Friday, February 15, 2008

Casa Grande...and another anniversary of my 39th birthday!

We left Mesa on Saturday morning and drove the "back roads" to Casa Grande and the Pinal County Fairgrounds to attend the Gypsy Journal Gathering rally. It was a pretty drive thru the Sonoran Desert on Route 60. Back roads out west are more like Route 360 at home, just straigher, flatter, wider and better!

We met up with our buddies and settled in for the Rally.
But, of course, it was my birthday, so we had to do some birthday things!
A little birthday fun on the 9th in Casa Grande

We all went to
for dinner and singing on Saturday night!

The Bobbie's gave me Group Therapy!

On Monday afternoon several of us drove over to visit the nearby Casa Grande ruins. These ruins are the remnants of the Hohokam Indian village from before the year 1350. The dominant feature remaining is, of course, the Casa Grande, as the early Spanish explorers called it. The Casa Grande is four stories high and 60 feet long, and is the largest structure known to exist in Hohokam times.
It is constructed of the materials these ancient Indians had readily at hand; Caliche, which is a concrete-like mixture of sand, clay, and limestone. 30,000 tons of Caliche was used to to pile in successive layers over juniper, pine and fir trees. The trees were floated over 60 miles down the Gila River to the Hohokam Village.

The Hohokam Indians farmed the desert valley from around the year 300, developing irrigation techniques which are still in use today. They diverted water from the once free flowing Gila River into hand dug irrigation canals to flood their fields. Corn was the main crop, and beans, squash, tobacco, and cotton were also grown. For almost 1000 years the Hohokam Indians managed to survive in the Sonoran Desert, and no one knows exactly what caused the ultimate demise of the Hohokams. It is likely that the Gila River became dry because of damming and diverting up stream, depriving the Indians of the water supply neccessary to survive. It appears their culture lasted until around 1400. Around 1464, a party of missionary explorers reported finding the Casa Grande community only an empty shell of the once flourishing village. The Pima Indians living nearby said that their ancestors were "ho-ho-KAHM", meaning "all gone" or "all used up". In 1892 Casa Grande became the nation's first archeological preserve and later came under the protection of the National Park Service to insure protection of the remains.

So, it was nice to meet up with friends to celebrate birthday and do some sightseeing!

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