Sipaulovi

I woke up in Chinle to no power. A 50 mile radius had been taken out by a car hitting a power pole. This isn’t a problem except for no coffee. So it was an early start to the nearest gas station with power, which took an hour or so.

Today’s route was into the Hopi Reservation. The reservation lies smack in the middle of the Navajo Reserve. It’s about 2500 square miles with about 10,000 Hopi living mostly in nine villages on top of three Mesas, called First Mesa, etc.

The ride took me about 70 miles into the reservation, then a dirt loop on top of a very large mesa for about 25 miles, then down to the village of Second Mesa. Then I was going to play it by ear. It turned out to be the most surprising day of the tour yet.

Coffee’d up we rode across a somewhat greenish and uniform desert
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Through small canyons as we approached the first mesa
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And arrived at the Hopi town of Keams Canyon
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We rode around the town. The Hopi were curious to see us and stopped to watch us crawl by. The attention we were getting was uncomfortable, but I guess considering what the new year brings, we’d better get used to it. Something remarkable about Hopi homes is how uniform they are. The Hopi seem to have one idea about what a home should look like and they all stick to it. All. The homes are very basic, very utilitarian and very comforting somehow. More on this later.

Continuing through the town, the road turned to dirt. A sort of white talc and slippery. So it was up on the pegs, throttle smooth, speed quick, foot on the rear brake and up onto a mesa. The riding was magnificent. At times we rode along the edge, sometimes across flatlands and for a long section, slightly below the rim.

Along the ridge before the drop offs
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We weren’t so lucky later. Miles of washboard, covered in waves of windswept sand.
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If ever there was a time for a break, it was when that stretch finished.
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Wandering around the intersection I found this at the side of the road. It is now in my ‘found objects’ bag, along with things like acorns from the old oaks of the Appalachians.
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Back on the road to Second Mesa we passed Hopi houses. As I noted earlier, they’re all very similar, and very basic.
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There was no gas at the collection of small buildings at Second Mesa, but off to the north was this strip of brand new road. And at the top of the strip there was a cluster of buildings.
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(The previous rides through Hopi backcountry and the pics to follow are strictly against Hopi laws. I had no idea that what I did was wrong. Hence this post being a couple of days late: I had to get a ruling, which I did. I am told that if these pictures aren’t used professionally then I can post them on a personal blog. And I’m forgiven for riding the roads)

Then up into the village of Sipaulavi
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The three square openings are to a Kiva. Kiva are usually below ground and where Hopi spiritual ritual occurs. Hopi’s have direct contact with the spirit world in Kivas. More later on this.
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Beautiful. Everything seems exactly right.
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First Mesa. This is the oldest continuously inhabited place on the continent. All this is incredibly beautiful, and I wanted to know much more about the Hopi.
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A view down from Second Mesa
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As we watched form this spot a Hopi appeared right in front of us. He’d taken the short cut home and climbed the Mesa. His said name was Atkin, he liked Lucinda, and I asked questions about the things in view. The discussion was distant – he was patient if somewhat cool.

The 70 miles south to Winslow, across the huge plain, and the occasional buttes, where I had some thinking to do.

(As it happens a young Hopi used to run across what you see below from Second Mesa to Winslow and back regularly. Someone noticed, and he won the 1912 Olympic 10,000 meter event, and his record stood for 52 years)
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