Author Henry James said his two favourite English language words were „summer afternoon“. Mine are „road trip“. I am just cranking up the (Latin) music, would open the sunroof if I had one, pass the trail mix and start the engine for a cruise to beat the blues.
With Santa Fe as my base camp, I am filling up the tank in the morning, hit the road and by the evening I download enough photos of scenic beauty, historic significance and WOW-factor discoveries.
I am taking the Jemez Mountain loop to Bandelier National Monument. My hike passes the former home of Ancestral Puebloans who migrated from Mesa Verde about A.D. 1100. I wander through amazing cliff dwellings and visit some of their caves. Some petroglyphs dating to A.D. 1400, bringing back the spirits of the ancients.
„The Pueblo Indians lived in the cliffs in up to three levels from about 1400 to 1600. By 1580 they were all gone“, says Ranger Tony Riker. About 300 people had their homes in the cliffs and about 500 in a nearby village. He said that in former times they domesticated turkeys as a primary source of protein. Further they planted corn, beans and squash on nearby fields.
„Today the Pueblo Indians live in a village near the Interstate. There are less than 1.000 left. Normally they marry within the tribe.“
On my way back to Santa Fe I feel the dry air and see the wide-open blue sky evoking the ampleness of light and space that I so love about the Southwestern US.