Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day Eight

I’m writing tonight from my new favorite town— Pagosa Springs, Colorado!

How’d we end up here? Glad you asked! This morning I was pondering our dilemma—I wanted to leave but it was too soon to head south and it was going to be too hot to camp. Then I remembered we’d never been to the northern part of New Mexico. We looked at the map and called up some sites on my father’s slow dialup connection, one thing led to another and we decided we wanted to go to Pagosa Springs. It’s near wildlife refuges, near Indian ruins, and it’s got mineral waters, so what wasn’t to like?

The trip out started uneventfully enough, and I didn't bother with pictures. But once we got north of Espanola, things just got better and better.

These red cliffs were incredible to see.

They were just amazing!

Kind of like a layer cake.

One wonders just what is in these layers of sediment piled up over the ages.

Going into the valley.

Little town with mountains in the distance.

Still a lot of snow at the higher elevations.

They got snow in northern New Mexico as recently as a few weeks ago!

Such cute little towns!

And the valleys are nice to look at, too.

The cows seem to enjoy the vistas, too.

Almost like a postcard!

This mountain appears to be missing a piece.

My pictures don’t do the scenery justice. It was just absurdly beautiful, like there ought to be a law or something.

We got to Pagosa Springs around 5:00 and got checked into our hotel. It’s an okay hotel, but we’ve got a room at one of the less expensive spas booked for tomorrow. That didn’t stop Dan from soaking in the mineral waters while I got a massage, though.

But first, we went for a walk.

Pagosa Springs has a little riverwalk.

Nice views on the riverwalk.

Opportunities to make friends abound.

And you can even contemplate art.

After the spa, we had dinner at a nice place that serves up some tasty Mediterranean-style dishes and a deadly baklava for dessert. Luckily my baklava was much smaller than Dan’s. That’s why I ate it so quickly. Or at least that’s the story I’m sticking with!

The plan for tomorrow is to go back to the spa in the morning where I’ll go for a run while Dan hangs out and waits. Then we’ll both soak in the mineral waters before going back to our hotel and packing. We’ll visit the Chimney Rock Indian ruins, then check into our spa motel after and I’ll maybe get another massage or some other type of treatment like an herbal wrap or salt rub. Then more soaking, dinner, and we’ll be all set to head back south on Monday.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Day Seven

I got up at 7:00 and ran for just 30 minutes since we hoped to be on the road by 9:00. But then I got to talking to my Uncle Bill, whose property abuts my father's property, and then Bill stopped by to talk to my father as we were finishing breakfast, so with one thing and another, we didn't get out the door until nearly 10:00.

The drive to Acoma is about an hour and a half, and other than mesas and trains, there's not a lot to see along the way.

The visitor center at the pueblo is very nice and we were just in time for a pueblo tour. I'm no fan of organized tours, but it's the only way they'll let you up there, so we didn't have much of a choice.

The pueblo sits on top of a mesa.

It's kept quite rustic, with no running water or electricity.

They didn't allow pictures of the inside of the mission church, which was very authentic, with dirt floor, original art, and no electricity. It was hard to get a picture of the outside too, but I got this view of the bell tower.

Another view of the village.

These ladders are common in the village, where homes often rest on top of one another.

This is the back side of a traditional oven. The natives no longer use these to fire their pottery, but they still cook in them sometimes.

Little home with a big view

The view.

Sunny little home on a sunny little street.

A street in Acoma.

Little houses all in a row.

I liked these stairs.

Yet another view of urban Acoma.

Looking down at abandoned buildings below.

Cliff face.

Looking out across the rocky cliff.

Balanced rock overlooking abandoned corral.

Abandoned house.

More abandoned dwellings at the bottom of the cliff.

There were natives selling pottery at various points throughout the village. Their prices were very reasonable and we bought a lot of stuff. I was struck by how friendly the vendors were. At some of the pueblos, you get the feeling they hold a grudge, but not at Acoma.

We knocked around the pueblo for a couple hours, then hung out at the visitor center and enjoyed the pretty day.

On the road leaving the pueblo, we came across an old man selling cold drinks and silver jewelry from a sky-blue van that looked like a converted ice cream truck. He was parked in a scenic spot overlooking the valley with some great vistas.

One of the views, with Acoma way in the distance.

I love this view with the tree in the foreground.

An interesting rock formation.

On the way home we saw a wildfire in the distance.

This isn't a great picture of it, but it's what I could get once we were home. The fire is behind the mesas that run near my father's property. It's far enough away to not be a danger, but close enough that we can see and smell the smoke.

We're thinking we might leave tomorrow, but we don't yet have a plan. My youngest uncle is getting back tonight from a trip to Europe and since we missed him last year, we'd like to see him before we leave. But we're also getting antsy to move on. We're ready for the rest of this trip to be just us, doing things our own way on our own schedule. It's been nice to spend some time with my father because it seems he's always too busy or we are. But I'm also starting to get stressed out by not having any quiet time. Dan allows me my space in a way that my father does not.

We'll check in the morning if my uncle is up for a visit, and perhaps we'll stay through tomorrow night if he is. But sometime either tomorrow or the next day, we're heading south to the black range. A heat wave is about to begin and it will be cool in the mountains. There's a B&B I want to try (it has wireless internet!) and if the place is booked, there's plenty of camping in the forest.

This has been fun, cheap, and convenient, but it's time to go.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day Six

I got up at 8:30 and went for a run, although I was tempted not to. Running is one of those things that you always feel better about afterwards than before.

I’ve been running around the new fields off the cemetery road and it’s like having a private track.

The fields are very near the mesas and the combination of dry earth and fields cut into the higher land create a dune-like effect.

I ran for about 50 minutes and came home to find one of my uncles had stopped by for coffee. After my shower I settled in with coffee and carrot bread, since we were on our own for breakfast, and we all hung out for awhile, talking.

After my uncle left it was decided that me, Dan, and my father would head into Albuquerque and go to the Balloon Museum. Albuquerque is famous for its annual hot air balloon festival and although I wasn’t hugely enthused by the idea of going to a museum about the subject, I figured what the heck. I can get interested in just about anything, given the right context.

Between one thing and another it was nearly 1:00 before we left the house, and then it turned out that neither of our two event planners had gotten directions or even the address of this place. My father had been once before and thought he knew where it was, but of course he didn’t, and he also didn’t want to call for directions. At about the time I pointed out that we couldn’t drive the city all day hoping to find the place by accident, we found it. Figures.

It was a nicely done little museum. The exhibits pertaining to the earliest years of ballooning and the dirigible era were my favorites. The modern stuff was…well, not any more interesting to me than it ever has been, but I dutifully checked it all out and took a picture of my silly husband.

Then we went to my Aunt Mercy’s house, which my father thankfully knew exactly how to get to. By now I was starving since it was 4:00 and I hadn’t had anything to eat since my yogurt and carrot bread in the morning. We sat in my aunt and uncle’s living room and made idle chit-chat, then headed out for an early dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I had a nice grilled shrimp salad and indulged in a sopapilla afterwards. Then we went back to my aunt and uncle’s house where they showed me some pictures I had never seen before of my grandparents’ home town of San Marcial, which was wiped off the map by floods in 1929. I thoroughly enjoyed the photos and my uncle promised to make me a CD. He also showed us some pictures from the time he spent stationed in Japan with the navy in the 1960s. Uncle Pat always has good stories to tell, but it was getting late, so we decided to head home.

We got back just ahead of a train and on an impulse I went across the street to watch it go by. I got as close as I thought I could get away with, considering that Dan and my father were watching from the other side of the street and I didn’t want to worry them. I wanted to see if it was as dizzying to be right up close to the cars as I remembered from my childhood, when me and my cousins would sneak away at night to see the trains go by. The ground shook and yes, the cars were huge and mesmerizing, but not frightening, as they had been when I was a kid. I guess I’ve grown up a little.

Tomorrow, Acoma Pueblo is on the agenda, so I should have some good pics!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day Five

I woke up a little stiff from yesterday's horseback riding, but that didn't stop me from running nearly an hour before a nice breakfast of yogurt, fruit, and some of my carrot bread that I made back home in Houston and brought along as road food.

Since my father had to go to a meeting in Hatch, Dan and I were on our own and decided to do a little hiking. We went into Albuquerque and found the La Luz trail, which we hiked a few years ago with one of my uncles. It's seven miles of switchbacks, but we didn't feel like spending all day hiking so we set my watch for only an hour and started up.

View just before starting up.

Views toward the city.

The trail.

Up towards the mountains.


Looking up!

Making new friends on the trail.

Just lovely! Too bad we didn't start early enough to continue!

We ended up going about 2.5 miles up before heading back to where we parked. By then we were pretty hungry and I was craving a really good salad, so we went to Whole Foods and made fancy salads at their salad bar. We took the salads to a park where we watched bunnies and roadrunners while we ate. Then, since it was nearly 5:00, we headed back to my dad's place. We had spaghetti for dinner tonight and a nice chat that thankfully involved the television being OFF. But now the men are on a search-and-destroy mission for horseflies, which we suspect are getting in somehow from one of the farms in the near vicinity.

Nothing but the finest entertainment at the DadWays Inn! One year the problem was gnats. Or maybe moths. I no longer remember, except that insects and other wildlife are a constant presence in the country.

We don't have any firm plans yet for tomorrow or the rest of the week. We'll probably visit relatives and maybe check out a museum or something. There may be other hikes we decide to try. We also want to do a day trip to the Acoma Pueblo and maybe to the towns of Magdalena and Pie Town. We'll probably spend another night or two here though, to save money. Our plans can change quickly, though. One of the pleasures of a road trip is not being bound to any sort of fixed schedule.