Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pecos National Park, New Mexico

After last night's strong winds we decided to pull Endie's slides in this morning as we prepared to leave for the day. These winds are horrible, but I'm beginning to think we're getting the worst of it because of the campground's location here on a ridge. 

Today's destination is nearby Pecos National Park to see the ruins of Pecos Pueblo, a 900 year old 700 room multilevel complex and the remains of a 17th century Spanish mission church named Nuestra Senora de los Angeles de Porciuncula de los Pecos (that was easy!).
From Santa Fe I-25 North actually will take us in a southeasterly direction.
At the Pecos National Park Visitors Center we gathered the necessary information and toured the museum before setting out on the 1.25 mile trail through the ruins. 

The museum was filled with very old treasures -- some dating back to the 1300's! Here are some of my favorite displayed pieces.

This is one of the very oldest pieces of pottery from the area.

This one was used for cooking? 

The pouch that looks like a pillow is actually filled with silver coins.
Two pieces of rawhide were stitched together, filled with silver coins and then soaked in water.
This caused the pouch to shrink and hold the coins firmly inside.
Anyone who knows us, even casually, knows we enjoy old movies. Imagine our interest in the plaque that identifies movie actress Greer Garson and her husband as benefactors of the Pecos National Park!  She and her husband Colonel E.E. Fogelson were long time patrons of southwestern archeology.  Colonel Fogelson was a lawyer, oilman, politician and philanthropist who was instrumental in having the ruins here placed under federal protection.  Greer Garson, as any fan of Turner Classic Movies can tell you, was heralded as one of America's top ten box office draws in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945 and 1946. She won the Oscar for her performance in Mrs. Miniver.

Actress Greer Garson and her husband Colonel E.E. Fogelson
Photographer error resulted in the blurred image.
At their death, they left $1.5 Billion Dollars and vast acreage to Pecos National Park

Pecos National Park lies between the Sangre de Christo Mountains and Glorieta Pass in Pecos Valley. For over 10,000 years this land has unfolded continuously changing cultures. It is believed they came in this order: Pueblo and Plains Indians, Spanish conquerors and missionaries, Mexican and Anglo armies and then settlers traveling the Santa Fe Trail.

The Puebloan people created special places below ground called Kivas used for ceremonial and social gatherings. There were a couple of Kivas along the trail.  In the photo above, the Kiva is the closest large, round, dirt-covered area.

That's me crawling down into a Kiva.
Kivas represent a step back to a person's origins and allow a closer communion with the spirits of the underworld.
I did not want any communion with the underworld so I didn't go all the way down into this Kiva.
The round stone walled areas known as "trash mounds" can be seen along the east side of the trail. They proved to be "time capsules" as centuries of discards in exact chronological order were piled here. These have been a treasure trove of scientific data. 
There are many of these stone walled depressions. 
They mark the excavation areas for the Archaeologists who worked here for over a decade.

And so Lexie and Ozzie will stay in the stroller here.

There's breathtaking scenery all around.
The mission (as a verb) of the Spanish Franciscans who came here before 1700 was to convert the Indians to Catholic Christianity. The Mission (as a noun) was a huge complex consisting of the church building and the convento where work took place. The convento included quarters, workshops, corrals, stables, kitchen, gardens and dining areas. 

Part of the Mission Complex

I'm standing in front of the church.
(Yes, there are two little dogs on the ends of those leashes.)
The first church here was finished in the early 1600's.
The second church was finished in the early 1700's and stood within the foundation of the first.

The Wayner is threatening to jump into the Kiva.
I threatened to close the door on him if he did.
Leaving the mission and convento area, we finished the 1.25 mile walk back to the Visitors Center where we left the car. 
Along the walk back to the Visitors Center

Some of the common grass we're seeing a lot in the area.
I don't know what it is but it's deep green with bright red ends.
Upon our return to the Visitors Center we were directed to a Pecos eatery named Frankie's Casa Nova Grill where we enjoyed still more of the southwestern ambiance along with a delicious 1/2 pound cheeseburger topped with chilies and peppers.  Oh so good.
Frankie's Casa Nova Grill

Inside the restaurant

On our way out of the area along the Santa Fe Trail, we stopped in to see the historical markers for the Civil War Battlefield at Glorieta Pass.  

The Glorieta Battle is known as "the Gettysburg of the West"

"union forces dashed Confederate strategy to seize the Southwest's major supply base at Fort Union. The Texas vanguard captured Santa Fe on March 10, 1862 but after two days of battle here, union troops and Colorado volunteers burned a poorly guarded Confederate supply camp and slaughtered hundreds of their horses and mules. The Confederate troops retreated from New Mexico within two weeks.   Yes, I realized I capitalized "Confederate" but not "union" here.
The area of Pecos National Park is flanked on the west by the Rio Grande and to the east by the Pecos River. The park is almost one-quarter million acres and encompasses mesas, canyons, lakes, waterfalls and over 150 miles of streams. 

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