Bandelier National Monument, Jemez Springs, Santa Fe’ Backroads

This is how our day went:
Kenny woke up with a sore neck.
Our computer stopped working.
We went hiking and forgot to bring the basics, including suntan lotion and water.
One of the lenses fell out of my sunglasses and was lost forever.
A friendly ranger suggested an alternative route from Bandelier National Monument back to Santa Fe, which was the equivalent of driving from Philadelphia back to Allentown via New York City.
Our GPS started speaking Swedish and resisted all attempts to get it to speak any other language.
Otherwise, we are fine, thank you.
Coming down from the “high” of Indian Market was painful. I don’t think anything on this trip will measure up.
However, as tough as it might seem, we have to continue the hard work of vacationing.
We decided to take a break from the arts and see a bit of nature. Our destination was Bandelier National Monument., basically, the remains of ancient cave dwellings. These pueblo caves were natural caverns in the mountains created by a powerful volcano eruption millions of years ago. Today, these castle-wall lookalikes loom over the high dessert as nature’s own hill towns, surrounded by decrepit fortifications. These nearly vertical walls are studded with polka-dotted holes all over, like a giant piece of Swiss cheese.
From there, we drove to the plateau that once was the culprit crater and now – a vast and gigantic field called the Caldera.
From the Caldera we took a long but scenic route back to Santa Fe. In the town of Jemez Spring, we stopped at a local hangout to buy some water. Barely an hour or two from Santa Fe, we were in a different universe. The townspeople were a far cry from the artsy and sophisticated Indian Market crowd. In fact, they were far cry from anybody we normally meet. As I was watching them, one question kept creeping up in my mind:
Do these people vote?
Further down, we passed the popular Jemez Bathhouse founded in 1870 and, evidently, never remodeled since. Farther down the road, there was an interesting natural phenomenon called Soda Dam – an odd stone formation reminiscent of a giant toad with a wide-opened mouth, from which a mini waterfall emptied out into a creek below. Some of these non-voters were frolicking in the stream.
Driving farther yet, we entered red-rock country. This area was very beautiful, reminding of Sedona, although not quite as striking, in my humble opinion.
These red mountains were home to the Jemez people and part of Jemez pueblo. This particular pueblo, like most other pueblos, does not allow whites onto their territory, with the exception of visits allowed for several special occasions. This creates an aura of mystery over the pueblos. Since I can’t go in, I really wanna, I do!!! However, what I saw of the pueblo from the road, looked more like a sprawling trailer park than an enchanted village, Oh, the broken dreams…
When we finally made it back to Santa Fe (first going north halfway to Taos and then west, and south to Albuquerque, and back north) we had dinner at a very local restaurant, Harry’s Roadhouse, with great food, great people-watching, and great prices.
Their homemade blueberry pie sweetened up the day.


2 thoughts on “Bandelier National Monument, Jemez Springs, Santa Fe’ Backroads

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