We started out on the main loop where there were stairs to several of these short ladders which went up to caves of different sizes. There were other people there so we had to wait our turn at each ladder, but the kids were having fun.
We even saw quite a few petroglyphs, but I'll only show you a couple. It's hard to imagine how old that art work must be. The Pueblo people and their ancestors have lived in the area for about 10,000 years.
Then we decided (okay, I decided) to hike over to Alcove House. The kids played sticks (like on Winnie the Pooh) at every little bridge we crossed. A snake crossed our paths and scared the girls and a squirrel came up very close to Sabrina. They were having so much fun and they had no idea what was coming.
The Alcove House is 140 feet up. You have to climb a series of ladders with sets of very narrow stairs in between them. As soon as Elisa saw them, she decided to stay at the bottom and wait. Of course, we wouldn't let her stay alone so I asked Robin if he wanted to go up with Alex and Sabrina or stay. He said he'd go up, much to my surprise. He doesn't like heights.
Now is the part where I earn the Meanest Mommy Award, I am afraid to say. Elisa loves big roller coasters and even said she wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride (which Robin didn't and was too expensive), so I thought she'd like it once she got to the top. I didn't call her names or anything (like her little sister did before I stopped her), but after the other three disappeared from sight, I told her that I didn't want her to miss it and I kept prodding her to just try the first ladder. She decided to try it. She got up the first ladder and then there is nowhere to stand. There is a very narrow walk way and steps and people are going both ways through it so we had to keep moving.
We went up the second ladder and there was a large landing and then this steep ladder (in the photo below). She said there was no way she was going up that. Then she looked down. I asked her if she wanted to go down with me. She had such terror in her face and she said, "I'm not going up and I'm not going down!" Poor Elisa. Here she was stuck up there half-way because of me and she did not like any of it.
When Robin, Alex and Sabrina came down to where we were, I went up with Alex and Sabrina and Robin stayed with Elisa. At the top was this interesting building with yet another ladder to go down into the building.
If you look hard, you might be able to see Robin and Elisa (in blue and in brown) in the center of the photo. He was trying to calm her down.
Here we are going back down to meet Robin and Elisa. Alex is about to disappear down the ladder.
This really was steep with dangerous little paths. If I would have seen this before we went up, I'm not sure I would have let Sabrina go up, but she is completely fearless and didn't have any problems. I just stayed very close.
After some more coaxing, I went down the ladder before Elisa and Robin went after her to help her feel more safe. But she was so very slow coming down, that I got out of the way and took a picture of her. All of those people were waiting to go up. You have to push yourself against the side of the rail since there isn't really much room for two sets of feet, let alone two bodies on the path.
I was very glad that we were visiting in the spring and not the summer. I'm sure that in the summer there are even more visitors and it would be harder to get around and a longer wait for your turn. Also, the weather was perfect. I can't imagine doing all that climbing with very little shade (except in the actual caves) in the summer heat.
Lucky thing my hips and bum aren't any bigger or I might have gotten stuck!
Here they are going down the final ladder to flat ground and safety.
See that alcove up there where we were?
After we got down and started to walk away, I put my arm around Elisa and told her how sorry I was that I bugged her to go up and that next time I will respect her first decision. Then she started crying. Now she was crying, when she was down and safe? Well, you know how emotional things like that are. I'm sure she wanted to cry the whole time. She was shaking for several minutes after we walked away from it. And Robin admitted that he hated it and wouldn't do it again. He was even queasy looking at the photos the next day.
After the Alcove House adventure, we were done hiking for the day. We went over to Sante Fe and had lunch and then walked around the shops at the Plaza. (See how Alex-only 14-is taller than his father?)