Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday, April, 21

A beautiful morning, slightly cool with a light breeze. In the afternoon when we got home it was warm but the wind was blowing pretty good.

This morning around 10:00 we drove to The Bandelier National Monument about 60 miles to the northwest of Santa Fe, near Los Alamos, to see the ancient cliff dwellings.
The country along the way is fairly rugged with some nice rock formations.

On entering the monument we stopped at an overlook of the valley that contains the ruins.

There is a placard there that said that the material that the cliffs were made from is called “Tuff” or condensed volcanic ash. Apparently at one time a large volcano exploded near by and filled the valley with “Tuff” subsequently most of the “Tuff” was eroded away but some was left on the valley walls. When the natives moved into the valley they found that the “Tuff” was soft enough to dig into with their stone tools so they carved caves and niches’ into the “Tuff“.

They also built many other structures from the stone that looks like it was quarried from the “Tuff”.

The trail to the dwellings was a 1 mile loop so we took our time and rested on the several benches along the way. We were pleased to come across a live stream, the first we have seen in some time.

As we wandered along the trail we saw some deer lounging in the shade of the large Ponderosa Pines and Cottonwoods.

We passed a large Kiva.

Then we had to climb a series of stairs and ladders to get to the dwellings.
I think this cave was the "ceremonial cave" because it was one very big room with nitches in the walls, several smoke holes, hooked wooden polls stuck into the ceiling and two lines of small holes drilled into the floor cutting the room somewhat in thirds.
Another cave had at least three large rooms and was very airy with holes to look out of.
I took a picture from this “window” so you could get an idea of the view.

Most of the caves were very small however and allthough the ceilings were thick with smoke stains there were no exits for the smoke except via the entrance apertures.

There were also other dwellings and what looked like storage bins built along the cliff walls near the caves.

At some places you could see where the people had bored holes in the cliffs to place beams for roofs and floors of several stories.

Some of the cliff walls were decorated with petrogliphs and wall paintings.

This painting was covered with a piece of glass to protect it from the weather. There was another but it was so faded that it could hardly be distinguished from a water stain.
We really enjoyed our walk through ancient history but by the time we got back to the car I was done in.
We had a picnic lunch and headed for home.
On the way home, Patti got a nice picture of the southern end of the Rocky Mountains

And we had to stop to get a picture of “Camel Rock”.

Trip time = 6 ½ hrs.
Round trip = 106 miles.

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