2016 Feb 18 – Day 39 – California and Beyond – Aztec Ruins

Day 39 – February 18 – Gallup, NM to Durango, CO

Driving north from Gallup today reminded us very much of driving to Butte, Montana during the years our son went to university there:  You drive and drive and drive and even though you are covering many miles it feels like you aren’t going anywhere.  And it isn’t that the countryside never changes because it does with huge rocks bluffs bursting out of the ground all over the place.  I guess it is just an impression brought on by the immensity of the sky and the land and the distance.IMG_1925There is a lot of road work going on north of Gallup.  Highway 491 is being four-laned.  It was quite chilly and windy when we left the hotel and all through the construction area the dust was blowing steadily across the road.  Dust storms and snow storms must be common because there were actually signs warning about zero visibilty areas.

IMG_1926 IMG_1927 IMG_1928I do love the big wide sky though and there were lots of changing cloud formations.IMG_1933 IMG_1938 IMG_1943 IMG_1944 IMG_1947 IMG_1951 IMG_1958 IMG_1956When I looked at my maps there did not appear to be anything particular between Gallup and Durango to stop and see other than Ship Rock, and a good view point for it was only a couple of miles down a side road.

It is a sacred place to the Navajo nation so no one is allowed to climb it. (We are driving through the huge Navajo Nation Reservation that spans the Four Corners – the only spot in the USA where four states meet – Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.)  It is called Ship Rock because in the evening light at dusk it appears to hover above the ground as if it was sailing.IMG_1964 IMG_1966At the community of Shiprock we turned east to Farmington and then northeast through Aztec to make our way into Colorado and the old west town of  Durango.

IMG_1971 IMG_1972 IMG_1973 IMG_1975We were about 35 miles from Durango when I looked down at my maps again and noticed the Aztec Ruins National Monument just north of Aztec,  Well, obviously, we need to stop there.  Another good choice.IMG_1980 IMG_1981 (2) IMG_1983 (2) IMG_1984 (2) IMG_1985 (2) IMG_1986 (2) IMG_1987 (2) IMG_1988 (2) IMG_1989 (2) IMG_1990 IMG_1991 IMG_1995 IMG_1997 IMG_1998 IMG_2000 IMG_2001 IMG_2003IMG_2006IMG_2007IMG_2008This kiva, or ceremonial house is a re-construction.IMG_2012IMG_2016IMG_2009IMG_2010IMG_2030IMG_2032IMG_2034There were several doorways built into right-angle corners.  This would have taken a fair bit of good engineering to do  and maintain the structural integrity of the walls.IMG_2042IMG_2043IMG_2045IMG_2047IMG_2049IMG_2050IMG_2055IMG_2057IMG_2058Low doorways, mind your head.

IMG_2063IMG_2062IMG_2064IMG_2065IMG_2068IMG_2072IMG_2079IMG_2080IMG_2092IMG_2091IMG_2094IMG_2093IMG_2095IMG_2071IMG_2096IMG_2108 (2)IMG_2109 (2)IMG_2117 (2)It was only 30 miles from the Aztec Ruins (which have nothing to do with the Aztec people.  Like Montezuma’s Castle and Montezuma’s Well the ruins were mis-named by the original discoverers.  Since no official name of the site is known the name Aztec Ruins remained.IMG_2126 (2) IMG_2128 (2) The Animas RiverIMG_2129 (2)





Welcome to ski countryIMG_2133 (2) IMG_2137 (2) IMG_2138 (2)These deer were feeding right beside the highway and the welcome sign.

We arrived in Durango in time to check in to our hotel (John booked the Best Western right down town, only a block from the train station and main street) and take a walk to see the town.  I had wanted to ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway but had read in the brochure and on their web page that it didn’t run in the winter.  When we got into town we learned that they do a daily five-hour return winter run up to a canyon.  Boo.  Next visit for sure. (And we both liked Durango so there will be a next visit I think.)IMG_2141 (2) IMG_2142 (2) IMG_2143 IMG_2147 IMG_2148 IMG_2145 IMG_2155 IMG_2159 IMG_2160 IMG_2163 IMG_2164 IMG_2167 IMG_2170 IMG_2171 IMG_2174 IMG_2176 IMG_2178 IMG_2179 IMG_2183 IMG_2193IMG_2191 IMG_2192 IMG_2196We got back to the end of town just in time to go the Palace Restaurant for Prime Rib Night.  Yum. Yum.IMG_2200



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