Up the coast

I’m in Malibu today, reporting on the last three days.  There are more pictures to come, but I’ve had a problem with my camera. I hope to get it taken care of tomorrow.

 

October 8th to 11th

I leave Jamul on the 8th and begin to slowly make my way up the coast of southern California, camping at Carlsbad the first night.

1_campsite at Carlsbad

This isn’t a very nice campground and it’s expensive. Many of the beach state parks in southern California are now managed as money-making operations by local municipalities or even private interests.

But there nice sunsets here…

2_sunset at Carlsbad

…and we’re right on the path of southern migration…

5_flying south

…which reminds me that I should be on my way north.

 

Early the next morning I’m on my way north along the Pacific Coast Highway. I stop at San Onofre State Park, but the campground is closed for the season. I use my pass from the campground in Carlsbad to spend a few hours there. It’s enormous and empty, whereas Carlsbad was crowded.

6_beach at San Onofre

San Onofre Beach is hard to get to. Everywhere there are signs warning us of the unstable cliffs and that we should keep back.

8_cliffs at San Onofre

This beach is isolated and empty, yet our State Park System must nevertheless try to impose prudish laws:

7_no nudity

 

Later in the day I finally arrive in San Clemente, the beach resort town that became famous in the early 1970s as the location of the Western White House, the California home of then president Richard Nixon. It’s quite near San Onofre State Park.

Fabienne and Wayne, you are right, San Clemente State Park is very nice. It’s the best I’ve seen, with good services and a pleasant personnel, even if they make me change campsites for the second night. This is my second campsite, not so nice as the first:

9_San Clemente campsite 1 10_San Clement campsite 2

(But I didn’t get a picture of the first one. I had a lot more trees there.)

I like San Clemente. The town center is nearby and has everything I need, especially a café with a good internet connection; so I get a lot of work done.  I’m now working on : Heritage materials and biofouling mitigation through UV-C irradiation in show caves: State-of-the-art and future challenges.

And they have nice sunsets too:

11_San Clemente-sunset

But there are beautiful sunsets all along this coast.

 

One afternoon I take a long walk south of the park to look at some of the expensive homes on the bluff above the beach.

18_houses full west_look fragile

17_houses up close

 

Speaking of unstable cliffs, all along the California coast, north and south, there are problems with houses sliding down the cliffs. I wonder if and when it may happen to some of these homes:

14_San Clemente houses 2

Some of them look very fragile:

19_very fragile 13_San Clement houses 1

Especially this one:

20_especially this one

I wonder if structures such as these can last another twenty years. Then again, I suppose that these are just another sort of cliff dwelling. They, too, may have to be abandoned.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

September 10th, 2014

I’ve promised you a more detailed visit of cliff dwellings.  About two hours north of Silver City, in the Gila Mountains, lies the Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument. Captain and I drove up there in Van to camp over night with Dirk, another friend from our days at Sonoma State University in California. We meet up at Gila River Hot Springs where we set up camp and then drive a short way to the cliff dwellings.

Captain and Dirk head up the trail towards the dwellings:

1_Captain and Dirk head up...

We’re very careful as we walk. At the trailhead they tell us that many black-tailed rattlesnakes have been sighted lately.

 

It’s a pleasant trail through a green forest along side a creek:

2_the trail...

 

Our destination…

3_...towards the cliff dwellings

…and in a close up.

4_...cliff dwellings zoom

 

After a short walk we arrive at the dwellings. The caves are in fact a series of alcoves carved by the action of water on the stone.

5_We approach the dwellings

 

In some cases only the barest foundations remain…

6_In some of the alcoves... 7_only the most foundations remain

…whereas in others the structures are quite intact…

8_...but in others... 9_the structures are quite intact...

…though sometimes reinforced for safety and equipped for accessibility…

11_...and equipped for accessability...

 

The view from within:

12_accessability2

13_from inside an alcove

 

Information panels help us to understand both the dwellings…

16...and the reconstruction...

…and the numerous pictographs found here:

15_...as to the mural paintings...

 

Some of the wall paintings… The one on the right isn’t very clear, but it’s a hand.  We’ll see this again later:

16b_a wall painting 16c_another wall painting_hand

 

An inscription from more recent times:

16d_inscription from a much later period

 

One of the big mysteries in these cliff dwellings is the exact use of the different structures. The smaller rooms were likely used for food storage.

17_one big mystery is the use of...

 

Smoke traces on the ceiling are evidence that these caves were occupied for thousands of years:

18_signs show inhabitation going way back...

 

But the remaining wooden beams in the houses are from trees felled between 1276 and 1287. The inhabitants of these cliff dwellings were only here for about thirty years.

There is much speculation as to why the inhabitants of these impressive structures stayed for such a short time:

19_but these dwellings were only...  22_there is speculation that it was an outpost

23_of more southerly tribes for...  24_agricultural purposes...

20_inhabited about 30 years...  21_about 700 years ago...

Some have advanced the theory that this was an agricultural outpost for a more southerly tribe and that when drought made it no longer viable the people move elsewhere.

 

The view across the canyon from the dwellings:

25_across the canyon from the dwellings

 

Down canyon:

26_down canyon

 

Up canyon:

27_up canyon

 

Later in the afternoon Captain shows us some other pictographs at another site on the way back to camp:

30_...some pictographs at another site...

30b_pictograph, where we also find a diamondback

We also stumble upon a rattlesnake here, but a diamondback and not a black-tailed.  We have surprised it and it begins to coil, but we back off and luckily the snake decides to move on. They don’t like us any more than we like them.

 

And we locate this depression in the rock, likely used for grinding corn:

31_...where we find this...

 

At yet another site Captain shows us this little-known structure:

32_...near this little known dwelling...

 

Dirk inspects the workmanship:

33_Dirk inspects the workmanship 34_workmanship2

 

At a last stop Captain shows us more pictographs…

35_at yet another site we find... 36_more pictographs

Here the hand is much clearer.

 

I had to crawl on my hands and knees to get these:

39_...these bis

40_...these ter

 

It’s late now and we head back to our camp at the hot springs.

Canyon de Chelly

September 6th & 7th

I drive from Page across the Navajo Indian Reservation to the town of Chinlé, gateway to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument which is home to some of the best known cliff dwellings of the Pueblo peoples. The next morning I drive along the rim roads above the network of canyons, stopping at the many overlooks that provide views onto the farmlands and cliff dwelling sites below. Visitors aren’t allowed access to the dwellings except on special visits accompanied by Navajo guides.

The views of the canyon floor are beautiful:

1b_canyon floor

 

Like the other canyons we’ve seen, these, too, are vast…

2_like the other canyons...long

…but they are privately owned and contain working farms:

3_but this one...working farms

 

The ancient cliff dwellings here  are numerous:

4b_closeup

A good view of the surrounding fields:

5_good view of fields

Road access within the canyon is restricted to the farmers and to guided visits:

6_road access in the canyon...

Some of the dwellings haven’t survived so well:

7_some ruins better preserved than others

And some are easier to photograph that others:

8_some easier to photo than others

This formation is known as the Spider Grandmother, who taught the Navajo how to weave:

9_formation known as spiderwoman, who...

Another dwelling, quite high above the canyon floor…

10_yet another dwelling

…and this is one of the better preserved:

11_one of the better preserved...

The canyons go on and on…

12_the canyons continue

13_and continue

Do you see the face on the cliff wall:

14_do you see the face

 

Learn more about the Pueblo peoples here:

The Pueblo peoples disappeared by about 1350 A.D. I meet a woman at one of the overlooks who holds forth quite knowledgeably about this mysterious disappearance. Apparently they were aliens and their Cosmic relatives came to take them home.  I find that hard to believe and lean more towards the theory of climate change that brought about a great drought in these regions. I remember that the Fremont people in Utah also disappeared about this time.

It would have been fun to see the cliff dwellings more closely, but I didn’t have much time.  I’ll make up for this in New Mexico.