Sunday, May 31, 2015

La Fonda Celebration

The La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe is a place we really enjoy and where we go to have lunch whenever we are in the city. Yesterday, we went there to celebrate my birthday. The actual date is today, but we didn't know how many Santa Fe stores would be open on Sunday, so we drove there yesterday.

For lunch, I had chili rellenos.

And John ordered beef enchiladas.

The restaurant is right off the hotel lobby and you can look down on it from the mezzanine.

This a view from looking in from the lobby.

There are great windows around most of the space that have each pane painted with a different design.

Earlier in the month we toured the La Posada hotel in Williams, Arizona. The La Fonda, too, was once a Fred Harvey hotel owned by the Santa Fe Railroad. It isn't as old as La Posada, however. There has been an inn (or "fonda") on the Santa Fe Plaza since 1607. But the current La Fonda was built in 1922 on the site of previous inns. In 1925 is was acquired by the Santa Fe and leased to Fred Harvey. In 1968, it came under local ownership.

We enjoyed looking around the hotel. This is the front desk.

Seating next to the bakery has these copper pans hanging from the ceiling.

Here is a light hanging over a stairway.

These paintings are found in a hallway.

A beautiful fireplace.

Even the restrooms are lovely.

What a great place to celebrate turning 72!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hiking By the Petroglyphs

Tuesday, we visited Petroglyph National Monument, which is surround by the city of Albuquerque. We had been there before, but it was an enjoyable place to get in our daily 5-mile walk. Archeologists estimate that most of the images were made 400 to 700 years ago, though some images may be 2,000 to 3,000 years old. Beginning in the 1600s, Hispanic heirs of the Atrisco Land Grand carved crosses and livestock brands into the rocks.

The path follows a lava escarpment. There are 3 old volcanoes to the west of the monument.

These are some of the images archeologists believe were inscribed by ancestors of today's Native peoples.

At least two of the Spanish sheepherders left their names and the date, 1919, on the rocks.

These crosses were also inscribed by Spanish settlers.

Of course, there is always some modern graffiti, like this one from 1989.

We also saw a few wild flowers, including these two.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bosque Trail

Albuquerque has protected a lot of open space around the city. Today we walked about five miles on the Bosque Trail along the Rio Grande River north of I-40. As we started out from the visitor center, we came to this statue. It had been carved from a dead cottonwood tree. Certainly more interesting than a stump removed and thrown out in the bosque (forest).

The trail starts out on a gravel path next to a canal. We saw several people running along this trail.

There were a number of very nice homes on the other side of the canal.

We saw quite a few lines of jetty jacks like these. Jetty jacks are i-beams welded together and strung with wire that were placed to prevent flood debris from impacting agricultural land and human settlements. They have worked so well that the environment along the river has changed, in part because the jetty jacks slow down the river flow and the floods no longer bring in new mud to enrich the soil. The jacks have become controversial and it looks like they are slowly being removed.

I'm not sure what the black plastic container on the right is there for. We saw it in one other location, as well.

The open space gives us an idea of what the area along the river must have looked like when the first Europeans came to this area. The trees are beautiful. The ground around them isn't as pretty, but you do know you are in a natural area. We saw a small lizard doing push-ups. (Sorry, no photo) Really, it looked like that is what he was doing. As we walked along, we heard other lizards scurry away as we passed by. You can see how dense the forest of bosque is here.

I had read that there are pieces of public art along the trail. We saw two of them. One was wire wrapped around a tree stump. It was ugly and the description I read was so intuitive and "out there" that I didn't take a picture. The second sculpture was called Arboreal Dome and is made from downed, dead cottonwood branches. It was at least interesting.

We also came across this lean-to in the forest. Obviously of human construction but it wasn't clear why it was there.

And here is the mighty Rio Grand. Originating in the Colorado Rockies, the river flows south through New Mexico and then, beyond El Paso, Texas, it become the international border between the US and Mexico. We have seen it in many places along it's journey south and east. Today it is full of spring runoff from the melting mountain snowpack in Colorado and New Mexico.

We enjoyed exploring this part of New Mexico and we may be able to visit one of the other open space areas before we leave the area. We chose a good place to wait out the Memorial Day weekend crowds. We expected crowds on the trails today and they didn't materialize. As other RVers know, it always important to plan ahead to be sure of an RV site on holiday weekends like this.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Good Eats

A must stop every time we spend time in Gallup in Genaro's Cafe, where we always get good Mexican food.

First,they brought a basket of nicely salted chips with salsa.

John had the beef burrito plate.

I ordered the stuffed sopapilla.

We were asked if we wanted red or green chili with our meals. We both said, "mild." The waitress responded, "red, on the side." I was glad that is how it was served. I found it too hot and used very little; John enjoyed it and used almost all of his.

When we paid our check as we left the restaurant, the young cashier asked if we like the chili sauce. I said it was too hot, John said it was great. She said, "I don't eat it. It's all too hot for me."

Only in Gallup, self-proclaimed Indian Capital of the World, there is a sign at the front door, "No vendors on Saturday." We were in the restaurant Tuesday and several Indians came by offer to sell jewelry. I imagine the restaurant is so busy on Saturday, they can't handle the vendors, too. We had shopped at Walmart on the previous Saturday and it was packed with folks who had come in from the nearby Navajo and Zuni reservations to shop. The store was much less crowded on Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Never Disappointed

New Mexico has several national monuments we have not visited, so we decided to check out at least one, El Morro. It was about 50 miles from where we are parked in Gallup. El Morro is a sandstone out-cropping with a pool of water at the base. Visible for miles, the rock and water was a great attraction for the Puebloan ancestors of the modern day Zunis, who live nearby, as well as travelers through the centuries who left their names and messages in the soft stone.

There are at least 2,000 writings carved into the walls of El Morro, telling the tale of Native Americans in pictographs, reporting parties of Spanish explorers and American expeditions looking for a rail route to California.  Later came passing pioneers and tourists, who left their names, as well.

You may notice that the first photo shows carvings that look dark. Early attempts at preservation of the monument included darkening the writings with graphite--aka #2 lead pencil--so they could be seen more easily. That wasn't the only misguided work done to make this a better tourist attraction. The trail that climbs to the top of the sandstone structure and makes its way to the pueblo there is marked on the stone surface with lines cut into the rock. That would never happen today.

One monument superintendent planted yucca to discourage visitors from getting too close to the stone face. That was a good idea. Look at this yucca, beginning to bloom.

In some places, steps were carved into the stone to make following the path easier!

The people who lived in the pueblo brought their water from the pool at the base of the rock outcropping. That would have been quite a bit of work. There are also depressions in the rock that capture rain water, as we learned hiking there the day after a rain storm.

John was able to jump across another pool, but I had to shimmy across using the rocks on either side of the water.

The remains of the Atsinna (Zuni for "place with writings on the rock) pueblo was discovered by archaeologists in the 1950s and part of the remains were stabilized so we can see them today. Between 1,000 and 1,500 people lived in the pueblo. At least 875 rooms have been counted. The largest pueblo dates from about 1275 and it was abandoned around 1400.

When we finished exploring El Morro's top, we walked down several sets of stairs to get back to the surrounding grounds. Thankfully, these weren't carved into the monument's surface.

We enjoyed our walk of about 3 miles, exploring El Morro. We are never disappointed when we visit a National Monument, National Historic Site, or National Park. They are always worth the time we spend there.