While I was in town, we did some sightseeing in northern Arizona.

Southern Arizona is HOT, flat and brown!

Phoenix is actually in a basin.

People keep claiming, “But it is a dry heat!”

Uh huh.And when you show up at the Pearly Gates, Saint Peter is going to say,

“I have some bad news for you and some good news.The bad news is, you are at the wrong location.The good news is, I hear it is a dry heat where you are going!”

I did not realize (until I saw it for myself) the differences between North and South Arizona.

Northern Arizona is slightly less hot, NOT flat…and red? We drove through the Red Rocks area of northern Arizona


Where time, wind and rain will erode the rocks forming…a church?

OK, That part was built. The Church is a Roman Catholic church built in the late 1950s.  It is half way up the side of the mesa.  And of course Althea, oblivious to the church creeping up behind her is pointing to some …rocks and scrub off in the distance. “Oh look some rocks and scrub we haven’t looked at yet!”


And this is just WRONG!

Sausage Ice Cream!  Maybe in Germany, but this is the US!  And Arizona to boot.  Now Taco flavored Ice Cream I could understand!

OK to my knowledge we DID stay in the US.  So how did we get to an International House of Pancakes on the Planet Romulus (of Star Trek fame)?

Everyone here ‘looked’ normal, but you just cannot trust those Romulans!

One of the places we visited was Montezuma castle.

If you are looking for real-estate in Arizona, this is a real fixer-upper.


Complete with suites for the in-laws


I told Althea I thought people were MUCH smaller in the 15th century and these figures in the diorama were ‘life sized’ replicas.  I do not think she believed me.

I FINALLY get to be the ‘Big Man on Campus!’

The dwellings were built by the Sinagua Indians.  Montezuma and the Aztecs had nothing to do with the construction. The Sinagua lived in the area and built these and other dwellings between 500 A.D. and 1300 A.D.

The word "Sinagua" is a contraction of the Spanish words "sin agua," or, "without water," an allusion to the arid country in which the tradition arose. The pronunciation of Sinagua is "seen aug wah."

Between the 6th and the 15th centuries, the Sinagua people, who probably emerged from Yuman origins, occupied the region which encompasses the ponderosa and pinyon/juniper forests and the grasslands and desert scrub country from the vicinity of Arizona’s Sunset Crater volcano southwestward to the state’s Verde River. They practiced rudimentary flood plain agriculture in the early centuries, irrigating their farm plots with systems of check dams and irrigation ditches. They supplemented their crops with hunting and gathering. They lived in hamlets of lodges which evolved over time from circular pithouses to "sub-square pithouses with lateral entries or antechambers, teepee-like structures, masonry-lined pithouses, and small masonry surface structures," according to Cordell. "Overly large circular pithouses may have been associated with intercommunity ceremonial activities."

The Sinagua who occupied the northeastern part of their range (including this area around Beaver River) experienced a cataclysmic interruption of their lives between 1064 and 1067, when the Sunset Crater erupted repeatedly, blanketing some 800 square miles of land with lava, cinder and ash. Although Sunset Crater continued to erupt intermittently for two more centuries, the Sinagua began to move back into the region within a matter of years, capitalizing on a period of increased rainfall and, possibly, the mulching effects of the ash falls. As they established new pithouse and pueblo villages, the Sinagua – more than either the River and Delta or the Upland Yuman groups – expanded their sphere of interaction with both near and distant peoples, especially the Mogollon, Hohokam, Anasazi, Patayan and, possibly, even the Mesoamericans.

During the 12th century, the Sinagua of the Sunset Crater region appear to have evolved, in many respects, into a synthesis of traditions. For example, they reflected relationships with the Mogollon in pithouse architecture and ceramic styles; the Hohokam in crafts and Mesoamerican-style ball court construction; the Anasazi in pueblo masonry and ceremonial chamber, or kiva, construction; and the River and Delta Yumans in projectile point styles. Directly or indirectly, they acquired parrots, copper bells and mythology from Mesoamerica. Like the Zuni and Hopi, the Sinagua likely established clans, and they seem to have adapted several different religious beliefs, which we see expressed through their burial customs, including cremations and flexed and extended inhumations.

Like some Puebloan neighbors, the Sinagua developed an organized and stratified social system. According to National Forest archaeologist Piter Pilles, the Sinagua built upscale villages at prominent locations, incorporating prestige architectural features such as community ceremonial chambers, courtyards and ball courts. They buried high status individuals, for instance, the well-known "Magician" at the Sinaguan site called "Ridge Ruin," with elaborate grave offerings such as ceramics, wands, baskets and jewelry.

In the 13th century, the Sunset Crater Sinagua began to abandon their region, probably because annual average rainfall diminished. Some moved to the southwestern part of their range. In the 14th and 15th centuries, they built cliff dwellings, including the famous five-story, 20-room Montezuma’s Castle (which had no association with either the Aztec emperor Montezuma nor with any castle) in a towering limestone balcony overlooking Beaver Creek. Others said Pilles, "probably moved east to the Zuni area and the Rio Grande Valley, while the majority moved through the Hopi Buttes area before arriving at the Hopi Mesas?" The Sinagua migrations seem to be incorporated in Hopi oral histories. The Sinagua culture as a distinct entity disappeared from the archaeological record after the 15th century.

At the Castle, among the plants described was the western soapberry:

And of course if the Sinagua children said any Sinagua swearwords, their mothers washed their mouths out with soapberries!

(OK – so I don’t make a very good anthropologist!)


From Montezuma’ Castle we went to Montezuma Well. 

(We really wanted a place with a pool!)


Apparently, about 12 million years ago, a small lake in the area slowly dissolved limestone on the surface.  The limestone formed crystals that drifted to the bottom of the lake.

The Lake dried up about 2 Million years ago.  Underground streams started dissolving some of the limestone below the surface which formed a cavern.  This continued till about 11,000 years ago when the roof of the cavern collapsed.

And your word for today is “Swallet” – An opening through which a stream disappears underground!  It is NOT a small Swallow!

One way to keep the sun off of you! 

And the side benefit is, if someone asks, “Where were you raised? In a cave?”

You can always respond, “Well, as a matter of fact, YES, I was!”

The down side to living in a pueblo style dwelling is getting anything out of the attic!

Althea getting the decorations out of the attic for the Christmas Mesquite shrub.

Given the state of ‘repair’, Althea and I decided to stay somewhere more ‘upscale’ during our travels. (Althea insists on electricity and indoor plumbing.)  This trip was very educational.  We learned about the Sinagua Indians. We also learned Woody is not a botanist, a historian nor an anthropologist.