We're based in Santa Fe for a week of exploration and a weekend with our 11-year-old grandson Alex. It's a home exchange we're doing - with a couple visiting their grandchildren in Seattle. They're staying in our house, driving our car, enjoying time with their family. It's a practical way to travel.
Yesterday we visited Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument, both about 45 minutes from the house. The Bradley Museum in Los Alamos does a colorful, informative, earnest job of explaining what the Los Alamos lab is currently up to. One of their responsibilities is to make sure our aging nuclear weapons are maintained and usable, now that we're not making any new ones. Lots of money going into that, which disturbs the progressive pacifist in me.
Bandelier is the site of numerous archeological sites and petroglyphs of the Ancient People who lived in the valley and in caves carved into volcanic stone on the valley walls.
The one-mile walk includes a series of stairs and walkways and ladders that take you right up into a few of the caves.
A deer walked across the path in front of us. The wind was soft and sighing. It wasn't crowded. The temperature was in the upper 60s. I could have stayed there a bunch longer. I'm glad we closed our day at this peaceful place.
Today we took the "High Road to Taos", stopping first at the Santuario de Chemayo. This area had long been known to the native people as a site for healing. Two hundred years ago a cross miraculously appeared to a villager, who built the Santuario. It's now the destination for thousands of pilgrims who come each year seeking miracles and healing.
Art and I arrived midway through the mass. The priest was low key and sincere. Parts of the service were in the original Greek, part was in English, and the final prayer was in Spanish. It was a lovely service even to me, a lapsed Catholic. I recalled the last time I was in a Catholic church was last November at St. Peter's in Rome. I liked this one better. It seemed much more in the spirit of simplicity and service, like St. Francis of Assisi, whom the brothers in this area follow.
We drove on to Taos and visited the Taos Pueblo, a national historic site. This pueblo has been inhabited for the last thousand years. The people I talked to, in their little shops situated in the old buildings, seemed reluctant to respond to my questions - except for the last woman, an artist, with whom I had an animated and candid conversation about Native American history and politics these days. We agreed there is power and greed at work everywhere.