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Montezuma and Rustler’s Rooste

October 6, 2013

Arizona – Saturday, September 28

I got packed up from my nice stay at the Matterhorn and took a few pictures from my patio, then before I left Sedona, Tula and I took another 2 1/2 mile walk all around town below all the big red rock formations. Then I headed south out of town, and stopped at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a chapel built right into the rocks. A couple people had recommended stopping there, because it’s such an unusual location for a church. And it is impressive up high in the rocks! It appears to be wedged between a couple of the big rocks, and there were a lot of tourists stopping by – enough that they even had to have parking assistants for the tight spaces. I got into a parking space and walked up the hill to take a look at the chapel – there are pretty views from all around. And there were also some cacti in bloom on the grounds.

Then it was time to head south toward Phoenix, which would take a couple hours. I was going to be meeting up with cousins and extended family for dinner at The Rustler’s Rooste. On the way down there though, I couldn’t resist stopping at 2 locations of the Montezuma Castle National Monument, which were pretty much on my way. The first stop was to see Montezuma’s Well (these sites have nothing to do with Montezuma!), which looks like a big pond set deep into layers of a stone wall. This “well” continues to produce water, and I think it’s still used for irrigation. There’s evidence from ancient canals that it’s been used for irrigation since about 800 A.D. The Indian civilizations back then built dwellings into the stone layers, and some of those are pretty well preserved. I’m not sure how they got into their dwellings – probably by ladder. They must have been pretty difficult to build, but they were certainly close to a constant supply of water! About 10 miles away was another national park site called Montezuma’s Castle. My time was running a bit short, and I debated about stopping, but it was close to the highway, and the preserved dwelling was only a 1/3 mile walk from the visitor center. I’m so glad I stopped! This was an amazing cliff dwelling – one of the best preserved examples in North America. The dwelling was a 5-story building set into the cliff – difficult to build, easy to defend, and it’s pretty amazing to see something this well preserved from around 1100-1300 – centuries before the “New World” was discovered. There were also a couple other preserved dwellings built into a neighboring cliff. Again, they must have used ladders to reach the dwellings. As I was looking at the “castle” built into the cliff, I tried to imagine what it would have been like with lots of people up there in them too.

Since I’m ahead by a day with donations, I didn’t make one today. I only did about 5 miles of walking today, but I have a couple more days to make up the extra 3.

Then I made a beeline for Rustler’s Rooste, where my cousin Leif had made reservations. I got there just after they did – and met up with Leif and his wife Karena and their college-age daughter Kelsi, and my cousin Karen and her longtime boyfriend Scott. I hadn’t seen them for a few years, so it was great getting together again. Rustler’s Rooste was an awesome western steakhouse – “beef and brew with a view.” It’s located up high on a mesa (with a pretty view overlooking the city) and legend has it that it was a former hideout for cattle rustlers. They say they’re open 364 days a year, even on Christmas and New Year’s -the only day they’re closed is Super Bowl Sunday! There was a long-horn steer in a pen to greet us as we walked in; and a tin slide to slide down to the main level (stairs available for those who didn’t want to slide!), and sawdust on the floor. Leif ordered some rattlesnake bites for an appetizer, and yes, I actually tasted it after making sure the cousins survived their tastes! There was light breading on it and sauce to dip it in, and it sort of reminded me of alligator bites. It was served in small pieces on a plate with a portion of the backbone to prove it was from a rattlesnake. I would never have ordered it on my own, and only managed 3 bites, but I’m glad I had the nerve to sample it! And my steak was delicious! We took our time at dinner, and then I followed Leif and Karena back to their house, where they kindly let me stay for a couple nights. They have 2 dogs and 3 cats, and even though Tula was invading their space, they tolerated her – even the cats! Tula’s not used to having cat friends! We stayed up for quite a while visiting on the patio outside. Phoenix was nearly 30 degrees warmer than the Flagstaff/Sedona area, but it was very pleasant outside after the sun went down.

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