My return to Arizona from a four and half month stay in the Yucatán peninsula still had me searching for adventure. Digging all the Mayan culture left me with a hangover and wanting more.
To curb my desire for exploration, I decided to explore relics that were nearby and found the Homolovi Ruins located a mile north of Winslow.
The drive to the ruins from Pinetop showcased flat land with dry brush turned burnt yellow from the winter. The white dotted asphalt road eventually turned into Route 66 and followed the train tracks where boxcars rolled by in the distance. The land was so wide open you could see an entire train stretched out against the mountains, and I was half expecting to the Clanton gang riding on horseback beside the steaming locomotive.
Holbrook, a small town on the way, revealed tops of white teepee’s that caught my attention so I pulled in to photography the unique setting. A neon sign read Wigwam Village Motel I was sure I had seen in an Arizona Highways magazine once before.
Finalized in 1950, the motel accommodates 15 concrete and steel teepee’s arranged in a semi-circle around the main office that used to be an old gas station. Each erect teepee was painted white, adorned with red zigzag embellishments and a vintage automobile parked at the entrance.
Upon further research, I found out the teepee rooms feature the original hand-made hickory furniture, and each is equipped with a sink, toilet and shower.
Driving on, a sign confirmed the artifacts were near.
The Homolovi State Park is a collection of seven separate pueblo ruins built by various prehistoric people, including ancestors of the Hopi people, between 1260-1400 AD. Only two sites were open to the public.
The park was clean and desolate.
Walking up to the first ruin site, broken pottery littered the ground. Original patterns and textures could be seen on broken shards of clay. The Hopi Indians were masters of their craft that remained still today. Previous visitors grouped exceptional pieces together on large rocks so others noticed the brilliant broken artwork.
A one-room clay brick-looking wall overlooked the Little Colorado River where an abundant amount of reeds erected toward the sky.
The second Homolovi site was home to a five-room ruin buried halfway in dirt and a kiva, which is a ceremonial structure used for ceremonial purposes. Broken pottery crunched underfoot. Large holes could be seen where people dug up artifacts more than 40 years ago.
The wind was fierce and the Little Colorado River was the backdrop to the ruin site where long ago Indians depended on the canal as a life line. Standing on a floodplain of the Little Colorado River, the natives once grew cotton, corn, beans and squash.
Turning in a complete circle, I saw the landscape was flat for miles except the scattered silhouettes of mesas in the background.
Humphries Peak in Flagstaff hung in the background with snow-covered peaks and it brought back memories of climbing to the top more than 10 years ago.
I missed the petroglyphs due to time but vowed to visit the drawings on my way to Flagstaff next month.
The highlight of the Homolovi Ruins is the ancient pottery that any visitor can reminisce on when thinking back on life’s travels.
Next Stop: Up close and personal with the trains at the gorgeous La Posada