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First there is the mountain

August 12, 2009

The Spy family has the house to themselves this morning. My mom and dad had something to do at their church at 7 a.m., and I’ve been enjoying the solitude. AJ helped me drag a couple of yoga mats out to the patio off the portal this morning and I did sun salutations facing the mountains, listening to the trickle of the fountain and watching dozens of hummingbirds buzz busily around me. Afterwards, I had a bowl of granola with raspberries and blueberries and I feel like I’ve spent a week at a spa.

Yesterday we got up and out as quickly as we could, which is not too quickly because it takes nine hours to assess everyone’s needs and another nine hours to figure out what to do about them and still another nine hours to make sure no one is unhappy. It is exhausting being a group. We drove out to Bandelier National Monument. The drive out was beautiful, especially once we got past the numerous casinos on the reservations. You can see a few of our pictures in yesterdays post.

Bandelier is the thing AJ has been looking forward to the most out here. He has been fascinated with pueblos and cliff dwellings since he studied them in school in first grade and he was excited to finally get to see some with his own eyes. We stopped at the visitor’s center so he could get what he needed to earn his junior ranger patch. The junior ranger program is one of my favorite things about the National Parks Service. At most, if not all, national parks, children can pick up a book of activities — they have a different one for each age. AJ had to fill out a page that taught him about how to behave in a park (don’t feed the animals, don’t pick things, etc.) and at least three more pages where he had to respond about things he saw and read in the park. The book was great (we’d actually checked it out at home before we left by downloading it from the park’s website) and AJ stopped at the very first place, a demonstration garden off the back of the visitor’s center, to fill out his first page with information about how early inhabitants used native plants.

The highlight of the day was definitely climbing up and down ladders and crawling into cliff dwellings. On the way home, AJ was trying to figure out how to turn his room into a cliff dwelling-like space, with lots of small rooms. It was also incredible to see the petroglyphs carved high up on the face of the cliffs and to see the teeny tiny rooms in the remains of the pueblo.

As the sun got hotter, we left the park and headed for Los Alamos, which was also interesting. We saw coyotes crossing the road in front of one of the many security gates around the city, which was much busier than I had expected. We went to the Bradbury Science Museum, which has a definite pro-nuclear research point of view that reminded me of the “Better Living Through Chemistry” filmstrips we used to see in school when I was a kid, and saw life-size replicas of Fat Man and Little Boy. To counteract this definite viewpoint, there were two walls given to community groups who wished to present their own exhibits. One wall was covered with pictures of Nagasaki, and while I’d seen many of them before, it was definitely sobering. I was particularly interested in the part of the exhibit devoted to the history of the Manhattan Project, which included a book of ID photos of all the people who worked on it. And I was surprised to see exhibits on the human genome project and on astronomy, both of which are also conducted in Los Alamos. I hadn’t realized the science conducted there was broader.

Last night was the first night I did not sleep well. I was kept up by coyotes yipping and howling outside my window. But AJ is energetic and excited this morning, so hopefully it will be a good day. I think we’re heading into Santa Fe for a visit to the Children’s Museum and the public library. Tomorrow my aunt, uncle and college-aged cousin, the ones who live in Michigan, arrive for a few days. They are on a driving trip of the southwest. Conversation is always lively when they are around and I’m looking forward to seeing them. But poor Mr. Spy is getting a lot of in-laws this trip.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    August 12, 2009 11:11 am

    Sounds wonderful. I can relate to Mr. Spy but I hope he’s enjoying himself, too. In-laws or no in-laws. I mean, if it wasn’t for the in-laws, you wouldn’t be there now would you?

  2. August 12, 2009 9:59 pm

    Your trip sounds wonderful. I spent some time down there almost 15 years ago and got to visit Mesa Verde, it was absolutely amazing. Seeing cliff dwellings in person is beyond cool and much better than an pictures can ever show.

    Thanks again for all of your support in the costume project. The play was a success the costume was great. I am extremely glad it made it through in one piece.

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