Gila Cave Dwellings 9 Sept 2018

We’ve been winging it on this trip: travelling without pre-booking any accommodation. We’ve had no problems so far in finding places to stay each day as there are usually plenty of motels with rooms available. This allows us to be flexible with our itinerary and today was one of those days.

We realised that our intended drive to a little place called Lincoln, an old Wild West town, way down south-east of Albuquerque, was a trip too far, since we wanted to get across to the south west and Silver City in the afternoon, giving us time to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings the same day and a 7 hour drive didn’t feel like a good idea. So we changed our plans and headed first south on Interstate 25 towards Las Cruces and El Paso and then west to the Gila National Monument and Silver City.

We had spent the night in Socorro and started our day early, dragging our stuff out of yet another motel. We said “Good Morning” to an Hispanic-looking man, who worked for the motel, who was standing just outside one of the rooms he was cleaning, casually thumbing and flicking at his smartphone screen. He mumbled a “Good Morning” back as we passed, barely raising his head from his phone. A second or two later, we heard him speak again from behind us.

“There’s a trumpet,” he said. We realised he was talking to us and we turned to face him, cases and bags in hand.


“There’s a trumpet sound,” he said.

“A trumpet sound,” we repeated.

Now, we have been in this sort of situation many times on our travels around the States, put on the spot by some strange and out-of-place comment and had decided that the best bet is usually to smile politely and see where it takes us.

He said “yeah, a trumpet sound” and pointed up to the ceiling, poking his finger upwards repeatedly. I searched his face for any sign of a joke but it was obvious he was being serious. Was someone playing an instrument in a room upstairs? Was that allowed? That couldn’t be true as we were already on the top floor.

“Sorry, we don’t understand,” we admitted and he came towards us, turning his phone screen towards us so we could to take a look.

“There’s a trumpet sound in Canada.” The look on his face said he was revealing something of great import, something mysterious.

All I could see was a young woman, almost naked and in a rather compromising pose, before, with a flick of his thumb, the screen changed to reveal a video of a city skyline, panning across from left to right and the faint sound of a horn – a long, unchanging pitch – echoing across the city at night. This must have been a city in Canada. Our blinking and vacant expressions must have told him that we needed more information.

“A trumpet sound in Canada,” he repeated, again poking his finger at the ceiling. He really wasn’t helping us here but, by now, it was dawning on us what this guy was talking about. The sound of a horn calls out from somewhere in a city at night and this guy and social media don’t go for the plausible and obvious explanation- someone is blowing a trumpet or sounding his car horn or playing some weird music through very loud speakers: no, this guy went straight to God! It was God sounding this horn as indicated by his finger pointing to the heavens. Our faces must have revealed our dawning realisation and his face took on a serious look of “I told you so”.

We started to back away and, to be honest, it was a little early in the morning for thoughts of Armageddon, the end days, raptures or eternal damnation for unbelievers. After all, we hadn’t even checked out yet.

“Ok, thanks,” we said, backing away. “Have a great day.”

Once out into the car park, we threw our kit in the car and hot-footed it for the Mexican border.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

It was a ‘hell’ of a drive (pun intended) to the Gila area, just north of Silver City and we hardly saw a soul for hours. They were all in a roadside restaurant, where we stopped for lunch – it was the only food for miles around, it seemed. We refuelled on an enormous omelette and a B.L.T and headed, revived, into the Gila Dwellings.

This was the home, briefly, of the Mogollon people who, according to a ranger we met up there, took refuge there some time between 1276 and 1287 and built their homes high up on the cliffs.

There is a short and easy walk up to the cliffs and you can see them in the distance as you approach.

Approaching the Cliff Dwellings

Once up there, you have to marvel at the sight: the remains are very much intact and you can wander from house to house, room to room and we even encountered wall paintings of a snake and what looked like a man – all painted in a red pigment. However, they are a little too faint to make a decent photograph. Here are some photos we took while we were there:

Arriving at the Cave Dwellings


Entrance to the Caves


Cave Dwellings


Leaving the Dwellings


A View from Outside


View On the Way Back

As we left and made our way to Silver City, we thought about Canada after the trumpet call. Was it still there – Canada I mean? Had all the believers disappeared? Were we now alone in the world? Well, according to Google, Canada was still there, of course, and nothing had changed. What a relief! I’m not sure our travel insurance covers the Second Coming.

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