Santa Fe And Surroundings

Trip Start Jul 29, 2011
Trip End Aug 02, 2011

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What I did
Pecos National Historic Park Las Vegas
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello Again!

It's been a packed two days in and around Santa Fe.  I set out yesterday for the Pecos National Historical Park, roughly 45 minutes from Santa Fe, a fantastic place to visit if you're into Native American history.  There has been human activity around here for thousands of years.  The term Pecos is derived from a native word, "payokona" which means "The place where there is water."  It's believed up to 2,000 people lived here in the area's heyday.  They were a cultured, sophisticated people and archeologists say the ruins of what was a residential structure stood four stories.  A trail running a mile and a quarter winds through these ruins, which also consists of "kivas," large holes in the ground going down 15 feet or more.  They were used for rituals and ceremonies to ensure a successful harvest or to heal someone who was sick.  Ladders like the ones the original residents used let you climb down into two of them.  At the base, there is a fire pit and a ventilator shaft.  Once you're down there, it's pretty dark, as you might guess, but it's also nice and cool and very, very quiet.

That quiet pretty much persists through the whole area.  As you walk the trail, the only sounds you hear are other people talking, if they're close by and the wind.  The Spanish arrived in 1540 and began converting the native population to Roman Catholicism.  The first chuch was built in 1625 and no doubt was unlike anything the Pecos natives had seen.  It would have been an impressive structure by most standard, with a foundation 22 feet thick in places and an estimated 300,000 forty-pound adobe bricks used to built it.  But during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Pecos population rebeled against the Spanish and set fire to the church.  Another church was built on the same site in 1717, the ruins of which still stand.  Not only do parts of the church walls remain, the foundations of what were sleeping and working rooms are still here, along with the floor of what was a chicken or turkey coop.

On the way back to Santa Fe, I visited another place with some history of its own...the Bobcat Bite restaurant.  Thanks to our friend Jim Sparks, who emailed me the info on the place, I tracked it down and had a late lunch.  It's a classic American diner, dating from the early 1950s and sits on what was part of Route 66.  It gets its name from the fact that the original owners fed bobcats scraps of food when they came down from the nearby hills.  The place is pretty tiny, just a lunch counter and a few tables, but it's taken on legendary status, winning all kinds of awards for "Best Burger."  I can see why.  On Jim's recommendation, I tried the green chile cheeseburger and it was terrific!  It certainly ranks up there with my other favorite burger places on Route 66, like the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, IL or the Frontier Cafe in Truxton, AZ.  One big difference though: The Bobcat burger is HUGE! 

Today (Monday) was spent driving south to Madrid, about 40 minutes south of Santa Fe.  It was a mining town in the 19th Century and became a virtual ghost town when the industry dried up.  It's now a quiet, neat little place to visit with lots of shops selling everything and an authentic old soda fountain that's worth the trip into town.  (Thanks to John Matz for suggesting a stop here.)  On the way back to Santa Fe, I found another tiny spot called Cerillos (Ser-EE-ohs), founded in the 1880s.  As you drive in to the "town" off New Mexico S.R. 14, you'd swear it was uninhabited.  But there is activity here and numerous plaques placed on the aging buildings describe the original businesses that were once there.

Weather-wise, this was the best day yet.  While it was warm, it was also sunny and bright, with the amazing deep blue sky enhanced by huge, billowing, pure white clouds.  Add the Sangre De Christo mountain range into the mix for background and you can't help but be stunned everywhere you look.  No wonder they call this the "Land Of Enchantment!"  One more morning to spend here, then it's back to Albuquerque and home.  We'll try and check in again!

On The Road,


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