Monday, July 7, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 6: Ruins and Reids

By the sixth day, as the convention organizer I was pretty much out of ideas. Luckily, Laura came to the rescue with the plan to go check out some ancient Indian ruins nearby.

Flagstaff sits in the shadow of a massive mountain group called the San Fransisco mountains, which were once volcanic. The most recent volcanic activity happened nearby at a place now known as Sunset crater. The eruption, which happened around 1,000 AD, devastated the area, and the hills there are still blackened with dark, coarse sand.

On the way to the ruins we passed through the national park that contains the crater, and we got to hike through an area of black, fascinatingly shaped volcanic rock. The ground crunched and crackled beneath our feat like we were walking on glass (which I suppose we were), and the rock around us jutted up from the ground at odd angles, forming hills, pits,and caves in all sorts of interesting places.

The surrounding hills looked odd, with greenery on one side and the top while the side facing the crater was often blackened and almost lifeless.

Many years ago, apparently people were encouraged to climb up the crater to take a look inside, but the erosion of so many feet climbing the sides eventually convinced the park to shut down that practice.

The interesting thing about volcanoes is that, a century or so after eruption, the surrounding lands become incredibly fertile. Thus, the Indian ruins located in the High Desert nearby.

The ruins there are incredibly well-preserved. Some of them were partially rebuilt to show people how the structures once looked, but many of them were simply preserved the way they were found a century or so ago. The buildings were estimated to have been build around 1,200 AD, so what was left had survived about 700 years without preservation. There were buildings with walls, structures overlooking canyons, and one particularly fascinating structure now called The Citadel, which sits atop a hill providing an excellent view of the surrounding grasslands.

Probably the most impressive discovery in this trip, though, was a very curious hole in the ground, which according to the information signs were believed to house wind gods. These odd tunnels featured a small hole in the surface which led down to a vast cavern of unknown size beneath the surface. During the winter months, when the air pressure was high outside, the hole in the ground would suck cold air into itself. During hotter times, when the air pressure outside was low, cold air would rush out of the hole, creating an effect amazingly similar to an air conditioner. I kind of wanted to stand above that hole all day.

Anyway, later that night Reid was scheduled to arrive at the house to spend a few days with us. He arrived, then a group of us decided to go out to a karaoke bar. Unfortunately, the place was already packed with people from a few parties, so the queue to sing was quite long. I put in a request to sing Too Little, Too Late from the Barenaked Ladies, but only one person from our group was able to sing: the last song of the night was Stoo's rendition of Chop Suey by System of a Down.

It was incredible.


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