We didn’t get started this morning until about 9 am, which was a little later than I anticipated given the boys’ proclivity for having to go to the bathroom right before we get into the car… We ended up staying in White Rock which is near Los Alamos labs and about 8 miles outside Bandelier. We drove back past the closed campgound down into Bandelier, which was spectacular just after sunrise. When we arrived, it wasn’t crowded at all. I guess we found the secret to a pleasant experience at busy National Parks – get there when it opens. We picked up the Junior Ranger booklets and headed out.
Bandelier was totally awesome – to use an overused 80’s phrase from high school. There was a whole ruin that was round village with many rooms, big, small and a few enormous rooms that were used for ceremonial purposes. It was a beautiful day with clear skies and not too hot to start out (that came later). The essence of Bandelier was the three story high caves carved into the walls of the canyon. Some of them were set up so that we could climb into them. All of them were darkened from smoke. It’s amazing to me that more people didn’t die from smoke inhalation with that set up. We saw many more petroglyphs than we did on the limited “open” trails in Petroglyph National Monument. The boys had to design and draw a petroglyph of their own as part of the Jr. Ranger program – it s interesting to see what they came up with. Bryce, of course, drew his lobber head.com logo.
It was on this part of the trip that we found out that McKinley was afraid of big bugs. We went to sit down to fill out part of the Jr. Ranger booklet and Jasper said “Ohh, look at that giant bug!” I don’t think I’ve seen McKinley move so fast before. He was like a shot out of a cannon! That discovery started an entire day of bug stories and hoaxes. My favorite was when we were almost done with the hike and we found a shady area to finish the booklets and McKinley was about to sit down on a bench when Bryce said – “don’t sit on that big bug!” McKinley jumped about 5 feet in the air to miss the (imaginary) bug. That incident started a chase scene which lasted the remainder of the hike…
The volunteer docent who checked the boys Jr. Ranger booklets was very thorough and kind. He must have been a teacher before he retired. He went through each page and each activity and then asked the boys his own set of questions. He sat side by side with each boy in turn before giving them their badge and administering the Jr. Ranger Oath. It was vary sweet. Once finished, the boys could check out the gift shop, which was a big hit.
We headed out of Bandelier and Los Alamos Nat’l Labs back to Santa Fe to find the Peruvian Connection and Coach stores. (I had done a little shopping reconnaisance before we left Sedona because I didn’t want to miss the Peruvian Connection outlet this time driving across country like what happened in 2001 when I drove across country with my brother). We discovered that Santa Fe traffic is crazy! On this El Camino like road, drivers would stop in the middle of the lane for no reason. Or they couldn’t figure out where they were or where they needed to turn, so they would just stop to take a look. A driver stopped on the merging lane to the freeway, no reason, just stopped. Made me never want to drive there again!
We finally found the Coach outlet (which we should have stayed on the freeway to find instead of driving through town, but we learned that afterwards.) I went there because I had a 40% off coupon. Fortunately, the Coach outlet had 20% off your entire purchase promotion going on that week… How can you go wrong with that? Jasper’s quote of the day, “Who would pay $150 for a purse?” followed shortly by Bryce, who said, “Mom, you have enough purses!” silly boys… You can never have enough purses…
They got a lesson in bargain hunting today- 40% off plus an extra 20% off. I had them do the math. They still like Nordstrom Rack better!
Next stop- the Peruvian Connection to check out their amazing sweaters! I have always loved the Peruvian Connection catalog – beautiful sweaters, mostly hand made, mostly pain in the butt kind of knitting with many colors, complicated patterns, etc. All stuff I could knit, but their prices are crazy – who wants to pay $400 for a sweater they can knit? But an outlet – that sounded interesting. So, I went to Santa Fe specifically for the purpose of seeing the Peruvian Connection Outlet. It was worth it – I tried on tons of sweaters which was fun because you can’t do that in a catalog… I found a few Christmas presents and one very fun sweater for me. The boys were great during all of this exploration. I had to separate McKinley from the other two boys and then they all spent their time playing games on their iPods/iPhones. Finally, mom was done touching everything and we could head to lunch.
We asked for a restaurant recommendation and the shop ladies suggested Tomasitas for lunch. It was near the Railroad station a couple of blocks away. Holy cow – that’s a lot of food!!! They served huge portions of everything on giant platters. I didn’t think the boys would eat it all but somehow most of it ended up being inhaled. We took a lot of mine with us to eat later. Today we discovered that Jasper doesn’t like Mexican food – who orders fried shrimp and french fries at a Mexican restaurant?
After lunch we headed back to the Peruvian Connection to get a present for Grandma Lee. We went to the market shops that looked like they must have been built in an old railroad station – nothing interesting so we decided to go find a few art galleries. We headed to Canyon Road to see all of the art galleries. This swanky area looked a lot like Carmel, CA with adobe type buildings instead of California Bungalows. Who knew that Bryce and McKinley wanted to see sculptures. Well, I think we spent the next 4 hours looking at EVERY scultpure in the 3 block radius where we parked. Once we started looking at art and got them off of looking at the price of each piece, they were very observant and creative with their own ideas about the art. McKinley called it the Fine Arts Block. Bryce loved the outdoor scultpures that were wind and movement oriented.
Once the galleries closed, we headed back to Albuquerque. We needed to put McKinley on a plane back to the Bay Area for Webelos camp so we found a hotel by the airport and then went to find dinner. I had put a list together of places visit or eat at before we left. On that list was the Frontier Restaurant which was across the street from University of New Mexico. (I found the recommendation in Sunset magazine). It was a huge college hangout with great food for cheap – $21 for 4 of us. That kind of pricing is hard to find if you have moved beyond fast food (which so far have avoided like the plague – no McDonald’s). I tried the frontier burrito with green chili stew on top. It was huge and I had to have help to even make a dent in it. The burrito was very tasty and the stew that was poured over the top had potatoes in it, which was a surprise. Jasper had a burger (in a Mexican restaurant…). The other part of the Sunset recommendation said the reason to go there was for the giant cinnamon rolls – so we may go back for breakfast and the famed cinnamon rolls.
We went back to the hotel and packed a bag with stuff to return with McKinley. We sent the 15 movies back with McKinley because the boys had watched them all by then (I’m still talking to myself on the drive because they have their headsets on to watch the movies.) I sent all of the National Park T-Shirts and gifts back with McKinley and anything else that we wouldn’t need on the rest of our trip.
Once we finished packing a bag for him and rearranging all of the other “stuff” and decided who was sleeping in what bed, I read a little before noticing that McKinley was sound asleep just as he laid down in bed. A day well spent!
License plates for the day:
Manitoba KY AL OH
- Day 1 – PEI or Bust – San Carlos to Bakersfiled
- Day 2 – PEI or Bust – Bakersfield to Sedona
- Day 3 – PEI or Bust – Exploring Sedona
- Day 4 – PEI or Bust – Heading to New Mexico
- Day 5 – PEI or Bust – Bandelier & Santa Fe
- Day 6 – PEI or Bust – Bandelier to Albuquerque
- Day 7 – PEI or Bust – Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (Almost)