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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Destination: Aztec Ruins National Monument

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I’ve been wanting to visit the Aztec Ruins, ever since I saw they were right around the corner from Ruins Road RV Park (where we ended up staying only 1 night.) Our friend Pip came to town to visit us a couple days ago. That’s one of the perks of being here in New Mexico…we are so much closer to our friends and family now (only 6-7 hours away)! Anyways, I digress. We decided to go to the Aztec Ruins National Monument while he was here. It is located in Aztec, New Mexico, a very small town about 20 minutes Northeast of Farmington, NM (the 4 corners region).

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When we went to pay for our week passes ($5/adult, kids free), the ranger lady asked MHG if she was a Junior Ranger and if not, would she be interested in joining? I’ve heard a lot about the program from fellow fulltime families and have been wanting to sign her up for quite some time now. I was thrilled for her when she got all excited and said “Of course!” The ranger explained how the program works to all of us, handed her the 1st-2nd grade test to take as she explored the park, and when our exploration was done and her test was correct and complete, she was to turn it in for her very first Junior Ranger badge!

After that, we went into another room to watch a 15 minute video about the Aztec Ruins. In the 10 minutes before it started, we checked out the pictures on the wall, the display of the trash layers found in the park over the past 1,000 years, the small model of the whole place & signed the visitor’s book. The Aztec Ruins were not actually built by the Aztecs. The Ancestral Pueblo People built them.

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A model of what it used to look like 900 years ago. Oh, and the northern wall lines up perfectly to the Summer & Winter Solstice’s sunrise!

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It turned out to be a fun way to spend time with Pip and an excellent Field Trip for MHG.

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I loved the pottery so much! It’s a good thing I live in an RV and can’t accumulate much stuff, because I so badly wanted to buy a replica piece of pottery that, other than aesthetic value, would’ve been essentially useless.

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We learned a lot from the video and went on to explore the small informative museum that was attached to the viewing room. (MHG was able to get 99% of her answers to her test in that room.) It is available online from Amazon if you’re interested in purchasing it.

After I was finished taking a picture of EVERY. SINGLE. THING. in that room, and MHG pretty much finished her test (save for one question), and Nic & Cindy left us behind, we finally caught up to everyone outside and started our tour. (I did literally take a picture of every single thing in the small museum. There are far too many pics to post on here, so here ya go…click the link below to see all of them!)

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Our first stop was the rebuilt Great Kiva. It was breathtaking and really cool on the inside…in temperature, too! Don’t let the pic fool ya, it looks small, but it was HUGE on the inside. It goes underground kinda deep to give it a ridiculously tall ceiling.

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No one knows what those pits were used for. We all thought sacrifices of some sort…but that’s just us, lol. There were 2 of the larger pits, 1 on each side.

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Pip looks like an angel in the pic below to the left all bathed in white light, haha. You think those rope lights existed 900 years ago?

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Aztec Ruins Great Kiva

I am obsessed with their doorways in all their buildings!

#1: They were so artistically beautiful. Sometimes, you could see through up to 10 doorways as you looked down the hall to the other end

#2: They were so SMALL! Even MHG had to duck going through most of them. I felt like I was doing the Limbo all day.

#3: They were solid! Those Pueblos had really sound craftsmanship skills!

Although the main Kiva (pictured here) was rebuilt not long ago, it at least gave you an idea of how the Pueblos built things. The other buildings, are NOT rebuilt, and are still standing after nearly 1,000 years. Those doorways will be the last to go, I can promise you that!

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That was the only thing that was rebuilt. Everything else you will see in the photos was simply excavated and there is still about 25% of the ruins that are still underground. The following pictures are the ones I took that have 1 of us in the shot. All the others will be found (once these are done) below in a Photo Album below. Just click on the “View Full Album” link.

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Doorways.

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More Limbo-ing…

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I REALLY loved these doorways.

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I liked the way lighting played a HUGE impact on my photographs of the doorways. This is the EXACT same doorway, I never moved. The pic on the left I didn’t use my flash and the 2nd one I did. I like them both.

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The original, 900 year old, ceiling still in tact after all this time.

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And we’re out!

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The point where it was 3 stories tall!

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This one hasn’t been excavated yet.

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The Great Kiva from a higher vantage point.

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And how about a wildlife shot for your viewing pleasure. ;)

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Here are the pictures that are scenic shots only. No people in them.

After our tour, we spent about $15 in the gift shop and got a Junior Ranger book for MHG to start keeping track of the places she visits and the badges she receives with their program. We also got a couple postcards, a magnet to add to our oven collection, and a small book about the Aztec Ruins (to learn, learn, learn)! The boys goofed off in the gift shop as the girls and I oooooohed and ahhhhhhhed at all the trinkets.

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Check it out! It’s our old, stinky friend from Virginia!

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After spending about 2 hours there, we finally headed out with our new Junior Ranger. She was so proud of herself and so were we!!! We learned all kinds of things about the ancestral Pueblo people and had a ball while doing it!

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Holy cow is this place amazing or what?! I even experienced a few moments where I felt spiritually connected in a couple of the old rooms (especially while gazing at the doorways). I so badly wanted to just plop down onto the cold, dirt floor and just meditate, but that wasn’t happening with a 2 year old in tow. I cannot put into words how beautiful this place was, in all of its splendor and old glory. It may be over 900 years old, but it is still grand. I cannot wait to go back soon!

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