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Trip Report Northern New Mexico - Off the Beaten Path (mostly)

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The Pickles (Mr. Pickle, Pickle Boy, and me) spent a couple of days earlier this month exploring bits of New Mexico we hadn't all seen before. Pictures are posted here:

May 11
We drove from Albuquerque up through Jemez Springs, then east through the Valles Caldera National Preserve. http://www.vallescaldera.gov/ This was a private ranch until 2000, when it was sold to the government. We had hoped to hike a little here, but it was snowing and, as it turned out, the preserve doesn't open to the public until May 21st, so we went on to Los Alamos.

The Bradbury Science Museum http://www.lanl.gov/museum/ is worth a stop; we spent about an hour here learning about Los Alamos history and the Manhattan Project. The film "The Town That Never Was" was pretty interesting, as are the plaques with snippets of interviews from a wide variety of people who worked on the Project. A corner of the museum is set aside for displays and information from peace activists, so you see a bit of both sides of the nuclear question.

Our main goal for the day was to visit Bandelier National Monument http://www.nps.gov/band/ outside Los Alamos, as we hadn't been there for at least 10 years. It didn't snow, but the cool, cloudy day made the walk through the canyon very pleasant.

The last time we were there, the Pickle guys climbed 140 feet worth of ladders and stairs to Alcove House. I don't like heights, so I waited at the bottom for them. Pickle Boy, who was four at the time, thought it would be fun to run down the "hill," not realizing there was a sheer drop at the edge. I heard Mr. Pickle yell, "Matthew, STOP!" and then my son's wail as he tripped and fell over a rock before he reached the edge. Providentially, he's old enough to know better now. :-)

We considered stopping at Puye Cliff Dwellings on our way down the hill, but it was late in the afternoon and we decided to skip it. Our first night was spent at the Comfort Inn in Espanola. We thought about staying in Abiquiu, but we had enough hotel points to get our room for free.

Espanola is nothing to write home about, but the hotel is well-kept and comfortable, with a heated indoor pool, free wi-fi, and a decent breakfast.

Dinner was at La Cocina www.lacocinanm.com, not far from our hotel. They have a good mix of reasonably priced New Mexican and American dishes. When a menu says "We are not responsible for the heat of our chile," I can be pretty sure it will be spicier than I want to try! Pickle Boy had green chile on the side with his burger, and sure enough, I was right - the bit I sampled was delicious and really flavorful, but that bit was *hot.*

Lee Ann

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