Tag Archives: New Mexico

Western Adventure, Day XVIII – New Mexico to Arizona

This day was a grand day and full of challenges. First off, we had originally planned on flying Mike out of Memphis TN, as the kids and I continued to Mississippi to visit relatives. Since the flooding and tornados were so bad, we diverted to CO and flew him out on a new ticket from Denver to home. Unfortunately, the airline I booked the ticket with cancelled the entire ticket when Mike was a no show in Memphis. So when Mike got to the airport, he had no ticket. To top it off, he was informed he would have to use another airline to purchase a ticket. Mike was livid.

Mike found a flight out with Southwest and was blessed with a three hour earlier arrival than planned. Thank goodness for the performance chip we purchased for the truck before this trip. The savings in fuel, more than paid for this ticket. We only needed one mile per gallon better to pay for the chip and we have been averaging about three miles to the gallon better than before the chip.

The KOA in Bernalillo, just outside of Albuquerque was an outstanding RV Park. The facility was the best we had experienced since Hill City and the owner was a gem! He let us leave the trailer past check out time to go get Mike from the airport; didn’t charge us an extra cent. No other RV Park I have been to would have done that.

Picking up Mike was sweet… we all missed him so much! The kids tore out of the truck as soon as they saw him. All three jumped him in mid stride. They all beamed with excitement as their daddy hugged and kissed them. Mike had the biggest proud papa grin on his face as he got into the truck.

Back at the trailer, I shaved off Mike’s hair like Zachary’s… He was so nervous. He kept threatening Nathan, he was going to shave off his hair too. I had to laugh. Great new hairdo for Mike!

The challenge of the airport was not enough for the day. We got one more doozy. As we started to head out of town on Highway 550 east, our truck overheated and dumped all of its antifreeze. Then to be precariously parked on the side of the highway on a steep downhill slope. Yikes!

Trying to figure out what happened, Mike called the local Chevy dealer. Decision was to let her cool down, fill her up with water, go back down and retry to climb up the hill. We did discover the use of the recycle air puts too heavy a load on the truck while climbing and it was the culprit. She took an hour to cool. We made it down and back up with no problems. Heading east to AZ, we decided to continue on through some beautiful terrain.

The desert without easy access to a water land form is nice to visit, but we are pretty excited to get to Lake Powell in Glen Canyon. The weather forecast was looking good for the next few days, the low 80s. First, we are going to stop at Monument Valley to watch the sun rise. We drove through the night and made it to the valley by 1am. We parked in the visitor center parking lot and got a few hours of shut eye before we needed to be up.

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Western Adventure, Day XVII – New Mexico at Puye Cliff Dwellings and Santa Fe

Puye Ruins

Puye Ruins

Up early and out the door by 7:45am, we quickly gobbled up breakfast at The Range and purchased three bags of ice for our cooler at the local grocery store. The cooler has been a blessing. It’s great to have a fresh supply of cold water for the doggies and their water bowl and cools drinks for us. The drive north to Espanola area, north of Santa Fe, was attractive and a lot more enjoyable to be in than around the Albuquerque area; there were trees and interesting land formations. After a few reroutes, we found the entry to the Puye Indian Cliff Dwellings on the Santa Clara Pueblo Reservation.

Did you know the difference between “Pueblo” vs “Tribe”? I sure didn’t until this day. Our guide informed us, all Native Americans who have been heavily influenced by the Spanish use Pueblo. All the others… Tribe.

We purchased tickets to take the entire tour at a convenience store just outside the entry sign to sight: dwellings and ruins. The tour was scheduled for two hours. We ended up spending over three hours with our guide. It was money & time well spent… highly educational. As we drove seven miles to the parking lot, I said to the kids, “I hope our guide will share the spiritual side of the Pueblo besides the archaeological one.” Our guide, in an orange shirt in the pictures, was chalked full of information and was more than willing to answer any questions on the sight and Native Americans in general. She also shared the spiritual challenges the Puye face with having the Pueblo beliefs and the Catholic religion combined.

Interestingly even to this day, the Pueblo is a patriarchal society. No women are allowed to be part of the Indian counsel and government. Also to be part of the Pueblo, one has to have two generations in a row of male descendants in order to be registered as a Santa Clara. She stated the Pueblo’s registrations are declining rapidly because many of the women are marrying outside the tribe, thus their children are ineligible to register.

We had a bit of time before our tour began, so we looked at the dwellings with the provided binoculars and went through the exhibit room. I also took some photos of the kids. Zachary was sporting his slick cowboy hat and boots. What a handsome guy! We walked and climbed up steep ladders to the top. Each rung was over 16 inches apart. There were three tiers to reach the top.

Our guided shared the openings to the homes were originally smaller than what I photographed; smaller due to Erosion from natural elements and people going in and out of the caves. She said her people during the time of occupation, 1100-1200s, were small–about 4.5 feet tall. She stated the holes were no larger than 12 inches in diameter.

The rows of small holes above the bigger openings were from the wooden poles used for the facia; enabling the family to put an exterior rocked dwelling. Briana guessed the holes were for light or air.

There was a ritual were the women would throw clay at the dwellings to keep them intact. Since the Pueblo moved closer to water around the 1200s, the clay ritual stopped and the exterior dwelling slowly has eroded and fallen down hill into the reservoirs that were used to collect rain and snow melt. In the summer, once the reservoirs dried up, the women would have to walk over three miles a day to collect water in the Santa Clara Creek.

There were many petroglyphs. The spiral was found often at the site. The guide informed us it signified a map and how they connected with others. We also got the opportunity to see our first Alien petroglyph in person. That was pretty darn cool! Many times during the walk the kids would easily be distracted by the local small lizard. No matter how hard they tried, they never did catch one.

A plant I photographed was the reason the Spanish first thought the Santa Claras and surrounding Pueblos had blue corn. The women would take the branch, burn it and use the ash for salt. The ash had a blue tint; adding it to their corn made the corn look blue. It is called the Salt Bush. There were many artifacts we were able to touch; mainly fragments. Our guide said pots would have been as large as four feet tall; as large as the kids. Obsidian and other flint rock from nearby mountains were in the fragments.

At the top of the dwellings, we walked through the ruins and descended into a Kiva, a place of worship and gathering. We met the Pueblo engineers who monitor the water and air quality due to Los Alamos, where the govt does all kinds of testing. They expressed the need to monitor the environment to keep their people safe because they are not alerted by the govt when to be concerned. (There was a large explosion that occurred while they were talking. It made our guide nervous.)

On our way back to the trailer, we stopped in Santa Fe to have lunch and walk around a bit. The cathedrals were beautiful, the shops were fun and lunch was a yummy Mexican restaurant next to the train station. Our favorite shop was the trading post established in 1603. The lady inside told us of its ghosts, old well and start as a barn. She even showed us the original purchase papers. It was in Spanish, but we could make out the date. With a bit too much sun than planned on our skin, we headed back to the trailer around 7pm. Tomorrow is to bring 90s and the best for us is Mike! He will be arriving around 3pm. Once we pick him up, we are heading to Monument Valley in Arizona for a sunrise photo opt. Yeah!

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Western Adventure, Day XVI – New Mexico

We spent the day playing games, watching movies and washing clothes while a wild wind storm took place outside. The wind whipped up to 50 mph today. It was something to see. Sand was flying parallel with the ground for over an hour. I was afraid to wash the truck for fear I would find my driver’s side sand blasted.

We spoke with a couple in a restaurant who shared with us this year was the windiest year on record for NM in over 12 years. With better weather predicted for tomorrow, we plan on going to the cliff dwellings up north and to Santa Fe.

Posted in United States, Western Adventure 2011

Western Adventure, Day XV – New Mexico at Albuquerque

Kids in Old Town

Kids in Old Town

Waking up to brilliant sunshine and a warm trailer heated from the sun was a fantastic change of pace for all of us. It has been cool for so long, I had almost forgotten what if feels like to be warm all of the time. Of course, what is the first thing sun starved people do? Yep, we go to the pool and stay too long in the sun. We spent most of the morning at the pool; a nice pool too; then we west to Old Town Albuquerque. There we had lunch and look around a bit. A true, expensive tourist trap. For example, crappy, flimsy knives started at $60 for a small one and go up from there quickly.

At lunch, the color of red started to develop in our skin tone. Zachary was the worst. We nicknamed him ‘The Salsa boy’. Our lunch was yummy. They served hot, soft sopapillas for dessert as part of the meal. Nathan decided he liked Tacos al Carbon, so he and Zachary had them with chicken, Briana had her two hard shelled tacos and I had an Indian taco (taco in a sopapilla).

People here seem to be nice, but can be impatient and crabby if they don’t get what they want. We witnessed a whole bunch of yelling customers because they did not get what they wanted right away.

Zachary was set on finding a nice pair of cowboy boots in NM. Old Town had nothing for us and a lady in one of the shops told us about the Boot Barn in a mall on the other side of town. We headed there right away. I will get some photos of the boots he purchased later. Nathan found a pair of oiled brown ones and Zachary found a nice pair of black ones that match his new black hat.

Besides the incredible weather, nice RV park and pool. oh… and the boots, we have to say NM, what we have seen so far, isn’t much to talk about. We’re going to go to Santa Fe and see some Indian ruins before we leave. Hope they liven up our perspective of NM.

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Western Adventure, Day XIV – New Mexico

We made it to New Mexico – The Land of Enchantment! Our RV Park is KOA north of Albuquerque in Bernalillo.

The drive from Colorado Springs to here was uneventful, but only after our departure from the CO RV Park. It took extreme nerves, my nerves, to get our rig out of the spot we were camped in. I had been having small nightmares over how I was going to to be able to get out of the spot since we first arrived knowing I couldn’t go out the way we came in.

The road I needed to pull out on wasn’t wide enough for me to have enough radius for the trailer to make the turn in one swoop. With a lot of back and forth, I was finally able to make the turn. I missed a tree and three foot hole by only inches. The applause and screams the kids gave me once we squeaked out of our spot was worth the effort, plus no damaging the trailer. Our neighbor told me he didn’t even know how he was going to get out with his 40′ fifth wheel. I didn’t even realize how stressed I was until I got out… I shook and cried for 10 minutes afterward. That was how nervous I was.

On the way south, we stopped in Pueblo at a Barnes and Noble and got Briana her new book and the next one in the series. Then headed down the highway south to NM. The terrrain in south CO was flat and barren. Not even sagebrush in some parts. We joked about, even if we owned 5000 acres of it, there wasn’t enough food to feed one cow.

There was a nice pass called Raton. It was right on the border of CO and NM. At the top we crossed over into NM. North of Sante Fe was beautiful. Too bad our RV Park wasn’t here. It reminded me of the Naches area we ride motorcycles at on the east side of the Chinook Pass at home.

The RV Park we pulled into was great. I didn’t even get the trailer completely set up and the kids were off swimming in the pool. I told them they could get their swimsuits on and go; not realizing they could get ready and be in it in less than five minutes. I should have known better. Time was on our side, so why not stop and let them swim.

The pool and pet areas were within view of the trailer. How nice, huh? The playground, which Briana said had the best swings ever, was a couple rows behind us. Best of all the weather was hot, hot, hot! Wahoo! Tomorrow was supposed to be in the low 90s and sunny. I think we are going to stick around the pool for the day.

After I dragged the kids out of the pool, we went driving around to find a tasty place to eat. Most places closed at 7pm on Sundays. Thought SD was bad! Not! We did find The Range. They specialized on making the ordinary, extraordinary. And that they did! The kids and I ate all our dinners and proceeded to have dessert. Zachary ate the most. He had a 9oz NY steak with potatoes, ate the last part of Briana’s tortilla chicken stew, at the rest of Nathan’s chef salad and then ate a creme bruele desert. Can that boy eat! To think the host seating us thought their dinners were too big for the kids. lol

Back at the trailer, we headed straight to bed. It took no more than two minutes before all the kids were sound asleep. All the driving and swimming wore them out. It will be nice to have Mike back in a few days! We all miss him terribly. No pictures today. Too busy to reach for the camera case.

Posted in United States, Western Adventure 2011