Choco Tacos used to be our favorite ice cream sandwich. Then it was the Snickers Ice Scream bar. Now it is Twix. That has nothing to do with our day, except we did have a Twix ice cream bar today, and most days on this trip.
The Chaco that is actually relevant to this day, is the Chaco Culture National Historical Park (Yes, I realize the different spellings - Choco vs Chaco). Most of the 55-mile trip from Brown Springs Campground to Chaco was a pleasant highway. However, 11 miles just before entering the park was the worst road I have ever driven. And I have driven some doozies. The first half was pure wash board limiting our speed to about 12 mph. That was the good stuff. Suddenly, we passed a sign that said, “End SJ responsibility for road maintanence.” Immediately, I was forced to slow to 7 or 8 mph, lest Saturn be torn apart. Rocks, boulders, ruts, sand, craggy hard pack..... The road threw everything at us except smooth. Soon, I was begging for SJ, whoever that was, to return.
Anyway, we finally reached the park. Sometimes referred to as the Machu Picchu of New Mexico. The 13 settlements spread throughout the Chaco Canyon were the crown jewel of the Ancestral Pueblo People between 800 and 1150 AD. Some 2000 people lived in the Chaco Canyon in sophisticated villages.
The Pueblo Bonito was the main city, featuring a giant 5-story high apartment building, several kivas, and a large plaza. Up to a 1000 inhabitants lived in Pueblo Bonito alone. Most of the villages were ominously built at the bottom of giant sandstone cliffs within easy reach of a falling boulder.