After Santa Rosa we took two days to pull the Sled 350 miles to Bluewater State Park near Prewitt, NM. This is another lovely NM state campground even if at 7,500’ elevation. We haven’t grown our mountain lungs – that requires a month to six weeks – and it doesn’t take much exertion to wear a lowlander slap out. This park features wild horses, and although there was ample proof of their visitations to and around our campsite, we viewed nothing else equine.
Homolavi Ruins State Park outside Winslow, AZ comes with pre-Columbian history and easy access to the benefits of civilization. It features water and electricity, a dump station, and warm, modern showers. This ancient band of Native Americans was a branch of the Anasazi, who are better known as the cliff dwellers who built the structures that would become Mesa Verde National Park. There are no cliffs here, so they dug kivas, laid out central courtyards, and built stacked stone apartments, some of which survive, minus of course their wooden roofs.
Pottery shards lie everywhere around these long abandoned villages. For many years they were fair game to tourists and souvenir seekers, but at last the looting has been stopped, along with grave-robbing which too, had its heyday. Yes, once there was a market for human skulls.
The people who lived in Homolavi settled here around 1260 C.E. Within 150 years they had worn out their welcome and moved on to other locales. They were farmers who did a bit of hunting in the winter, and it is possible that they wore out the already poor soil with their crops of corn, squash, beans, and cotton. Or maybe they killed off the game, or an extended drought may have forced them to migrate to more hospitable locations. Whatever the cause, they moved on, just like their cousins at Mesa Verde.
Kat and I walked the trails leading to some of the ruins. Earlier Anglo visitors had arranged their found pottery shards on rocks here and there. Many pieces long ago had been decoratively painted. All were easily distinguished from rock by the tapering of the stone and its light weight. We realized that somebody had mastered the art of pottery and felt a need to express their creativity in staining these pots, and that this had happened over 700 years ago. At this moment we were holding pieces of their craft in our hands … these people though dead, yet lived. They were touching our lives, here and now. It was spiritual, if just a bit spooky.
The Homolavi people lived and died blissfully ignorant of the existence of better known cultures in Greece, Rome, China, and Enlightened Europe. But no one in those relatively sophisticated cultures knew of the Homolavi, and could not even know of the New World until Columbus crossed the ocean blue in 1492. And today we consider those classical ancient civilizations more advanced. Were they?
I have come to feel great admiration for The Great Spirit. Most tribes believe that The People were put on this green earth to care for the planet, and for its plants and animals, which sounds like something a thoughtful Creator would do. And it appears that the Homolavi left this campground no worse than they found it.
I wish we could say the same.