Friday, October 30, 2015

Hubbell Trading Post and Window Rock

We stayed a couple nights in Gallup, NM so that we could do a day trip to a couple of places that I've wanted to go to for a long time. Being an avid reader of old west books, the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site is a must see for me. It also should be for anyone who loves history.

The trading post has been operated since 1878, and it still functions today. It is in the Navajo Nation and is a fabulous source of authentic Navajo and Hopi creations like rugs, baskets, pottery and jewelry. The buildings are authentic and well maintained for a great opportunity to experience a genuine western trading post.
Rug room

On the drive between Gallup and the trading post we passed through Window Rock, AZ. This town is also a place that I wanted to go to since reading a lot of Tony Hillerman's books with Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Window Rock is the Capital of the Navajo Nation and seat of it's tribal government. You can call me crazy but it was fun to see the town, the buildings and the actual Window Rock so that I can have a visual. It was the same when we went through Ship Rock a year ago, another mainstay in those books.

Code Talker Memorial in
Window Rock Park

Code Talker Memorial and
The Window Rock

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bandelier National Monument

From Taos we headed south to Santa Fe. It's a relatively short drive so we had time to get settled into our RV park and go to the Capitol and historic district. We had been here before so we just walked around for the exercise and to refresh our memories. The Capitol is modern but nicely done. It seems there is art on almost every square inch of wall. Walking from the Capitol to the plaza has a lot of old buildings that are redone and contain either shops or restaurants. It's a pleasant walk. The plaza is mostly modernized so it doesn't really have much of an old feel. The most interesting things (to me) are plaques on the sidewalk giving history lessons such as, in 1598 the first formal plots of land being granted to people.

Foreground - typical pueblo structure
Cliff wall - dug out cliff rooms
The next day we went on a road trip in the car to Bandelier National Monument. The drive from Santa Fe is pretty as the roads weave through the mountains. It was an hour drive to the visitor center. Although the monument is 33,000 acres the main attractions to visitors are the cliff dwellings and petroglyphs. To see all of the dwellings there is a trail that is about 1 mile plus another optional mile (round trip). We have been to many cliff dwellings and ancient pueblo sites all over the southwest and this one was definitely different and interesting. The difference is that this site has hand dugout rooms in the very soft rock walls versus rooms built into large existing caves as seen at other sites. There are typical stone built rooms also but the "dug out" cliff dwellings were a unique experience for us. It is worth a visit.

 When we left Bandelier we drove a route that took us to Los Alamos. This town was built almost overnight during World War II to house the secret laboratories of the Manhattan Project which invented and built the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. The existence of the town was just as much a secret as the lab. We went to the Bradbury Science Museum which provides insight into Los Alamos National Laboratory. It discusses the history of the lab and the atomic bombs as well as its purpose and research since then. The Los Alamos National Laboratory consists of over 2,000 buildings at over 40 sites around the Los Alamos area. We drove by many on our loop drive to Bandelier and through Los Alamos. This museum gave us a great insight into the significance of this national lab.
"Little Boy" - exact replica of bomb
dropped on Hiroshima

"Fat Boy" - exact replica of the bomb
dropped on Nagasaki

Monday, October 26, 2015

Taos NM

Our granddaughter (why we stay in
Denver so long)
Staunton State Park CO on Staunton
Ranch Trail
We had a wonderful two month stay in Denver visiting our daughter and her family. We volunteered at Cherry Creek State Park so that we could stay there as long as we wanted and be as close as we can get. We ended up not doing a lot of exploring while in the area. We made only one day trip into the mountains to Staunton State Park because we wanted to spend as much time with out sweetie as we could on our days off.

We are on our way back to Arizona now and making a few stops. We stayed a couple nights near Colorado City just to wait out snow in the La Veta pass on US 160 in southern CO. We then spent a few days near Taos NM to explore. A few miles west of town is Rio Grande Gorge which is part of one of our nation's newest National Monuments, Rio Grande del Norte.
Rio Grande Gorge

Sunset shining on Sangre De Cristo
mountains east of Taos
The next day we got a late start waiting for the rain and clouds to move out. We drove up to the Taos Ski Valley. There was massive construction going on in the ski village so I didn't get any pictures. The valley is pretty narrow and the ski runs are pretty much out of view of the village. There was fresh snow starting at about 10k feet. I didn't get any good pictures due to the narrowness of the valley.

San Francisco de Asis Church
The next couple days we explored things in the town of Taos. We walked around the Taos Plaza which is all fixed up with modern shops. We liked the lobby of the Hotel La Fonda de Taos which was built in 1820 and has been well maintained. We visited the Kit Carson home and museum, which was underwhelming, and then the cemetery where he and his last wife are buried. We visited the San Francisco de Asis Church built in the 18th century. It has been restored and is a registered National Historic Landmark.

Our next visit was the Hacienda de los Martinez (Wiki). Construction of the Hacienda began in 1804 by owner don Antonio Severino Martinez with 4 humble rooms. By 1827 the Hacienda had grown to 21 rooms. It is interesting to tour (self guided) and read about the history and use of each room.
Hacienda de los Martinez

Hacienda de los Martinez