Friday, August 17, 2012
The Abandoned Lands...A Journey Through the Colorado Plateau: Migrations, Calderas, and the Middle of the Story at Bandelier
After a generation, things began to change. There were a series of drought years, and the Great Depression added to a hard existence. There were the horrific dust storms, and in 1936 a tornado destroyed my grandfather's house, nearly killing him. But they hung on. They found jobs here and there, and always kept up a vegetable garden in their spare hours. They canned food when they could, and sold fresh vegetables off their wagon in town.
World War II was well underway when the family made a momentous decision. Relatives in California said that things were better out there, and that they should move west. The family sold most of their things, loaded up their car, drove through New Mexico, and got as far as Kingman, Arizona before their transmission failed. The repairs took six days and nearly all their money, but they labored on, traveling at night through the Mojave Desert and arriving the next morning in the Central Valley. We're still here several generations later.
I've been telling the story backwards. I've had a couple of posts about the pueblos at Acoma, Pecos and Taos where the Ancestral Puebloans ended up and are thriving today. Today's post is about the middle of their journey, a place that was a population center for several centuries, but which was ultimately abandoned as the inhabitants moved down into the Rio Grande Valley. It is Frijoles Creek on the flanks of the Jemez Caldera which is preserved as part of Bandelier National Monument.
Bandelier has one of the stranger geologic settings of any archaeological park. The walls of the canyon are full of holes, not unlike a giant chunk of swiss cheese. We had seen a place like this on the first morning of our trip, at Hole in the Wall in the Mojave Desert. It resulted from differential erosion of a thick layer of rhyolite tuff. Here at Bandelier, the origin is the same, only from rocks much younger.
Time Beyond Imagining". Check out this post, and this one.