warning. this post contains a billion (or 46) photos. and i exercised great restraint while choosing. i promise.
on saturday morning, we departed from the walmart albuquerque and headed to a campground in santa fe. my mom had flown out the day before and was staying with her friend dash from horseshoe lake, batavia, ny. we met up with them for some santa fe themed hangouts for the day. on sunday morning, we crammed my mom into the car for a trip to bandelier national monument.
we picked up the kids junior ranger booklets and let them get to work while everyone enjoyed a bit of a snack before hitting the trails (paved path). each kid had their own grade level booklet. hazel was able to do the pre-k to 1st grade with a bit of assistance. anna did the 2nd and 3rd, so as to not be insulted by having to do the same book as hazel. and isaac had 4th – 6th.
the first bit of the trail leaves from the visitor center and winds through some grassland at the bottom of the canyon. it has numbered markers and you can get a little trail map/guide for $1 and follow along and read about the history of the area and what each marker represents. before you head into the cave dwellings, you pass through the ruins of old pueblos.
behind the kids is the long house. the ruins of the pueblos ran along the side of the cliff for, well, a long way. i say 100 yards. derek says more. the holes in the rock where the wooden supports (called vigas) were originally show how many stories there were in each section. they were up to four stories in some sections.
the paved path turned and went back to the visitor center. we opted to take a stroll out to the 140 foot high “alcove house” cave dwelling a little further into the canyon. this part of the trail was in the woods and much more like a hike that the kid prefer. back to boulder climbing, as usual.
it was 1/2 mile to the bottom of four ladders that lead up to the alcove house. there is a series of steep ladders and narrow stairs leading up to the top. the second ladder is 50 feet and pretty intimidating. the first and third were not quite that long. and the last was pretty short. despite her protests, we decided not to let hazel go. she wasn’t great at coming down on the smaller ladders and i thought that might be stressful and dangerous. so derek stayed with her, while my mom and i took the big kids up.
we took in the view and explored to our hearts content and then made our way back down. that for sure was the scariest part. but we all survived and went to the creek to give derek some time to head up and check it out. a group foot soak was in order.
at the visitor center, the kids handed in their books to be checked. it’s interesting each time to see how thorough each ranger will be. some just flip through the book and assume it’s all good. some check each answer and make corrections. and some put the kids through the ringer with follow up questions. this ranger was a “put the kids through the ringer” sort. she read each book and talked to each kid individually. they passed with flying colors, i think.