What a weekend!
It took two and a half hours to drive up to Jemez, via Espanlola and Pojoaque (where we stopped at a gas station where a man had just shot himself in the leg--no one seemed very surprised), up and down and past the road to Bandelier National Monument (an exceptional stop if you are ever in the area), through the Valles Caldera (that's my intellectual friend Joe, reading educational and scientific Caldera information) and finally to Jemez Springs, where we checked in to what was a delightful and affordable boutique motel, the Jemez Mountain Inn.
We ate some of the picnic lunch I had made and took a short walk around Jemez Springs.
We then made our way to the Giggling Springs, located just next door.
Despite the cold weather (twelve degrees below freezing), we were very toasty as soon as we entered the spring.
We had it all to ourselves for three hours, and we simply soaked and talked, letting our muscles relax and our skin delight in the mineral-rich water. (Lots of calcium, magnesium and iron.)
We've had a hard winter, and I haven't been outside much for the past few months. It was a great delight to spend HOURS outside in the sun and the open air.
After our amazing three-hour soak, other people started to arrive, so we relinquished our spot and returned to the Inn to dry off and plug in our crock-pots--fondue in one, tangine in the other. Al and I went across the street to the Los Ojos Bar for a beer--a roaring fire and a lively family crowd greeted us.
Back at the Inn, we popped the cork on the cava and settled in to an evening of grand food and conversation.
The next morning, we breakfasted, packed, checked out and headed a few miles up the road to Spence Hot Springs--truly wonderful springs in a pristine alpine setting (see picture above).
The 20-minute hike over a river and up a hill was steep, muddy and icy--but worth it. Again we had luck--we were the only ones there for an hour and a half. Once several other groups arrived, we dried off, packed up and hiked back down to the car.
We headed home by completing our loop, going through Jemez Pueblo. We picnicked in some rather fierce wind in front of the dramatic red cliffs across from the Visitors Center.
Driving through the pueblo, we noticed much activity--and then heard the drums. What luck! It was a Feast Day, and they were dancing!
We made our way to the main plaza to see.
Jemez Pueblo is closed to visitors except on special feast days--and no photography is ever allowed. I wish I could show you what they looked like today--we saw a buffalo dance, and the costumes were stunning: pelts and evergreen boughs and antlers and feathers and the softest, softest moccasin boots I've ever seen. (The photo shown is one from a historic collection, but it is similar to what we saw.)
We watched until the end of the dance, then got in the car and drove the 140 miles back home.