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2004 Travelogue #26 Albuquerque
American RV Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Places of Interest:

New Mexico: Albuquerque's Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Pueblo Harvest Café, Petroglyphs National Monument

8/9 It was quiet around Santa Fe Skies today; Cristina and Scott returned to Pagosa Springs and we tackled the, not so fun but necessary, chores. Later that afternoon I drove Peggy into Santa Fe to meet Virginia and her Texas houseguest, Donna, for a shopping spree. I got to stay home. Whoopee!

8/10 This afternoon we met Virginia and Donna at the Radisson Cabaret Theater in the Radisson Hotel for cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and an evening with the "Santa Fe Desert Chorale". The Chorale is made up of 20 professional singers from around the country and has earned national recognition for its artistic excellence and for being just downright good. They sang medleys and solos from a wide variety of Broadway musicals in a close-up, Cabaret setting.

8/11 We left Santa Fe this morning for Albuquerque and we'll stay at American RV on the west side of town near I-40 at Exit 149. The Park sits on a mesa overlooking the city, alongside Historic US 66. It's well maintained with paved pads and paved interior roads, 50 amps, cable TV, swimming pool, continental breakfast, and congenial staff.

Another plus for this Park is the close proximity to the Freightliner Service Center, where I can get the motorhome's coolant reservoir problem resolved. We set up our site then checked with Freightliner who scheduled the coach for tomorrow morning at 7:30.

Our RV Park is near the crossroads of Paseo del Volcan, which runs north and south and US 66, which is Canal Street going east and west. After making the service appointment, we drove into Albuquerque on US 66. It's a gradual decline from the RV Park on the mesa, into the outskirts of the city. Along the way we saw many of the old Route 66 landmarks such as motels, service stations, and diners that are either no longer in use or used for something else.

8/12 We were up early to get the motorhome into the Service Center by 7:30. As I left the Park, I saw Peggy watching me with no place to go and I knew she wasn't feeling well. She said she'd go to the office and try their continental breakfast while I was at the Center.

The check-in at Freightliner went well; before long they resolved and repaired the problem. It took longer to find the warranty person and get the work approved than it did to do the work. From there, I drove to the Flying J for diesel, cued up with the rest of the truckers and filled 88 gallons for $154. That will make you pucker!

Returning to the site, I parked, and completed our hook-ups. Peggy had been napping in the car and now she could crawl back into bed. She slept the rest of the day awaking around 6 pm for something to eat and then right back to bed. She was exhausted from all the activities plus her sinuses were giving her a problem. I just hung out the rest of the day taking care of her.

8/13 I called our mail service at Escapee's in Livingston, Texas today to have them forward our mail, in care of General Delivery to Thoreau, New Mexico, a small town between Grants and Gallup.

Today's outing was a visit to Albuquerque's Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (www.indianpueblo.org), considered to be the "gateway" to the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. It is owned and operated by the Pueblos and has a wonderful museum, a rich resource for tracing their history, from the Anasazi to the current Pueblos.

We had lunch, which is always a must when visiting here, in the Pueblo Harvest Café. They serve a zesty selection of traditional Native and Southwestern cuisine while surrounded by the history and art of the New Mexico Pueblo Indian People.

The Culture Center is a replica of the Great House at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. It is shaped in a semi-circle representing the rising sun. In the courtyard they were preparing tables for a large, by invitation only, benefit dinner to introduce their newest art exhibit "Saints of the Pueblos".

The exhibit features 23 retabloes (12X18 inch pine boards) that have been painted by renowned New Mexico Santero (a person that paints the Icons), Charles Carrillo. Each of the 19 retabloes is representative of existing New Mexico Pueblos and features that Pueblo's patron saint. The frames for these saints are also works of art since they are patterned after the ancient pottery designs of each Pueblo. Carrillo has also painted the patron saints of the four "lost" Pueblos. "The Saints of the Pueblos" art exhibit is an expression of Hispanic, Catholic imagery and its use by the Pueblo people of New Mexico.

We felt very fortunate to be the only visitors that Friday afternoon, during the final preparations for the show. We were invited in for a sneak preview and had a lively and informative conversation with several of the museum staff as they worked. Their excitement regarding the exhibit and what the collection meant to the Museum just beamed in their faces.

Of course, the Cultural Center has the best gift shop going and it was our final destination. Here, I bought my hand-carved and signed cedar flute, which I've been wanting for years. Now, to get some kind of sound would be rewarding.

I can't finish the day without once again talking about food. When we were at Santa Fe's Farmers Market, I bought a bag of roasted green chilies from a little lady from Chimayo. Tonight for dinner, on a piece of aluminum foil, I placed a hamburger patty, a roasted green chili pepper, a slice of onion, slices of zucchini, butter, salt and pepper, then wrapped and placed the packet on the grill. Wow!

8/14 You know how I know Peggy felt better this morning? She woke up chirping. When she's like a little bird in the morning, I know she's back on track and sure enough she was this morning. She was ready to go. So, we put on our hiking shoes and drove down the mesa on US 66 to Unser Blvd., a cross street that goes to the Petroglyphs National Monument, just a short distance from our RV Park.

West Mesa, a 17-mile-long table west of the Rio Grande emerged about 150,000 years ago when lava flowed from a large crack in the Earth's crust. Layer upon layer of lava flowed over and around these landforms. Over many years the softer sediments on the mesa's eastern edge eroded, leaving a jagged-edged escarpment strewn with basalt boulders broken away from the lava caprock.

Long ago, people discovered that chipping away the rock's thin desert varnish revealed a lighter gray surface, which left a lasting mark. Some of the petroglyphs could be 2000-to-3000 years old. Only the carvers know the petroglyph's true meaning and the message left behind.

When arriving at the Visitors Center, we noticed a young lady parked next to us who was unloading several boxes. We visited briefly and found that she was from the Jemez Pueblo. She and her mother were doing a pottery demonstration at the Center and she asked us to stop by her table before we left.

We toured the Center but soon left to find the hiking trails. On our way out we stopped at the pottery demonstration table, where mother and daughter were hard at work.

The mother makes her own clay by grinding the red rocks. To add a different color to the clay, she finds the desired color of rock or dirt and grinds it into a fine powder and then adds it to the clay. She works the clay with water, and then hand molds it into various shapes. Today she was making Christmas ornaments. We enjoyed visiting with them as they explained what they did and how they did it. They were even more informative after we purchased a small pottery bowl.

We found the hiking trail down the road a couple of miles. It was well marked and we had a self-guide pamphlet providing us information as we walked. Images created in the rocks centuries ago are found primarily along the east and south slopes of West Mesa. It is believed that the warmth of the sun on the rocks in the colder months was a good time for the Indians to draw their pictures.

Turning toward home we stopped at the three volcanoes on top of the mesa. It's from these volcanoes that the escarpment was created and the basalt on the escarpment is where the petroglyphs are located.

We spent the next couple of days preparing to head west. Our next stop will be Grants, New Mexico.

Bob & Peggy Woodall


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