Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bandelier National Monument

 You might say--"About time" for a new posting.
We have been without phone-and therefore -internet service for a while up here in north central New Mexico.

Wonderful visit to Bandelier National Monument -all about Ancestral Pueblo people from about 1200's to the mid 1500's.

      The remains are canyon floor rooms and cliff dwellings.

They had a good visitor's center with all kinds of information.  While we were there, there were at least 2 school groups being guided through.

This is a picture form the canyon floor to some of the cliff dwellings.  For perspective, you can see people on the path in front of the dwellings.  A challenging walk, but not at all too difficult.

There is a good walkway up and through the ruins.  A handy railing for us old folks--though kids used them too!!

You can climb up and into some of the dwellings.  Inside, some had two or three rooms.  The whole area is a canyon with a year round steady stream for fresh water.  The dwellings are a result of volcanic ash from a long ago volcano.  The rooms were fairly easily enlarged by the Indians with simple tools.

Careful on that next step!

From the walkway.  You can see one reconstructed house added to the cliff dwelling.

In the distance is the road down into the pueblo.
The green trees mark the path of the stream. 

There was no road into Frijoles Canyon until mid 1930's.  A lot of the development of this as a national monument was the result of the CCC. We have seen that Corps responsible for a large number of beautiful projects around the country.

 There are only 3 miles of paved road in the 33,750 acres of the monument.

But there are 70 miles of hiking trails.

The inside of this dwelling was spacious--over 3 feet taller than I am.  The black is soot from fires which was also helpful in stabilizing the walls--no crumbling.

A number of petroglyphs( designs or symbols carved into the rock) are still visible.  Usually they are above the dwellings--they would stand on the roofs to carve.

This is of a macaw--a parrot type of bird from Central America.  That seemed to be a result of the trade routes the Indians had established long ago.

Should we leave them in the canyon?

Aw-----they're still smiling.

Guess we'll let them go.

From a trail on top of the canyon.

If you enlarge, you will see the tiny people 1,000 feet down at the ruins.

There were also a few ruins up at this level.  Some were for group or religious observances. 

Looking back the other way out of the canyon.

Across the way you can one of the trails.

Some of the roads were a challenge in our little motorhome.  

When you see a sign that indicates curve ahead 25 miles per hour, you go 20 miles per hour and hold on for dear life.

We would not have done this in our larger 5th wheel.

From Bandelier north to Abiquiu Corps of Engineer Park.  There are only two Corps parks in New Mexico. The other one was Cochiti. 

As usual, our old folks pass allowed us to be here for $6 per night--no hookups.  But since this was perhaps the best site, we took it knowing we were completely self contained and didn't need the water and electric hookups that everyone else wanted.

The Abiquiu is fed by the Chama River --out of the Rockies

Boy, these people love their coffee.

Seems all they do is sit around, drink coffee, read their Kindles, and look at beautiful places.

This is the Pedernal Mountain as seen from our campground.  Also know as Flint mountain by the Indians because--they found flint there for their tools, weapons, and fire starter.

This mountain was famous in Georgia O'Keefe paintings.  She stayed close by in Abiquiu town and at Ghost Ranch--a few miles up Route 84.

From one of the hiking trails above Abiquiu.

Can you find our Lazy Daze?

It's the one closest to the water--center of picture.

From one the highest points in the park--off towards the day use area and the boat launch area.

If the lake does not look large to you, please note that there are 3 boats in the lake --in front of Jan and towards this side of the lake.

And----on our way up 84 to El Vado Lake State Park.  This was typical of the views for most of the trip.  Cliffs can be white or red or layers of colors.

As well as quite tall.

Note the traffic. We may have seen all of ten cars for the entire 50 miles or so. 

El Vado is at 8,000 feet elevation. The surrounding mountains are 10,000 to 13,000 feet.  Some are still skiing on April 29th.

Yep,  we're sitting again.  Note all the congestion in the campground.  There are only two sites being used right now--we are one of them.

Actually, we have done a fair amount of hiking here.
The 80 sites cover a huge amount of acreage.

We did see 3 pairs of eagles nesting atop some electric poles.  Also a number of deer and elk around, but we have only seen a few deer so far.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Visiting Santa Fe

Starting on our trip over the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This stop is at the town of Madrid, an art town.

This store was perfect for some neat turquoise and 2 new hand made coffee cups

Thought some might like this quote.

Madrid is on Route 14 heading north from Albuquerque.  It is a quiet 2 lane road with beautiful views .  Would not have tried it in our 5th wheel, but the 24 foot Lady Blue fit quite nicely and we parked right on the street.

Artwork on building walls and the main street through Madrid

We had to stop at the local diner for lunch.  There was one gentleman who was the waiter, cook, and cashier. 

Notice the mention of chile, chipotle, etc.

I couldn't resist the Smoked Brisket Red Chile Enchilada.  Loved it!!  Jan had Chicken Green Chile Enchilada.

Did you see the listing of Red Chile Chocolate Cake?  We should have tried it, but we were full!

Definitely New Mexico

Lots of hats at Cowgirl Red.

And then on to Santa Fe.

We camped at a campground right on the main road into Santa Fe.  As seniors we were able to catch a local bus right outside the campground for $1 each for a day pass.  The ride was about 15 minutes into the Plaza.

Much of downtown Santa Fe follows this period Pueblo style in Native American adobe style

This is the Museum of Art

We thought this might fit well on a wanted poster

The red chiles are well represented in Santa Fe. 

We have enjoyed the Ristras--or strings of fresh or dried red chili peppers

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. The church was built in the 1800's, but the roots go all the way back to the 1600's and 1700's.


We always love the art on old doors.  The relief on these panels is outstanding.  You can click on the pictures to enlarge.

There were a number of stained glass windows. They were imported from France( the cathedral itself was modeled after French Romanesque) and then transported over dirt roads to be placed in the church.

We assume that Dave Cooper probably already know about the staircase at Loretto Chapel.  The chapel was part of a convent. The story told is of a stranger who stopped by and agreed to build the stairs up to the choir loft. 

He did so and then disappeared.  The staircase was built originally without the banisters.  If you look closely , there is no support for the staircase.  It is not attached to the wall at any point.

The inside of Loretto Chapel

 San Miguel Chapel, built in 1610.

It is the oldest church in the US.   Here we always thought Boston or Williamsburg, Va would have the oldest.

The art section of Santa Fe centers around Canyon Road.  We loved these cast figures

The boy and the girl look so natural --reading and looking into the pond

Some of the stores had beautiful displays of turquoise!

Also many choices of Native rugs.

Everywhere you turn , there is some form of art.

A lot of action is felt from this sculpture.

After enjoying Santa Fe, we headed a few miles southwest to Cochiti Lake Corps of Engineer campground.  We are on a beautiful site with its own shelter and an unobstructed view to the lake.  To give you an idea, you might see little dots in the lake that are fair sized boats.  The lake is on the Rio Grande. 

This is dry camping--no water, electric , or sewer hookups.  We had to pay a huge $6 per night.

This section of the Rio Grande has a good amount of water.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A visit to the Towner Alpaca Farm

This was our spot to stay --in the driveway of the Towners who are one of the Harvest Hosts.  We met the organizers of Harvest Hosts in Quartzsite. We had already heard good things online and from other campers.

The idea is that , for $40 for 12 months, we can call ahead to one of over 437 Harvest Hosts who are located in all 48 of the lower 48 states.  The host will provide a free campsite on their farm--- we must be totally self contained.

We then are able to see what happens on the farm.  50% of the hosts are wineries, and 50% are farms and other agricultural stops.  Many to most of the hosts have products for sale-----vegetables, wines, maple syrup, fruits, yarn and other fiber products, dairy, and often cheeses and bakery products( think apple orchards with apple pie, apple crisp, apple butter, and dried apples.)

The Towners are an extended family, quite friendly all around, who operate the Towner Alpaca Farm in Socorro, New Mexico.  Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them.

This was our view from our site

This is Tootsie Roll, one of 22 Alpacas on the farm.  We found out the day before we arrived that the shearer was coming from Colorado the next day to shear all of the Alpacas.  We were in for a treat. This only happens once a year.

We found out all kinds of interesting things.  Most of the females were pregnant.  One female was actually overdue.  The gestation period for alpacas is 11 and a half months.
It was difficult to get pictures of the faces. They always turn away from you.  But this picture gives you an idea of the natural colors of the fleece.
This shows how thick some of the coats are before shearing

Dave, the owner of the Alpacas, is showing us how thick the coat can be.

The shearer, from Colorado, was quite entertaining. He brought his son and the table with him as well as lots of clippers and other gear.  The table is quite fascinating . It allows them to bring in the Alpaca--standing--against the table , which is on its side.  A soft top is snugged up to the animal and the table is rotated to the above position.  The legs are clinched and stretched to keep the animals still and avoid injury--to the animal and the workers.  The shearer has trimmed a patch from the front leg up to the neck. Then , he cuts a path along the belly to the back legs.  Once that is done, he neatly begins to trim a "blanket"all the way up the side.  The barrels are used to separate the side fleece, the neck, and the legs.  They represent three different lengths of fleece.

The fleece is so soft , it almost seems like air!
The Alpacas look quite different after the shearing.  Kind of gives you a new appreciation of the term
"being fleeced"  The gentleman above was the grandfather.  He used to be a cattle farmer and we had some great conversations during the day.   He talked about how many acres it takes in New Mexico to grow one head of beef cattle(hundreds--it's mostly desert) . Also how large the farms are( hundreds of thousands of acres---each!!)