I’m not sure how we ended up here apart from the fact that it’s near Bandelier National Monument where we spent the morning hiking. We thought we’d booked a hotel in White Rock, near Bandelier, but apparently the reservation was actually for this hotel in Los Alamos, home of the Manhattan Project.
Bandelier was just marvelous. Many years ago we visited a cliff dwelling site in northern Arizona (I wrote about this in an essay in Phantom Limb) and were fascinated and (I confess) bewitched by the mystery and beauty of these ancient villages of the Ancestral Pueblo people. I’ve read House of Rain by Craig Childs in which he travels the four corners area and further south, in search of the village sites and roads of those people. I loved every page. It’s a mystery — why the villages were abandoned, where the people went. But maybe not such a mystery, as a recording in the Bandelier Museum suggests. “We didn’t go far,” the man said. “We went to Cochiti, just over the mountain.” We drove through that pueblo the other day and it’s good to know that the spirit (and DNA) of the people who created this beautiful complex of houses and cliff dwellings has only shifted location a little.
Los Alamos is filled with nuclear physicists, apparently — the woman in the visitor centre told us there are more PhDs per capita here than anywhere else in the nation. So I imagine they’re the ones drinking coffee in the Fusion Cafe and sampling the fine range of beer in the brewpub where we drank a pint before going for dinner at the Blue Window Bistro (spinach salad with gorgonzola and walnuts and lovely pears, eggplant and portobello napoleon, and a chicken enchilada).
And who, I wonder, was drawn in by the sign at the Camel Rock Casino, just north of Santa Fe, advertising a Lent Special?
To Taos tomorrow, and Abiquiu, with a stop at Chimayo for some dried red chilies to bring home.