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The Art of Ride #6 – Home to the Ancients

Chaco Culture National Historical Park since we began work on “Heavenly Ancients”. The National Park Service recommends the access

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route from the north, but I’ll be coming from the south. The ride from Gallup, NM to Crownpoint is uneventful, but the turnoff to Chaco Canyon is another story. The dirt road, Highway 57, is the ultimate washboard road and the PT Cruiser I’ve rented is about to have it’s suspension put to the test. During the drive I stop and get out of the car a few times to make sure I still have all my fillings and nothing’s fallen off the car. I call Marc to give him some idea of my excellent adventure and we start laughing when we realize we’re about to lose cell phone reception, not because I’m in a desolate, uninhabited area, but because he’s approaching New Jersey!

The road is only twenty miles, but the drive takes over an hour and a half. I arrive at Chaco and start walking through the Anasazi ruins until I come to a large common area where I stop to consider what I’m seeing. Most of these ruins are on top of several others, evidence this place has been settled more than once. From the looks of things, I wouldn’t think this was a prime piece of real estate and can only imagine what it must have been like living here in 1050 A.D. Giant roads can be seen from the air that lead to and from this settlement, but I can’t make them out from anywhere within the canyon. I shoot nonstop but the only image that will make

the album is a petroglyph. Sunset approaches and I follow a trail to

the top of a canyon wall overlooking Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Park for the

final photos of the day. I decide to try the “recommended” northern access road for the return trip. Unfortunately the GPS doesn’t work so well out here and after twenty minutes of driving in total darkness, I realize I don’t know where I am.

But that’s another story. – Mike Ricciardi


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