Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Arizona - Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Where to next?

Well, first we had to make a stop at Lazydays to get our repairs finished up.  They had called to let us know the parts were in to fix our second air unit.  Our fridge had quit working a week or so before, so they were gonna check that out, too.

We got up to Lazydays and in no time they had our new parts on to fix the air.  They checked and checked the fridge and couldn't find anything wrong with it.  Nada.  Seriously?  It quit working completely on me and wouldn't cool on electric or gas.  I had put two of those freezable gel pack things in the freezer and left them in there with it on gas and then on electric for an entire day each and they never even got cold, so I KNOW it wasn't working.  They turned it on and it instantly began to freeze them.  *sigh*  I'm glad it is working now, but I am keeping an eye on it for sure!

With all of our repairs completed (yay!), we were free to leave the area. 

So...where to?

Well, first we went up to Casa Grande to see the ruins.  Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is the perfect stop on a travel day.  There was plenty of parking for our 5th wheel and the ruins themselves were quick to access.  From the parking lot you enter the building and as you exit the back side you are standing in front of the ruins.  No hiking involved ;).

We were making our way through the exhibits inside when it was announced that the movie was beginning.  The room where they show the movie is next to the back doors, so after watching it we went on outside to see the ruins themselves.

Wow, it is amazing that this four-story structure was built entirely by hand and so long ago.  It is believed that Casa Grande and the surrounding compound were built around 1350 by the Hohokam.  The first record of the ruins was written in the journal of Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino when he visited the area in 1694.  In describing the ancient building, he called it Casa Grande...which means great house.  The name stuck :).

With westward expansion came more and more visitors to the site.  This lead the government to take control of preservation and a roof structure was built over the great house in 1903.  After many repairs to the original shelter, a more sturdy one was constructed in 1932.  Not much has changed since then.

We walked all around it and peeked inside.  There is graffiti from the mid 1800's...visitors inscribed their names in the walls.

The Ranger that gave the kids their Jr. Ranger books told them to look up in the rafters of the shelter and see what they could spot...whoa!  A pair of sleeping Great Horned Owls!

She also told the kids to go around to the back of the farthest structure and find the special room. So fun, a kid sized "secret" room...

After viewing everything inside and out, the kids were able to complete their Jr. Ranger books.  The Ranger was busy when they went to turn them in, so she asked the kids to take them to the volunteer desk.  The man there was so kind, his entire face lit up with delight as he talked to the kids about what they had learned.  It is great to see someone with a true love for teaching children :)!

Jr. Ranger badges in hand, we went to find some lunch.  Pretty much right across the highway from the entrance to Casa Grande NM was a new looking KFC/Taco Bell.  The KFC had a buffet that was really good.  **Just a tip---for anyone traveling with a big trailer like ours (40') or a motorhome, we easily parked on the little street that ran behind the KFC.  When we came out of the restaurant, another big rig had parked behind us :).

The question still stands...where to next?

Stay tuned :)....

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