Second day of our road trip filled with wonder and history

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Gila Cliff Dwellings, New Mexico

We woke this morning in our wonderful ‘funny little cabin in the woods’ with an outside temperature of 49° and clear blue skies. The air was crisp and just perfect for a day trip to visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Breakfast was a lot of fun. We spent the time eating breakfast and preparing for the day reminiscing about the good times we have shared over the past 20+ years.

As we looked around our ‘funny little cabin in the woods’, we all agreed that we had made a very good choice in housing.

Our 'funny little cabin in the woods'.

Our ‘funny little cabin in the woods’.

In the bright light of day we noticed that there were two trees growing up through the floor of our front porch. Our cabin was a two-story wood building with a ample front porch complete with tables, chairs and a large storage box filled with firewood.  The cabin was a two bedroom.  This was really funny.  When you walked in the front door you were immediately in the living room which consisted of a loveseat, sofa table and a chair and a small side table.  Immediately behind the loveseat was a queen-sized bed.  This was the second bedroom.

Cabin 1a (1)

The downstairs bedroom was delineated by a lace canopy that was nailed into the ceiling above the bed. There were also two bedside tables.  In front of the love seat was the kitchen complete with a table and four chairs, sink, stove and plenty of storage.  The kitchen was stocked with dishes, silver, coffee pot, coffee, creamer, sugar, paper goods.  In the corner of the room was a stone fireplace.

Just beyond the loveseat was a staircase to the second floor that revealed a lovely bed room with a double bed, love seat, bed tables and a door leading out to a small balcony. This little cabin was just perfect.  It was small, compact, decorated with homey touches and lent itself to intimate conversations.  We all loved it.

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We finally got on the road and made our way down a windy two-lane road full of ess curves.  Randy kept looking out the windy and commenting how wonderful this road would be on a motorcycle.

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The drive to the dwellings was going to be approximately 2 hours.  The road had no guard rails and was twisty as it meandered through the mountains.   We stopped periodically to enjoy the wonderful vistas along the way.

 

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We took a few minutes to watch a video at the visitor’s center about the Mongollon Peoples who built the cliff dwellings. We learned that the Mongollon Peoples are believed to have inhabited the region from between 1275 and into the early 14th century.

Looked up to see where we were going while listening to the park ranger.

Looked up to see where we were going while listening to the park ranger.

IMG_1654We then drove a little further into the park and listened as a park ranger gave us tips on being safe as we climb the trail to the dwellings.  We crossed a small bridge and started our climb up the valley to the cliff dwellings.  The walk was fairly easy but I had to rest periodically. I sometimes have trouble catching my breath when trekking up inclines.  Of course, I had to keep in mind that Albuquerque was 5,000 feet above sea level and we were climbing even higher.  We flatlanders do struggle a bit.  The climb was not a problem for our two energizer bunny friends though.  But they were gracious and stopped once in a while to give us a chance to catch up.  This little gesture was much appreciated!

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Vilma 5b

 

As we made our way up we came upon two women just standing on the trail. They signaled us to tread lightly as we approached.  We got a little closer and saw what they were looking at.  There was an owl high in a tree on the path.  We all stopped to take a few pictures.  We were amazed that the owl did not fly away instead just looked at us and turned around.

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Vilma 2

The park ranger was kind and took a picture of our motley crew.

 

 

As we made our way up the 1-mile loop trail that climbs 180 feet above the canyon floor, we walked across uneven ground, small wood bridges and negotiated narrow ledges. Back and forth, back and forth and then all of a sudden we finally got our first glimpse of the dwellings.  I found this to be amazing.

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Had to have a selfie in the dwellings!

What was also amazing was that we were allowed to walk in the footsteps of such amazing history. We entered the dwellings and slowly walked through the structures taking care to imagine what life was like for the people who had created and lived in these amazing dwellings.  There was a park ranger in the dwellings who was kind enough to offer some insights into the lives of the early inhabitants.

Corn cobs in the basket and sticks were found in the dwellings

Corn cobs in the basket and sticks were found in the dwellings

Randy and Jim followed the park ranger into a chamber in one of the buildings.  “He actually showed us the corn cobs they found during the excavation of the dwellings,” Randy said.  The corncobs were very small and well preserved.  The corn cobs are in the little basket on the left.

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Photo by Vilma

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To come down from the dwellings we had to walk down a ladder. I looked down the ladder and then back at the dwellings and had a great appreciation for the people who lived and loved in this special place.

 

 

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The walk down was a little easier and we stopped periodically to enjoy the views and watch the lizards that were scurrying across the rocks.

 

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The park ranger  pointed Randy and Jim to a place a little down the road at the Scorpion Campground where there were more dwellings and pictographs.  “It was a short walk,” Randy said, “but well worth the walk”.  I walked to one site but my back was aching a bit so I decided to rest in the car while they went on to the second site.

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DSC04896bWe stopped by the cabin for a bit before heading to Silver City for dinner. Just as we pulled in we spotted a group of mule deer grazing outside our ‘funny little cabin in the woods’.  We were so excited.  We drove as close as we could, rolled down our windows and took a few pictures before parking the car.  The deer were so busy eating they did not even notice us.  That is until Jim let out a loud whistle and they all looked up at once.  They stared at us for a bit then went back to eating.  Funny.

 

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IMG_1701On our way to Silver City we passed a gas station where a road side stand had been set up selling ristras.  Ristras are arrangements of drying chili pepper pods.  The ristras are sometimes used as decoration and are said to bring good health and good luck.  Vilma purchased three to hang outside on her lanai and was very happy that she got them at a very good price.

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IMG_1704bWhile researching where to eat in Silver city, Vilma and I had decided to try one of two restaurants. One was the Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery and the other was the Curious Kumquat. We all engaged in a conversation about having a something small to eat at the brewery and then perhaps having a larger dinner at the other restaurant.

However, by the time we reached the Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery three of us were quite hungry and decided to order sandwiches and a local beer. Randy and I had their BLT on marble rye.  It was delicious.  The bacon was thick and very crisp, the tomatoes fresh and flavorful and I just marble rye.  Yummy!  Jim and Vilma split a Rueben and loved it.

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After eating we took a stroll around the town and were amazed at the fact that most of the stores and restaurants were closed for the day and it was only 5pm.  The town has, over time, transformed itself from a silver mining town, to a thriving copper mining town with the downtown filled with interesting architecture, colorful murals, galleries and a variety of eclectic restaurants.

IMG_0355b We took a few pictures and returned to our ‘little cabin in the woods’ and settled in for the evening. Randy started a beautiful fire in the fireplace and we all gathered around for an evening of reading, a little television, posting our favorite pictures on Facebook and great conversation.

One of the things I love about friendships like ours with Jim and Vilma is that it really does not matter how long it has been between visits because as soon as we get together it is like time had stood still and we picked up where we left off the last time we saw each other.  What a great day!

Tomorrow we say goodbye to our ‘funny little cabin in the woods’ and head north as Randy expressed, “to more new adventures”.

Enjoy,

Mary

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6 Responses to Second day of our road trip filled with wonder and history

  1. randy says:

    Great day of fun and adventures.

  2. Genny says:

    I particular liked the wildlife you saw on this day. Cool!

  3. mukul chand says:

    Wonderful Post.loved the owl pic

  4. helffrich says:

    Great pictures. Great fun

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