The Inn At Halona

We spent the night at Zuni Pueblo. The trading post in the center of the village has been owned by the same family for generations. The current owner married a Frenchman, who is the innkeeper for the Bed & Breakfast. He treated us very well; there were snacks available so that we did not have to go out to eat that evening, and a we were provided a full breakfast in the morning. The rooms were tastefully decorated, and we were upgraded to two rooms, though we had reserved only one.

My attempt at blogging on the road.  It was not a success.  The inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard missed keystrokes, and together with my normal typos that led to much frustration.  I had no way to upload photos from the Pentax camera, and the iPhone screen is really too small to properly edit a blog.  I ended up recording text with a few photos taken on the iPhone.

It was pouring rain the last 10 miles from El Morro to Zuni, but with the aid of Google Maps, I found the B&B easily enough. The Garmin Nuvi GPS was not helpful because it did not have the B&B in its database. However, I was using an iPhone app called Cartographer that syncs with Google Maps. Since I used Google Maps to plan the trip, Cartographer was able to give specific directions to the B&B, using the GPS built into the phone.

This girl is holding the turtle fetish I bought as a souvenir for Dad.

Even after arriving at the Inn at Halona, and parking practically next to it, it was not obvious which building was the Inn. Finally the innkeeper, working at the trading post next door, showed us to the B&B.

In the morning, after breakfast, we took a walking tour of the old part of the village. As we were leaving, we stopped at the gas station to buy fuel, and a girl selling fetishes approached us. I bought Dad a turtle fetish as a souvenir of the trip. I’m sure it was overpriced, but the girl looked like she needed to make a sale.

El Morro – Inscription Rock

A very large sandstone cliff rising from the desert floor, El Morro was well-known by travelers in years past for the unique pool of water at its base. The pool is not fed by a spring, but by runoff from rains at the top of the cliff. It reminds me of the water harvesting techniques practiced by the Nabateans at Petra, except this is natural. The size of the pool varies with rainfall but it never runs dry. Morro was a stop for travelers from ancient times until the railroad passed it by.

It seems that people from all eras cannot resist the urge to write their names on large, flat, vertical expanses. Morro rock provides an ideal canvas for people to say “I was here”. The sandstone is easy to carve, and everyone from ancestral Puebloans to Spanish conquistadores to children traveling with wagon trains added their graffiti to the rock. I saw petroglyphs, spanish inscriptions, and english carvings, It all basically says “I was here on this date”.

Puebloans started the tradition of inscriptions on the rock

First Spanish inscription by Don Juan de Oñate dated on April 16, 1605

An Anglo inscription on El Morro

Laguna Pueblo

Laguna Pueblo sits on a hill, with the San Jose de la Laguna Mission church in the center.

We did not have time to visit the San Jose de la Laguna Mission, a 300 year old church in the Pueblo, but we did stop at a spot where Pueblo residents were selling handmade jewelry. There we struck up a conversation with two sisters, who interestingly were from two different tribes: Acoma and Laguna. Before we left, I had been invited to their feast, both at Laguna and at Mesita. Such friendly people, to invite perfect strangers into their village, and into their home to share a meal. I will try hard to accept the invitation and attend.

Bruno strikes up a conversation with a jewelry vendor from Laguna Pueblo. Vending is not allowed on the Interstate right-of-way, so the Pueblo has built these booths on their land. I-40 right of way ends at the fence seen in the photo.

Clara invited us to the Feast at the Village of Mesita, part of the Laguna Pueblo.

Bandelier National Monument

It was Veterans Day and the National Park Service was waiving entrance fees. I took the day off work and visited Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier is located near Los Alamos, but there is no easy way to get there from Albuquerque. I took the “shortcut”, straight over the mountain. Read about it in my post “Road to Bandelier“.

Start of the Main Loop Trail as it leaves the Visitor Center.

The Visitor Center is located in Frijoles Canyon.  In ancient times Ancestral Pueblo people lived here, in free standing villages and against the cliffs.  Descendants of the Ancestral Pueblo people now live in Pueblos along the Rio Grande valley.  The Pueblo most closely related to the people who lived in the Frijoles Canyon is Cochiti.

Bandelier NM contains 33,727 acres and numerous trails for hiking.  Because of the “shortcut” I took getting here, I did not arrive until after noon.  With sunset occurring just after 5:00, I limited myself to the Main Loop Trail and the Alcove House.

I started my hike in the Visitor Center, where I talked to Chris, a ranger who has been at Bandelier since 1976.  Chris just started writing the Facebook page for Bandelier a couple weeks ago.  Chris recommended visiting Tsankawi as well, so I left time for a visit there.  After getting my National Parks Passport stamped, I began walking along the Main Loop Trail.

Main Loop Trail

This is one of the three kivas located within the walls of Tyuonyi. The Big Kiva is located outside the village.

The Main Loop Trail is 1.25 miles long.  It is paved and wheelchair accessible to Tyuonyi.  There are inclines and steep, narrow stairs to the cliff dwellings and the Long House.

The first major point of interest along the trail is the Big Kiva.  This kiva has been reconstructed, but without a roof to allow visitors to see inside.  Entrance is prohibited.  A kiva is an underground room that was the center of the community for religious activities, education, and decision making.

One to two stories high, Tyuonyi contained about four hunderd rooms and housed approximately 100 people. A central plaza contained three kivas. Access to the village was through a single ground-level opening.

Just beyond the Big Kiva is the village of Tyuonyi.  This village may have been a place of meeting between speakers of the Tewa language, who today live north of the canyon, and speakers of Keres, who today live to the south.

Often rooms were built in front of cavates. This house was reconstructed in 1920, but today it is believed the reconstruction is not quite accurate. Access was probably from the roof, not through a door in front.

The trail takes a right turn just past Tyuonyi and leads to the cliff dwellings.  Those who do not wish to climb the steep stairs can bypass this portion of the trail and go to the Long House.

Volcanic tuff has been eoded into a tall shape called a hoodoo. From this angle, it looks like a monster guarding the cliff houses.

Bandelier is located on the Pajarito Plateau.  This area is composed of volcanic ash that has been compressed and turned to rock.  The rock is called tuff, and is quite soft.  It is susceptible to erosion and can be worked relatively easily.  The people who lived here would enlarge naturally-occurring rooms (cavates)  to use for storage.

People would live in these caves, and often would build 2 and 3 story houses in front of them. Note the person climbing a ladder inside one of the caves.

Wind and water act on volcanic tuff to erode it, sometimes into fantastical shapes.  Tall shapes are called hoodoos.  Often there is a harder rock on top that protects the softer rock below from being completely eroded away.

Houses were built against the cliff face two and three stories high, often incorporating caves in the cliff, where possible.

Frey Trail branches off from the Main Loop Trail.  Steep switchbacks lead up to the canyon rim and to Juniper Campground.

Above the top story of the houses are hundreds of petroglyphs. Far from being "rock art", these figures had specific meanings to the people who drew them. Recent research suggests that they may even be a form of written language. How many shapes can you pick out in this photograph? Click to enlarge.

Along the base of the cliff, rows of houses were built in a structure referred to as the Long House.  At its peak in the late 1400s, the population of Frijoles Canyon was estimated to number more than 500.  Cave dwellings are located along the south-facing canyon wall in order to catch the afternoon sun and warmth during the winter.

Alcove House

A half mile walk along Frijoles Creek (In Spanish it is called El Rito de los Frijoles, or "little river of beans") brings one to the ladders leading to the Alcove House.

The trail to the Alcove House splits off from the Main Loop Trail.  To enter the Alcove House, one must climb four ladders, ascending 140 feet above the canyon floor.  Inside the Alcove House is a reconstructed kiva.  The climber is rewarded with spectacular views of Frijoles Canyon.

Three of the four ladders leading to the Alcove House can be seen in this photo. Click to enlarge.

The intrepid adventurer attempts the climb to the Alcove House.

The intrepid adventurer is looking for a "golden foot" in an ancient kiva. Alas, no artifacts were found.

The path down from the Alcove House is just as challenging as the climb up.

Adventure Maps

Bandelier National Monument – Main Loop Trail at EveryTrail
EveryTrail – Find the best Hiking in New Mexico

Note the ladder climb up to the Alcove House.