Mesa Verde NP to Four Corners Monument is only about 50 miles out of our way as we head toward Moab, UT so we took a day and adventured to the monument–not much around there but a unique destination nonetheless. One can crouch–using their hands and feet–and be in four states at the same time . . . though we were the only ones who did that in our group 🙂
It’s on Navajo Tribal Land but it’s only five bucks each to get in and they only take CASH. So we had to drive five miles one way to the nearby town of Neec Nos Pos, AZ which is the closest ATM machine. I’m thinking this is very good for this small business as almost everyone (like us) buys an ice cream or something while they are there. They also had the largest selection of porcelain metalware that I’ve ever seen and HUGE aluminum cooling pots with lids which could probably hold six or more turkeys 🙂 The store was nice and clean and it was fun to look around and see what kind of food the locals prefer . . . many more of the various chunks of mutton (apparently provided by a local butcher) than I’ve ever seen in a meat counter before. I suspect sheep might be one of the few food animals which can eat the native grass in this area and actually gain weight on it? Turns out cows don’t do well on native grass alone. Bison do very well on native grasses but we didn’t see any of them either . . . though we did see quite a few horses–large groups of 20+. Do horses do okay with native grass? If so, maybe they’re good eating too? I’ve never tried horse meat but my Grandpa said that in the 20’s it was offered up in the butcher counters in most towns alongside beef and the other options. The few people we talked to were only interested in raising sheep. This same store had dozens of different sage bundles and other packages of natural medicines on display and for sale–along with huge bundles of wool yarn (no packaging) in at least 20 different colors–also all types of chicken feed and dog food repackaged in smaller clear plastic bags (perhaps bought in bulk and bagged up by the store?). For me, it was more interesting than being in a museum because this is what people are doing and what they are eating today 🙂
On all four sides of this huge monument there are multiple permanent booths offering every type of Navajo handiwork one can imagine. We bought a few small things–a new pair of earrings for Annie ($10) and some little ‘zipper handles’ for the five grandkids’ coats ($13 total)–but mostly it was just great fun and interesting to chat with the various artists . . . every one of them as friendly as could be. Apparently they rent these booths by the month (even some of them during the winter months!) but these booths only have three masonry walls and the roof has a big gap under it to allow for natural ventilation–must be serious cold at 5,000′ elevation in Jan and Feb! We met one old Navajo lady who spoke perfect English (compliments of the church schools her Mom sent her to) and she’s old enough now that she stays home when it gets so cold and does all her “stringing” during those months. We got an unexpected lecture about how much trouble people living in cities will be in when the power goes off and the water runs out. She was also *very* interested in the solar system we have on our fifth wheel so I kept trying to redirect the conversation to solar power but she kept returning to *her* script 🙂 We saw some very fine pieces and works of art but living in a fifth wheel fulltime has a big bonus benefit–there is no room to store anything you don’t actually need and use most every day. So we finished off our spending spree by splitting a serving of yummy fry bread with cinnamon and sugar and buying two bottles of cold water = $8 total 🙂
On a wall of the entrance booth there is a large sign warning any who can read English that it is illegal to dump ashes on Navajo Tribal Land — that their culture regards cremation as (?disrespectful?) desecration of the body. I’m not sure why anyone who isn’t Navajo would want their ashes dumped in the middle of nowhere on Navajo Tribal Land but apparently it is a problem? We learned yesterday that 21 different tribes in the Four Corners area claim the Ancient Puebloans as their ancestors and many of the elders make annual visits to Mesa Verde to honor and pay respect to the ancient ones of long ago.