Monday, February 20, 2012

Tuzigoot from Tavasci

Tuzigoot Pueblo ruins, from Tavasci Marsh

Around a thousand years ago, the Sinagua people started building a settlement on top of a promontory which was surrounded with marshes which were teeming with wildlife, and kept well watered by the Verde River. Eventually it became a 110 room, multi-story structure, and these are the ruins. Evidence of human presence in this valley goes back 10,000 years, all having left their mark in various ways, some faint to invisible, some in the form of walls still standing in the desert sun. The hill is surrounded today by a restored marsh, which has previously been a grazing pasture (having been drained) and after that, a taillings pond from the nearby copper mining and smelting operations. Marks. Went with the family on a walkabout on some of the trails in this area, to see what marks we could find.

The Tavasci Marsh, currently. Ducks, beavers, various pawed creatures leaving pawprints in the mud, too.

Gnaw, gnaw, gnaw, the beavers been busy

Tuzigoot (middle left) from the Verde River

Some more recent marks of human presence

I also shot a roll of 35mm out there JFTHOI, we'll see how/if that turns out. Holding that older camera, seeing through its viewfinder and its 50mm lens, manually focusing, selecting the aperture, considering the composition, exposure, and focus options, well, it brought back memories, woke up some old brain cells. Particularly the sound of the mirror flopping around when I pressed the shutter. Even the feel of it. I may have to run a roll through the IS-2 just to feel it doing that at 2 frames a second. I seldom went through film that fast except at a few sporting events for obvious economic reasons.

I wondered what it was like for the Sinagua, and those who came before them, to travel around this valley, back then. Horses weren't around until the Spanish brought them back, so I suppose they must have walked, or run, everywhere, or taken boats on the river. There's one thing I have in common with those who came before, one thing that I know the feeling of that many others around me who only go by car don't understand: to stand up on top of those walls surveying the valley all around, and knowing that I can cross it under my own power, explore it or just cross it on foot, by rowing, or in my case, biking. It's a tenuous link, certainly, but strong enough that I have a feeling I know what they might think about someone leaving cars to rust in streambed that runs down to the Verde River. Or a copper tailings pond

I want my kids to know about these things. So we go, walk around, take photos, and study the beaver gnaws. My younger daughter wants to be a CSI, so she could estimate the size of the beaver's teeth from this gnaw marks, and perhaps identify the individual, if we were to find him. Mr. Beaver, please gnaw this, we need to take some measurements.

This hike was powered by my mom's corn chowder, with bacon: the world's most powerful hiking fuel. If the Sinagua had had my mom's recipe, they probably would have built 200 rooms. 



  1. The most empowering revelation I have ever had was when I realized that I could get there under my own power. When I realized that I could live in a ditch, if need be, until tomorrow thousands of times. I realized I could walk to the store so it follows that I could walk around the world. I don't really remember when this came about but it was a freedom I have not and will not give up. It freed me from the automobile and the horse.
    Many people (and by this I mean most) feel trapped without a car. Food two miles away becomes in accessible to them. I do not and I feel their resentment.
    I feel a kinship and a connection to the Sinagua and all others that did not have the benefit of motorized transportation as they were without the limitations modern man has.
    Sinagua means without water and I wonder if they were. I also wander what they called themselves. Whatever it was I'll bet it translated to "The People".

    1. We live in a strange world where it is considered subversive to suggest that someone should walk two miles to a local farmer's market rather than driving to the big box store. The benefits of cheap energy and modern technology are all around us. So are the costs. Unconscious texters seem not to see them.

  2. Ancient ruins make me feel insignificant.
    Like maybe I should be doing something else besides worrying about YKW.

    1. I wonder if archeologists 1000 years from now will recognize a bicycle frame for what it was.


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