June 29, 2012

Trip Start Apr 28, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Friday, June 29, 2012

Today was another sightseeing day.  Our first stop was at the Bandelier
National Monument, northwest of Santa Fe. 
Last year there was a wildfire in the park and then in the fall there
was a heavy rainfall, and because of the fire there was not enough vegetation
on the hill sides to absorb the water and this resulted in a flash flood in the
stream that took out several bridges, devastate the campsites and washed away
part of the parking lot.  Because of this the park instituted a shuttle service that all visitors to the park must use, it operates from a parking lot off the highway about a 20 minute ride from the
park.  The service worked out fine.  Bandelier National Monument features a loop
trail of 1 miles, along which there is a large excavation of a pueblo on the
valley floor that was occupied in the 1200’s; this pueblo was different from
others we have seen in that it was constructed in a circular fashion rather
than the traditional rectangular form. 
Over a million years ago a volcanic eruption spread ash over a large
area hundreds of feet thick, erosion cut into the soft rock and over the years
created the sheer-walled canyons and mesa landscape we see today. 
High into the canyon walls a prehistoric civilization enlarged natural holes in the soft rock to
 create cliff dwellings.  It is believed that these were the ancestors of the people that constructed the larger pueblo in the valley below.  The hiking trail we took passed close enough to these cliff dwellings that we could see inside, and there were 3 or 4 where there were ladders up to the cliff dwellings so that we could climb into them.  This was a fantastic experience to try and envision
how these ancient people lived.  On the way back to the visitor’s center there was a welcome rain shower, the area has been in a severe drought so the little rain shower was needed. 
After a picnic lunch we headed to the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
southwest of Santa Fe.  Here we took a 1.2 mile loop trail through the desert to look at
the fantastic formations that are only found in this part of New Mexico.  This area was also subjected to volcanic activity millions of years ago and the resulting rock and ash accumulations have been weathered to create these wonderful cone or teepee formations. 
Over the year’s erosion of the soft rock have resulted in a valley floor of a light gravel or heavy sand, which made hiking somewhat difficult.  What should have been a short hike lasted over
an hour and a half, we were so fascinated in the formations that we took extra
time to look at them.  The 96 degree temperature and 5,700 foot elevation also contributed to our taking longer than anticipated.

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Tom McKinnon on

Now you're really getting to me! You are visiting some of our favorite spots; and its been too long.
What a joy to see this through your eys.

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