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Northern New Mexico Trip

Day 5 of 5

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Monday, May 14th
Ceremonial Cave, Bandelier National Monument

Peppers hanging at Rancho de San Juan

After checking out, we drove to Bandelier National Monument. We drove past San Ildefonso Pueblo, which is known for its black on black pottery. Along the way we also passed a large radio telescope probably used by Los Alamos National Lab. The road winds its way through the mountains and down into a valley.

We parked by the visitor's center which includes a very small museum and book section. I picked up a trail map for $1 which has lots of good descriptions of the history of the cliff dwellings we were about to see. Then we start off on our hike to Ceremonial Cave.

After the hike we stopped at the snack store for lunch. We also visited the gift shop which had a lot of neat stuff. They were also selling original pueblo artwork costing hundreds or thousands of dollars -- kachinas, pottery, etc. I was a bit surprised a National Monument gift shop would carry such expensive things. But I'm sure they're not out to make money -- they probably pass all of the proceeds to the artists themselves. At least, I would hope.

It rained much of the drive to Santa Fe. But by the time we actually arrived in the downtown area, it had mostly stopped. Our first stop was the Georgia O'Keeffe museum. The current showing was called "Eye on Modernism" and had works by other artists in addition to O'Keeffe's. If you're unfamiliar with her work, probably some of her well-known paintings are the ones with cow skulls. One of my favorites is her Black Mesa painting. After viewing the paintings we stopped at the gift shop. I found two thick volumes which had thumbnails of every single piece of art she created from the age of 14 to 97 (she lived to be 99).

Unfortunately, most other galleries were closed for the day, including the Palace of the Governors. We stopped in a few open places before starting the drive back to Albuquerque. We stopped for gas just before the airport. Gas is about $1.60 a gallon in Albuquerque, and about $1.50 in Santa Fe. Meanwhile prices hovered over $2.00 in the Bay Area. One thing I noticed is that they use lower octane (86/88/91), probably because of the altitude.

We had a fun time driving around trying to get back to the rental car center. They force you to drive into the airport, only to circle around and take you back out. I don't know that there's any easier way to get to the rental car center -- seems completely whacked out. Anyway, soon we were on our way, flying back to the Bay Area. But there's so much we didn't get a chance to do, we'll want to re-visit New Mexico in the future.

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