Santa Fe Trail Trip 2011
Santa Fe Trail Trip 2011
What is it?
The Santa Fe Trail trip is a 12-day camping trip down the historic Santa Fe Trail. We travel in commercial buses and stop at as many sites as we can from Council Grove, KS to Santa Fe, NM.
Purpose of Activity:
To develop an appreciation of the historical events that occurred during the time of the Santa Fe Trail -- 1821-1879.
******SFT Trail News Update******
All of the pictures posted to the web page, as well as those taken by sponsors, will be available for you to view and print through Wal-Mart. The above link will direct you to the group room I have set up. The password for the room is santafe. All letters are lower case and there is no space. You will have to register with the site to order prints. After you register then you can select the photos you would like to order and pick them up in the store. If you have any questions about pictures please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictures will will be uploaded to the photo album when Internet connection is available. Many of the places we travel do not have Internet or cell phone access. We appreciate your understanding with this matter.
Today started out bright and early. Travelers arrived at Wamego Middle School at 6:00 am. What a way to kick off summer break! After the buses were loaded and good byes were said we started our adventure. Travelers were very excited as we pulled away and you could hear the excitement in their voices as we traveled south to Council Grove. Once in Council Grove we took a bus tour and saw many historical sites including Hermit’s Cave, The Last Chance Store, Council Oak, and Madonna of the Trail. We were also able to enjoy the Neosho Riverwalk. By this time the travelers were starting to get sleepy. Sponsors had to remind several of them that there was no sleeping allowed on the bus. After Council Grove we headed over to Lost Springs. This was once a popular stop along the trail because it provided travelers a chance to water up before heading out down the dry route to Santa Fe. Finally we were able to stop for lunch. After spending the morning walking and site seeing, everyone was very hungry. We had lunch at the City Park in McPherson. Travelers were very excited to be able to eat. Our next stop took us to the Coronado Quivira Museum where we were able to learn about early exploration in Kansas. Our final stop before camp was at Ralph’s Ruts. Travelers were able to walk through one of the seven parallel ruts that run through this working pasture. Once at camp, travelers were able to enjoy dinner, games, and visit with friends. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to set up tents. Winds were very strong and we were concerned about damage to tents.
Today was our first full day on the trail. Mrs. Armstead sounded the bugle at 6 AM to many moans and groans. After the initial shock of the horn wore off, campers rose with smiling faces ready to start the day. Packing up camp proved to be a little difficult this morning. Travelers learned that they needed a friends help to roll up those bed rolls nice and tight. No one wants their sleeping gear coming apart on the the U haul. We also amassed quite a pile of lost and found already today. Keeping track of all your personal items is proving to be a big job. With breakfast eaten and camp cleaned up we headed out to our first stop, Pawnee Rock. Pawnee Rock is the most famous natural landmark on the trail. It was also considered to be one of the most dangerous places to pass because Plains Indians used this spot as a look out along the trail. We ate our lunch atop the look out and enjoyed a little free time before heading to Ft. Larned. This fort was established in 1859 and provided protection to traders along the trail. At Ft. Larned we were able to hear about life during the time of the trail from re-enactors. Travelers enjoyed listening to the stories and asked many great questions. After a restroom stop in Dodge City, we headed out for our final stop of the day, Elkhart. In Elkhart we enjoyed a delicious spaghetti dinner provided to us by the Morton County Historical Society. A special thanks goes out to the Morton County Historical Society. They are always supportive of our travels and provided us with a great meal. We were also able to walk around the Morton County Museum and learn about the local history. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to tent tonight. The wind was very strong all day and into the early evening so we slept inside again. We are hoping to tent tomorrow!
Today was a very busy day for all travelers. We started the day at Point of Rocks/Middle Springs, Kansas. Point of Rocks looks out over the Cimarron Valley and served as a look out point for both Native Americans and Santa Fe Trail travelers. Middle Springs was one of the last reliable sources of water for travelers who chose to take the dry route to Santa Fe. Because of this, it was a very popular stopping point and campsite along the trail. After leaving Point of Rocks it was on to Autograph Rock. While on our way there, we stopped at the Oklahoma state line and sang “Home on the Range.” Autograph Rock is a sandstone rock wall that travelers carved their names into while traveling the trail. Many names appear more than once and with dates. The kids enjoyed looking for the oldest name on the rock wall. After leaving Autograph Rock we headed to Wheeless where we had lunch and enjoyed some games. This stop provided us some much needed down time. From there we headed to McNee’s crossing. This rock crossing was name for a young trader, McNee, who was killed there by Indians in 1828. While there, we sang “McNee's and Monroe” written by Mrs. Armstead. Our final stop took us to Clayton Lake, New Mexico. At Clayton Lake we were able to view dinosaur tracks, hike, and have a night sky talk given by the park rangers. Clayton Lake also provided us with our first opportunity to set up tents. Everyone was excited to finally get to camp. Tent set-up on the first night is always a little chaotic, but all the tents went up and were still standing in the morning. The kids are working together wonderfully. We have already had several compliments from the places we have traveled. Way to go travelers!
This morning was an early start for all travelers! The sun was up before six which meant kids were waking up extra early on their own. Mrs. Armstead didn’t even have to blow the bugle to get kids out of bed. Everyone got right to work taking down tents. We had tents down and camp picked up in 45 minutes. It went really smooth for being our first tear down. Today was another busy day for us. We traveled to Point of Rocks, NM, Lee Daniel’s Ranch, Wagon Mound, and Ft. Union. While at Point of Rocks, the land owner, talked to us about the history behind the area. This was a popular campsite along the trail because it had a nearby spring. It was also the site of considerable violence, and there are 11 known gravesites. After leaving Point of Rocks, we traveled to Lee Daniel’s Ranch. We were able to walk out on a mesa and through several sets of Santa Fe Trail ruts. Our next stop was the Wagon Mound Cemetery. Here we ate lunch and did gravestone rubbings in the cemetery. The cemetery is located at the base of Wagon Mound, another well know landmark along the Santa Fe Trail. The landmark gets its name because it looks like a covered wagon being pulled by oxen. Our final stop of the day took us to Ft. Union. Ft. Union was one of many forts established along the trail to provide safety to the travelers. Unfortunately while we were there it decided to rain. Our tour of the ruins was cut short due to heavy rain and pea sized hail. It seems that where ever we go rain follows. The residents of the area thanked us for bringing the rain because they are experiencing a drought. So once again, we did not camp out. We were able to stay at Robertson High School in Las Vegas (New Mexico… not Nevada)! We joked on the bus that before bed we all needed to play cards so we could go home and say we played cards in Vegas!
Finally the day we’ve all been waiting for… Santa Fe!! We started the day of by visiting Pecos. Here travelers got to see pueblos and learn how the ancient ones lived. They also got to go into a kiva which is an underground ceremonial hut. After Pecos, we handed out wallets and headed to Santa Fe. The kids were very excited to shop and eat on the Plaza! Many of us tried authentic Mexican served from a vendor in the Plaza. However, there were those that opted for the good old favorite… pizza! After filling their bellies, they proceeded to shop their little hearts out! One of the local favorites is the candy store. The kids were amazed at all there was to see and the places to shop. A movie was being filmed on the Plaza. Some of the travelers were able to see William Dafoe and 50 cent. It was very exciting to watch the movie being made. Many of the store owners commented on how well behaved and respectful all of our kids were! Way to go travelers!! They also visited the Loretto Chapel. The chapel is home to the “Miraculous Staircase.” The staircase has two complete turns of 360 degrees and is built with no nails. After a long day of shopping and sightseeing, we headed back to our temporary home where we will stay for 3 days. It is exciting not to have to pack up camp for three days! Bedtime could not have come soon enough when we returned. After all of the souvenirs were packed up and labeled kids hit the sack.
Day six provided students another opportunity to see how ancient civilizations lived by visiting Bandelier National Monument. Located in Frijoles Canyon, it was the home to a group of Pueblo Indians for hundreds of years. Travelers had the opportunity to walk through ruins and climb the ladders that leads to the homes that were carved into the side of the mountains. They were also able to visit the Ceremonial Cave. To reach the cave travelers had to climb 140 vertical feet. Once they reached the top, they were able to look out over all of Bandelier and the surrounding area. We also visited the Bradbury Science Museum. There we learned about Los Alamos, the town that never was. We watched a fascinating video on the development of the atom bomb and then had to opportunity to tour the museum. Travelers also got to participate in science experiments in the Tech Lab. Tonight provided travelers with a much needed break. They were able to go swimming! Even though the water was cold, it didn’t stop the kids from letting loose and having fun. I hope you enjoy the swimming pictures!
Today started with a welcome change for the travelers. Instead of having to wake up at 6:00... they were able to sleep in just a little. The bugle woke them up at 6:30. Once fed and ready to go, we headed to the Santa Fe National Cemetery. The Cemetery was established in 1870 shortly after the end of the Civil War as a place to intern the Union soldiers who died during the brief period of military action within the territory of New Mexico. Our next stop was El Rancho de las Golondrinas which is a living history museum. Travelers were able to experience life in 18th century Spanish Colonial New Mexico. Tanning hide, making corn husk dolls, and cooking tortillas are just a few of the activities that the kids were able to participate in. After leaving the ranch, a delicious frito pie supper was provided to us by End of the Trail Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association. Thank you for providing us with such a great dinner!! We were also visited by William Becknell. He told us about his adventures along the Santa Fe Trail. He also answered many questions that the travelers had. Tonight we had our camp talent show. The travelers were very excited to show of their varied talents. We have a very talented group of kids! Tonight marks our last night in Santa Fe and tomorrow we start our journey home.
Today marked our last full day in New Mexico. The travelers are having a great time, but are ready to start their journey home. The first place we visited today was Santuario de Chimayo. El Santuario “The Shrine” is a church that was built between 1814 and 1816. It is home to “the miraculous” crucifix that was found on the land around 1810. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people visit the church to touch the holy dirt. It is believed that the dirt has healing powers and if you rub some on your ailment it will help cure it. We were fortunate enough to have one of the priests talk to us about the history and importance of the area. We then went to the Kit Carson Park in Taos. There we placed a wreath on Kit Carson’s headstone. While in Taos, we also visited the Kit Carson Museum. Travelers were able to tour the home of Kit Carson and learned more about his life. We also walked down to the Plaza and did a little window shopping. We ended the day in Raton, New Mexico where once again we were not able to pitch our tents! So far we have only been able to camp one night due to high winds or the chance for thunderstorms. Most nights have been spent in our back up housing. We are all hoping that we will get to spend our last few nights sleeping in our tents! We have received many compliments along our journey. People have been very impressed with the traveler's behavior! Way to go kids!!
After six days in New Mexico, it was time to start our journey north into Colorado. We started the day by visiting Capulin Volcano National Monument. Capulin is an extinct cinder cone volcano that erupted approximately 60,000 years ago. As the cinders fell, they formed the volcano that stands more than 1000 feet in the air. Travelers were able to walk the 2-mile path around the rim and down into the crater. From the top of Capulin you can see Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico. After visiting Capulin, we headed for Stonewall where we walked to the Stonewall Cemetery to place a wreath on Marion Russell's grave site. Russell made her first trip down the trail when she was just seven years old. She would go on to travel the trail many more times before the use of the trail stopped. We then took the Highway of Legends to Walsenburg, CO. We were unable to pitch tents again tonight because of the chance of rain. Thank you to the Walsenburg School District for allowing us to use their gym as our back-up housing.
Today brought another welcome surprise for the travelers. They were able to sleep in until 6:30. After we were all fed and camp was clean we were on our way. Our first stop was Boggsville. This site was the last home of Kit Carson and his wife Josefa. This is also where Kit Carson was originally burled before his body was later moved to Taos, NM per his wishes. We then went to Bent’s Fort. This fort was a trading post built in the 1830s by William and Charles Bent and their partner Ceran St. Vrain. Bent’s Fort is located on the Mountain Route of the Trail along the Arkansas River. While at the Fort, travelers were given a tour and learned what life was like for someone who visited or lived there. After leaving the fort, we headed east to Lamar, CO. A supper of hamburgers and hot dogs was provided to us by the Bent's Fort Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association. Thank you for such a wonderful dinner!! After dinner, travelers were visited by the great-grandson of Kit Carson. Dressed as Kit, he talked to us about how life was for Kit Carson and his adventures along the trail. The travelers were very excited to hear from a direct descendent of Kit Carson. Finally, students were able to swim in the Lamar Swimming Pool. This was a great way to cool off and relax after a long day. The kids went to bed eagerly awaiting our last full day on the trail.
It is amazing that we are already on the last full day of the trail! We had a long ways to travel today so much of it was spent on the bus. We left Lamar, CO at 8:30 and were Kansas bound! As we crossed the state line the buses sang "Home on the Range" and cheered! Travelers were finally able to enjoy the DVD players on the buses and were treated to a movie. We stopped in Garden City for Lunch. While we were there the kids were able to play on the equipment in the city park. After lunch, we headed towards the ruts near Dodge City. There we were able to walk through the ruts and see how they went into town. A snack of cookies and water was provided by the Dodge City Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association. Thank you for the great cookies! We then headed out for Camp Aldrich our next stop along the trail. Unfortunately, there was a chance for severe weather again in the area so we were unable to tent our last night. But, that was soon forgotten when the travelers were treated to a pizza party. Thanks for the great pizza! Later that night, we had an awards banquet and each traveler was given an award from their tour group sponsor. It was a great time and we had lots of laughs! After the banquet, travelers headed to bed with thoughts of home in their heads.
This will be my last journal entry of the trip. Tomorrow we will go our separate ways, but before I sign off I would like to send a message to the kids and sponsors.
To the campers… The Santa Fe Trail is a rich part of our country's history. The memories you made the last two weeks are sure to be ones that will stay with you the rest of your life. There were lots of travelers that you knew when we started our journey, but new friendships were also formed along the way. The same can be said of the original Santa Fe Trail travelers. Hopefully your new friendships will be ones that you carry with you as our journey ends. I would like to commend you on your behavior while on the trail. At every stop along the trail people were very impressed with how polite and respectful you were. You represented the trip phenomenally! Thank you for making this one of the best trail trips we have ever been on!
To the sponsors... Thank your for volunteering to be part of this amazing experience. The time you give to help the kids learn about the trail and excitement that you have for it helps create interest among the travelers. If it weren't for the sponsors the trail would not be possible. Your dedication to the kids and the Santa Fe Trail is priceless.
To Mrs. Armstead and Mrs. Day… Thank you for loving the Santa Fe Trail enough to share it with our young people. If it weren’t for your love and excitement of the trail none of this would be possible. The Santa Fe Trail truly lives on through our travelers because of your time and dedication. Thank you for sharing it with all of us!