Getting Settled in at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

4-21-13 Arriving at Gila

 Today I drove the 150 miles from Las Cruces to Gila. It was a little difficult to tear myself away from civilization – TV ads for a new episode of Castle, network news, good PBS shows, Wifi, etc. I lingered as long as I could, wrote emails, talked with a friend by phone, and ordered some RV water filter stuff as well as 2 new door latches for the RV screen door which had broken last night (Saturday).

 The crazy thing about the door latch was that Friday while the RV was being serviced I was shopping in the RV store for things I might need and actually held a new latch in my hand, thinking, “Cool! Now I know where to get one if mine ever breaks.” Little did I know that after all the RV stores had closed for the weekend mine would break!! God was truly laughing at my plans!

 Zuni and I left the RV park, got gas at $3.15/gallon, had Subway make my lunch and hit the road at 12:30. For me driving is always interesting, especially the changes in terrain, plant life, different animals, etc. Most striking about this trip were the road signs announcing dust storms and low visibility for miles on end. Also the entire terrain from Deming to City of Rocks was dotted with dancing dust devils and the 4’ high barbed wire fences were totally clogged with tumbleweed.

 The scenery as we entered the Gila Wilderness was amazing! Lots of trees- pine and many others, mountains, twisting steep roads, and most amazing of all – Lake Roberts ablaze with sun diamonds and the equally beautiful Gila River! Wow – real water and lots of it!! Sorry, no photos! The road was so narrow that I sometimes brushed trees as I dutifully stayed on my side of the road, noticing that oncoming vehicles bore to their right because my rig must have looked very intimidating on those small roads. (In general, this area reminds me a lot of the Black Hills of South Dakota. Very pretty.)

 Before I leave I will have to revisit the scenic areas of the drive into the wilderness. There was no camp host or other official when I arrived at Gila Hot Springs Ranch & RV Park, so I followed the signs which said to pick a site and get settled in. Unfortunately, because I am volunteering for the NPS I had to move again when the camp host got here so I would be in an NPS designated site. The new site was not as good as the one I had chosen, but oh well. I did not get totally settled in because I want to fill the RV gas tank and the only time to get gas ($4.80/gallon!) across the street at the ranch store is between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. tomorrow. Real bankers hours, huh? And I found out that they do not even have bread, milk and eggs at the “store”. That definitely means treks to Silver City will be required every couple of weeks.

Jaclynn is here, too, and we took a short hike across the street to see the farm, the ranch RV park and the Wildwood campground where she is staying. Most of the resorts and campgrounds take advantage of the hot springs which are prevalent in this area.

The hoo doos in the mountains across the street from the RV park are the most striking natural feature. Following are also photos of the ranch and the goats. There are also sheep which they raise for their wool – marino wool which is quite pricey. There were horses, too, but the goats really captured all the attention.

 s-1a-Hoo Doos across street fm RV s-1b-Working Ranch s-1c s-1d1-goats s-1d2-Goats

s-1e-Green Grass s-1f-Moon rising s-2a-Familiar Friends s-2b s-2c s-3a-Lots of Hot Springs

On the way back from Jaclynn’s campsite it was feeding time for the ranch dogs, their handler was a little late getting chow on the table and the pack almost wound up eating the littlest compadre! s-3b-Chow Time for Dogs s-3c-Oops Eating Little Guy

When I got home to my rig imagine my surprise when the whole RV (windows open) and everything I had left outside was drenched from the sprinkler system. I couldn’t get to the front door without getting wet. I showed the camp host and the outgoing park superintendent who lives next to my place but they were unsympathetic. I held it in, but I was very upset because this is the only place they have for me and there is very little “living space” if I cannot use the outdoors. I’ll see if I can get anyone to adjust or block the sprinkler heads. My thought is that I will not stay if this cannot be resolved. (All is well. The sprinkler heads were adjusted and I only get drenched when the wind is blowing!)

 s-3d-Everything Drenched at home

The rest of the evening I spent playing laser tag with Zuni and blogging. The temperature here was about 75 this afternoon and I am told the nights are still going down to the 20’s. Very pleasant! Here is a photo of Zuni just in case you haven’t seen enough of the little darling:

s-Crazy Kat

4-22-13 – Hike EE Canyon Trail with Jaclynn

Because I had to move the RV 3 times in 24 hours (it’s a long story!) Jaclynn and I got a late start on our 7 mile hike up the EE trail. She planned to leave the next morning so we both wanted to get some exercise in and I had to start training the next day, too. It was great hiking – lots of “up”, shade, sun-baked pine and rock smell, and some surprises. Following are the gopher snake Jaclyn almost stepped on (of course, I almost ran smack into her when she stopped and jumped up 2 feet in the air!!), the remains of a deer front leg (wolf or cougar kill most likely), the stupid tree top that fools me for a hawk every day when I drive out of the park, and (probably) a horse skull just because things like this gross out Jaclynn. (Ha ha!)

s-1a-Gopher Snake s-1b-Leg of Deer s-1c-Tricky Tree s-1d-Skull

4-24-13 – Shadowing Beverly’s Tour of the Cliff Dwellings

There is so much to say about the cliff dwellings, but I will write about that later. For now, here is my “workplace”. Pretty cook, huh?

s-1a-Bridge to Cliff Dwellings s-1b-Looking back to Contact Station s-1c-First Glimpse of Dwellings s-1d-Snake Warning s-1e-About 190 steps s-1f-Beverly Leading Group s-1g-Looking out s-1h s-1i s-1j-Pottery Cherd in mortar s-1k-Handprints

4-27-13 – Hike with George & Eddie

George and Marci are departing volunteers who have been coming back to Gila for about 6 winter seasons. They serve about 6 months each time they come here. George, who reads voraciously and studies about the cliff dwelling people, wanted to share some special sites in the wilderness with Eddie and me. Eddie is one of the other new volunteers. In particular he wanted to lead us to he site where a grizzly bear was killed. The kill was documented by pictographs and a rock shrine at the site. Because grizzlies are so ferocious this would have been a monumental occurrence in the lives of the people. I also found a part of a large broken mano (grinding stone) not far from the site.

We also saw a cave that clearly had been used for human habitation for thousands of years. According to George there are all kinds of hidden treasures in this region of the Gila Wilderness. More about all of that later. I’ll post some photos then finish my wash! Ah, the mundane stuff has to be taken care of, too.

s-1a-Grizzly Bear Kill Site s-1b-Shrine to Site s-1c-Petroglyphs-Grinding Sites s-1d-Broken Mano I Found s-1e-Inside Cave-Pictograph s-1f-Looking Out of Cave Past Eddie-George s-1h-Other Intriguing Places to Hike

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