We made the short drive up to Santa Fe rom Albuquerque and bunkered down with Jan’s son Andy’s in-laws, Robert and Ingrid Upton. Ingrid is from Germany and Robert from west Texas and they met in Germany while Robert was studying there. They married and moved back to Santa Fe where they lived in a trailer while building their home, mortar by mortar, by themselves with occasional help from friends when needed. It was a labor of love, a long six years, but the passive solar home when finished comfortably housed the family,including Dalice who would marry Andy years later. Situated on a hill overlooking a Rio Grande rift with the Sandia and Ortiz mountains to the south and Jemez mountain range to the west, their home built on 5 acres is peaceful, quiet and full of wildlife. Just a beautiful piece of land with two of the nicest people you want to meet living there.
I don’t think they were prepared for the size of our motorhome, but they graciously gave us a spot in the front yard and we had water and electric hookups! It took a while to level off the coach, but we used every last piece of wood Robert had to do it and finally achieved near “levelness”. Our first day of exploring took us to the Pecos National Historical Park, located about 17 miles south-east of Santa Fe on what is still referred to today as the Santa Fe Trail, a now designated scenic by-way that crosses four states and links Santa Fe to Independence, Missouri. One goes through the Glorietta Pass, site of a famous Civil War battle and comes on to the plains bordered by the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the Santa Fe Forest and the headwaters of the Pecos river to the north.
The history of the Pecos Pueblo, once the largest pueblo in the Southwest, traces a continuous evolution of some 7000 years documenting the lives of prehistoric natives to the Spanish colonization in the 1500’s. Not much remains of the pueblo, but one can see the foundations that were built on a quadrangle and reached to four stories high and housed some 2000 people. The indians grew vegetable, raised cattle and made a lot of pottery and jewelry and with the coming of the Spanish acted as buffers between the colonialists and the Apache and Comanche tribes who were less accepting of the newcomers. Trade became the foundation of their economy, but over time they began to resent the advances made by the Spanish governors and what seemed to them an overbearing push by the Franciscan missionaries and in 1680 revolted against Spanish rule and forced them from the pueblo while destroying the original church.
The Spanish soon returned in force, took back the pueblo, rebuilt the church and made life for the Pecos Indians more and more untenable.Adding to their woes was a decreasing trade economy and a environment that contributed to the crumbling of the walls of the once mighty Pecos Pueblo and finally the emigration of most of its people. In the late 1700’s the last of the Pecos went to live with the Jemez Indians who spoke the same language in the nearby mountains. They still maintain a fierce allegiance to their history and culture to this day.
What does remain is some of the rebuilt church and a few kivas, ceremonial chambers that are still used in other pueblos around the southwest. Kivas varied from settlement to settlement, but all were built of rock, covered with plaster and contained roof entries, a firepit, and a “sipapu,” or spirit hole, through which the Indians believed their ancestors entered the world. Some kivas had elaborately painted murals on the walls.
Though little is left the history is powerful, and as you walk among the ruins the community life of ages gone by is palpable and real.
We spent the afternoon driving through the part of the Santa Fe National Forest that is home to the Pecos River Forest Reserve. Just a naturally beautiful part of this country.
Could have been the setting for A River Runs Through It.
A full day and we returned to have steaks on the grill and Italian Roast potatoes, an easy and very tasty recipe. Goes with almost everything! Enjoy.