"All along the watchtower, princes kept their view. While all the women came and went, barefoot servants too. Outside in the cold distance, a wildcat did growl. Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl."
I heard those words over and over again as we walked, written by Bob Dylan and given life in arguably the best rock song of all time by Jimi Hendrix. Mrs. Whazoo and I were looking for watch towers, specifically Anasazi towers in the 4 Corners area of Southeast Utah. Maybe I kept hearing the song because it's looped to play over and over on my ipod at home. Well, that and "St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast" by the immortal Frank Zappa, the second best rock song of all time. I almost know all the words to both songs now.
I won't be letting on where these towers are, I've put in some time to find them and the feeling of reward is to great to rob you of the experience...by making it easy. A four wheel drive is necessary and expect scratches from the cedar trees as they take souvenirs from the sides of your truck and camper in the form of paint. The experience was worth it and these people that lived there may have been short in stature but tall in hardiness as they lived on this land existing mainly on six inch ears of maize. I think I'll try the maize diet before too long myself, maybe I could fit through their doorways too.
No one knows why the Anasazi departed briefly from, or should I say added to, their cliff type dwellings by building free standing towers. They may not be watch towers, we don't know their exact purpose. And the towers left standing are falling, open to the elements of the high mesas. So the day after Christmas we've gone to see the less touristed towers before Mother Nature has her way and they no longer exist. Of course the towers have been there for eight hundred years and will be there for many more, while we may be gone this time tomorrow, let's say just after lunch.
To start with Mrs. Whazoo, myself and Bear would like to share our view from this fantastic place we've come to camp. I've named it Java Point. Look, I said share the view, not the beer. Well, I do have extra for friends, so come on by.
Under Dog Bear, all he's missing is a cape. "Speed of lightning, roar of thunder. Fighting all who rob or plunder. Underdog."
An evening shot of the tc as we walked over to the towers. What a place to park and camp, I was in Whazoo heaven.
One of several pictures from the "watch towers".
I think these towers were built as "The Watchers Of The Skies" in a moment of Genesis by the Anasazi.
Every good photographer has an assistant. That's why I'm holding the camera while the photographer looks for a place to set up her tripod.
She is also seeing another guy, but I don't mind a bit doggone it.
Insert the back of your head...here.
It seems I've found wood that will give us flames instead of just smoke. And in the back of my head I heard "Fire" by Arthur Brown.
We had a good fire going under a patriotic sky. Surely the colors of the American flag were taken from a sky such as this.
Oh boy, I wish this cup of java would last forever. Now I'm hearing ol Frank Sinatra sing his "Coffee Song".
A short walk brought us to "Wish I Could Fly Point". Whatcha think Bear, could we? I'm not quite the ultralight I used to be though, so I stayed on firm terra.
"Yes, I'll have my ice on the rocks please", as I bend over to take a picture of this sheet of ice...over rocks. And of course I see a face. Half a face actually, a man's face. A very good face if I do say so. How about you?
Looking back at camp, the whole picture presents itself as an astounding place to live.
Walking over to the towers, we had a climb to make to the lower level. We'll be climbing down a crack in the cliff face on the right.
"Yes I know Dear, I'll go first. Is my life insurance paid up?"
I always liked a good cliff hanger.
Climbing down to the next level there is water. Specifically Anasazicicles.
"I am the walrus, goo goo g' joob" And my spell check has gone berserk trying to figure out "goo goo g' joob"! Thanks Paul McCartney.
Next to the lower cliff dwelling is a petroglyph that is in good shape. And I wonder what the Anasazi would have thought to look up and see the con trails of a jet flying overhead. I wondered if they would go plane crazy?
Looking at a window back in time.
Looking through the window I am amazed at the fingerprints on the facing wall. I want to touch them, to feel the presence of that person through eight hundred years of time, to connect in some small way. I don't know why, I can't quite put my finger on it. So I just take a picture, knowing that my hand oils would speed up the degrading of the fingerprints, and feel better that I have left them alone...in time.
A couple of Whazasazi's are still living there it seems, and welcome you with "Arms Wide Open".
Besides cliff climbing there is also a very old cedar tree to climb through. 25 year old girls take note, you can still do this when you're Mrs. Whazoo's age...31. (Was that good Dear? Did I score some big points?)
There is a very good movie called "Snow Falling On Cedars". Here we have "Whazoo Falling On Cedars". It's a sad movie.
Being a gentleman I let Mrs. Whazoo go up first, in case I have to catch her. "Is YOUR life insurance paid up Dear?"
Notice the Moki steps notched in the rock to help the Anasazi up and down the cliff they climbed on a daily basis.
"Yes Mrs. Whazoo, I see you've branched out into cliff climbing, I'm impressed."
However, Bear is so very unimpressed, as dogs generally are with the endeavors of men, and women.
Back to Java Point for lunch we feasted on the special view. It's a low calorie view, and we can always eat more without getting full.
And what a treat it is to sit there eating lunch and using the binoculars. There were more cliff dwellings that we had not seen until now. We'll have to come back again, with more time and energy for another longer climb down.
I took this picture because of something Mrs. Whazoo said, but seeing it now I believe there must be some advertising value there. I have a new hobby I'd like to pursue and could use the extra money. However, Mrs. Whazoo is very much into her tea, of all kinds. So of course I called her a "teatotaler". Without missing a beat she called me a "coke addict" which made me choke on my coke, forcing it to fizz like it does, right up through my nose. I just love that girl. And now you know where the real laughs are in the Whazoo family. Pass a kleenex please.
After lunch it was time to leave, you'd think I knew that ahead of time, I wonder. And it's "Back On The Road Again" looking for more tower ruins. We don't know where we'll end up for the night, but that's the real beauty of tc camping. There is also beauty to be found on the high mesa in winter, with some plants exploding in unnatural colors while in the throes of a seasonal death.
Heading east over a seldom traveled road we were treated to a view of the Manti-La Sals dressed in white.
Another view presents itself while we comb the canyon ridges for more towers.
As the road de-grades we smiled, knowing we wouldn't see anyone back here this time of year.
More canyon vistas waited for us at roads end, I doubt we'll ever get tired of them. Even on cloudy overcast days a canyon is something to admire.
The temperature was finally rising, to a certain degree, as evident by the melting clouds.
After a short hike we came to a tower, and it's in fair shape with a window still looking out over the canyon.
And there were the accompanying cliff dwellings below, but we didn't have time to climb down to them. However, being able to see the future, I see another trip here...in the future.
Leaving these ruins and driving across the mesa top, it looked like a drive across the African grasslands must look. And I know the king of beasts must be nearby.
Taking another road less traveled we're going for more views. We've decided that views from up high are preferable to views from down in a canyon, at least most canyons...
And that's our view.
With another evening of clouds at play, it was time for more pictures.
The skies always seem to be beautiful over my Outfitter.
"Silhouete, gentille sihlouette. Silhouette, je te plumerai." At least that's the way I heard it. But look, what could be better? A perfect sunset with the DW, the DD and the DT.
With evening coming on it was time for a last picture of the camper, before the night stole it away.
Quality time, no cell phone, no computer or tv, no kids. Just the quiet sound of the fire and the touch of a loved one's hand. The silence broken only by a Whazoo as he leans over with a little nudge nudge wink wink twinkle in the eye to ask, "Dear, it would be a great time to you know, I mean are you in the mood...to hop up and grab me another beer?"
In the wee hours I woke to a familiar sound, there was a hard wind blowing something soft against the camper. I got up and went out. It's 3 am. and snowing, sideways. Running back into the camper I turned the heat up, and appreciated it more than ever. Early morning finds the ground fairly exposed because of the wind, and I assure Mrs. Whazoo we'll be able to see the road out.
Bear doesn't shiver a bit, while I shivered me timbers to the bone, being from Phoenix and all.
What a surprise to go to bed with stars in the sky and no wind, and wake up inside a snow globe.
Driving to the other side of the hill, sheltered from the wind, the road was indeed covered and hard to follow, with reverse being used a few times.
Walking around the camper looking for the road I felt like one of the Fugawi tribe from F Troop, as I heard a voice in my head say "We're the Fugawi". (That's ok, it took me awhile too.)
Driving down the Moki Dugway it's too cloudy for pictures, and I'm concentrating on not using the brakes. I put the truck in 4wheel-low just for that reason. We are the first tracks on the steep and narrow roadway and even Bear is holding his breath. I wonder if he can see the ice.
The San Juan River does a meander on it's way to Lake Powell. It's called a gooseneck, though I've never seen a goose here.
We soon stopped along the San Juan at river level, it was quite beautiful surrounded by snow.
Mexican Hat looked other-worldly in the mist.
Walking about I find that something fowl is afoot.
I tried to feather my apprehension as I followed the tracks, thinking they were hatching a plot to drop something on my head. Finally I could see they were just winging it and I saw one of them flip "the bird".
I soon stumbled into a bunch of these raven maniacs, which was nothing to crow about as they flew the coop.
Driving by Monument Valley Mother Nature has decided to "play misty" for me.
Even in death nature can be stunningly colorful.
Finally making it back to the Flagstaff area the freeway is littered with vehicles sliding off the road. This is the third year in a row that I've been out in the storm of the year and have had issues coming back home. As we went by I couldn't quite see the emblem on the truck, but I was glad to be in a GMC.
Moments later the entire freeway stopped, and we sat for four and a half hours. It was like being stuck in "cross town traffic" during rush hour, only worse.
At least we had a bathroom to use, and dinner in the fridge. TC's are useful for more than just camping aren't they?
As we tried to get information using my new smart phone, we had to laugh at the picture on the website. It was definitely not an updated picture.
Driving by an "offramp", people were exiting for fuel and not being allowed back on. The Cadillac was given a lesson in spelling..."OOPS"
As of this writing we are still sitting here on the freeway, "stuck in the middle with you", our friends.
Thanks for reading, Dave Rogers
P.A. (Post Anasazi) While no one knows what happened to the Anasazi and where they went, I have my own idea. I believe that they all moved to Sedona and their descendants now sell quartz crystal bracelets and promote self awareness through harmonic convergence. So there you have it...
Even though we endured four and a half hours siting in a snow storm I want to note that our many friends deal with this and worse on a yearly basis, and this year seems as bad as it's ever been in many areas. My hat's off to you.
Also, there is a term for hearing songs over and over again in one's head. Earworm, repetunitis or tune wedgy, and we all get it. However, when you hear songs and see faces at the same time take a deep breath, "put a lime in the coconut and drink them both up", and call me in the morning.
Songs used in this trip report: (If nothing else, watch the Bird Dance and Harry Nilsson. Oh for the days when life was so simple. And I've just discovered youtube with this writing, how exciting to see songs from my library in actual video, I'm hooked.)
All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix
St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast by Frank Zappa
Underdog theme song, oh yeah
Genesis- Watcher of the Skies
Fire by Arthur Brown
The Coffee Song by Frank Sinatra
The Beatles- I Am The Walrus
Creed-With Arms Wide Open
Canned Heat-On The Road Again
Alouette- French song about plucking a birds feathers (HUH?)
The Trashmen-The Bird
The Bird Dance from 1963, can you dig it! Better around the fire than Kumbaya.
Play Misty For Me- yes I know, it's a movie not a song.
Cross Town Traffic- Jimi Hendrix
Pat Metheny- Off Ramp
Stuck In The Middle With You- Steelers Wheel with the late Gerry Rafferty
Harry Nilsson-Put The Lime In The Coconut
Originally posted on rv.net January 2011, Bear passed away January 2013