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

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