Welcome to Chucksville

Quick! Call the Handyman!
By Charles Reuben

       There’s nothing like a walk through prehistoric ruins to put home repairs in perspective. Sure, most of us may not live in a palace, but at least we’ve got a roof over our heads, running water and a toilet thatflushes (most of the time).
       Such were the ideas that were racing through my head as I wandered around Chaco Culture National Historic Park Canyon, better known as “Chaco Canyon,” located two hours northwest of Albuquerque. The park contains 10 ruins of buildings containing 3,000 rooms built by the Anasazi (Navajo for “Ancient Ones”) around 800 AD.
       After building what must have been a spiritually charged center of commerce and culture, the Anasazi packed up and left their digs about 300 years later. Why they left is anybody’s guess, but the place fell into disrepair soon afterwards and all we are left with are ancient ruins.
       A visit to Chaco Canyon is one of those things New Mexicans get around to doing, sooner or later. Maybe out of town visitors prod us, maybe our curiosity gets the best of us, but sooner or later most of us find ourselves marveling at the kivas (round ceremonial pits), and what’s left of the buildings.
       There is no doubt in my mind that Chaco could have evolved into a tourist attraction as well-trafficked as Disneyland, but the National Park Service, in its infinite wisdom, found a way to prevent this from occurring. In order to enter the park, one must cross over 16 miles of the most hellish, axle breaking, washboard dirt road ever engineered. Even in the best of times this access road will make you wonder whether the trip is worth destroying your shock absorbers and steering assembly.
       This is why I never drive to Chaco in my own car and why I went on a field trip with the good people at Continuing Education at the University of New Mexico recently. We drove out to the access road at Chaco in a posh, air-conditioned coach and then transferred into a sweltering, beat-up school bus for the remaining 16 miles. And even then the bus driver refused to put the pedal to the metal, instead driving at 15 miles an hour, giving us an opportunity to savor every pothole along the way.
       Our group was pretty exhausted when we finally reached the ruins and we decided, much to the bus driver’s chagrin, to take our sweet time exploring the sites. When it was finally time to go home, we were way behind schedule and that’s when the bus driver said, to-hell-with-it, and covered that 16 miles of dirt road at 40 miles per hour. We flew over the potholes and the washboard ripples, none the worse for wear.
       When you get right down to it, speeding over a dirt road is the only way to drive.

       Thank you for visiting Chucksville.

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