We will lose an hour going home from Taos due to time zone change. Instead of rushing home at night, we usually take a short side trip to visit a place along the way and stay in a hotel approximately half way, so we can reach home early afternoon the next day. We visited Albuquerque Sandia Peak, Santa Fe historical downtown, Petroglyph National Monument, Los Alomos National Laboratory, Banderlier National Monument and Palo Duro Canyon State Park. A fixed way point is Trader Joe at Santa Fe. This year we chose Pecos National Historic Park, which is about 20 miles southeast of Santa Fe.
Per National Park Services: Pecos preserves 12,000 years of history including the ancient pueblo of Pecos, Colonial Missions, Santa Fe Trail sites, 20th century ranch history of Forked Lightning Ranch, and the site of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass. For several centuries the Upper Pecos Valley has been one of those rare places where the impact of geography on human experience is strikingly clear.
We arrived at Pecos National Historic Park in the morning of December 23. It was snowing. There were only 4 vehicles parked at the visitor center parking lot. The visitor center is a adobe one story building. There is a gift shop at the entrance, and a museum at the side. A park ranger and a shop keeper greeted us when we entered the building.
We walked through the museum first to have a quick overview of Pueblo at Pecos and the Spanish missions. We then went on for a one and quarter mile self-guided tour of mission ruin trail. The trail starts at the back of the visitor center. Fresh snow covered the trail path, only a pair of traces of foot prints on it, those of an old couple who started walking the trail when we arrived. Light snow was falling, the sky was grey, low walls of ruins of Pueblo village were here and there, the boys were not very enthusiastic. Then we arrived at a underground structure with a opening and ladder. The boys got excited and they were curious of it - checking the guide brochure, it was a Pueblo ceremonial room. They entered the room to check it out.
When we got out of the room, the light snow stopped and the kids started to make snow balls and to have snow fights. While they engrossed in making snow balls, I enjoyed the sight of numerous blooming cactus around us; tried to capture the pictures of a large flock of alerted birds flying from beneath bushes. We moved ahead slowly. We passed a few pits - waste mounds Pueblo people built, and remains of a ancient village building foundation. There is a covered overlook at the right hand side of the trail. I went there to take a look at Pecos river and upper Pecos river valley.
When we reached the front of the mission ruin, we (the adults) were quite impressed by its size and could only imagine its past glory. The boys again were busy making snow balls, this time they wanted to make a snowman. By now, it was cleared a bit, clouds broke open revealing blue sky. I entered the ruin to take a look of it from different location and different angle. The ruin was quite beautiful under the blue sky and white clouds. When I came back to the front of the ruin, the snowman was made and I took a couple of pictures of the creators - Lily, Justin, Nicholas, Steve, Kevin, and Steve & Kevin's dad.
As we went back to visitor's parking lot, we walked through a patch of trees, several different types of fresh wild animal paw prints were visible here and there. Pecos national historic park not only preserves human history in the area, it also provides habitat for a few wild animals. I signed our family name on the vistor log to show our support to the park.
It was a fun excursion. We learned a little bit about 12000year history of Pubelo at Pecos. The kids had a lot of fun playing snow, I enjoyed the mission ruin trail.