A Travellerspoint blog

Joe Will Drool

One of the more stressful things in the Sedona was trying to find the cave Joe wanted to make camp in. I drove back and forth like 10 times looking for the thing, and we think we may have found it, but we're still not sure if it was the same one. But today, I was going to find the hills made not of rock, but of holes in rock, and Joe is going to drool all over himself when he sees how many damn caves there were in Bandelier National Monument.

But first, many of you might have received this picture mail:

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Yeah, it totally snowed all over me on my way north of Albuquerque. Luckily I made it out of the snow before I made it to Bandelier, but there was frost here and there at the park still.

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Then these up coming shots made me gasp out loud.

No really, I gasped, and people looked.

Then I was approached by a woman who was coming down from the caves.

"Excuse me, do you know what that area down there is supposed to be?"

She was referring to the place I had just come from. I didn't purchase the trial guide, but the park ranger did give me a map and I recognized the area from the front cover. I patiently relax, and realize that I could explain to her the things I've learned about pueblo Indians since Mesa Verde, and show her the map, and still get to go to the caves. The area below, if your curious, used to be a full circle with the clearing on the inside as a park/ market place. The outer edges was made of solid 2 story pueblos that you could only get into from the outside from ladders. So it was a fort like in medieval Europe, but w/o the draw bridge. Then you should all recognize the Kiva for what it is, and when she herd Kiva I saw the light go off in her head "Ohhh, where they go inside and pray or smoke drugs." She laughed and seemed to wonder if she should have said that. I reassured that she was fine by saying that I they probably were doing both.

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They let you go inside!

Then latter down the path (much latter, not b/c of distance, but b/c I didn't leave until I saw people walking down the path towards me, and its their off season, so it wasn't a short amount of time), there was the only fully standing pueblo. The rest of the pueblos looked like the ones in the circle I first went to, just the foundation. So you have to picture when you see foundations in front of caves, that at one point the Indian's were just living in the caves, and then latter on they built pueblos in front of the caves, expanding their village.

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That is a pic I took sticking my head inside the window and looking at the roof.

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This pic is cool b/c you can see that they might have been building walls around their cavern village by using the rocks surrounding the wall of caverns, and reinforcing them with stone and mud (who needs to buy a trail guide when you have blind guessing?)

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Then that is a pic. of the paths they used to get through the rocks to the wall of caves. They were very thin, and would be easy to get lost in if you didn't know where you were going. Very smart to keep bad people out, b/c you could see people coming from one of the higher caves really easy, and they have no where to run, so you can easily pick them off with a bow and arrow (again, speculation rocks).

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Now this place made me tear up. It unfolded in front of me like a book. The more I looked at its pages, the more I came to understand what the place was, and it was a religious experience.

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Now that last pic wasn't of the circular window above the doorway, it was a vertical chimney, showing that this very large room was probably had a smoke fire you had to walk through in order to enter the cave. Then the fire would escape out the chimney so nobody inside would be oxygen deprived. The smoke would purify you as you entered, so you could be your spiritual self, rather than yourself held down by your physical body (that I learned at Mesa Verde from talks about the Kiva's having smoke rising through the ladders).

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Then look at that! I did not see that spot of light the first 5 min. I spent inside the cave. But then the clouds moved away for the sun to show me this calendar!

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The light came though the seemingly extra window on one of 12 dots on the floor. And if I remember form Mr. Mack American History class right (b/c he was one of the only ones who ever covers America before the Spanish) that the Native Americans broke the year and day up into 12 segments, just like the Europeans. So - very - cool.

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Now in these you can see the holes in the wall where the logs would go into, and the foundations of the pueblos that were in front of the caves, so you can connect the dots here and think of this place as looking like those 3 pueblos I saw just after my first cave.

Now I walk into a beautiful pine forest to climb up to a place on the top of the cavern wall.

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Now if you're thinking that the Kiva was really well preserved, it wasn't preserved so much as... reconstructed. But still cool.

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Now I take a mile hike back to the visitors center, get myself a swig of water and a carrot out of the car, then I head out on a 1.5 mile hike to the waterfalls! There are two of them and I am so excited! I get there, so amazing! So extremely amazing! I go to take a picture... out of frigging batteries! It has enough juice to give me a bright white screened message written in red: Warning Batteries Exhausted! But it can't take my last pic that I desperately want. The sun is already setting, I try everything I can think of. I even lick the battery to reduce resistance between the connectors. (It tasted acidic if you wondering.) Then I give up, by not giving up even a little. I start power hiking back to the car. It took me 35 min. to get to the waterfall with a normal walk, and I got back to the car in 25 min, got my laptop case with the battery chargers, and my bag of PB&J fixings, and I power walk to the restroom. I plugged in both batteries and my laptop. I had already run out of memory on one card, and was onto my other, so I decided to unload all my pics onto my laptop just in case I ran out of memory when I made it back to the waterfall. Then I made myself a sandwich and waited 30 min before unplugging the batteries. This should give me at least a dozen pictures worth of juice.

I power hike back to the waterfall, and I friggin get this shot!

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After one shot the batteries are exhausted (Joe's frigging camera fantastica he is always bragging about! Its a great camera if you ignore that it can't hold onto a charge worth shit! And it takes forever to fully charge the batteries in the first place.) I do Joe's trick of turning off the camera, then pulling the battery out, and plugging it back in (this trick of, hey, here is a new battery, surprisingly works every time).

Worried to press my luck, I power hike down the canyon to the second waterfall pressed for batteries and daylight.

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As John Steward would say (in a high pitched sing song voice) "Nailed It!"

Then it was back up the path, and I frigging took every pic. I could.

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Then I made it back to my car just at dusk (and I really wanted to make it back before dark because they told me that the black bear only comes out after dark. They said he doesn't bother you if you leave him alone, but he does like to wander around the visitor center. I didn't want him getting confused of me going to my car as "bothering" him, so I was tired of walking over 10 miles that day, and half of them really fast, but I was supremely satisfied as well.

Posted by - Rain 19:16

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Comments

glad you missed the black bear, and now that i know you lived through it, the pics are totally friggin' worth it! (not worth getting eaten by the bear, but worth the extra aggravation and walking!)

by georgi r

You should be feeling good--you got some terrific shots! The one of the blackened fragment of a tree (where it looks like a figure with wings) is a bit eerie.

by Sheryl S

That first shot of the waterfall was well worth the trip back to the car. I love the range of colors in it. The calendar in the cave is sweet too.

by buddy-JC

the waterfall shots have so many colors! its like Bob Ross on acid. which is probably a pretty normal state of existence for him.

the calendar made from the light shining through the holes was pretty amazing.... but would have been more amazing if you shoved a stick in it and it showed you where the Ark of the Covenant was...

by laurr

vanessa you are so smart, i would have never seen a calendar there! laurr - very funny!

by georgi r

Wow, Bob Ross, didn't see that reference coming. I didn't even know he had a name. I just thought they called him "that guy who teaches you how to paint really late on TV." But I guess Bob Ross works too.

by - Rain

wow, laura, i thought i only knew who bob ross was, "and here is how to paint a tree" (it doesn't matter what tree, he shows you one way to paint them all without even looking at one! saves time...lol)

by georgi r

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