Well we had a change of plans. We realized it would be too much driving to do both Canyon de Chelly and Petrified in one day. So we were going to do just de Chelly or Chaco and the websites we found had more detail about Chaco stuff to see so that's the one we did. We got a bit of a late start because we had to go buy stuff at Wal-mart and then driving down 550 from Durango the map wasn't exactly detailed enough. Apparently to stay on 550 down to Chaco you have to get off it somewhere and get back on like 20 miles later. So it took us a little while to figure that out. People in Farmington seem to be very bad at giving directions. So, if you get lost there, ask three people, and average their responses and you'll probably get close to where you wanted to be.
Once we were back on track, the drive to Chaco was through the Navajo Reservation. The turn-off from 550 was about 30-45 minutes of gravel road. We ate lunch there with Subway we packed (cool thing - they open at 8 down here for all us tourists). Then we went and looked at some of the ruins there. Most are just a quarter mile or so from the road. We saw some petroglyphs and Pueblo Bonito, a 600+ room ruin. By then, dad was petering out and worried about getting back "home" so we left after a few hours there. But, we'd seen the basics of what was there. The buildings were well constructed and large and in a slightly different style than those we'd seen earlier. They have cool night astronomy programs there that we obviously didn't stay for, but some guy had his telescope set up to look at the sun and we could see its sunspots and prominences.
We took a slightly different route back to see if it was any shorter; instead of coming back to Durango, we went over to Shiprock from Farmington and up 666 to Cortez, which, by the way, is not actually labelled 666, nor 160 as it is on the maps, it was labeled 491. We have noticed a few other little mapping aberrations like that. For example 261 on the maps is 161 according to the Utah road signs coming out of Aneth. And then the whole get off 550 to stay on it stuff, too.
Chaco was good, but personally Hovenweep had a cooler feel to it. There are more ruins and bigger ruins and maybe even better built ruins at Chaco, but the way Hovenweep looked and the nice, quiet walk and everything puts it on top in my book.
Tomorrow we're heading up to Canyonlands and planning to stay the night in Moab. (me)
Today, the wind blew a little which helped to keep it around 90 Degrees instead of 100 Degrees - more pleasant temperatures felt by all. We drove down through Durango. Very pretty country side - I can see why so many people choose to live there. We didn't like getting lost, we didn't like the passenger seat driving or comments on my driving skills, or the wash board roads but there was plenty to like in its place. The village is quite interesting and it is surprising at how much of it is still in place. Apparently, more than 30 room were wiped out in 1941 by huge boulders that fell off of the mountain side. It surprised me that the rest of the village wasn't demolished due to what I think would have been ground shaking. The Weatherills, who discovered Chaco and Mesa Verde are buried in poorly kept graves at the site near Pueblo Bonito in Chaco. The ruins in this area are the oldest by far and were built @850 A.D. - 1300 A.D. While most other locations were built @1170-1270. You would really need to be in dire straits to make the pilgramage from Mesa Verde to Chaco to pick up supplies to take back home to the family. Chaco is purported to be the center of it all - trading, etc. I'd hate to have been the Indians who had to walk that distance and carry back the tribes' supplies. They had extensive trade routes that included shells from the Coast, Macaws and copper bells from the Yucatan. (Mom- almost grumpy but not :))
Yeah, we're here taking a "break" from dad now.....
Not sure I'll have internet at the next stop. If so, I'll try to blog, but if not, I guess it'll be Friday, insha'allah.