The past three days, though, have been filled with adventure. On Wednesday we visited El Rancho De Las Golondrinas (The Ranch of the Swallows). This place is rich in history. It dates back to 1710 and [singlepic=463,250,250] Mountain Gravescomprises buildings and artifacts that range over a 250 year span. The historic records indicate that this site was the last encampment before reaching Santa Fe after the long trip on horseback from far away Mexico City. It is here where Mexican and Native American culture mixed, contributing much to the culture of New Mexico today.
Thursday we took a drive to the Randall Davey Audubon Center to do some hiking and get in a little birding. This wildlife refuge covering 135 acres at the mouth of Santa Fe Canyon is the home of over a hundred species of birds, 120 plants, and a wide variety of mammals. We hiked along the mile-long loop trail and thought we had scared all the birds away, as we saw very few. (I’m sure it had little to do with our louder-than-most five-year-old.) We did observe some beautiful views, though, an amazing dragonfly up close, an interesting array [singlepic=464,250,250] A Patient Dragonof cacti, and more beautiful rocks than you can imagine. (We were walking all over them.) Just as we were about to leave, we noticed a small garden through an archway and beyond the restrooms of the visitors’ center. Apparently, this was where all the birds were hanging out. We saw a bunch of hummingbirds (which was cool for me, because I had only seen one once before in my life.) I snapped a bunch of pictures, but they are fast little buggers, that’s for sure. The Audubon Center proved to be a nice little escape–and just a short drive from downtown Santa Fe.
Friday we ventured out a little further and made the hour-long drive to Bandelier National Monument to [singlepic=465,250,250] Hummingbirdhike and visit the ruins of the ancient cliff-dwelling ancestral Puebloan culture. This was amazing. We climbed amongst and even into wonderfully preserved cave homes dating back between 1100 and 1550 AD. On the way to Bandalier, we stopped at a White Rock Overlook, just off state highway 4. Nestled within an otherwise typical suburban neighborhood, we found a small park with stunning views of the Rio Grande River Valley and faraway red mesas dotted black with distant Junipers and Ponderosa pines.. On the way back, we pulled off highway 285/84 to snap a couple photos of “Camel Rock.” It really looks like a camel.
We took so many photos over the past three days, it’s difficult to share them all here. To give a little better taste, I’ve assembled some of the highlights below in this quick slide show.