March 22nd and 23rd
The next day, the 23rd, we all woke up refreshed. The plan was to go to Edge of the Cedars in Blanding, some 25 miles up the road, then visit some sites along Comb Ridge, the Mule Canyon/Cave Towers complex, and then return to Page by way of the Moqui Dugway.
Despite the late night, everyone was up and around at a decent hour, and it was around 9:30 that we shoved off, full of fuel, from Bluff headed towards Blanding. The drive took about 20 minutes, and after a quick jaunt through downtown, we ended up at Edge of the Cedars.
Of the group, I was the only one who'd ever been there, and I'd been trying to persuade Ely to check it out for a couple years now. She said it was finally worth it. The stuff they have on display inside bowls you over - weird effigy pots, stolen baskets, a macaw-feather shawl. There's enough photos from that place to fill its own gallery, but for now...
Needless to say, we spent a lot of time inside the museum before even heading to the ruins outside.
Edge of the Cedars Pueblo consists of a Great House with some associated unit pueblos, that date from the Pueblo I-Pueblo II timeperiod. The Abajo Mountains are in the background.
There's a neat trail that runs around and through the ruins (most unexcavated, some restored), and even leads into a kiva.
Ben emerges from the restored kiva while Sean examines the wall behind him
The kiva was a big hit for everyone, especially Sean. He loved trying to climb the ladder, as well as getting his hands dirty on the kiva floor. I thought I heard him say "Sipapu!" (more like "sip-a-u", but still...). Everyone else disagreed. Whatever.
Back inside, on the way out, I was reminded of something that I'd overheard someplace. I asked the lady at the front desk how to get to Big Westwater ruin. I knew it was somewhere basically inside of Blanding (it was even on some maps) but all directions I'd ever heard were vague. Finally I was set straight, and I added it to our agenda, but with the warning, "Its in real bad shape. Its so close to town and that's where the kids go to party - its got no protection."
Food first. After a dubious stop at Huck's Trading Post and Anasazi Museum (I thought old Huck was about to colapse in front of me whenever he talked), we stopped in to the Old Tymer resturant. This was breaking with my tradition of always eating at the A&W in town at the stop sign. As "leader" of our group, however, I felt that I should give 'em what they wanted. Result - pretty good. They had some strange potato chips though, all long and curley. They called them some sort of fries, but they were chips, no doubt about it.
Getting to Westwater Ruin wasn't really that hard, considering its at the end of Old Ruin Road.
Big Westwater Ruin, also known as Five Kiva Ruin, is basically what you're left with after a century of pothunting and vandalism.
The path to the other side of the canyon and the ruin's alcove didn't look challenging or even very long, but once again I was voted down. Aaron and Anne didn't want to go chugging across with the baby on their back for some busted, 2nd rate cliff dwelling. Ely wasn't sure it was as easy as I claimed it would be. Ben, I dunno, I think he just might have gone along with everyone else. Maybe next time I'm in Blanding I'll drop by on my own.
We made a brief stop at Westwater Natural Bridge ("at the bend in the road"), found some worked flint across the road, and headed back towards town. Time to let Sean and Buster run around the city park before continuing on the whirlwind adventure.
The next stop was to be Butler Wash Ruins, with the paved parking lot off of 95 on the backside of Comb Ridge. But when we got there, more developments - Sean was asleep in the car, and neither Aaron or Anne wanted to wake him up for the hike (1 mile round trip) to the cliff dwelling overlook. He suggested taking shifts watching the baby while everyone else walked to the overlook. Personally, I found that to be a silly idea - have someone sitting in the car, doing nothing except making sure the baby doesn't wake up, for about half an hour? And then have everyone else wait while that one person when for their half-hour trip? Might as well head on to the next stop, and see how things were going there. Its not like Butler Wash is going anywhere...
So on we went, down through the Dynamite Notch and up the sloped side of Cedar Mesa. I saw a cliff dwelling I wasn't familiar with before (Hidden Draw Ruin, I call it), and then we were at the Mule Canyon Road Ruin. Little Sean was still asleep, but since it was a short, paved path through the ruin, they thought it'd be okay with the stroller. Man, was Sean ever unhappy. He was crying most of the time through the site.
Mule Canyon Road Ruin, a Pueblo III dwelling, located between Cave Towers and the rim of the south fork of Mule Canyon. There was a tower connected to the kiva, maybe to keep visual contact with other pueblos.
I tell you, I have never traveled with a baby/toddler before, and I had obviously underestimated how much they dictated your schedule. The side trip to Cave Towers was obviously out (neither our Jetta nor their Civic could drive all the way to the site, and walking with Sean now was not an option), nor was my more ambitious possible sidetrip to Flaming Roof. In fact, without those two, there was nothing much left to do except head home via the Moki Dugway (aka The Cliff of Doom). I think everyone sensed it, because Ely said, "You know, there's nothing wrong with getting home early."
Indeed. I guess I was just expecting too much of Sean - I mean, really, he's not even two yet. How can I expect the same of him as of any of the other group members. Anyway, lessons for next time. Any time you expect to go out, have goals, and be totally satisfied, this country will laugh at your plans. But sometimes that's a good thing. Introducing Sean to the Anasazi at a young age can't hurt, and Ben's definitely got the hook in him for this place. There's some serious exploring up ahead, that's for sure.
Reconstruction of the Mule Canyon Road Ruin, done in Google SketchUp and imported into GoogleEarth.
Everyone's favorite sign
Buster surveys the Valley of the Gods as the trek draws to a close
Return to the Anasazi Homepage