The winding blacktop country road that led to the petroglyph trailhead follows an ancient route. It began as a footpath between thriving Native American villages strung along the Santa Fe River. Images carved into the rock cliffs watched over the villages and their visitors.
In the 16th century, the road became a branch of a colonial wagon road, El Camino Real De Tierra Adentro, the "Royal Road of the Interior". This road was the earliest Euro-American trade route in the United States. It tied Spain's colonial capital at Mexico City to its northern frontier in distant New Mexico. El Camino Real was part of Spain's global network of roads and maritime routes. El Rancho de las Galandrinas, two miles south of here, was the last paraje - a campground or resting place - that travelers used before they reached the colonial capital of Santa Fe, 15 miles upriver.
Under a slight drizzle, we followed the footpath and clambered over slick rocks to the ridge. Right or left? A scramble to the right yielded no petroglyphs, so we reversed course and found the ones in the mosaic below. If the weather had been more favorable, I suspect we would have explored more thoroughly.
On the return to the car, I noticed some wilted leaves among the brush. On further inspection, I concluded it was some sort of squash. I know that squash is one of the "Three Sisters" (squash, maize (corn) and beans), the foundation of Ancestral Pueblo people's diet, but is this plant growing naturally, or something that was planted this year? I saw several plants in the vicinity, but nothing to solve the mystery.
We all relished the benefits of hydrotherapy in the thermal pools, and #1 Daughter and I also took advantage of the spa for massages. Utter relaxation.
Imagine my surprise when, a few moments later, he asked me to take pictures. No questions asked, I took his phone and began to line up the shot when he got down on one knee. What!?!?! It was all I could do to keep my hands from shaking and my eyes from crying as I snapped away, doing my best to capture this meaningful, significant event.
Later, over dinner, The Boyfriend would recall the minutes leading up to his proposal. His heart was about to pop out of his chest, while #1 Son and I leisurely read the historical information. And I was shooting a picture of a bush, of all things, while he was trying to get me, the better photographer, to focus on what was about to happen. Oh my! And this is how wonderful family stories, ones that get handed down and told repeatedly, are made!