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Homes of the Ancients

Oct 4, 2021

This morning Bruce and Cindi left to start their trip back to California. They plan on taking a few days to make it back to home.

Eva, Karen and I went to the Coronado Historic Site. This site has the ruins of the Kuanua Pueblo and was only 5-6 miles from Frenchie and Karen’s house. 

In 1540 Francisco Vasquez de Coronado entered the Rio Grande valley while searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. The village of Kuanua had about 1200 people when Coronado arrived and due to conflicts with the spanish, the village was abandoned.

In the 1930-40s, the site was excavated and hundreds of adobe rooms and many kivas were uncovered. The large kiva that was uncovered contained painted murals on all walls of the kiva. This is the only location in the world where painted murals in a kiva have been discovered. The murals were saved from the mud adobe walls of the kiva and some are displayed at the historic site.

After the site was fully excavated, they realized that exposure to the elements would severely damage the adobe walls, so the historic ruins were buried and reproductions were built in the same footprint of the originals.

We had a great tour guide walk us through the site. She was very knowledgeable of the history of the site and the culture of the people who lived there. It was very much worth the visit.

After returning to the house we spent the rest of the day visiting with Frenchie and Karen, while Frenchie told us many stories. Later they were very kind to make dinner for us and we ended the night with fresh apple pie and ice cream. They really spoiled us.

Oct 5, 2021

When we got out of the van in the morning we could again see many balloons in the sky as they drifted north towards the house. Eva and I packed up the van and said goodbye to Frenchie and Karen. They were very kind and hospitable to let us camp in the backyard for 4 nights. We didn’t expect all the food and deserts that they provided, but it we appreciated it very much. They were also very kind to drive us to the balloon fiesta and other locations. We also left with a full apple pie and raspberries.

Our plan was to take two night to get home. We drove north from Rio Rancho, through the Jemez canyon towards Bandelier National Monument. Along the way we stopped at Soda Dam, which is a very interesting rock formation that looks like some day may dam the river, unless it is kept open.

Bandelier National Monument is in a deep canyon just south of Los Alamos. Frijolies canyon contains the ruin of a large village that was inhabited by the Pueblo people from 1200 to 1500 AD. They estimate that the are at least 3000 sites in the canyon.

Eva and I hiked about 2-1/2 miles as we did the Pueblo loop and the hike to the Alcove House. There were many ruins and several kivas in the valley floor alongside the river. But the interesting sites were the homes that were carved into the cliff walls. We were able to enter several of them.

After visiting the cliff homes, we hiked another 1/2 miles to the bottom of Alcove House. From there we had to climb four long ladders to ascend 140 feet above the canyon. Alcove house is a large alcove high above the valley. On one side of the alcove is a restored kiva. It was nice to sit in the cool alcove and look at the views down the valley.

Eva was able to make her way down the ladders and we hiked back to the van. After eating lunch we took a back road from the mountains to the town of Cuba. From there it was another 75 miles to our camping spot.

We got the last campsite at the Angel Peak campground. This is a free BLM campground that is on the edge of a cliff overlooking the New Mexico Badlands. The night was windy, so we spent most of the time in the van.

Oct 6, 2021

It rained all night long, so we checked the forecast and it looked like overcast skies and rain showers for most of the day. We decided to drive the rest of the way home and arrived at the house around 5:30 pm.

When we got home, Chandler and Everett quickly ate all of Frenchie’s raspberries.

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