Day 123 – Arizona Indian Country, March 30, 2011
Overall, while the weather was spectacular, sunny with a cool breeze (my day-glo legs saw the sun for the first time in months), the day of sightseeing was somewhat disappointing to me. After a pleasant surprise on the Navajo Indian Reservation, I was looking forward to exploring the First, Second, and Third Mesa located in the Hopi Indian Reservation. We got an early start to the day to allow ample exploring time.
Our first stop, and ultimately the most interesting stop of the day, was prior to entering the Hopi Reservation at the Hubbell Trading Post. Trading posts were encouraged by the U.S. Government in the late 1860s after the establishment of the Navajo Reservation. The US Government created the reservation after the Navajos’ homes, crops and livestock were destroyed while they were wrongly imprisoned for four years at Bosque Redondo.
Hubbell, who learned the ways and language of the Navajo while clerking at forts and trading posts purchased William Leonard’s trading post in the 1870s at the
age of 23. He employed Navajos to demonstrate weaving and crafts and created a market for Navajo rugs drawing business from the East. In addition, he opened his home as a hospital when smallpox swept the reservation.
As the Navajo Nation grew, it engulfed Hubbell’s property. In 1915, his 160 acres, which includes the trading post, his home, a barn, a chicken coop, a bread oven and a guest hogan, was one of the few private inholdings on the Navajo Reservation. Hubbell’s Trading Post was declared a National Historic Site in 1965 and continues to promote arts and crafts of the Navajo. The Hubbell Trading Post is part of the National Geodetic Survey database, which means its position is marked with a high degree of accuracy. The marker is generally a metal disk and is sometimes called a benchmark. Another form of geocaching is benchmark hunting…found it!
After wandering around the Hubbell property, Petey and I moved on to the Hopi Indian Reservation. Here we drove 600 feet up a narrow, paved road to reach a village atop the First Mesa. The only way to pass through the current
village to see a 300 year old village is to take a one hour guided tour for $13 AND PICTURES WERE PROHIBITED! Just 70 miles to the east I could see any ruins I wanted to for free, view them at my leisure, and take pictures. Obviously, I opted out. I’m certain Petey was pleased with my decision too…he didn’t have to wait for me in VANilla
We moved on to Second Mesa. I drove around the area, but the visitor center
was closed, so I took in a beautiful view of the desert, sandstone plateaus, and a snow capped mountain all in the same line of sight. A little further west, we stopped at the Hopi Cultural Center. The complex included a hotel, a gift shop, a small museum, and a restaurant that prepared traditional Hopi cuisine. I ordered a lamb and homony, clear broth stew with a side of Indian Fry bread. I tasted it without adding the salt and green chiles provided…bland; but the condiments added a flavorful kick…YUM!
I didn’t find anything to note at the Third Mesa. I continued on to Tuba City. The only other stop suggested in the Reader’s Digest book was Coal Canyon. The book stated there were no signs and to turn at the windmill. I saw the canyon from a distance and found the windmill, but the turn would have been across a cattle guard onto a dirt road that ran through land fenced with barbed wire. I wasn’t quite certain that I wouldn’t be entering private property, so I kept going west watching dirt devils spin across the desert. According to Reader’s Digest, veins of coal run through the canyon.
Originally, I planned to stay the night in Tuba City, but I arrived fairly early. I consulted my AAA campground guide, something new I picked up on my last visit home. After reading the options, only two were in the area, the campground in Cameron sounded better because there were bathrooms (without showers) and hiking trails. I turned south, registered for a site, and ended up at a campground without a bathroom, no trails, and the electrical power only accommodated larger 30 amp trailers with a different type of outlet, thus I couldn’t even plug in VANilla. Fun! I’d rather be in a Wal-Mart parking lot. ETB