Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Walk Through the Salmon Ruins...and a Late-Night Sidetrip to McDonald's

FARMINGTON, NM--We are in Farmington tonight on our way to southwestern Utah. Tomorrow we're passing through Kayenta and Monument Valley. We are staying at the Encore Motel (!) which has high-speed internet in the large rooms. Total cost including taxes: $45.

We stopped at the Salmon Ruins near Bloomfield earlier in the day. It was one of those sites I had heard of, but never really had enough interest to do any kind of research. Well, today we stopped. Incidentally, it is named after an early settler, not the fish.

It was a beautiful site...and it fit in very nicely with a couple of places we had already been, Chaco Canyon and Paquime (near Casas Grandes in Mexico). They all share the same time frame. They also share the Chacoan era's fascination with craftsmanship and imagination when it comes to building. The Salmon Ruins are of stone. The walls have beautiful stone work on the two outward faces and a rubble center. They date roughly from about 1100.

There apparently was a fire at about that time in the "Tower" kiva in which about 40 people died, including a lot of children. Archeologists say that there was another fire in the kiva as well, when the corpses were burned in a funeral pyre. The pueblo was abandoned shortly thereafter.

This is considered to be a Chaco "Outlier" because it appears to be related to that site. After the pueblo was abandoned, Mesa Verdeans moved in for about 50 years. Then they left as well. The Navajo eventually moved into the area but did not occupy the large Salmon site. They did leave it alone...calling the builders "anasazi"...the ancient ones.

Much has been made of the disappearance of the inhabitants...just like the disappearance of the Chacoans. Consider this for a moment: the wonderful planning and workmanship of the structures seem to say that this was more than just building shelter. They took work itself seriously. It was probably something they were known for as far south as Mexico.

It seems internal strife visited all the Chacoan sites. I think the presence of many, many kivas in the same village points to that. Even cannabalism has been documented at Chaco Canyon. At any rate, I believe the leaders decided that they needed a new project...a new focus. They had already built these beautiful, large structures. They had already built roads. Now, with free time on their hands, fighting and arguing broke out. They needed something big to bring them back together. At least it is possible...IMHO.

Later in the evening, the Beautiful GF and I stopped at the only place we could find that was open and might serve a decent cup of coffee: McDonald's. After all, they have been advertising a "richer, bolder, more robust" cuppa joe. Actually, the coffee wasn't bad. But what really attracted our attention was the back of the sheet that lines the tray. Yes, the feared Nutrition Information!

The bottom of the sheet has, in large type, a note from Bob Greene, Oprah's Personal Trainer and Exercise Physiologist. "McDonald's truly cares about you and your well-being." He says that is why he is proud to be involved with them.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the crowded part of the page...we find the following numbers attached to the McD's Big Breakfast: 730 calories, 46 grams of fat (that's 71% of one's daily allowance), and 1470 mg of sodium (which represents 61% of daily value). It is the fat figure that stands out. 71% of your recommended daily fat intake and we just finished breakfast!

The french fries also call attention to themselves. not only will one large serving give you 47% of your daily fat, but they credit it with having 7 grams of fiber. Fiber? Seven grams of fiber? In fried potatoes? As I recall, that's more fiber than you get in whole wheat bread. Hard to believe.

One last comment...this time on their salad dressings. They serve "Newman's Own Salad Dressings." Compare these two: Creamy Caesar Dressing has 190 calories and 18 grams of fat, the Low Fat Balsamic Dressing has 40 calories and 3 grams of fat. So it pays to give some attention to what package of dressing you get.

Be healthy, and see you somewhere the other side of Kayenta.

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