This morning we headed out to the Aztec Ruins National Monument near Bloomfield, NM. It was a short but AMAZING ride from Grants. We got to the information center and found out that these are not ruins from the Aztec people at all ! They are the ruins from the "Anasazi” people who later branched out to become the Hopi, the Zuni, and other tribes. The ruins were originally named this because Aztec means 'Ancient Ones'. Later, people mistakenly associated the name with the Aztec tribe. The surrounding town was named Aztec, and it stuck even after excavation showed that these were not the Aztec people's homes at all. We were surprised that this area was not larger as many of the other monuments/Parks have been. There were no hiking trails and the whole area only took about 2 hours to see. We DID ask the National Park rangers a million questions, including where to go next and where to have dinner ! I even ran into a college employee who is the point person for Service Learning at her school. We had a great conversation about what types of service learning are available around so many national monuments and parks. We took a lot of pictures and if you want the details, please go to: http://www.nps.gov/azru/historyculture/index.htm We are told that this is a minor sight and that the place we are going tomorrow, Chaco Culture National Park, is the more interesting sight to see and hike. I'm glad we have 2 days alloted there !
While we were on our way to Bloomfield, we saw little creatures on the roadway. -- Prarie Dogs ! They were cute but unfortunately I was not able to avoid them all and ran over one ! I felt so sad !
After the park we went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant that the park ranger recommended. The food was great! Speaking with the waiter, we found out that there are very few Asian people here in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. He was from California and so we asked what had brought him to NM. He said he came here for a job. We wanted to know how he found out about a job here in Bloomfield, and apparently there is a network of Asian people who own businesses and they post on a website and offer jobs to others. Who knew? After a wonderful dinner we headed to Auto Zone. I needed a windshield wiper. I couldn't help but chuckle because I was buying something that is rarely needed in this part of the country... They only get about 6 inches of rain per YEAR ! While we were at the monument, dark clouds and strong, gusty winds came up-- there were a few drops of rain but then nothing... This we were told is the typical situation when it comes to rain. It's so dry here that the rain falls from the clouds but little if any makes it to the land. It evaporates before it gets to the ground. I got a beautiful picture of a rainbow. The rain was falling in the sky, but never made it to the ground. We then made our way to our hotel and relaxed. Right now we are watching Animal Planet.... off to bed early as we have a big adventure tomorrow !
Today's pictures can be found at : https://picasaweb.google.com/104423898538711271791/June272012AztecRuins?authkey=Gv1sRgCK-v_PnHyIrXZA