Sunday, October 16, 2011

More National Parks;-)

In the last five days we have visited FOUR National Monuments/Parks and Los Alamos! WHEW!

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (NM) just outside of Santa Fe, NM provided one of our most favorite hikes - EVER! (This is a MUST DO if you are anywhere in this area!) “Kasha-Katuwe” means “white cliffs” in the language of the Pueblo de Cochiti. The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6-7 million years ago. There are boulder caps that are precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos. There are bands of grey interspersed with beige and pink colored rock. A two mile out and back trail through the Slot Canyon to the top of the mesa provides breathtaking sights around every corner - and some of the corners are pretty small -

Heading out into the Tent Rocks Nat'l Monument

Tight squeezes in Slot Canyon .... glad I was traveling light.

The tent rocks towering over Elizabeth.

While Kasha-Katuwe was a geological site, our next stop - Bandelier NM - was back to the ancient Pueblo and cliff dwellings. The Ancestral Pueblo people here had cultural links with the people of Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon. (Since details of these cultures and related time periods have been covered in prior postings, I won’t bore you with all the details yet again!) It is just very interesting to us to see remnants of these societies in so many different locations - and see such similar sights. The Kiva, the same construction and room layout and dimensions and, of course, the cliff dwellings. It was a lot of fun to again be able to have such access to the cliff dwellings - we love the ladders;-)

A bird's eye view of the Bandelier Pueblo Ruins.

Checking out the loft accommodations in the cave dwellings.

How would you like to come home to this every night.
Trick or treat anyone?

Hmmmmm, think I can fit through here?

Notice the smoke residue on the ceiling.

The smaller holes in the center are where the roof support logs were inserted.

Note the pictograph in the center. It is covered with a clear protective pane to try and preserve it.

Our lunch spot at Bandelier.

We stopped here to fill our propane tank.
Didn't realize we could pick up our sheep at the same time.

Talk about culture shock - we went from Bandelier NM to Los Alamos!! That is right - the laboratory established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, the nations’s top-secret program to develop the atomic bomb. There we eavesdropped on discussions of neutrons and electrons at the local Starbucks (NO joke!!) and visited the Bradbury Science Museum. This museum was quite interesting and shouldn’t be missed if in the area, as this is an important part of our history and the continued research affects everyone of us today. However, I must confess that I understood where the movies were shown and where the restrooms were and not much else. The brain went on overload after about 5 minutes!!

Moving west into Arizona, we spent a fascinating morning on a private jeep tour with a local Navajo tour guide of the Canyon de Chelly NM. Archeological evidence shows that people lived in these canyons for nearly 5,000 years. In later years, the same Basketmakers from Mesa Verde and other surrounding areas came here (200 BC - 750 AD). Followed by the Ancestral Puebloan people (750 - 1300) - predecessors of today’s Pueblo and Hopi Indians. Finally, the Navajo entered the Canyon around 1700. The Spanish and the Americans fought with them - ending in 1864 with Kit Carson’s brutal campaign to round up all the Navajo’s and march them over 300 miles to internment at Fort Sumner. This was after they destroyed all their homes and animals. In 1868, the Canyon was given back to the Navajo and they were allowed to return to their homeland. Today the descendants of those given the property in the Canyon still live there on their ancestors land. Our guide is one of those descendants.

The Canyon walls rise from 30 feet where we entered the Canyon to over 800 feet. There are many cave dwellings on the ledges of canyon walls, pictographs and stunning beauty.

A great view of Canyon de Chelly.

The Spider Rock spires are in the middle of this shot.

We saw more petroglyphs..

Cliff dwellings..

The white figures are several hundred years older than the rust colored antelope.

Did I tell you about the campground Magic enjoyed at Canyon de Chelly?? It was a very spiritual place high up on the mesa above Spider Rock. We managed to get Magic ‘wedged’ into a beautiful spot. It was a ‘dry camp’ situation, so we had to conserve!

Dry camping tonight.... a tight fit for Magic, but beautiful.

Glad we travel with our own loo.

Last, but not least (well maybe - this was not our favorite), was the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. This was again more of a ‘geological’ experience than a ‘people’ experience - no ladders to climb;-( Perhaps the most interesting factoid learned is that the petrified wood is not really wood! Two hundred million years ago conifer trees did grow here along the banks of the many streams that existed on a vast floodplain. The trees fell and swollen streams washed them into adjacent floodplains. A mix of silt, mud, and volcanic ash buried the logs and cut off oxygen slowing the logs decay. Silica-laden groundwater seeped through the logs and replaced the original wood tissues with silica deposits which eventually crystallized into quartz. The quartz was encased in the ‘cast’ of the tree and preserved as ‘petrified wood’. The various colors come from the minerals in the silica-saturated waters. Iron, carbon, manganese, cobalt and chromium produced patterns and blends of yellow, red, black, blue, brown, white and pink! This ‘wood’ is VERY heavy and VERY hard (7 on a 10 point scale).

Petrified logs.

The color spectrum in some of the petrified pieces were amazing.

Lots of petrified 'wood'.

Petroglyphs on the Newspaper Rock in the Petrified Forest.

Descending into the Blue Mesa.

Doesn't it look like someone used a ruler to make the lines?

While there are still many sites to see along the ‘Trail of the Ancients’, we have put a pretty good dent in them on this trip - and enjoyed every minute. The family now awaits - so, we are off in the direction of Lemoore early tomorrow. Pictures of our granddaughter and more golf outings will be forthcoming.

Please stay tuned - E & G

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