We left Santa Fe and Cochiti Lake bound for another Corps of Engineers campground in North Central New Mexico. Abiquiu Lake is even more scenic than Cochiti, and is one of the birdiest places we’ve ever been. We have seen western bluebirds, white doves, black-chinned and broadtailed hummingbirds, cowbirds, house finches, and several spectacular western tanagers. Rabbits abound, perhaps because once again, there have been no raptor sightings.
The lake was named for the nearby village where the operators of the Ghost Ranch Resort acquired provisions for their staff and guests. Georgia O’Keeffe renovated a home in Abiquiu, but spent most of her time in New Mexico at the Ghost Ranch. The Ranch is located near the end of the impoundment opposite our campground.
Between the ranch and our campsite lie colorful geographic features incorporating all the colors of an artist’s palette, each changing in appearance at the whims of sunlight and clouds. Kat shot some pictures of those red rocks, the whitish yellow stone formations dotted with sporadic greenery, and O’Keeffe’s favorite mountain subject, The Pedernal. This is beautiful country, and quiet except on Friday and Saturday when most of the campsites are occupied and a jet-skier or two carves up the lake.
Kat and I took a side trip to Bandelier National Monument. It turned out to be a big day for training new park rangers, and for BioBlitz. The Blitz involves teams of scientists and volunteers surveying the wildlife and flora within the park. They catch butterflies, photograph animals and vegetables both small and large, and in time compile and assess the health of various life forms on the Monument. We don’t know how that turned out but they seemed to be having a fine time.
We were accidentally fortunate in timing our arrival. There is one guided hike daily led by two rangers, one Anglo and one Pueblo Indian. The first fellow’s topic was preservation of the structures erected in the 1930’s by the CCC. Then came a walk through the ruins of a Pueblo village abandoned for reasons unknown sometime in the 1500’s. Our guide, Ranger Myron, is as long-winded as I am long-worded, but twice as interesting. He shared his culture’s view of man’s place on earth (caretaker of the planet whose primary duty is to preserve it for future generations). He told oral histories passed down over hundreds of years from the Ancient Ones, and lent insights into the Pueblo religion. And he boasted of the successes of his forbears in earliest Native American agriculture. They cultivated a variety of vegetables, employed organic fertilizers, and even domesticated turkeys.
Myron quietly urged Kat and me to visit an actual Pueblo village. We would get a better feel for what a kiva looks like with a roof, and to see the people’s adobe homes. He mentioned some nearby tribal villages including his own, plus another back at Cochiti Lake. I told him our GPRS had already taken us there in search of a Post Office, but the village looked deserted – we had seen no one. “Maybe they thought you were insurance salesmen, or missionaries!”