The Chaco Phenomenon

As I visited the trip catalog on the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (CCAC) site, I saw the trip I’d been wanting to take for a long time.  As the daughter of  Colorado parents who’d traveled and camped in the west extensively, I heard their amazing accounts of Chaco Canyon and put it on my list.  However, this did not seem to motivate anyone around me to go and I because I wasn’t sure I wanted to venture on my own, I took a chance on this trip.

DSC03375Having a great experience with (CCAC) through the NEH and having a strong desire to visit Chaco Canyon, I decided to splurge as a gift to myself for retirement.  The one distinct advantage that CCAC is their partnering with scholars and the Native American community.  While an NEH scholar, I had the honor to tour Mesa Verde with two well-known members of the Santa Clara Pueblo and listening and feeling their stories is something that still brings tears to my eyes.  This trip to Chaco was no exception.  They had planned an archaeologist with extensive knowledge of this culture and a Hopi tribal member and his wife.  These three people accompanied us on our trip and this is what made it so extraordinary.

Our group was small: just eight participants, our drivers Dave and Winona (from CCAC), Erin Baxter our archaeologist and Phillip & Judy Tuwalestiwa.  One of the major things I learned on this trip is that magic is hard to describe and is better felt.  Not only was this an amazingly well-prepared trip but the combination of our group was unique and entertaining.

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Crow Canyon Trips

Field Trip for Adults

For years as a teacher, I planned and executed many a student field trip.  The work was often burdensome but in the end, totally worth it.  All throughout my career, I went on adult field trips.  Sure, they masked themselves as national conferences with a great group of friends but in the end, they were recreational as well as professional.  Now retirement … should I still be attending conferences?  I wasn’t sure but I’d had two other experiences that inspired and fulfilled my wanderlust.  One was a trip to Hawaii to take a comparative volcanoes class and the other to Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and safari on the Serengheti.  What would I do now that I was retired?  There were after all graduate school linked trips and the professor had also retired.  Then I remembered an experience that I had through a National Endowment for the Humanities grant I received to learn more about the Ancestral Puebloan culture and teach this to my Colorado fourth graders.  The organization conducting the grant is called the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.  On a whim, I visited their website and discovered that they have trips for adults.  What happened for me was extraordinary and the best trip of my life.

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