On my way back from attending a friend’s graduation with my husband and son in Flagstaff Arizona, we stopped at Homolovi State Park near Winslow. This was our second trip to the ruins in a month.
We ran out of time on our first visit so I never experienced the magnificent petroglyphs that I had seen on a blog that pictured a sunburnt hiker crouched in front of the ancient drawings that he presented with a Vanna White smile.
The Homolovi site 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 during restoration.
As we entered the ruin site, I ran into the visitor center to pay the $7 dollar entry fee into the park.
I explained to the green outfitted Park Ranger my interest in photographing the petroglyphs between the two buttes and I needed directions to the location. He informed me that the Homolovi II site offered superior petroglyphs that most people were unaware of as the park kept the location a secret to most visitors. I would have to find a dirt trail that would lead me to Box Canyon.
Skipping back to the car, I felt fortunate.
As we circled the Homolovi II site on foot in search of the dirt trail, I found the top lip of a pottery jar decorated with black paint applied with a fine tip.
The fragmented pottery seemed modern with a checkered pattern that appeared brand new after I rubbed my thumb over the detailed designed. I held the disjointed pottery lid to my lips, pretending to drink out of it as if it were a whole jar then laid the piece in plane view for others to enjoy.
The walk down to the canyon was steep and the humming vibration from a cave to the left caught my attention as bees flew in and out of the dark hole.
The feeble path led into the canyon and opened up to a vast desert landscape showcasing an enormous mountain range that sprawled on the horizon.
Sliding down the trail, I nearly smacked into an enormous rock scattered with ancient Indian drawings. The drawings represent water and animals such as a snake, bluebird, antelope and spider.
The graffiti covered rock was positioned as both a painter’s easel and canvas.
A second rock further down the canyon revealed circular swirl designs and stick figure people who signify the Hopi people who once lived there. It still amazes me that the petroglyphs remained resilient through thousands of years.
I traced a drawing with my finger in disbelief. Later, I found out that it is not a good idea to touch petroglyphs.
Taking a moment to daydream, I imagined an ancient Indian artist persistently carving deep into the rock, experiencing the same exact backdrop I currently admired.
In the presence of a lost culture with tangible links to the past, the fear of death always escaped me.
I hiked up to the buttes alone where the more common petroglyphs were labeled on the site map, but the ancient drawings were too faint to make out.
Instead I photographed an amazing rock with sheets of time in the form of layered earth. I picked off a sheet of the crumbly boulder and sniffed it with intent, expecting it to smell like Native American wisdom. With intent I rubbed the clay with my thumb and focused on its grainy texture.
That was as close to the past as I could get.