Driving from Sun Park to the ancient village of Awatovi took us over the stretch of Highway 264 that was being resurfaced. Modern equipment with conveyor belts accepted amalgum from waiting trucks. The newly paved road was smooth and quiet, but we were thinking about Clyde's story of the bulldozed shrines. Were we riding over them right now?
The drive to Awatovi was a long and hot one. Clyde drove the four-wheel up a dirt trail, over a steep sandy incline and parked on the ridge of a spectacular mesa that looked southeast, toward the San Francisco Mountains in New Mexico. Between the mountains and the mesa, the vast expanse of rolling, fertile plains looked like the ideal place to raise sheep, grow corn, hunt buffalo and build a community.
The wind was blowing strong and the dry air was little comfort against the sun as we walked amidst rubble on the high ridge. Here, in excess of 6,500 feet, the air was thin. We could actually see the horizon curve with the earth before us. The ruins were everywhere, as far as the eye could see, atop the mesa and spilling down to the valley. Awatovi was not just a village, but a metropolis of multi-level dwellings, kivas, storage areas and plazas. With little rain and the baking of the sun, mud and stone still remained firmly intact in a few locations. We could see walls and the square foundations of the now buried pueblos.
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