This is the third in a series of guest posts written by some of my favorite bloggers. To understand what this is about, you can read this post:

This one in particular was written by the ingenious Jody Brown. He is an Architect, writer of coffee with an architect. Owner of INFILL, pllc. specializing in urban infill projects, mixed-use, urban design, adaptive reuse, and urban renewal. Ah! and Coffee lover! Jody may also be found on Twitter @INFILLnc .

I couldn’t stop driving really. The 3 of us had been in that van for 3 days and I just kept driving west. And, I’d stop every few miles and check the oil, and look for black drops under the car. But, I kept driving.

Apparently, there’s a village out there in the desert, somewhere in the middle of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. And, I wanted to see it. So, I drove on the dirt road for miles. It was perfectly flat.

And the sky…

You can see the curve of the earth.

Eventually, the van overheated, and stopped next to a cow gate. So, I got out and started walking west and left the others by the van to cool off.

It must have been noon. I know it was hot. The red sand ground into my feet, and coated my tongue. I swayed occasionally, probably dehydrated. But, it wasn’t far ahead, so I walked on.

In the middle of nothing, there’s a stone village called Pueblo Bonito, nestled up against the side of a cliff. It has at least 600 rooms, its almost 5 stories, and over 1100 years old. The village is arranged in a perfect semi-circle, but the interior parts are made up of random patterns of square and rectangular and circular cells. It’s a labyrinth. It was built by a people called the “Anasazi”, the ancient ones, or the enemies of our ancient fathers. They lived here for 400 years, and then vanished. It was probably a climate change that forced them out, or maybe a war, but overnight, they were gone. And Pueblo Bonito stood empty and undiscovered for hundreds of years, in the wind and the sand.

Hanging over the edge of the cliff was a huge rock. Balanced on the edge, and loaming over the corner of the village. The rock was eventually called “threatening rock” for obvious reasons. The Anasazi must have know it was there when they planned the structure. But, they built under it anyway. They put prayer-sticks around the rock as offerings to persuade it to remain balanced.

And, it did.

Sometime in the early 20th century we re-discovered the pueblo and documented it, and mounted plaques and a visitor center around it. At some point, around 1949, a group of scientist decided to do something about the “threatening rock”, and prepared a plan to stabilize it. I assume the prayer-sticks had long since been removed and safely housed in museum cases.

After the stabilization, the rock fell, and leveled a quarter of the remaining village.

I climbed through the rocks for hours, and I was exhausted, and dizzy, until I found myself resting in the shaded side of a circular cell. They’re called Kivas, I believe, they’re a ceremonial or religious structure of some type. But, it was shaded, so I sat for while.

As the wind blew through a small opening, it made a soft humming sound. A soft “aaaah”…

Eventually, as I caught my breath, I found myself humming quietly along with the wind with my eyes closed.


All photos are mine from 20 years ago…