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Camp Verde, Arizona: The weather controlled our day. In the morning, thunder and lightning shook the skies. Dave worked-out in the RV park fitness center. (I did not.) We hunkered-down in the morning, then I stir-fried the left-over orange chicken with the left-over rice (plus two scrambled eggs) for a nice lunch. We continued to wait for an open weather window. Finally, at about 2p, we headed out to (yet) another nearby National Monument - Montezuma Well. (Poor Montezuma. He never ever came here, and wasn't even born until 1466. "Explorers" thought they were in Aztec land, so named all sorts of stuff after him.)

Montezuma Well

Montezuma Well is a massive sink-hole that developed 12-15,000 years ago. The rain peculates down from the surrounding mountains and bubbles-up (at 1.5 million gallons per day) into the pool. The pool is 55 feet deep and 365 feet across. Imagine this sink hole as a bowl, and imagine the bowl has a crack in the side that lets the water escape (at 1.5 million gallons per day) and you will understand Montezuma Well. The natives used the escaping water to develop MILES of irrigation canals for their crops - including cotton, corn, and squashes.

The water has too much arsenic to support fish life, but it supports three crazy-strange creatures which live side-by-side in the water. These species live no where else in the world except in this pool: tiny amphipods (look like shrimp, but are the size of a fingernail), leeches (they eat the amphipods at night), and water scorpions - also amphipod diners. Cut-throat pond.

Montezuma Well - notice the cliff dwellings

The Hohokam, then the Sinagua people, settled here and built cliff dwellings around the rim of the well. Today, we saw a different resident. We thought it may have been a coyote, but the coloring was odd (grey on top, with a rust layer down the flank). A ranger said it was a fox!

Sleeping creature

Whatever, the canine was dead-asleep - only occasionally twitching his/her ears maybe due to a fly buzzing? A very large and very fat squirrel was zipping dangerously directly in front of the fox. There were two other couples with us at the observation deck: a young couple from the Virgin Islands (husband wearing a Portland Trailblazer tee shirt as he is a huge fan - random), and a couple from Maryland. The Maryland lady walked back to her car to fetch binoculars so we could determine the species of the canine sleeping on the cliff dwelling. So sweet, but none of us (the Virgin Island people had never seen a fox, nor a coyote, in their lives - Mongoose, yes. Iguana, yes) could really determine the species. I would have thought it was a fox, but it was SO BIG. Either way, big excitement!

Another view of Montezuma Well
Behind the cactus: there are ducks sleeping on the grassy banks
More Sinagua ruins on the rim of the well

Leaving the rim of the well, visitors follow a path down the the water's outlet, where you can see the irrigation canals built by the natives 1000+ years ago. Fascinating stuff! Amazing stuff!

But wait - there's more! In Camp Verde, there is an Arizona State Park with ruins of a fort! Fort Verde was occupied between 1865-1891 by US Army scouts, Buffalo soldiers, US Infantry soldiers (and their families), and 35 Native American scouts. The camp establishment was built to "protect" the area from the Apache, and to keep the natives on their reservations. (As opposed to a fort - which had barrier walls - a "camp" was just a group of buildings - mostly housing - laid-out like a small town, with a store, laundry, corrals, and bath house.)

Apache scouts at Fort Verde

The most interesting thing about this State Park is four original buildings from the fort are still standing and have been preserved intact! The largest building was an administrative building that now houses the visitor center and museum, and across the street from the visitor center are three houses.

Amazing how much the buildings remain the same. The interior of the Married Officer house (above) is furnished as it could/would have been during the 1800s. This is the only two-story house in the complex.

Turkey, anyone?
Married Officer Parlour

The ranger told us the "cut out" sections showing the adobe bricks framing the walls looks interesting, but sometimes, they just can no longer repair the cracking plaster, so just let the adobe bricks show!

Second house: Bachelor Officer Quarters -
shared rooms, shared kitchens (love the bathtub!)
Third house: Surgeon's Quarters

The third building in camp is the doctor's house. It was like a regular house, except one of the rooms was an operating theatre, dentist chair, and general medical office.

Dinner tonight

Sheet pan dinner tonight with Hasselback beef sausage, roasted potatoes, and tomatoes topped with panko, basil, garlic and parmesan. Using up everything in the house as we get closer to home.

But wait - one more exciting thing! Our niece, Carla (US Marine Corp) has been transferred to Quantico in Virginia (from Okinawa) and was invited today to tour the White House. How exciting (for the White House).


Until my next update, I remain, your monumental correspondent.