Airstream Thanksgiving, Part I: The Chaco Canyon Saga

Action3 BAirstream in repose, Gallo Campground, Chaco Canyon (note trash bag window). Photo: Katie Arnold

This year we decided to do something different for Thanksgiving. Instead of traveling to be with extended family or entertaining them here, we opted to stay put in Santa Fe and keep it simple. But when we fished around for an invitation to a proper Thanksgiving dinner and came up empty, staying home no longer seemed so festive. What would be more exciting than turkey for four around our dining room table? An Airstream road trip!

All fall, we’d been wanting to go to Chaco Canyon, a rugged valley in northwestern New Mexico that, a thousand years ago, was a major trading center for Native Americans. Today it’s a wild, desolate landscape dotted with crumbling ruins, a campground and visitor center, and not a single tree. From there, we’d head to Canyon de Chelly, a 30-mile-long chasm on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. Both are World Heritage Sites and have major historical significance to the native peoples of the Southwest. It seemed a perfect, semi-spontaneous way to celebrate Thanksgiving—deep in the heart of Indian country, immersed in a culture that preceded our own by centuries.

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