Over Memorial Day weekend, I went to Chaco Canyon National Historical Park with my sister, brother, and his family. We left on Thursday at 1pm – I met my sister in Benson and we spent the night in Albuquerque. On the way, from about Wilcox until Deming, we were in high winds that blew periodic dust clouds across the highway. My sister called the dust djinns. Those dust djinns also had rain with them, so we had periodic bursts of raining mud. It made for an exciting trip across what was otherwise a desolate stretch of road.
Past Socorro we could see various storms on the mountains, and rays of setting sun breaking through. Very pretty. The light was excellent. The weather forecast for northern New Mexico was clear until a slight chance of rain on Sunday afternoon. Which was good, because the road to the canyon was all dirt and was rumored to be terrible when it was wet.
In Albuquerque we stayed at a nice Courtyard hotel on I-25 and Paseo del Norte (also called Paseo del Autoban). This was in a neighborhood I sort of knew, having worked down 2nd street off the Paseo and lived in Rio Rancho for two years. There were hot air balloons in the morning.
Friday we drove north to Cuba, stopping to take pictures along the way. We were early for meeting my brother at El Brunos. He claimed that it had the best green chile in the state. Not being a green chili aficionado, I couldn’t substantiate that claim but the chile was flavorful and hot.
We caravanned up to the turn off to Chaco Canyon, which was practically in Aztec. The road in was dry, although quite rutted. There was a wash that was running with a large sign before it that said “do not enter if ANY water is present” and of course we ignored it.
Chaco is in a wide valley with a lone mesa and high canyon/cliff walls. The Chaco wash runs through it. It is very much out in the middle of no where. I didn’t test to see if I had cell service because frankly, I didn’t care. I don’t think there was though. The kids and my sister in law used their phones as cameras, but I had a brand new Nikkon D3300 and two lenses (normal and telephoto). I love my new camera. My sister had her camera and my brother had binoculars.
So we set up camp and went to the cultural center. There was an introductory movie that was sort of lame in that it didn’t really tell us what to expect at the ruins, just what not to do: “Don’t touch anything.” So we went to the first ruin and hiked around, took pictures, went to the second ruin, hiked around, took pictures. The second ruin was the Pueblo Bonito and it was huge. We also looked a the petroglyphs. Then we drove around the nine-mile loop and went back to camp. The camping area is next to yet another ruin, but we didn’t explore that until Saturday. Friday night the kids, my sister in law, and I went to a talk at the cultural center about archaeoastronomy. That was a great talk.

More about Saturday next time.