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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Volcanos and Pueblos

~Tuesday, November 24, 2020~

Day 163

Oh my….last night the low was 19 degrees F. Trailer temp….40 degrees F. The price we pay, I guess, for wanting to spend some time in Flagstaff in November. I didn’t sleep well because I worried about Sadie being warm enough in the night. We're certainly looking forward to some warmer weather and better sleep at our next stop….Tucson, AZ.

With the low in the 40’s today, the air was crisp. But it felt refreshing. We couldn’t help but wonder if today would have been a better day to be at the Grand Canyon as it appeared so sunny and clear today. We had plans to visit the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark and historic downtown Flagstaff. And in actuality, we did visit a crater. It just wasn’t the crater we thought we would be seeing. We pulled up to the visitor center for the Sunset Crater, thinking they were one in the same. The park ranger said the crater we were talking about was about an hour away. What???? So we made the best of it and decided to tour around where we were. And are we glad we did.

There is a significant difference between the two craters. The Meteor Crater was caused by a meteor, as one would guess, and the Sunset Crater was caused by a volcanic eruption over 1,000 years ago. The Sunset Crater eruption produced a blanket of ash over an 800 mile area, forcing many established settlements to flee. Our first stop in the area was the Bonita Lava Flow.

The last time we had been on a lava flow area was on the big island of Hawaii. As we hiked the short 0.2 A’a Trail, it was amazing to see how chaotic and jagged all of the rock was. The volcano ejected small cinders as well as larger chunks of blocks and lava bombs while smoother lava flowed underneath. For over 400 years, the area surrounding the volcano was barren, sterile and devoid of plant life. Amazing.

Following that stop, we made it a point to stop at the Wupatki National Monument to see 2 pueblos. The Wukoki Pueblo and the Wupatki Pueblo.

It was after the Sunset Crater eruption that many puebloan tribes took occupancy here, where the population grew to around 2,000. This thriving community once housed a community room, ballcourt and blow hole. In order to grow their crops, even though they practiced dry farming, they had to capture and store rainwater at any opportune moment. What also impressed us was how well they built their pueblo structure on top of existing rock, as if the two morphed together. We also noticed this same style of building at our final stop of the day…..the Citadel Pueblo. The other impressive feature was how tall these structures were. Sometimes 3 stories. We don’t remember Mesa Verde's architecture being quite that sophisticated.

We had hoped to fit the Meteor Crater in today’s tour, but it was getting too late in the afternoon. So we opted for driving around the Old Historic downtown of Flagstaff. Very charming and looked quite busy for a Tuesday. Added to its quaint charm were the trains and streets all lit up for the Holidays. Let the Christmas countdown begin.

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