Adventures from Back of Beyond

Monday, November 06, 2006


Roughly half way between Leupp and Flagstaff sits a real roadhouse. The address says Flagstaff, but it's actually closer to Winona. On the Leupp Road, it's close to nothing, in the middle of nowhere, beyond the back of beyond.

Despite its remote location, the roadhouse hops on a Saturday night. Parking lot full. We pull in. Outside, all is quiet beneath a big moon. A gentle breeze blows. Few cars traverse the Leupp Road, so the highway is clear and silent. We walk in, open the door, and inside find a different world.

Rockabilly music blasts, crowd moves. Drinks flowing. Lighting subdued. Most everyone's in western dress, jeans, cowboy boots. Lots of cowboy hats. But not a whiff of cigarette smoke here, in T-Bows 2Bar3 historic restaurant and saloon.

We mosey in and sit at a table in the bar section. Immediately greeted by a friendly waitress, seated, and within minutes the owner personally is out, smiling, with a basket of fresh hot corn bread with sweet honey butter. Man, it's good.

A private surprise birthday party is rockin' next door in the restaurant section, open to full view from the bar. We watch people come and go. Cowboys, critters, hillbillies, salt of the earth folks. All friendly, big smiles on their faces, out having a good time on a Saturday night.

The place has the special feel of another way out roadhouse, but that one now long gone to what many say was an arsonist's flames -- Avery's Cowboy Country Club. T-Bow's is much smaller, but has that kind of fun relaxed authentic local Flagstaff feel.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Basket Dance

Most remarkable was the sound of 60 or so female dancers singing the same song simultaneously. The voices carried with little echo outdoors, but acoustically the voices bounced somewhat within the stone confines of the ancient dance plaza at Hotevilla.

It wasn't a soprano, but not a deep male sound either. It was almost like a humming, a resonant vibrating sound. I understood none of the words, but words there were, sung in perfect unison, and accompanied by dance steps, slow, in precise order, making a counterclockwise circle.

Some of the Hopi women in the Basket Dance wore their long black hair in the tradition butterfly style. All wore nearly identical shawls, red, white and black, that extended to below their knees, where white leggings and moccasins could be seen.

The dancers wore beautiful jewelry, especially turqoise necklaces.

A few women wore different costumes, with precise details dictated by centuries of custom. Adorned with high headdresses of eagle feathers and horns, these women worked the large crowd, throwing out items for anyone to grab -- mostly ordinary household items like paper towels, boxes of biscuit mix, coat hangers, pots and pans.

Many items were specifically given to chosen recipients. They would walk off with large plastic baskets full of househould supplies and food items.

On occasion they would parade around the plaza, holding high for all to see, beautifully crafted baskets or decorated pots. The crowd would chant for them to "throw it!" but only when the thrower was good and ready would it be launched.

Then the free-for-all would begin. Mostly young men, crowded into the front would dive and push and shove for position, sometimes jumping up high for a mid-air grab. If the item fell on the ground, look out! Heads and bodies would sprawl out, and no doubt it hurt to smash skulls with the next guy over.

When all the gifts were given, the crowd thinned out. We stayed along with a handful of others, to watch the ladies complete their centuries old dance and song.

We returned home traveling south on Indian Route 2. A full moon rose over the Hopi Mesas as the sun set behind the San Francisco Peaks. It was a timeless sight to behold.