So, I’ve been hopping around the Great Western Desert engaging in one of my most favorite activities—Ruina Peeping. Having grown up around plenty of deciduous trees, Leaf Peeping never held much stock for me, but the Upper Midwest is a bit light on monumental archeological relics, so perhaps this explains the fixation.
My first Ruina was Stonehenge. And it really is true, you never forget your first love. I have no real connection to Stonehenge at all (no British Heritage, no New Agey tendencies, really), but I just think it is totally awesome and if you ever make it to England, put it at the top of the list. It’s been awhile since my first visit to Stonehenge and I remember how mystified a lot of British people were with Stonehenge enthusiasts. I was surprised to discover that there were barrow mounds and monoliths all over England and that no one there really cared. They were just random landscape features to plow around or for sheep to climb on. I’ve tried to explain over and over again that these relics are fascinating to some people and I’d love to see more of them, but it always seemed to go over the heads of the people who live in their shadow.
Which got me to realizing this week how under recognized and underappreciated our own archeological history is here. Until a year ago, I didn’t even know a lot of these Southwest relics existed. I guess everyone knows about Mesa Verde, but there is a lot more out there—Chaco Canyon, Hovenweep, Lowry Pueblo—and stuff I hear is even better. It’s fascinating to me, and I’m surprised it hasn’t been developed more for tourism and education. Although, what would Kim Kardashian do if America unplugged to Ruina Peep?
The thing about Ruina Peeping is, it doesn’t really lend itself to whistle stop seven attractions in six days guided tours. I got to visit Chichen Itza in Mexico last fall and it was fun, although the Mexican people I met mostly seemed shocked that I wanted to be there for more than half an hour. I would have loved to have been there for several days. Ruina Peeping is really best suited to independent travel, going as the road takes you to the next Ruina and staying as long as you need to get your fill, whether that’s an hour or a day. Of course, to some, no travel suits itself to the whistle stop—I guess it is a matter of personal preference and priorities.
There was a time when the travel industry was starting to pay attention to independent travelers, taking their travel style into account, providing services and amenities. That pretty much seems to have dried up in the past ten years, along with anything else that doesn’t involve swearing allegiance to the Hive Mind. So, I guess the travel industry can keep pushing its cruises and package vacations and resort communities and developer built attractions. And I’ll keep taking the vacations I want in spite of them, not because I really want to spite anyone, but because I guess I’d rather spend my free time and spendable income following my own interests instead of a formula pre-determined by someone I never met and who doesn’t know me.
If you haven’t seen North American Ruins, I think they are worth it, but make your own decision. Its yours to make.