The Big Announcement
I waited until Angie had finished her drink before making my announcement.
“Soooo…Remember I was making reservations for our trip out west? Well…We’re going to be sleeping in a cave…I hope you’re ok with that.”
“What?” Angie laughed…”You’re kidding right?”
” No…I’m serious…but it’s not creepy or weird…you wanna see pictures?”
I started fumbling for my phone and before I could get to the website, Angie announced, “Ok, I’m in!”
Does Kokopelli’s Cave Have a Blowdryer?
It was a cool fall day. We were heading from Pagosa Springs, Colorado to Farmington, New Mexico. I had booked us at Kokopelli Cave Bed and Breakfast for the night. As we drove we began speculating if the cave had a door…and if so, what kind of door would a cave have?
“There’s got to be a door right?…It can’t just be a big opening if we’re sleeping there, right?” Angie wondered.
“Maybe it’s a big metal vault door like at the bank…with a huge latch?” I offered.
“Maybe it’s like a big Flintstones style boulder we can roll across the opening before we go to bed?” Angie laughed.
I received a text…”When will you be in the area? I will send you the coordinates of a church nearby. We can meet there and I’ll bring you to the cave.” It was the man from Kokopelli.
“Oh that won’t be necessary, we can find it…just give us the address and we can gps it.” I texted.
“It’s pretty tricky. You won’t find it and the gps is spotty in that area. I will just meet you at the church and show you the way. Plus you have to sign the disclaimer” He responded.
“Hmmm…he wants to lead us there,” I informed Angie.
“And now he says we need a 4 wheel drive or we have to ride with him…and we have to sign a safety disclaimer about staying in the cave.” We looked at each other, shrugged and gave each other the…”I don’t know” face, and then headed towards the church parking lot.
“He just texted that we shouldn’t bring our suitcases and to put what we need in a smaller bag.”
We shrugged again…but did what he told us. We dragged our suitcases out of the car and onto the asphalt of the church parking lot. Luggage items were being tossed about frantically…sprawling clothes, lotion and makeup went sailing into piles.
“Do you think the cave has a blowdryer?” I pondered aloud.
“Better bring it.” was Angie’s response.
Our belongings were still strewn around the parking lot as a truck pulled up. We stuffed what we thought we needed into grocery bags and I wondered briefly, ‘Why can’t we just bring suitcases?’
The Trek To the Cave
Our guide Tommy arrived in a silver pickup truck, introduced himself and nodded with approval at our 4×4 vehicle. He handed me a walkie-talkie and got back in his truck.
“Keep the walkie on channel 5, I will be directing you where to go and giving you information along the way…stay with me as it is easy to get lost in there. Make sure you say ‘over’ when you stop talking, “over” Tommy’s voice came through the walkie.
We laughed and wondered what we were getting into…staring at the device in my hand.
Thoughts of ‘breaker-breaker one niner,’ and ‘ten- four good buddy’ immediately sprang to mind and it was a struggle not to respond this way.
“O-kaayy, over” I said instead, giggling.
We followed Tommy’s truck down the road and then a turn onto something that was not quite a road…a number of 4 wheelers whizzed past us. We bounced along the pitted dirt path, veering around large rocks and huge holes.
Every turn we were making was announced by Tommy, along with a useful landmark, “Left at this tree…then we’re going to turn right at the big tree with a Y on it, you might want to pay attention if you’ll be leaving and coming back…over.”
I tried to note the turns and landmarks. We finally parked at the top of a plateau, with views extending into the La Plata valley below. The views were incredible; jagged rock cliffs including Shiprock, a sacred Navajo rock formation. There was a sharp drop off and flat ground. Our eyes searched the area for something resembling a cave entrance on the cliff top.
“You guys can park in this garage and lock it before we head down,” Tommy directed us. He showed us the garage mechanism and we gathered our non-suitcase belongings and followed him down the dusty path.
The Hike to the Kokopelli’s Cave Entrance
“The cave was blasted into the cliff face. The rock here is Tertiary Ojo Alamo sandstone. It overlooks La Plata valley about 300′ down. The cave itself is 70′ below the surface where we stand. The entrance is located right in the cliff face so we have to hike down. Follow me,” Tommy announced. “You will want to hold on with one hand at all times.”
A small crack in the rocks revealed a narrow opening and steep stone steps leading down. As we descended, I became increasingly grateful for my lack of suitcase. The uneven steps were formed from large rocks. Some areas were a tight squeeze and there was a pipe drilled into the rock for a railing, which I gripped tightly. After about 15-20 minutes walking from the car and several tiers of winding steps, we still hadn’t located anything resembling an entrance, rolling boulder or otherwise. We came to a large peninsula of rock with a table and chairs perched on top. It looked to be a sheer drop down on all sides…but the view!
We came around to another steep set of uneven steps and made our way down a wooden ladder, my toes gripping my flip flops…to an unexpected glass door. A real door!! Tommy unlocked it and we followed him inside.
Inside Kokopelli’s Cave New Mexico
“Alexa, turn on the lights.” Tommy commanded.
Angie and I snickered at our Alexa equipped cave with a glass door as the lights turned on. Tommy showed us the setup of this 1700 square foot area, had Alexa give us some music and told us the cave rules. He showed us the rooms and gave us some cave history.
We had intended on visiting a few more sites in the area that day, but after seeing the cave we both decided that is where we wanted to spend the rest of our evening. Plus, we weren’t 100% confident that we could make our way back there in the dark.
With our change of plans set, we followed Tommy back to the garage and wound our way out onto the main road trying to memorize the many turns. After seeing the fully equipped kitchen we decided that we would cook dinner instead of going out, so we hit a local grocery store. We were able to, with a lot of guesswork and false turns at the landmarks Tommy had pointed out originally, find the garage.
Grabbing everything we could grab, so we didn’t need another trip to the car, we made our way down the dusty path. I needed all my self help items I had, being that I was having a bad headache day. This included; my full sized pillow in a Star Wars pillowcase, a large pink foam roller, I lovingly refer to as, ‘big momma,’ a tens unit, ultrasound, heat pack and my big blue S-hook with various knobs for getting out muscle knots. The hook gets the same response by all who see it…’You realize what that looks like… right?.’
I grabbed the metal handrail and balanced my bag of clothes, a few groceries, big momma and the hook and clomped down the uneven stones, hoping not to trip or get hooked on anything unexpectedly. Angie carried the bulk of our items and we breathlessly made our way to the door.
Exploring the Area…Check out the La Plata Valley
“Let’s get some pictures up on that patio,” I suggested, “Before the sun sets.”
“Good idea,” Angie said. “We are not going up-and-down those stairs again when it gets dark.”
We began racing up-and-down the stairs, taking pictures of everything. Giddy and hysterical about the reality of spending the night in a cave, we explored every room, inside, outside, patio, bedroom, kitchen and back. We couldn’t stop investigating every nook.
“Go up on top there and I’ll take a picture of you sitting at that table,” I instructed.
“Hold on I got a better idea,” Angie shouted. She set the timer, balanced her phone on a rock ledge and raced up the stone steps and across the stone just in time to slide into her seat and smile.
Our Evening (Mostly) Inside Kokopelli’s Cave
Inside, a small step down, the large living room was decorated with log furniture and Native American decor. An adjoining room revealed another sitting area with a pullout sofa and ornate coffee table.
Past the sitting area was a sunken kiva with a fireplace and candles around the stone edges. The rock walls and ceiling revealed small decorative rocks hidden around. Tommy had told us that visitors are encouraged to find stones on the property and decorate them with a design and their names. They are then left around the cave to commemorate their stay. There were markers available and Angie created a stone with a fox and our names to leave in the cave.
Past the kiva was the kitchen area, complete with dishwasher and a small washer/dryer. The kitchen had a full sized refrigerator and stove which Tommy had said originally needed to be lowered down with cranes from the top of the cliff to get them inside.
The bathroom revealed a huge stone jacuzzi tub with a waterfall shower. The floor was a smooth tile and there were shelves cut into the rock wall… and there was a blowdryer.
On the other side of the cave was a small step up into the bedroom with a queen sized bed. There was a strip of running lights across the step to prevent tripping. Between Angie and myself, there was no less than 20…full-on-flying, arm-flailing entrances into the living room from the bedroom, after forgetting about that step. Also, there were a couple of near face plants, each time with the proclamation, “I am NOT tripping over that step again!”
In the bedroom, the sliding glass door opened onto a small balcony with an iron rail. The balcony emerged from the sandstone cliff face and was 300 feet above the valley below. Four states were visible from this vantage point: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. We tiptoed out, worried about falling off the edge but peering over. Tommy had told us that some little animals who live on the rock sometimes show up and we could give them a little scoop of food. We put some out there from the container by the door…just in case.
We made dinner and did some laundry…just like a modern day Betty and Wilma in their cave. There was a video and photo albums explaining the history of the cave which we happily watched with fresh popcorn and some wine.
At sunset, we began running all over. We raced up and down the precarious stone steps and ladders that we swore we wouldn’t climb after dark, to get the best photos and views.
The Nighttime Visitor at Kokopelli’s
Angie and I were standing on the bedroom balcony when there was a strange scratching noise. We froze and stared, wide-eyed at each other. Our eyes then darted to the direction of the sound and a small furry masked head shot up from around the rock above us. I yelped and scurried into the cave with Angie at my heels. We secured the door tightly behind us. Turning off the bedroom light and flipping on the balcony light, we could see the large cat-raccoon like critter gobbling up the food we had left. We sat, rapt with attention on the little bedroom step, noses against the glass door, watching…which we found out later was a ring tailed cat.
Sleeping in a Cave Kokopelli Style
When it came time to sleep, we began giggling maniacally.
“We’re going to sleep in a cave…hahaha.” I laughed.
“We ate popcorn and made macaroni and cheese in a cave.” Angie gasped.
“We did our laundry in a cave…” we screamed.
“I took a shower in a cave!”
“I did an ultrasound treatment on my neck in a cave…haha!”
Our ‘I ____ in a cave’ proclamations went on for a while.
We then became quiet and somewhat nervous about how high up we were and that we were, in fact, in a rock cave. Thoughts of the disclaimer we signed in the church parking lot briefly flashed through my mind…but… I fell asleep…in a hole in the side of a cliff 300′ above ground.
I slept in a cave…check.
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