Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! It's Cold Here In Arizona!

Trip Start Jan 18, 2013
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Trip End Mar 01, 2013


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Where I stayed
Our Winter Home in Arizona City, AZ

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Friday, January 18, 2013

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!! It's Cold here in Arizona!

For the most part the "locals" put on sweaters, including jackets, hats, scarves and gloves for temps 79 degrees and below… while we “Snowbirds” or “Winter Residents” run around half-naked in shorts, tee-shirts and sandals… For the past 10 days we've had some great weather here...  we've had 4-5 nights of freezing weather...  in some areas it’s been 5 nights of freezing weather down into the mid 20's at night...  yea we know... for us who've seen minus/negative numbers in WA this is a cake walk...  let the outside faucets drip...   and let it drip in one of the bath rooms... and set the dishwasher for a 6 hour delay to run at 3am…  remember that things like water bib covers and pipe wrap went out of the home improvement stores in hours because they just don't keep the depth of stock..   one of our neighbors had frozen pipes with nothing broken and another had frozen pipes with broken pipes...   we had no problem...  We shut down the sprinklers and let the hose bibs drip....   oh yea...  this is the coldest spell in the past 20 to 25 years...  yep… years...   To protect against the freeze the weatherman recommends wrapping your plants with blankets . . . and the cactus plants get Styrofoam cups placed on the tips of their arms … Are we complainin'?  Nope, not on your life!  It is still sooooooo much better than the 12 inch dumps of snow and deep freeze temps at home in Washington State!

Casa Grande Ruins...... Friday 18JAN2013 Happy Birthday, Tayla!  Tayla, our grand daughter turns 12 today!  We took a day trip to Coolidge, AZ on Friday to the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument... of course we "Winged it"!  We packed a picnic lunch, camera gear and mounted our Goldwing for this trip!

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument http://www.nps.gov/cagr/index.htm preserves remains of an ancient Hohokam-era (ho ho KAHM) farming village as well as the enigmatic Great House.  We met up with our Golden Spike Archeologist Alycia (Alycia works 6 months at Casa Grande and 6 months at Golden Spike) for a special interpretive tour, as well as attended the interpretive movie and VIP Steve’s 11am interpretive tour . . . Interesting point here is that the VIPs (volunteers) do the interpretive talk at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument…

For 1200 to 1400 years Native American's roamed the southwest in the southern AZ, northern Mexico area.  These people later moved on from this area to become the Hopi, Navaho and other native Indian tribes we know so well....

How and why they live here seems to be formed around an abundance of water, food, and reasonably good weather most of the year…  And along those times they built structures like you see in some of the photo's here...  of course you’re looking at the ruins but imagine people living in the area...  maybe 2,000 - 3,000 as hunter gatherers....   most of the living quarters were buried huts....   8ft x 8t...   to maybe 15 ft x 10 ft...   sometimes larger, sometimes smaller...  all 2 ft to 3 ft below ground level, all with something like and adobe wall and then poles, thatch and other products to make a water proof room...  remember that most of these people had to protect themselves from the very hot summers....   up to 115-120 degrees in the summers to maybe a low of 30 something in the very worst days of winter but most likely down into the mid 40's almost every night…  

They hunted rabbits... maybe some larger game, picked some of the fruit on the cactus and of course water from the river...  As the number of people grew, and as they started to trade with the eastern people they traded for seeds and later grew, beans, corn, squash and cotton....   to provide for these crops they dug canals, and the canal system dug by these people over the course of time is close to 500 miles worth of them... enough to bring life to the desert and the crops they planted and used for food and trade...   As hunter-gathers they learned to grow cotton and spin it into a thread, than weave it into cloth.  They hunted some larger game from miles away for food and hides for clothing...

Some interesting facts...  the buildings and outer compound walls are all almost perfectly set north/south.... in the west wall of the big house (4 stories) is a round hole about 18" in diameter and once a year the sun shines through this hole in the 4 ft thick wall, the day of the summer solstice...   or the longest day of the year...   Alycia shared that there is some unknown significance to the number of 11 in their structure formation . . . the Great House is 4 stories high and each level has a floor plan of 11 rooms . . . This holds true for the other out dwellings . . .   
During these great times they started to construct large buildings, above ground to have gatherings in, store food in, maybe to worship in...  they had to have some kind of authority to build the buildings, to build the canals and to plant and harvest crops... 

Then something happened and they later decided this is not where they wanted to live and left the area...  it’s said that they left in all directions...  remember they've lived here for 1200-1400 years...  many, many generation, yet something forced them to leave over the course of a few year... there is no sigh that they just died out...  but left, intentionally...  history shows that at one point the 2 most prominent rivers.... the Gila (HEE’ la) River and the Salt River when through a 2 or 3 year period where they overflowed their banks, maybe this flooding forced/caused the move...  no one really knows... but move they did.... 

Then in the late 1600....  a Spanish Priest, Jesuit showed up...  around 1680's or so... that's right, 1680"s....   when he arrived all the building, houses, and other structures were in ruin....   So now think of this... the largest of the building is 4 stories high… about 45 ft, has walls that were 6 ft thick at the base and close to 4 ft thick as the top...  the walls are as smooth as if a plasterer had plastered them with plaster..   So now here is the surprise....  500 miles of canals, 4 story building, no horses, no carts, no metal tools, stone and wood...  the wood used as rafters on lives as close as 35 miles away....   these people gathered, wove baskets, made pottery and started as hunter, gatherers and later changed to farming...   and dug 500 miles of canals by hand...  

The Jesuit, in Spanish tradition, named the place Casa Grande...   Great house…  so after all the years.. and being left in ruin now gets a name from a Catholic Jesuit priest....   Today we're 475 years past the point of the priest wondering through this area and finding the ruins...  

The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is the location of the 2013 American Indian Arts and Music Fest on February 9 & 10, 2013 . . . we have already put on our must see list, so we’ll be back!  

Tomorrow Dale and Gail will visit us at our winter home in Arizona City... and Rowdy's planning on a play date with Gracie and Tasha!  Dale & Gail are dry camping in Apache Junction... It got a little older there during the cold snap...  down to 18 degrees!  Makes for some camping challenges and great stories!

Happy Trails and while traveling, always, always, always keep the rubber side down!

Jim & Connie and Rowdy, too!
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