I hope you *all* enjoyed the photos, I can guarantee that each one of them was taken at a temperature of at least 95F. In the shade. By a melting Canadian.
Bosque Redondo. Which is Spanish for "round grove of trees".
Or the name in Navajo, which is "Hweeldi".
Let me back up a little.
John and I drove to Halifax to get me to my noon flight to O'Hare. We'd just had 3 lovely days ALONE while the boys were at camp. It was like being young and goofy again. We could say anything, not worrying about what impressionable ears would hear. We misbehaved. We laughed ourselves silly. And we did other ...anyway...stuff.
I slept on the way to Halifax, we'd left the house at 7am for the 3 1/2 hour drive. The flight was on schedule and I made it through Customs and Security just fine.
Or so I thought.
Boarding ended at 12:15.
At 12:12 , as I boarded the plane, I got flagged and had to go back and have a body scan.
Listen, after 4 kids and an unscheduled visit with a pig in a ditch in Bolivia, with my jeans around my ankles...who gives a hoot about a body scan??
I made the flight and off we went.
I had a 4 hour layover in Chicago and then the flight was delayed another 4 hours. I arrived in OoooooOOOooklahoma at 1am. But I did not care!!
I met our adorable hostess, LaVonna, and was ever so nicely served green chili enchiladas. At a rather late hour. Welcome to the South. Eat it anyway.
Our first day was from Oklahoma City to Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
We, that would be Karen, Kathy and I, stopped in Amarillo for a steak dinner. That's where the BIG man ate a 72 ounce steak and should have stuck with the salad. He was beet red, sweating and couldn't walk very well.
How is eating 4 1/2 POUNDS of red meat something to wave above any other actually useful achievements???
Anyway, after a lovely drive and a stay in Santa Rosa, New Mexico (where I discovered my WiFi wasn't working), we headed for Fort Sumner.
It took some exploring of the rather umm, worn out town of Fort Sumner and a stop at the Billy The Kid Museum to even FIND the Bosque Redondo Memorial.
We arrived to find only one or two other vehicles and no one in sight. We wandered outside for a while until Kathy, who'd already predicted "I'm probably going to get militant " needed some air conditioning.
Karen went with her and I stayed outside taking notes and pictures.
Walking around, I saw so little vegetation that could be of ANY use. Very few trees and just the alkali rich Pecos River. Alkali means poison. The utterly useless river water was lethal to anything who consumed the water. Horses, plants, people.
The unprepared US Army drove 9000 people to a prison camp, with no water.
The land was desolate. The Fort's was barely ready. Only Army personnel and their wives had housing. So as the Navajo, or Dine, arrived, they were forced to dig holes in the frozen ground to escape the cold and wind.
At it's longest, the route was 450 miles.
Along the Walk, Spanish settlers, Comanches, Utes, any other enemies of the Navajo were ALLOWED to steal women and children as slaves.
Young men were shot if they tried to save their wives or sisters, or their children.
Some Navajo never surrendered and were safe from the Army. They escaped into the Grand Canyon, Utah and other areas further north than Canyon De Chelly. (Pronounced Canyon d'Shay).
From January 1864 to June of 1868, approximately 3000 of the 8500 Navajo prisoners died.
A full twenty percent of the entire Navajo died in 4 1/2 years.
The worst thing I learned, the catalyst for a whole new story, was the following:
During the early days of the Walk, two young women were taken behind a rock.
As the the whole crowd of their people looked on, and their husbands stood by, unknowing, both young women were shot dead.
They were slowing everyone down.
They were in heavy labour and about to give birth. The soldiers refused to wait until the babies were born.
Hundreds of people screamed in terror after the gunshots rang out. Then they were forced to keep marching.
I cannot believe for one split second that the devil didn't dance that day.
I already have the book outlined.