had - quiet, beauty, food, clothing, warmth in the winter, and coolness in the summer. But especially the beauty. When Sarah returned I knew it was time to leave. Since I had made it the half mile hike up I knew I would have to make it the half mile hike down. It was one step at a time, really one step at a time. And they were steps. Some short and narrow, some rocky, some man-made steps were defiantly made by men as they were long, and steep, not made for short-legged women or kids. At my age I was no longer able to hop around like a teenager or a mountain goat any more. I was very thankful for my wonderful sister's help and the help of my walking cane that I was so glad I had decided I would need on the hike. The Ranger we had met at the cliff dwellings came behind us as we were the last ones to leave. Guess she was making sure we made it down. I was thankful she was behind us.  

 In this photo you can see some of the other hikers that were right in front of us. Look up at the top of the pic and you can see an oblong shaped cave in the wall. It shows better in the pic below. It is larger than it looks in the photos. Many people have tried to get into that cave to see what might be in it. My mom told me of a friend that had tried back in 1944 when she first went to the cliff dwellings. The friend went down a rope trying to get in but you can see in the photo first the rock face goes back a bit and then it comes farther out so mom's friend found himself dangling in front of the cave but to far out and to short of any more rope to actually go into the cave. He said he thought he could see what maybe looked like arrows or spears in the cave. In wasn't until 1968 that rock climbers were able to get into the cave but they didn't find anything but sticks. There was no sign of ancient man getting into the cave. My thought is that this cave would have been a great place for an eagle or hawk to nest which would explain why there were sticks in the cave.

 On our way down we had one view that let us see the parking lot and the motor home where Sarah's dog, Ruby, waited for us.
 Another view showed a bit of the Gila River.
We were on the back side of where the caves are that make the cliff dwellings. I knew there had been a forest fire in the area a few years before but hadn't realized it had come so close to the little canyon with the creek in it that you hiked up on the first part of the loop to see this wonderful place. You can see burnt trees in some of the photos but some grasses and brush are starting to grow back.

We finally made it back down to our starting point where you first cross the Gila River on a bridge. The nice lady Ranger offered to take our photo and you can see how tired we were. And Yes, it was well worth it.

The Ruins

 These photos are of the actual Gila Cliff Dwellings ruins. These are the five caves the Mogollon people lived in. Sarah and I were hot after our climb up the canyon to the caves but on entering them we found it was very cool. I'm sure this was nice for the people living here as most of the year the weather would be warm if not very hot. In the winter when the snows come it might have been cold but fires would have warmed the rock caves and with lots o wood kept them warm.

What is left of some rock walls.

 Most doors and windows were T shaped.
Standing at the base  of the caves. These are all nature caves that the old people found and used to their advantage.

 The celling of the largest cave, blackened by fires, especially the fires made by people looting the caves in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Very little was left for archeologists to study.

Sarah talking to a Ranger.

It is thought that most of these big slabs of stone were down when the Mogollon people lived here.

A small room probably used for storage, maybe grains. A few very old ears of corn have been found in the caves.

The view that these people would have had looking out of the caves.

 The Mogollon used wooden ladders to get to the caves. Stone and cement steps have been made for the tourists to use except for one ladder and you don't have to use it if you don't want to, there is a way around.

I'm not going to try to tell all about the cliff dwellings and the people that lived here. It would take to much. But I you are interested there are lots of website that go into a lot more detail. Just goggle Gila Cliff Dwellings and start reading. Read more than one as their are several different stories and theories about the Mogollon people.