Bandelier National Monument

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

64 deg at 4:00, high 79

One-hour drive from Santa Fe is Bandelier National Monument. Signs said to turn back and take the bus, but we pressed on. There is a campground just past the gate, so we knew we could get in. 

Martha, again selected an excellent camp site, so I signed up for three nights. With my Senior Pass, it cost $18! After setting up, we drove to the Visitor’s Center, hoping we could park. An overlook gave us a good look at the beautiful canyon. Then winding down a steep road to the bottom, we did find parking places. 

Built in the style of the ancient pueblos, the Visitor’s Center is very cool. Inside were good exhibits of the 33,700 acre park and main dwellings. People have lived here for 10,000 years. With a good stream, that rarely runs dry, the land provided well for them. 

There are some unusual features of this area. The main dwelling was huge, and it was on the canyon floor. Behind the main dwelling are cliff dwellings and Long House. A million years ago, a volcano exploded nearby, spewing ash heavily in this area. It was 600 times more powerful than Mount St. Helens. Over time, the ash solidified, pumice being its main component. Wind and rain dissolved holes and caves in this “Tuff”. The ancients carved caves for food storage along the cliffs. Just when you think you have seen it all, this strange landscape presents something so unique, it looks like a movie set.

It was very cool to walk along the cliffs and climb up ladders into the caves. One passing lady said, “You never hear of this. You hear fo the Grand Canyon, but who knew about this? It’s so cool!”

Then a man and his family passed. “Christopher Newport” was on his T-shirt, so Martha said, “Christopher Newport! I’m from Hampton.” She said she went to Hampton High School. “Oh”, he said. “Was Mike Smith the football coach?” She said he was. “Well he is still coaching! I will be working with him in the fall.” Amazed, Martha said to tell him Martha from 1968 said Hi. “I was a cheerleader.” I asked her to give us a cheer “You can’t crush a crab”, but she didn’t. 

We stopped at the little restaurant, where they touted their famous hamburgers and bison burgers. A young man named PJ was working the place all by himself, doing the cooking, taking orders and cleaning up. He was a wonderful cook! There is a nice store with some local Indian arts for sale as well as books and souvenirs. We bought a couple of cards to send the kids. As we walked across the parking lot, our Christopher Newport friend yelled, “Can’t Crush a Crab!” 😀 Back at camp, for the first time on this trip, we built a fire in a great fire pit. Should be an interesting three of four days.

First campfire of the trip on a cool evening
In back of our campsite

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