Snow covered the top of
the Sangre De Christos mountains on a sunny but very chilly day as we drove
north on I25 to Fort Union, once the largest military post in the southwest.
On the edge of the plains the
fort was established to protect surrounding settlements and travelers on the
Santa Fe Trail from Comanche, Kiowa and Apache.
view across the plains from the road leading to Fort Union.
Fort Union from the same
The fort was the main
supply depot for other New Mexico forts, anything and everything you could
think of was purchased or traded at the fort which was probably the Walmart of
Wagon ruts from the Santa
Fe Trail cover the plains around the fort and in places the ruts form deep
ditches.I don’t know why but I always
imagined the wagons went in single file, in places there were so many ruts it
looked like an interchange on I40!
If you look closely you
can see a depression in the ground, this is part of the Santa Fe Trail.
The fort that stands today
is the third fort, two other forts were built, the first was built in a star
shape the second was so close to the bluffs that it was within easy reach of
A cool wind blew across
the plains the day we visited, whistling around the remains of the fort, we
were told that the wind drove some people mad.I loved the wide open views, but DB said it’d get to him after a while.
open plains from the edge of the fort.
Rangers and preservators
were busy working on the adobe walls on one section of the fort on another
section they were working on the foundations of one of the buildings.
The fort covers a large
and was home to many different
types of building, Sutlers Stores, Stables, laundry, Officers and Mens
Quarters, Laundry and even a jail.
The jail and remains of
A huge hospital lay a
short distance away and was used by both those at the fort and the local population.
After weeks of travel along
the Santa Fe Trail, crossing mountains, rivers, plains, canyons, in all types
of weather arriving at the fort must’ve been a huge relief.
We had no idea there was so much history in this area and we only covered a fraction of what there is to see, I think we'll have to come back!
ranger guided tour at Pecos NHP was with Ranger Patricia to Forked Lightening
started at Kozlowski’s Trading Post, the lastmajor stop on the Santa Fe trail before arriving in Santa Fe itself.
arriving here after days of jolting along the trail must’ve felt like they’d
died and gone to heaven as the trading post boasted comfy feather beds. Mrs Kozlowski
was likely to feed you a dinner of fresh trout from the Pecos river about a ½ mile
away as well as her famous piñon pudding filled with a liqueur and brought
flaming to the table.
the road from the trading post the ground is filled with the remains of wagon
ruts from the famous trail.I don’t
know why but I always thought that the Santa Fe trail would just be a line of single
wagon ruts, but in actual fact there are ruts everywhere and it was probably
like I25.Once the Aitchison, Topeka
and Santa Fe railroad arrived in Santa Fe the trail was practically abandoned
trading post was part of the Forked Lightening Ranch which was home to Greer
Garson and Buddy Fogelson.
Lightening ranch was originally built by Tex Austin the father of modern day
rodeo, he took his rodeos all over the world, including London, but he had no
luck with money.Buddy Fogelson an oil
baron bought the ranch.He saw Greer
Garson in the film ‘Mrs Miniver’, asked Hollywood friends to introduce them and
the rest, as they say is history.
salmon of the buildings and the blue of the window frames of the ranch were
specially formulated to closely match the colours of the sandstone of the
surrounding mesas and the deep blue of New Mexico skies.
front of the ranch a deep portales (verandah) has amazing views over the
confluence of the Pecos river and Glorieta creek.Two
flagpoles at the front of the house flew the British and American flags when
Greer Garson lived here.
took us through the house, which is slowly being restored to look as it did
when Greer Garson was in residence.
rooms lead from one to another and all open onto a central courtyard.
It’s a beautiful
house, just the sort of place you could imagine living in.
Fogelson liked to hunt Greer Garson didn’t so they comprised by ‘skeet’ (clay
pigeon) shooting.The view from the
range has amazing views across the ranch lands to the Rocky Mountains
to the ‘convento’ in the park.
On Greer Garson's
death the ranch house and part of its lands were left to the Pecos NHP.
day we returned to Pecos NHP to walk the Glorieta Battlefield trail before
taking the ranger guided battlefield tour.
reason, I had this idea that the battlefield trail would be flat,why when Pecos is surrounded by mountains I
have absolutely no idea, but I did.So as
we were taking the tour in the afternoon we walked the 2½ mile trail much faster
at the top of a mesa and how the trail looks now,
but in March
1862 Union and Confederate troops would’ve had a very different view.Local farmers and ranchers would’ve felled
the trees for fuel or building and grown crops in the cleared fields.Soldiers on both sides would’ve had good
views and ditches and arroyos would’ve provided much needed cover for both
sides during the battle.
There is a
lot of information about the battle, which is also known as the Gettysburg of
the West, but trying to put it in a nutshell, the Confederates saw the Santa Fe
the original Santa Fe trail
as a way
to conquer the west, opening up a route to the pacific ports and the Colorado
goldfields.Union soldiers from
Colorado and New Mexico blocked their way.
seemed to be going the way of the Confederates who had their headquarters at
supply train was left near Johnsons Ranch the Confederate commander, thinking ‘there
was no way’
be attacked left only a small party guarding it. What a mistake that was!
soldiers marched from their camp near Kozlowski’s Trading Post,
Glorieta Mesa, attacked and destroyed the supply train, then marched back and
joined in the battle.That’s at least
12 miles, marching, climbing mesas, engaging the enemy and then returning to
fight a battle!
the battlefield is in private hands just of I25, it is open to the public,
there is no charge to visit, although donations are appreciated.
Roger who led our tour was really enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable on
the subject giving us masses of information.Naming the Generals involved, although I must admit that sometimes I got
lost with the names and wasn’t sure which General was on which side!The fact that the battle took place in March
so it would’ve probably been cold and snowing, not something I thought about on
a nice sunny day.
discoveries are still made on the battlefield, not so long ago during house
renovations a mass grave was discovered and the remains removed for reburial.
from Pigeons Ranch there are memorial stones for the men who fell during the
We had a
fascinating day gaining an insight into one of the battles of the American
decided to visit Pecos NHP we had no idea just how much history there is in
this park, from Pueblo Indians, the Santa Fe Trail, Civil War Battles, Old
Route 66 to English movie stars!It is
a gem of a park and the rangers have to be some of the most helpful and
friendly we’ve ever met.
first visit, yes we went more than once, we first hiked the Ruins trail.
at the mouth of the narrow pass at the southern end of the Rocky Mountains,
Pecos Pueblo was an important trading place between the Indians of the plains
and the coast.The pass now known as
Glorieta Pass is one of the few easy places to cross this part of the Rocky
Mountains, it was also a strategic location during the Civil War and on the
Santa Fe Trail.
was separated from the area where traders camped by a wall, the remains of
which can be still be seen.Obviously
the residents of Pecos weren’t going to allow them inside the walls just in
case they turned out not to be friendly.Visitors are allowed to climb down into the reconstructed kiva,
what it was like inside.
pueblo was once 4 stories high, the steps in this photograph lead up to the 2nd
storey, another kiva is shown on the right.
along is the convento built by the Spanish.The remains of the existing convento are built inside the walls of the
original building, which was destroyed during the pueblo revolt.
the convento looking towards the altar.
from the convento towards Glorietta Mesa
afternoon we took the ranger tour to Arrowhead Ruin.There are quite a few ruins that make up
Pecos Peublo, but most of them are on private ground.Arrowhead ruin is only accessible on a
ranger tour. Our tour was led by Ranger
Eric who as a native of the Pecos area has a fount of local knowledge.
Ruin was partially excavated with some areas reconstructed by the Civilian Conservation
Corps during the 1930’s.
pueblo is in a strategic location on a bluff overlooking the Pecos valley.
it’s called Arrowhead Ruin, very few artifacts and no arrowheads have been
found.The name derives from Arrowhead
Lodge at the bottom of the hill and once a stopping place on route 66.A steep path led up from the Lodge to the
ruins, so it’s more than likely that travelers back then took away ‘souvenirs’
of their visit.
Highway 60 about 1½ miles from Kiva RV Park and Horse Motel is the Rio Puerco, the
major river drainage we thought was a small local creek, it normally looks like
this, just a narrow dry ditch.
been quite a bit of monsoon rain in New Mexico and this time when we arrived it
looked like this.
there were late afternoon showers in the forecast, we decided to drive out on
CR12 to find the ghost town of Riley, then continue on to Magadalena, look at
another ghost town called Kelly and then drive back on the paved roads.
It was a
lovely drive on a reasonably good dirt road, with great views of the mountains.
crossed quite a few dry river beds and washes along the way,
To get to
Magdalena we had another river crossing to make, but as drove further along the
dirt road we could see the afternoon storm clouds starting to build.
continued on until we reached the Rio Salido which we expected to be dry
however, there was a narrow channel of fast flowing water in the middle, thinking about it now I have no idea why, when the Rio Puerco was running we expected this river to be dry, but we did.
This wasn't what we'd expected and while we’ll drive
dirt roads when they’re dry we’re not used to crossing muddy, fast flowing rivers no
matter how narrow.As the sky was
steadily getting blacker, and with the thought of the afternoon showers the last thing we wanted to do was get caught on the road in a downpour, so we
decided to turn back. We
never did find Riley or Kelly.
day it rained all day, the RV park looked like this,
CR 12 looked
like this, well at least the start of it did, we have no idea what it was like further up and we weren't going to find out.
were at TTRV we went to the Rendezvous of Gunfighters in Tombstone, where we
met this very interesting lady.
Moore, she also had many aliases, was the first lady detective with the
Pinkerton Detective Agency.I don’t
think Pinkertons were overkeen on employing her but as she pointed out she
could go where no male detective could go.
doesn’t appear to be a great deal of information about her, but it is known
that she had a very successful career and among other things was instrumental
in foiling a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
flew back into Tucson at the end of August, we had a plan, we always have a
plan, this time it was to explore California, working our way up from Yosemite
and then back down the coast.But all
the fires in California contained or not seemed to be where we wanted to go.So we headed off to Tombstone Territories RV Resort http://www.tombstoneterritories.com to think about it.
out in the sunshine, thought about it and decided we didn’t want to get into
possibly smoky conditions so we’d visit California another time and go to Rocky
Mountain National Park in Colorado instead.
for us, we’d only got as far as Kiva RV Park & Horse Motel, http://kivarvparkandhorsemotel.com just south of Albuqerque
when the monsoon storms hit causing devastating floods across New Mexico and
Colorado.At Kiva we were lucky as the
absolute worst of the storms seemed to go all around us, but not actually hit
us, yes we had rain but nothing compared to the storms ranging all around us.Some of the lightening shows were
spectacular, scary, but spectacular.
About 1½ miles
from the RV park is the narrow, normally dry ditch which is the Rio
Puerco.We always thought this was a
small local creek, but it’s actually a major river draining from the mountains
up near Cuba before flowing into the Rio Grande.Although the river flooded, the RV park wasn’t
affected but sadly the small community of Bernardo on the other side of I25 was
very badly flooded.
out the storms at Kiva and then moved up into the mountains just north of Santa
Fe, where unfortunately Verizon didn’t work and the campground internet was
mostly unusable as everyone was trying to use it at once.
back in the land of internet connections, I knew we researched stuff on the
internet but didn’t realise just how much until we didn’t have a connection, so
I’ll get caught up on our travels eventually.
On a simply gorgeous day we headed back to North Wales
where we crossed the Menai Straits over to the Island of Anglesey and to
Lligwy Bay.We parked on the beach car
park with its cheery little beach café
The words on the
shutters made me smile 'Bring me Sunshine', I almost expected Morecambe and Wise to come dancing
round the corner. After enjoying a coffee and admiring the view we decided
to walk round the coast path to Moelfre.
Moelfre’s a pretty little place, only a couple of
miles away it’s a fairly easy stroll with no huge ascents or descents unlike
the Devon coast path.
The village is in a small bay with a pebble beach,
and a great little pub, needless to say that’s
where we had lunch.
Afterwards we took the same path back to Lligwy
Bay and walked out across the beach to the sea, I’d decided I was going to have
a paddle.I did and it was absolutely
freezing, my toes were practically turning blue!
way home, we stopped to have a look at the Din Lligwy historical site where
there are the remains of an ancient settlement, a Medieval chapel of ease and a
Neolithic burial chamber is nearby.Din
refers to a defensive/protective wall surrounding a settlement.Although hundreds of Roman pot sherds from
the 3rd & 4th century AD have been found here, the site of the settlement
is thought to go back to the Iron Age when it may have been a farming community. Archaeological excavations have found round structures that are thought to
be houses and rectangular structures that are thought to be barns or
followed the short path across the fields and up onto a small wooded mound to
the settlement, it’s a fascinating place especially in the early evening light.
Walking back across the fields, we stopped to
admire the view out across to Lligwy Bay and the sea
to the Medieval chapel of ease.The tiny
12th century chapel was used by the widespread community of Penrhos
Lligwy, some parts of the chapel were rebuilt in the 14th century and a small extension
chapel was added sometime during the 16th century. I've no idea
when it was last used.
Inside there’s an open crypt before what was
once an altar, in the gloom I could see some flowers and it looked intriguing
but there was no way I was going down into that dark hole, especially as DB had
herd of bullocks at the back of the chapel stopped my wanderings I’m not happy
being in a field of bullocks on my own, so I left them be and headed back to
the car.We had intended to look at the
Neolithic burial chamber but somehow or other, probably through lack of
attention, we, okay I, totally missed the turning and we ended up back on the main
road, so we’ll have to save that for another trip.It was a fabulous day.