We left Santa Fe yesterday, after a couple fun days filled mostly with museum visits. We had not been to the Georgia O'Keefe, so that's where we headed first, followed by the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, and then the Institute of American Indian Arts. Our hotel was right across from the Palace of the Governor's Museum and the Santa Fe Library's Archives and Historical Manuscripts repository.
While we love Santa Fe, we also love to leave behind all its hyper-Southwestern-reality. Our first stop on the way to Taos was Bandelier National Monument, which we had somehow never managed to make time for on our previous SW trips. It was wonderful to get out into the wilderness and hike after having spent a couple days immersed in Santa Fe's commercialism. The cliff dwellings and ruins are definitely worth seeing (thought not as spectacular as those at Gila, Walnut Creek Canyon or Mesa Verde).
In some ways, the beautiful desert flora and fauna were the best part of Bandelier. Below is a young mule deer, a cactus blossom and bee, followed by a garter snake intent upon catching a nearby lizard.
After hiking around the park and investigating a few of the more accessible cliff dwellings, we headed into Los Alamos for lunch at the Central Grill. While we were eating, some folks at a table behind us (who looked like they were probably Native American) got up to leave--two little girls and a mom. As they passed by our table, the older daughter (maybe 7-8 years old) looked up at her mom and remarked excitedly:
"Mommy, you know what I want to be? I want to be a Christian!" [This was more than a little weird and ironic to hear right in the heart of science country.] Her mother, although clearly taken aback, didn't miss a beat: "Well, when you are 18 you can be whatever you want." It was absolutely classic. The entire restaurant had to stifle their laughter.
After lunch we headed back to the highway for a brief trip to San Ildefonso Pueblo. Pictured below is the sign that greets tourists, a Kiva, and the Catholic church & cemetery. We bought a piece of (redware) pottery from Alfred Aguilar, and at Barbara Gonzales' gallery (she is the granddaughter of Maria Martinez), we bought a small (black on black) seedpot with an abstract spider design and inlaid turquoise and coral. We will be eating soup for the rest of the month--but they are both gorgeous pieces by really talented artists.