Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bandelier National Monument, Part 1

Between Blogger being down for a day and work swinging schizophrenically between busy-busy-busy and boring-boring-boring, I had time to go through some photographs.

Instead of creating a Picasa photo album, as I had done for Petroglyph, I decided to split up the photos into separate posts. I don't know why, but when I read other people's blogs, I prefer seeing the photos there, instead of going into a separate album.

I've already edited the photos into sections, so I know there will be six posts total. I'm not sure if I'll be posting all six in a row or whenever I feel like it (probably the latter, truthfully), but I'll get around to them. Hopefully before I leave New Mexico.

As I'm posting from work, I haven't tweaked this photographs at all, which I generally like to do. I think this is going to be a new and pervasive thing for me- no color corrections or re-framing or anything- so that I can actually get posts up on my blog, rather than hanging onto pictures from ages ago, waiting to have time at home where I can fix up the photos before slapping them up. There's just not enough time for that business.

I actually went to Bandelier National Monument last August, on a Saturday (August 14). The weather was typically New Mexican- windy and sunny, with capricious and speedy clouds. The photos, from first to last, were all taken within a span of less than four hours, but the lighting and mood are very different because of the weather and peek-a-boo sun.

On the way there, I saw these clouds. These type of big, fluffy clouds will always make me stop and take a picture. I really liked that gate, too (click for bigger pictures). This landscape is very typical of New Mexico once you get outside of the cities- not even very far outside the cities, just a few minutes.
Traveling clouds and an interesting plateau-type thing. People always think of New Mexico as being a desert, but this was taken in August, after a hot, dry summer, and things are still green. Beige-y green, yes, but still! Not the scorched-earth-desert that occurs to most people.
There's a drive from the initial gate into Bandelier, where the nice park rangers take your money and give you a map (it was free for me that day, I still don't know why- but it's only $10 to get into the park, I think). The drive winds downhill, but at the top, there's this great view of the canyon. Full of green trees, it was surreal for me to see it- it looked like a forest!
Despite the green, it is still a desert. I like skeletal trees, I think they have character. I love green trees, too, but these leafless, parched trees are more interesting to me- trees with leaves all look the same, whereas stripped trees have more distinguishing characteristics.
Getting into the park. If the mountains were pale and bleached, this could almost be Yosemite- but the red gives it away. It was much cooler and less dry once I got into the valley- it felt a little like Yosemite, where it's cool inside the forest even in the summer.
Porous rocks, which will be important in just a little while. Bandelier was intriguing because it switched very quickly between looking like a desert (rocky, with only scrubby plants) and a forest (coniferous trees with damp ground).
Doesn't it look just like a desert here? I associate those kinds of hardy shrubs with the desert, and the rocks look whitewashed and hot, as they do in the desert.
Meticulously restored ruins of walls. I love the patches of flowers that grew randomly all over the place. I could understand why people would have lived here- in between the canyon walls, they were protected somewhat from the wind, and it wasn't nearly as hot and harsh as it is above the canyon.
Same walls, viewed from a little higher elevation. I took a couple trails and hiked around. The first trail led me to the most tourist-y of areas in Bandelier, the places were people lived. It was obviously the most developed, with stairs, signs, and a lot of people.
Moody clouds decided to shadow some of the valley and leave some of it in bright sunlight. I do love these trees- they are the kind of dark green that I associate with real forests, and lend that distinctive smell to the air.
You could crawl into that hole if you wanted. It was a "room," I suppose. A tiny room, but cool, which I imagine was important to keep from dehydrating or getting overheated.
The houses were built into and out of the mountainsides. Beautiful in an austere, practical way, and very true to their surroundings.
Windows and doors in the mountain. Some of those indents looked like shelves. I imagine this is sort of what bees feel like, going into their hive- a bunch of entrances that lead into their rooms.
Front yards? There were small dividing walls- I doubt they grew flowers for fun, but they probably grew herbs, edible plants, that kind of thing. It looks a bit like a development- one yard and one apartment for each family.
An apartment complex? That's certainly what it felt like, but way more fun than any modern apartment complex that I've ever seen. It's amazing that they were able to live here, make these homes for themselves.
I quite loved this window. It's like somebody had an artistic person in the family that made a cool window, so he knew which room was his. I'm sure that's not the reason it exists, but I like to make up stories in my head, and that's what I thought of when I saw this.
An alley? One of the few very tall and narrow areas I saw at Bandelier. I like places like this because I like being shaded more than I like being in direct sunlight.

Part 2 coming soon- it will cover the plants, trees, and flowers that I saw at Bandelier.

It's Saturday, so where would I be other than work? I think this might (fingers crossed) be my last Saturday working, as the movie is starting to come to an end. It premieres June 17, in regular and stereo (3D) releases, so I don't think I'll be quite as busy next week as I was this week.

For the first time in a long time, I committed to plans on a weekend- tonight, a dinner to say farewell to some people and happy birthday to another, and tomorrow, a barbecue to say farewell to a couple different people. I don't know how well I'll do, as I've been happy and cozy in my hermit-like state lately, but I want to bid these folks adieu, so I don't have much of a choice.

Saying goodbye isn't as hard as it used to be, which I think (hope) means that I'm getting used to it, and I'm learning that goodbye doesn't mean I'll never see them again. If I want to move around and travel more, I'll have to do it even more!

(Bandelier Part 2 is here.)