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Montezuma Castle

Next we went to Montezuma Castle. Again, the kids did the Junior Ranger, which was a scavenger hunt with questions. The main castle is so cool! It’s built right into, and protected by, the cliff. They say 35 people lived in the castle, then 200 more in the community below, near a creek. There was also Castle A (not super original?) which was built into the base of the cliff nearby. It wasn’t as protected, but was neat because we got a closer view. A very nice feature on the path at this park was a diorama model of the castle for a peek inside with a narration of what life might have been like there.
One of the rangers (seeing the kids’ ranger vests and knowing they’d be interested in a lesson) took us out to a cactus and showed us something interesting. Besides letting us eat the sweet cactus fruit (looks like jelly with tiny seeds in it), she showed us the cochineal bugs. They live on the cactus in a white cocoon and when you smash them, they’re bright red. Guess what these are used for? Food coloring. Yep, FDA approved bugs! Skittles, M&Ms, even lipstick… bugs. Bugs! Did I mention they were bugs?!