Friday night, while dining on a exquisite Neo-Classico Pannini at Saggio's, I made a proclamation. "Tomorrow, we embark on another adventure!" My kids groaned, eyes rolled, yada yada yada. They know all about my famous adventures, full of short cuts where we end up in the middle of nowhere.
NOT THIS TIME. I found a MAP, and the girls and I headed up to the Jemez mountains for a semi-planned family adventure. We picnicked by the stream, where I snapped the above pic while Emily stomped through the creek, then we explored some tunnels blown out of the cliff by loggers in the early 1900's.
Then I decided we'd go find Soda Dam, which is an all natural dam that you can climb up on, and swim in the pools below. The dam was formed over many years, and consists mostly of calcium carbonate. The water was COLD. (Hot springs my butt!)
Finally, we ended up at Bandelier National Monument, where people can explore ancient indian ruins. Below is the plaza, where most of the tribal activity took place.
The girls and I climbed in and out of ancient cave dwellings, saw spectacular art work drawn and carved on walls...
What amazes me is that these people carved these caves as back rooms to the two story condominium style homes they built along the cliff wall. Each cave had a hole carved for smoke to pass through - you could still see the smoke marks on the ceilings - and original in tact artwork. This consisted of either carvings in the side of the cliff, or paintings of serpants, lightning, horses and faces.
None of the condos had "doors" per se, all the dwellings were entered through hatches on the roof. Each area had a fire pit, with vents for smoke. Most dwellings had several rooms, and they actually seemed to be quite comfortable, even by today's standards.
We tried to imagine what life must have been like for these people, living in the beautiful valley in these well-constructed homes. They farmed and hunted the valley for years, until resources were depleted and they were forced to move on.
On the hike back to the car, we encountered a rattlesnake. A real life rattlesnake in his natural habitat. We were extremely careful, gave him a LOT of room and respect, and just watched him inch up the hill. There was no mistaking his presence, the rattle is loud! This is going to be a little like "where's Waldo"...but I'll see if you guys can spot him in this pic. It took me forever. I tried to lighten his area, but its tough to tell when its small like this.
I wasn't ABOUT to get any closer to him, but how cool is that? I've never seen one in the wild before - and this one had intense black and white coloring right under the rattle. I was thankful he allowed us to observe him while he headed up the hill.
Apparently we were being pretty darn respectful, because shortly afterward we encountered two squirrels that looked like they were doing the handshake like on that insurance commercial. It was hilarious. I'm sure they were sparring over food or something, but they still smacked the heck out of each other. They did this for a few minutes, until they realized we were there.
Well kiddies - There's your monthly installment of exploring New Mexico, aka Kris' Hairbrained Adventure #953. Entertaining AND educational. Stop rolling your eyes!