Saturday, July 23, 2016

Puye Cliff Dwellings (Spoiler Alert: No One Fell Off a Cliff)

We arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico yesterday...

...and acted like typical tourists, going to the most touristy spot we could find at the hottest time of day, when it would be super hard to find parking. But I will cover that afternoon in my next post. This one is about a far better planned excursion.

I really wanted to take the kids to see historic Pueblos in New Mexico, but there are so many options. With only a day in half, we had to pick one. The Puye Cliff Dwellings was only 40 minutes away from our hotel and had a website with good pictures, so WINNER.

We chose well. This was an incredible experience for all of us and I highly recommend it.

After an afternoon outside under a blazing sun the day before, I knew my arbitrary decision to visit ancient ruins in the early morning was sound. There is no escaping the fact that it's SUMMER IN NEW MEXICO, but 10:00 a.m. is a lot more pleasant for outdoor activities than 3:00 p.m. (when we visited downtown Santa Fe the day prior).

While the website provided guided tour information, it didn't specify whether you HAD to take a guided tour. The answer would be, yes, you do. There are no roped off areas or walls. You are in touching distance of everything. So yeah - good call on having tour guides to say, "sorry sir, but you can't actually go into the caves," and "please don't touch that." My family heard quite a bit of the latter.

While we were waiting for our tour we enjoyed some live entertainment (a brother and sister performance).

Then we took a van up to the mesa top.

We spent an hour on the mesa and there was a lot of standing still and listening to interesting facts. I missed most of this info, as my sons have a tendency to touch things they shouldn't be touching. Oliver needed the most supervision, and the longer we stood in the sun, the more fidgety he got. But really - he did well. I never take my kids on guided tours since they do better when we can keep moving with only brief pauses. But as I explained, there really wasn't any other option.

The last thing we did on the mesa was to climb down a ladder to check out the Kiva (an underground chamber where Pueblo men would perform secret ceremonies). No pictures inside, of course.

The next part of the tour involved climbing down the cliff side to visit the dwellings. If I understood that there would be a steep climb AND a 17 foot ladder involved, I may have opted for a ride back in the van (you can also access the cliff side dwellings via a walkway from the visitor center). But there we were at the edge of the mesa with no alternative transportation in sight... Adventure time!

Starting the climb down... See those foot print size indentations in the rock next to George's shoulder? That is THE PATH.

View of the path from below. No - I did not attempt to take pictures while ON the path since I do not have a death wish.

Looking down the ladder.

That was one big ass ladder.
Once everyone made it down the ladder, we walked along another path (of a far more civilized width) to look at the caves. And I am happy to report that my kids DID listen to directions and did not try to go into the caves. Mainly because I stood behind them saying, "don't go in the aren't allowed...that's too far...we can't go in..."

If you look closely at the images, you can see a lot of Petroglyphs (rock carvings). Our tour guide explained the meaning of many. Something about them being like house addresses, telling you who lived there, and some other stuff I don't remember. At this point I wasn't catching much, as we had reached our attention span limit. Here is a close up:

See the little guy just above the opening?
The tour guide let me know that we were welcome to walk the rest of the path on our own as she was almost done with the tour (was that a hint?) I took no offense since the whining, rock kicking and playing in dirt was a good sign that it was time for us to go.

I made them pose for a picture because I feel my luck can never be pushed too far...

George was whining that the sun was in his eyes and I have no idea why he's doing that namaste thing with his hands. Both twins were pissed because Oliver was squeezing them so hard. It may be the best picture I've taken of them in years.

I had grand plans of hitting another Santa Fe attraction in the afternoon, but we were exhausted and covered with dirt. I just wanted to shower and do laundry. We spent that rest of the day at the hotel, with an evening visit to the hotel cafe for our beverages of choice.

Saturday night and we in the spot.

Even if it wasn't IN the picture, you could pretty much guess what my choice was.

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