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Monday, October 12th, 2009

Time Event
9:47a
Chaco Canyon Furmeet
When I first visited Chaco Canyon National Park earlier in the year, I knew it was a place that I had to visit again. With the park being a 5-hour roundtrip drive, it made daytripping an exhausting undertaking. It's remote location also meant that even if you got a motel at the nearest town, you were still probably looking at a 3-hour RT drive. Camping at the park seemed like the logical conclusion. That brought up its own series of problems since the sites are first-come/first served. Add to that that the sites are pretty ugly and there is now a problem with the water system meaning no running water nor bathrooms. It's either porta-potties or a short drive to the visitors' center.

I opened up the invitation to the NM Furries (and everyone here in LJ Land if you remember the post!) to join me in a campout. I received some interest, so I planned out the adventure. Kitty and I would take off work/school on Friday and hit the campground just after everyone should have vacated for the day. We would then reserve 3 sites (preferably side by side) which should be plenty of room for 8-10 people. When we arrived around 1p (with deviantvixen), the campground was probably less than half full. *phew!* We found 3 very nice spots right at the base of a sandstone bluff. We set up camp and spread camping gear over the 3 sites to make sure people knew they were occupied. We then took a nice little 3-mile RT hike to one of the smaller and lesser-known ruins. I should also mention that we brought Mesa along since dogs were allowed on the trails as long as they were leashed.

Chaco is known for its connection to astronomy both because of the possible celestial alignments of the settlements to the seasons and cardinal directions, but also because it has some of the darkest skies around. Jupiter popped into view immediately after sunset and the Milky Way blazed right across the campground a short time later. While clear skies are wonderful to look at, that also means there are no clouds to hold in the heat of the day. Hold on, boys and girls! It's going to be one cold mo-fo! Oh, and I should also mention that by sunset, pretty much every campsite had been taken.

scritchwuff and xeltifon showed up around 9. They set up their tent in the dark. Finally it came to the point where it was time to just sit back around the campfire with a 30-pack of PBR and a bottle of Makers Mark. I was poured into my sleeping bag around 1a where I fell fast asleep. I will now do a product endorsement for Bunnywarez.com operated by jovino and djmermaid. Their sleepers kept me nice and toasty warm even as the outside temperature plunged to 24! That's right! TWENTY-FOUR DEGREES! Mesa's water dish froze over. He has such short fur that he was shivering even though he was plastered between me and Kitty. I even unzipped my sleeping bag which he partially climbed into for warmth. Soon he was cuddled up next to me snoring his muzzle off.

One thing I discovered about furries is that they like to blow shit up and/or kill things with fire. By sunrise there was a roaring bonfire in the fire pit. Soon hot coffee/cocoa was flowing through our veins. A short while after that our veins were being clogged with bacon and eggs. Just as breakfast was being finished, gamegoth, eaglem16, and dragoncrescent showed up. YAY!

Our group then divided up. 5 went to tour the more famous ruins since this was their 1st time in the park, while xeltifon, scritchwuff, and myself would do a 7-mile RT hike to one of the more remote sites. The hike was pretty nice. The trail wound its way past a couple of small ruins and some petroglyph sites. Finally it climbed to the top of the canyon wall where the ruins were. This site was largely unexcavated which was its appeal. We were seeing it essentially as the first white people saw it over 100 years ago. The ground was littered with potsherds in places. There were no ropes keeping you away from the various walls/buildings. Large circular depressions in the ground were obviously ceremonial kivas which had never been excavated. Those that had been re-constructed elsewhere in the park were nothing less than spectacular. It was mind-boggling to think that we were standing on something potentially as wonderful and it was just as it was left 1,000 years ago. So it WAS possible to still have "those" types of moments in a national park. You just had to get about 4 miles from the nearest road.

We returned to camp tired and sore. Fortunately there was a cooler full of medicine from Dr Pabst to ease the pain. Soon I was grilling up hamburgers for everyone as we let evening envelop us. Clouds in the sky meant a much warmer night was in store. That certainly was the case! I could have probably slept outside of my sleeping bag just dressed in my pink bunny sleeper. Soon we were up again brewing coffee and frying up bacon, sausage, and eggs.

We had camp broken down by just after 11. Some of the group headed back to ABQ while some of us lingered a little longer to take in some of the more popular ruins that we had missed. We also talked with a ranger who was probably one of the most knowledgeable person in the park. We had all sorts of questions for him which he seemed very happy to answer. I felt bad that we made him abandon the information desk to talk to us, but as Xeltifon told me when we left that it was probably very refreshing for him to actually talk about the Chaco culture in detail as opposed to telling people where the bathrooms were or how much they could see from the windshield of their car in an hour. After a nice picnic lunch we all hit the road back to civilization. It felt so good to take a nice warm shower.

And now some pics. Collapse )

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