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2004Travelogue # 21 Bernalillo New Mexico
Stage Coach Stop RV Park
Bernalillo, New Mexico
Places of Interest:
Albuquerque: Sadie's, The University of New Mexico, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology,
Nob Hill, Flying Star Restaurant
Bernalillo: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, Santa Ana Café, Jemez Reservoir
7/13 It was time to leave Santa Rosa's good old signs of yesteryear, such as the Comet Drive-In and the Club Café billboard, with the Fat Man's grinning face, and head west toward Albuquerque.
The drive on Interstate 40 was pleasant. This highway is a main artery, pumping trucks and autos, east and west. The flow is, of one big 18-wheeler after another zinging along, loaded with goodies for Americans.
Out here in the "boonies", between Santa Rosa and Albuquerque, is Clines Corner, which Ray Clines opened, at the intersection of old US-66 and US-285 to Santa Fe, in 1934. I remember coming through here, as a boy and seeing billboards, for miles, touting the wonderful and exciting things at Clines Corners. Such wonderful things included rattlesnakes, buffalo horns, steer skulls, green chili jelly, and a place to refuel, grab a cold drink, and hit the potties before moving on down the road. Well folks, it's still there today, just more of it.
The ride into Albuquerque through the Sandia Mountains is always a thrill for Peggy and me. There is something mystical about breaking out of the mountains into the Rio Grande Valley and dropping into the City of Albuquerque.
We were not sure where to stay this next week, having several RV Park selections. Two were out I-40, about 15 miles west of Albuquerque and the other was north of the city, on I-25 near Bernalillo, NM on the way to Santa Fe. After checking the two RV Parks to the west, we settled at the Stage Coach Stop RV Park to the north, near Bernalillo.
This RV Park is located at 3650 SH-528, on the west side of the Rio Grande River. It has paved interior roads, paved sites, 50 amps, cable, and FHU's; a very nice place and near some of the things we wanted to do.
Later that evening, Peggy and I went for a walk, and could see the Rio Grande in the distance and beyond that, the Sandia Mountains. At the base of the Sandia's, lays a little village called, Placitas and we could see lights from its homes scattered along the hillside. In the early 90's, we made a bid on a piece of property in Placitas, hoping to move and build an adobe home at the base of the Sandia's. However, our bid was not accepted and we never moved. There continues to be a mystical quietness and beauty about this place that still draws us.
7/14 It was a busy day today, with many things to do and errands to run. Getting our mail is always a challenge. We selected Rio Rancho, NM, as our mail delivery destination, thinking it was close to our RV Park. Wrong! First of all, not only was it not in close proximity, but with the recent expansion of Albuquerque, Rio Rancho is the second largest city in the state, even surpassing Santa Fe. It is growing by leaps and bounds and getting our mail was tough.
Another experience we always enjoy, while in Albuquerque, is eating at Sadie's, on NE 4th Street, near the Rio Grande. When Peggy and I first came to this area, about 20-years-ago, we gravitated to unusual places to eat, just as we do now. Sadie's was a café in a bowling alley, farther up 4th Street, closer to Old Town. There, we found great tasting New Mexico Mexican food served in astoundingly huge proportions.
In 1990, we were fortunate to dine at the new Sadie's, in their fine Mexican adobe building, complete with vigas, skylights, and charming décor; a giant upscale leap from the bowling alley. Today, we returned once again to Sadie's, for a frozen Margarita and muy bueno Mexican food and, as usual, we filled a carryout carton.
7/15 Our dear friend, Virginia Kahler, from Santa Fe, arrived this morning for a visit, she will be with us for a couple of days. Virginia is our western and Indian art specialist, being well versed in the culture of the Southwestern Pueblo Community.
Near our Park, off SH-550, is the entrance to the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. Over 1,000 years ago, the Pueblo of Santa Ana was standing near these grounds and the ancient native name for this pueblo was Tamaya. The Hyatt built a Resort that is well acclimated to these ancient surroundings. It is nestled on 500 acres of protected land, on the Santa Ana Reservation with 51% owned by the Pueblo. Driving the winding road to the Resort, we could see across the Rio Grande to the Sandia Mountain range and the Bosque along side the Rio Grande. The Bosque are the native cottonwoods indigenous to the Rio Grande along the river valley.
The Hyatt built this resort in the Pueblo style, reminiscent of the ancient village of Tamaya. It has the appearance of adobe with vigas supporting the roof and latias providing shade for the walkways. The resort was built to look like a large Native American pueblo, melting into the landscape so perfectly, that we were upon it before we knew it. We also noticed wooden poles lashed together, to make a ladder, sticking out of the roofs at various places, as if they were being used by the Indians to access the roofs of the Pueblo today.
The Resort has an excellent collection of regional artwork with the interior designed to showcase the culture of the Pueblo of Santa Ana and high desert scenery. We enjoyed walking and viewing the artwork in the lobby and surrounding areas.
Here also, we planned to have lunch. Descending a wide staircase, we faced a large plate-glass window overlooking the back of the Resort and could see a large courtyard/garden area followed by three swimming pools.
Of the five restaurants in the complex, we chose the Santa Ana Café overlooking the gardens and several horno ovens. As we were seated, I watched a young Indian lady gather fresh baked bread, the size of dinner rolls, from one of the ovens. She placed them in a large Indian woven basket and brought them into the restaurant. Shortly, some of these delicious rolls appeared on our table. The food was outstanding and the view, overlooking the pools and desert high country, just added to our dining experience.
After lunch, we walked the property, exploring the shops and other interesting
amenities, such as the Workout and Spa, featuring aromatherapy, mixed in the
scent of choice, for massages. This was one of those places to get pampered
really quickly, while dropping a few "bucks" along the way.
Leaving the luxurious comfort of this man-made oasis, we drove the winding road deeper into the arid desert of the Reservation and happened upon an overlook to the Jemez Reservoir. However, there was no reservoir, just a puny little creek outlined on the bottom of the dry lakebed. We couldn't tell, if they had drained the reservoir for repairs or, if it was a drought. In either case, it formed an interesting sight nestled in the tight canyon, with the basalt rocks from ancient lava flows, rising on both sides.
We found a high point near the edge of the canyon, where a few covered picnic tables overlooked the dam and the watershed. We sat on the tabletops, under the shade, soaking in the beauty of the distant mesas and watched a hawk glide in the updrafts of the canyon winds.
7/16 It was cozy last night, with Virginia spending the night on our sofa bed. We were up this morning; enjoying her fresh croissants from a Santa Fe bakery, fresh fruit compote and coffee. Sitting outside, we looked down on the Bosque, with the Sandia Mountain Range in the distance; the air was crisp and refreshing with the scent of junipers and yarrow.
The three of us were off to Albuquerque, to see the campus of The University of New Mexico. The campus is on Central Ave, which is also old Historic 66. Arriving a little after 10 am, we walked through some of the old adobe buildings and small plazas shaded by old trees, as students scampered to their next class. Our destination, before stopping at the Student Center complex for the girls to get their "smoothies", was the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology.
Anthropology, for me, is truly a walk back in time and here, at the Maxwell, is that opportunity. It's a great museum and should be a stopping place for anyone, who likes this sort of thing. The University of New Mexico has conducted archaeological research throughout the Southwest since 1929.
Near the entrance of the museum is a black and white photo essay by John M. Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, entitled The Great House of Chaco. The photo essay travels through the grandest and most impressive prehistoric ruins in North America. There is nothing like it north of the Mexican Toltec and Aztec cultures.
Pueblo Bonito is the grandest of the Great House ruins and no other housing block structure, in North America, rivaled its nearly 3 acre footprint and over 650 rooms until 1880, which by then, it was 7 centuries old. The Pueblo was built over 3 centuries, 850 -1130 AD. Some of the structures were 4 stories tall, with 33 kivas and 4 grand kivas. At the height of their civilization, 1050-1120 AD, there were an estimated 2000 to 5000 Chocoans living in this Pueblo. The design of the modern Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, is patterned after the Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon.
Professor Campbell's essay captures, with his still-life photographs, the visual impact of Chaco Canyon and the Ruins. There is a haunting quietness, about this once flourishing Anasazi culture revealed in these black and white photographs.
The photos show the landscape both desolate and spectacular, with deeply eroded canyons, low rocky hills, and barren alkali flats. The Chacoan territory was more than 100,000 square miles, linked by 1500 miles of roads, including parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. This was the eastern extension of The Great Basin Desert; the rolling prairie, eroded sandstone bluffs, salty flats, dry streambeds and expanses of rough broken ground. Big sage prairies cover much of the Chacoan landscape today, as they did centuries ago, in the western corner of New Mexico.
The Museum has an exhibit of a digging site that was excavated in 1939-40. The exhibit gives the carbon date, for some of the Ponderosa pines and Douglas fir's used in the building of the Pueblo, at around 1060 AD. The pines were brought in by the thousands. They were not native to Chaco Canyon and were very large, 6 inches in diameter and up to 15 feet in length and had to be carried from the mountains, about 30 to 50 miles away.
A spectacular development, in ceramic art, occurred in the Mimbres Valley region of southwestern New Mexico. From 1000-1150 AD, the Mimbres people produced a unique ceramic style, which is now referred to, as Mimbres Classic, unlike anything ever seen before. Classic Mimbres designs encompass all sorts of animals, birds, fish and unusual composites of mythical creatures. The designs were painted on the pottery and offered a glimpse of pre-historic life.
One particular pottery design caught my attention and the comments, related to this piece of pottery, were fascinating. The Mimbre people frequently depicted fish, in their black and white designs and many, of these designs, were fish found only in the Pacific Ocean. It is believed that the Mimbre people visited the Pacific and returned to paint pictures, of the fish they saw while in the west. One thousand years ago people, in the Southwest, walked immense distances to see people and places, which were far beyond the valley where they lived.
We had "museumed" enough; it was time to meet Virginia's cousin, Marty, for lunch. Marty, who lives near UNM, chose a wonderful little restaurant in the Nob Hill section of Albuquerque on Historic US 66, or Central Avenue, called the Flying Star Restaurant. This upscale bistro, at one time, was a newspaper and magazine store. Along with the refrigerated cooler, filled with various deli meats and cheeses, it had many of the original newspaper and magazine racks. Patrons could browse the racks and choose their mealtime reading material and have a casual, unhurried lunch.
Nob Hill's Main Street is Central Avenue and, at one time, it was the original Main Street for Albuquerque. It was also where the "Mother Road", Route 66, carried countless travelers. The dual personality, of this stretch of pavement, is a fascinating blend of roadside architecture, to appeal to the weary motorist and cozy storefronts, with upscale boutiques, to appeal to neighborhood shoppers.
After lunch, the four of us enjoyed the shops along 66. Although changes have been made, over the years, there are still many leftover neon signs and glitz from the days before the Interstate by-passed Central Ave. We came to a small "U"- shaped shopping center that had an adobe facade, plus concrete steeples and glass blocks, used in the Art-Deco style, of the 30's. A small neighborhood grocery was at the center, La Montanita Co-Op Super Market. We always find it fun to wander into grocery stores and see what the locals are buying.
In front, of the store, were several wrought iron tables and chairs. I sat down; to wait for Peggy and across from me sat a young teenage couple, under a string of red chili peppers, enjoying their drinks. He had turquoise hair sticking straight up and she had several major body piercing places on her head with "danglies" from the old to the new right here on Historic US 66.
Bob & Peggy Woodall
Stage Coach Stop RV Park
Bernalillo, New Mexico