Monday, January 3, 2011

Casa Grande

There is a lot to see between Phoenix and Tuscon so we took our time and hit as many of the landmarks (and National Parks) as we could. We lost an hour heading into Arizona so our start on Sunday was a bit delayed. Jeff would also add that we had to drive nearly 2 miles out of our way so that I could have some Starbucks - I say what's 2 miles when your headed all the way to Texas!

The Casa Grade Ruins National Monument is just off the 10 between Phoenix and Tuscon. Casa Grade is a 3 story Hohokam ritual house built from caliche. You can actually see it - or more specifically the large roof they have built over it - miles before you turn into the protected land. The video in the visitors center talks about the archeological digs they have been doing in the area, but will leave you with lots of questions about Case Grade and its large roof. Heading outside to see the building will give you a sense of how enormous it really is. but the interpretive signs never seem to address the house or its origin. Just when we were about to leave confused a park volunteer asked if she could show us her favorite artifact in the small museum - a paint pot with the original pigmentation still intact. Next thing we knew she had a binder of old pictures of Casa Grade and all of our questions were answered. They are actually finding so many artifacts out here that once they dig them up they put them back and fill it in with sterile gravel for preservation - there is nowhere else to put everything.

Casa Grade is definitely worth a stop and it will take you under 30min to see everything and you get an NPS Parks Passport Stamp. Plus when you leave you can debate if you think the roof looks more like an alien spacecraft or a large picnic tent.

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