Our last trip was phenomenal (as all the Walking Enchantment trips have been)! We visited Ghost Ranch and the Bandelier National Monument. All I can say is WOW!!! Our first day was Ghost Ranch and as most folks know, that's where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and worked as a New York transplant. On the way to Ghost Ranch, however, is a lake. Never knew we even had lakes in New Mexico, but as evidenced by the large body of water that is Abiquiu Lake, there are! Will miracles never cease?
The Ghost Ranch story is a long and amazing one and while I won't go into all the details here, I will say that I was shocked to find that it had been a cattle rustling operation for 25 years or so, then became a dude ranch, and finally an education center. Definitely several changes of direction for this bit of acreage.
The Ghost House was the actual living quarters of the Archuletta brothers who were cattle rustlers. One of the brothers got ticked at the other and killed him, which is how the law found out about the cattle rustling. What a goober! Then to add insult to injury, he was hanged from the very cottonwood tree that was in their courtyard. Who says crime pays?
Then came the dude ranch. When owned by Arthur Pack, Ghost Ranch evolved from a cattle rustling homestead into an operating dude ranch. It's now a thriving educational center that offers many classes and workshops throughout the year.
Enter Georgia O'Keeffe... She arrived on the scene in 1934 for a vacation and basically never left. All of her work from that point forward was done on Ghost Ranch property and even though many of her pieces look like huge, picturesque mountains, trees, etc., they are in fact, low hill formations and dead trees painted in close perspective.
Day two of this trip found us at the Bandelier National Monument, once a large, thriving community. The landscape in and around the area is nothing short of stunning! Compared to Chaco Canyon, this location is higher in elevation and much older - over 10,000 years! There were cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, vegetation and a river that runs through it, though more of a dribble now than a river.
According to two park rangers at Bandelier, the people who occupied the area often made fun of those that fell out of line as a form of punishment. As a result, there were many smiling face petroglyphs on the walls smiling back at us.
Further along the river, there were beautiful trees and paths that took us to the end of the development known as the Alcove. Now, me being me, I was NOT about to climb 140 feet up the side of a gigantic rock just to reach said Alcove. I'm fine at ground level, thank you very much. Though project partner, Carey Rose, did brave the heights and went to the top. Yay, Carey Rose!
Of course, no climb would be complete without the ever-present smart phone panos from the top! Phew! Once that harrowing task was done, we made our way back to the parking lot. When we got there we discovered that there is yet another area within Bandelier to be explored that has...wait for it...a WATERFALL! Well, actually two. According to the rangers at the station, there are indeed a few honest to goodness waterfalls in Bandelier. Amazing! Consequently, we are planning another trip back to this area in September since apparently this is the best time of year to view the waterfalls. And the best news? It's only a three mile hike. Let's see, that should take us about, oh, eight hours or so. It only took us five hours to do a mile and a half to and from the Alcove!!! Naturally, that includes stopping every few feet to photograph this incredible area and play with the squirrels...
We have several other trips planned in the fall, so please stay tuned for the culmination of this wonderful project that is Walking Enchantment. Please also visit our website and contribute to the project fund and help us choose three top charities that will benefit from the proceeds of the sales of our images and books. If you don't see your favorite charity listed, please feel free to enter the one you like and get all your friends to visit our website and vote for that charity as well. The top three choices will be chosen by popular vote.
Until next time...