Day 12: Bandelier, Santa Fe, and BBQ

Trip Start Sep 08, 2005
Trip End Sep 25, 2005

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Today we (Winkie and Julia) ventured up north to Bandelier and Santa Fe, since Loretta had to work (boo). We didn't quite realize how far Bandelier was, and were surprised to arrive there after a good hundred miles. It's a good ole New Mexico day trip, and it was completely worth it.
Bandelier National Monument is in the Frijoles Canyon near Los Alamos, and is the location of Anasazi Pueblo ruins, inhabited from the 1200s-1600s. There are preserved ruins of the ground houses and cliff dwellings, including several kivas (ceremonial houses), petroglyphs, and an elevated ceremonial cave. We walked along the guided path around the ruins and up to some of the preserved cliff dwellings first, taking TONS of pictures. Afterwards, we decided take the hike and climb up to the ceremonial cave, which is located 140 feet up from the canyon floor. A nice flat half mile trail led us to the base of the climb, where we found a series of wooden ladders and steps carved into the stone to lead us up to the ceremonial cave. Winkie had visited once before with Loretta, (her sister), but Julia hadn't, and braved her fear of heights to make it up the cliff. The "cave" is quite spacious and open, though it was probably protected by constructed walls and coverings when it was inhabited. Both the altitude and scenery were breathtaking. The cave looks out onto the canyon, and it is pretty impossible not to feel some sort of spiritual peace up there.
After Bandelier, we headed southwards into Santa Fe, hoping to see a museum or two and possibly cruise through downtown. Unfortunately, the museums we wanted to see are closed on Mondays; we headed over to downtown for a snack and window shopping instead. We found out that there's two kinds of prices in New Mexico: New Mexico prices (39 cents for a cup of coffee at McDonald's), and there's Santa Fe prices (skirts ranging from $75 upwards, handmade quilts in the $400s). Needless to say, as pretty and upscale as Santa Fe is, we found it a little too yuppie (especially for Julia's student budget).
We cruised back down into Albuquerque to meet Loretta for dinner, and had some delicious barbecue at Rudy's, famous in town for its good food and laid back atmosphere. Rudy's isn't technically a restaurant -- it's a "meat market," where you order from the counter, grab your food, piles of napkins, and a good spot along one of the many picnic tables. It was a good meal, and we were able to compare our opinions which restaurant had the best barbecue of the trip. The jury is still out, but we'll let you know when we decide.
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