We regretfully left Santa Fe and headed to the Frijole Canyon of Bandelier National Monument, a site occupied until the 1400’s by the Ancestral Pueblo. (http://www.nps.gov/band/index.htm) There are remains of a pueblo village, Tyuonyi, which includes a circle of homes, plus several kivas (underground meeting rooms), two of which had been rebuilt, while the others appeared simply as dips in the ground and had not been touched. We also climbed up to view the cliff dwellings, including the Alcove House with its reconstructed kiva and ruins of cliff houses. The views along the cavern were quite green, at least in comparison to the barrenness around it, due to the stream running through it. The views of the canyon itself, with the mesa behind it were spectacular. We camped at a very nice campsite at the National Monument, though by the evening, the weather had changed and it was windy and cold. It reminded us what a joy it is to have a warm Tiger in which to retreat! The cliffs, where the houses were built, were formed by volcanic ash hardening after a massive eruption and we next went to see the caldera, at Valle Grande, which resulted from the eruption. The caldera formed a huge grassland area at 10,000 feet, with occasional small “hills”, where the volcanic action continues. The purported elk herds were absent without leave, though perhaps that was because it was snowing! The weather on this trip seems to swing from one extreme to another with gay abandon.
We then headed to the Chaco Cultural National Park. (http://www.nps.gov/chcu/index.htm) En route, in additional to snow, it hailed and rained on us, though never enough to do any good and wash any of the dust off! Our trip to Chaco proved remarkably easy and the Tiger acquitted itself well on the dirt roads. Denise loved driving! Upon arrival, we purchased our camping spot but were told we could only stay one night. A pity, but we decided to make the most of our time and set off to take photos of Fajada Butte, an amazing structure all on its own and of great significance to the Chacoan peoples who lived there for more than 400 years. Near the campsite were also some petroglyphs, hard to see, but worth it for the ambience. How many campsites have ancient rock art?
Next day, we were able to talk our way into a second night’s camping (someone had left early), so we signed up for that and then set out to view the sites. There are five in total and we only saw three before exhaustion set in. We began by hiking in a ranger guided tour to Una Vida, a small great house, most of which was under our feet as it has not been excavated. The ranger was informative and we learned a lot about the sites as a whole. We then climbed the cliff to view the petroglyphs (and take photos of course). We then saw Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito, both large sites with multiple buildings with many rooms and kivas, both the large Great Kivas and small kivas and round rooms.
It was a much warmer evening and Fred had energy to hike up to take evening photos of Fajada Butte. I stayed behind to keep Blue company! Blue is thriving as a camper cat and becoming more adventuresome all the time. His leaps from the couch to the bed are quite amazing.
We left Chaco via dirt road, (this time with Fred driving) and were pleased again with Ndeke Luka’s stability. We are headed to Arizona but stopped for the afternoon (and chores) in Gallup, NM at a very pleasant RV park on a Route 66 theme. This is our first RV park for a week and we remain impressed with our constant solar power. We have only plugged into RV park electrics on the three days in San Antonio when the temperature hit the upper 90’s. The air conditioning felt wonderful for sleeping!