Friday, October 25, 2013

Got Greens? and Bandelier National Monument

The other sign of recovering from vacation?  I'm craving vegetables and greens.  Thus I was outside
Arugula in the garden by flashlight. Day 69 Photo
with my flashlight this morning and thinning the crop of arugula which is coming up all over
the yard.  Hey, you'd pay extra for organic baby arugula in the store!  I just call it the lazy gardener method of yardwork.  Keep a couple plants of arugula watered and let them seed.  Sprinkle the seeds all over and voila!  Tons of baby arugula. 
We always end up with a couple of plants which make it through the winter and the process restarts in spring. 

We ate well in New Mexico, of course.  I love green chile in everything but when you are on the go, it is hard to get in vegetables and most restaurants serve them as an after thought.  A pile of romaine lettuce and a couple slices of cucumber don't quite cut it for me but for traveling, it is better than nothing or iceberg lettuce. Note that one of our favorite New Mexican restaurants just added a salad to their menu and this was a big deal to K's mom who is a salad fanatic. We tend to eat a very large breakfast (bonus if it is a local B&B provided breakfast) and fill up.  We stop by a local grocery for some fruit, yogurt and head on out for the day.  If we happen to be someplace where we can get more food, great.  If not, we are set.
Along Falls Trail

Bandelier National Monument is just a short drive from Los Alamos.  However after repeated floods have wiped out parking space, the park services instituted a mandatory free shuttle from a close community (White Rock) using local transit services.  Great idea!  The road out to Bandelier is narrow and winding and gets crowded no doubt.  We got out the next day to Bandelier fairly early and were ready to hike, picnic items in our bag.  

Fires and then subsequent floods through the canyon have taken their toll and some trails are closed.  According to  a park volunteer, visitors in the back country were pretty much on their own.  There are many washouts and destroyed trails.  That should not deter anyone from visiting.  We took an easy hike (3 miles round trip) down the canyon to the Upper Falls.  The damage from the flood of just one month ago in September 2013 was amazing.  Snags and debris was piled up 8 feet tall along this creek-side trail.  Picnic tables were under feet of sand deposited by the creek turned raging river.

It was an easy hike the 1.5 miles to the overlook of the Upper Falls.  The fall color was at peak and just beautiful.  The falls were breathtaking and unexpected. We'd been to Bandelier 15 years ago but had not hiked this easy trail. We had our lunch overlooking the canyon and waterfall. It does not get any better than that! 

View down the canyon. Rio Grande River in distance.
We then went to do the main loop trail which takes you past all the remarkable remains of the ancestral pueblo people who lived here 400 to 800 years ago. They carved their homes into the volcanic tuff (a softer easily carved rock made of ash which looks like fake cement) and created larger circular village on the canyon floor.  It was a perfect fall day with the cottonwoods (which grow along streambeds in New Mexico) showing their stunning yellow fall foliage.

I'd only vaguely remembered our easy hike here 15 years ago and knew then it was someplace I wanted to go back to.  This trip made more of an impression as it was just so beautiful.  I'd wanted to get to the Alcove House trail but unfortunately the trail and area was completely closed because of washouts.  Darn!  Next time! 

We'd also heard from our B&B host that the Tsankawi (pronounced San-Ka-Wee) Section of Bandolier, a small area separate from the main park, was where the locals went.  Evidently it has just as impressive ancient pueblo dwellings plus more petroglyphs.  We'd hoped to get to this site but ran out of time. It'll be on the list to return to as well as those trails around Los Alamos. 

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