Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Ass-Boarding in America

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

The wind outside is gusting to about 50 mph. We’re back from Taos and parked next to 30 square miles of 700 foot tall sand dunes. It’s a recipe for a sandstorm. Turns out that sandstorm sunsets are nothing like the lovely pollution inspired sunsets of coastal Florida. They are more of a two-tone blue over brown.

We invented a new sport yesterday while hiking the dunes. We call it ass-boarding. It’s marginally more fun and much less controversial than water-boarding.

It’s tough to climb up a 700 foot sand dune at 8,200 feet. You breathe heavily. Sand gets in your sneakers. You think Lawrence of Arabia. You think camels. You think "Flight of the Phoenix". You start singing...

All day I've faced a barren waste
Without the taste of water, cool water
Old Dan and I with throats burned dry
And souls that cry for water
Cool, clear, water
Keep a-movin, Dan, dontcha listen to him, Dan
He's a devil, not a man
He spreads the burning sand with water…

So today we got up early and went down to Taos in New Mexico on the edge of the Taos Indian Reservation.. The most interesting thing we saw was the Taos Pueblo. The Pueblo has been continuously inhabited for 1,000 to 1,200 years. It’s hard to exactly date the construction. Regardless it’s the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America.

The buildings are divided by the Red Willow Creek, which flows down from the sacred Blue Lake in the mountains to the East. Only members of the community are allowed into the Reservation area that includes the lake. The only modern addition to these buildings is doorways. The original adobe structures were entered through holes in the roof. Ladders were pulled up when invaders appeared.

The Taos Indians closely guard their language and traditions. They revolted against Spanish rule in 1680 and remained free for about 30 years. In 1847 they attempted to over throw the U.S. Government and managed to kill the first governor of New Mexico, Charles Bent. Retribution was swift.

We had lunch in the Doc Martin’s Restaurant near the Taos Plaza. We both ordered coffee and Lamb Wraps. Tomorrow we head for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Here are a few more pictures of Taos.

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