My youngest daughter and I recently took a trip to New Mexico to take part in a trek lead by Cottonwood Gulch Expeditions. The “Gulch” was started by Hillis Howie in the 1920s. Hillis was a former Head of School at The Orchard School, the school my children attend.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. participated in a 1938 Cottonwood Gulch expedition and dedicated his novel “Galapagos” to Hillis Howie. Kurt’s father designed several open-air sleeping cabins in exchange for his son’s participation in the expedition. My daughter and I slept in one of those cabins.
Our “Family Trek” at the Gulch consisted of several days spent at “Base Camp” participating in morning and afternoon activities such as jewelry making, pine needle basketry, rappelling, baking with an horno oven, etc. While you are at “Base Camp” you help run it by assisting with the chores.
Several other days were spent “on the road” visiting Acoma Pueblo, Chaco Canyon National Historic Park and the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (built in 1629) in Zuni, NM. During this period of the trek we slept in tents and ate where we camped. Food was prepared by a chef that accompanied us in a separate support van (the “Comm”). Both the food on the road and at “Base Camp” was excellent (the head chef is culinary trained).
For our tour of Chaco Canyon we had a young lady that was finishing her graduate degree in Archaeology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Not only that, but she had also spent three years working in the archives for the Chaco Canyon National Historic Park also in Albuquerque. Needless to say, she was more than qualified to answer any question we had on the archaeology of Chaco Canyon.
In Zuni, we were privileged to be hosted by Ken Seowtowa, a native Zuni. Ken’s father, Alex, embarked on a project to restore murals originally on the interior walls of Our Lady of Gaudalupe Church which were lost after it was restored in the 1960s. Ken would later assist his father with the murals. Amazingly, neither Ken nor his father had any formal art training but yet produced spectacular murals of Zuni Kachinas on the walls of the church.