Part 13: Santa Fe and Bandelier National Monument


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The Trip

We spent 2 nights in the Santa Fe area in a cut-rate motel. The critical feature was the presence of an internet connection so we could check e-mail and post photos. We got a chance to spend some time looking around the Plaza area of Santa Fe and we managed to get reservations at the Coyote Cafe, one of Santa Fe's 4 star restaurants. The following morning, we headed north to Bandelier on the Los Alamos plateau and then spent the night with fellow unimoggers Patrick and Jamie Kennedy. The photos below are what we saw.

The plaza area of Santa Fe is all about shopping. Serving the rich tourists is job one. There were no shortage of art galleries, jewelry stores and clothing shops. Also, there were plenty of places that sold indian art, usually in the form of pottery. Some of these sported truly outrageous prices.

One of the shops had this nice bronze elk out front.

Shops, shops and more shops. There was substantial traffic, but there was limited parking so most folks were on foot. The rise in fuel prices has cut into the tourist load and most of the merchants were feeling the pain. The photo above shows the view looking east on Water Street, where the Coyote Cafe, one of Santa Fe's best restaurant is located.

And more shops. I really like this style of architecture. The locals like it too, so they passed zoning ordinances and building restrictions that force you to "stay with the program".

The church near the plaza is quite impressive.

The one image that stuck in my mind about Santa Fe when I first saw it back in 1971 were the indians selling their turquoise jewelry on blankets around the perimeter of the plaza. They still do that today, but to a lesser degree. The really nice stuff is now available in elegant stores for ten times the price. Above, you can see some of the vendors hawking their wares.

This fellow has quite a bit of nice looking stuff.

Some of the buildings around the plaza area are quite old, dating back to the 1800s or earlier. One of the suites in this building used to house the access office for Los Alamos back when the Manhattan Project was in progress.

Even newer buildings must conform to the building style codes. The building above is quite new.

This is the Palace of the Governors

Santa Fe is an artist's city and many pieces were on display.

Another interesting work. Do you know the difference between "art" and "fine art"? About $5,000.

There was a concert in the Plaza and these gals were arriving in costume to perform. Somehow, the sunglasses and Fed Ex envelope seem to clash with the concept of traditional attire.

Another nice old structure near the Plaza.

In the park next to the main church, we spotted this interesting bronze statue.

One of the newer church out-buildings.

That night, we had a great dinner at Coyote Cafe, one of Santa Fe's best restaurants. Getting reservations was tough, but we prevailed. The food was awesome, some of the best I have ever had. Manhattan prices in a casual surrounding. Above, Kathleen enjoys her Miso Cod.

The next morning, we headed north out of town toward Los Alamos. On the way, we passed this structure that the locals call "Camel Rock".

Our destination was Bandelier National Monument. Above is Frijoles Canyon as seen from the overlook on the access road to Bandelier.

Bandelier is a set of ruins that have been partially restored. There were several large kivas there. The one above was the largest of the set.

The ruins consisted of newer structures that were build using blocks cut from the soft volcanic tuff and older structures that were carved right into the cliff walls.

The soft material in the cliff walls was heavily pock marked with both natural and man made holes. The bigger holes were used as dwellings and then were later augmented with cut stone to enlarge the living spaces.

The smaller of the two kivas, but still large in an absolute sense.

There was a steep path and stairs that allowed you to go up to some of the bigger dwellings.

Several of the areas had ladders that would allow you to enter the rock cavities.

Timbers, brush and mud were used for roofing materials. Holes were cut into the cliff to allow the timbers to be affixed to the cliff wall for stability.

It was a lot of work to get to the dwelling, but the view was nice.

A view of the main pueblo area from the cliff dwelling.

Kathleen ascends one of the ladders to check out a room.

There were many holes cut into the cliff.

I almost missed them, but high on the cliff walls in the area known as the "Long House" were carvings in the cliff wall.

Most of the carvings were heavily weathered since the rock is very soft.

This drawing is a man-like figure.

Further up the canyon was a large hole that is actually a bat cave and hosts a population of several thousand Mexican Freetail bats.

The dwellings were numerous and continued up the canyon well past where I was willing to hike. In fact, the best ruin site is a mile further up the canyon, but my dogs were barking so we headed back to the visitor center for some food and drinks.

Santa Fe is quite a bit different than when I visited it the first time in 1971. I guess you might say it has been yuppified in a big way. Still, I love the architectural style even if they want $8K for a small pottery item made by the local indians. Should you get in the area, Bandelier is a must-see. The cliff dwellings dug into the rock is very unique and found only a few places in the world. After we finished at Bandelier, we headed into Los Alamos, home of the atomic bomb. One of my unimog buddies was kind enough to offer us a place to stay for the night at his home in Los Alamos, so we took him up on the offer. He and his charming wife Jamie took us to a local restaurant for dinner and we had a great time.

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