High Road to Taos
25.01.2017 - 25.01.2017 2 °C
This morning we said "goodbye" to our comfortable lodging at Guadalupe Inn in Santa Fe. We post a picture of a fancy light fixture in the bathroom.
We drove to Bandelier National Monument. We spent about two hours there learning about how the canyon was formed, about the vegetation, animals and birds, about the first peoples who lived in the canyon and their lives.
The canyon was formed by two violent eruptions of Jemez Volcano more than a million years ago. This volcano was located fourteen miles to the northwest. The volcano ejected enough material to cover a four-hundred-square-mile area with a layer of ash up to one thousand feet thick. Each of these two eruptions was six hundred times more powerful than the 1980 eruption at Mt. St. Helens.
The pink rock of this canyon wall may look like sandstone but it is actually volcanic ash that has compacted over time into a soft crumbly rock called tuff. This tuff is easily eroded, which, over time, when it is exposed, takes on a "Swiss Cheese" appearance. Today, this tuff takes on interesting formations.
The Ancestral Pueblo people chose this location because of the Frijoles Creek and the soft rock. The holes in the soft rock were enlarged by these people to provide shelter. They also found obsidian and basalt from the volcanos to make tools and trade items.
The building in this photo labelled "Kiva" was dug into the ground. This building was used for cultural, religious and educational activities. The building would have had a roof made of wood and earth.
The Ancestral Pueblo people lived in a variety of dwellings.
The first type of dwelling was a cave in the south-facing walls of this canyon. It is supposed that there were smaller caves in this "Swiss Cheese" type of rock, which the peoples enlarged to make rooms.
It was fun to climb up the ladder, even though Reta does not like ladders, to see what was inside the cave.
These canyon walls by these cave-type dwellings were decorated with "wall art".
There were also villages built on the valley floor. The foundations of one of these villages is on display. The walls of this village would have been made of rocks and pueblo mud. These walls were then plastered with mud. The ancestral pueblo people hunted and farmed in a rudimentary way. Pottery and tools were made by these people.
The third type of dwelling is reconstructed as in the photo following. The building was reconstructed in 1920 to give park visitors an idea of what they would look like, but it may not be completely accurate. Buildings were built against the wall of the canyon. These structures would have had mud-plastered walls and floors.
We have one more picture of a cave dwelling and the nearby wall art.
We had completed the part of the "Loop Trail" that led us past all of the cave dwellings. The next section of the trail led us over a small bridge over the Frijoles Creek. This part of the park had snow in it. The temperature was about -2 C (28 F) so the creek had a film of ice on it.
The closer we got to the visitor centre, the warmer it got, and the snow disappeared.
We then got to see some birds and a squirrel. The first bird is a Blackheaded Grosbeak. Then we saw the Abert's Squirrel, which Art thought was the size of a cat. Well, it was large, but not that large. The last bird we saw just as we got to the visitor centre. It is a Pygmy Nuthatch. It was very difficult to get a photo of this bird.
The buildings at the visitor centre were different as were some of the items there.
We ate our picnic lunch in the car at a picnic site. It was too cold to eat outside even in the sunshine.
After eating our lunch, we started our "High Road to Taos" trip from Sante Fe to Taos. This road travels through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and much higher elevations. We found it snowy today as there have been three snow storms go through this area in the last few days. The literature about this drive promises beautiful vistas and scenic Mexican/New Mexican towns. We did see the towns but not the vistas. It was still an interesting drive.
We found our comfortable lodging at Inn on the Rio.
We have views of a nearby mountain. The first picture was taken in the late afternoon and the second picture was taken at sunset.
Another great day.