Discoveries at Natural Bridges National Monument

Trip Start May 09, 2009
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7
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Trip End May 29, 2009


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Natural Bridges National Monument

Flag of United States  , Utah
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Here where you are standing
The dinosaurs did a dance
The Indians told a story
Now it has come to pass

The Indians had a legend
The Spaniards lived for gold
The white man came and killed them
But they haven't really gone

We live in the city of dreams
We drive on this highway of fire
Should we awake and find it gone
Remember this, our favorite town

~ City of Dreams, David Byrne

Listening to Talking Heads as we left Blanding, we drove out early to hopefully snag a camping spot at Natural Bridges National Monument. As we checked out spot #4, a ranger told us we had the best in the house (so to speak). After a night there, we believed him. Wonderful spot overlooking White Canyon in the distance, set amongst juniper and sage brush, and large enough that we barely realized any other campers were around. Our only visitors were scrub jays, pinon jays, and titmice.

After setting camp, we explored a bit. Had to run back to Blanding for provisions which gave us a chance to visit the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum with the partially excavated and restored pueblo. We could even climb down inside to see what a kiva was like. A beautiful exhibit of pictograph photography brought it all to life. As we drove back to Natural Bridges, we stopped to view the Ballroom Cave Ruins in Butler Wash from an overlook. After that, we hiked up Mule Canyon which gave us a chance to view more unnamed Anasazi ruins tucked away in the canyon ledges. We had the canyon to ourselves, and felt like true discoverers as we'd come across the ruins.

It's amazing seeing these remains nestled among the canyons out here. Growing up in Massachusetts, American History naturally began with Plymouth, touching briefly on some of the northeastern tribes - but mainly how they helped the Pilgrims survive the first few years. Nary a word about pre-contact history of the New England tribes (or King Phillip's War.) Meanwhile, in the southwest small communities were flourishing. I have to believe things have improved for 7th graders, but Native American history is probably still a portion of our history that is neglected.
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