Tuesday, May 21, 2013

22 May

The past 2 days have been wonderful! Despite what would be a long drive, we decided to head west of Albuquerque to visit Sky City, El Malpais and El Morro on Monday. About an hour west, our first stop was Sky City which is The Acoma Pueblos home, atop of a mesa. We had a very knowledgeable tour guide, Matea, who imparted the cultural and history of the Acoma Pueblos.  At the end of the tour, we chose to use their rock stairway, instead of the tour bus, to return to the visitor center which is at the base of the mesa. It was a steep descent in a few areas but very interesting  and helpful to use the carved hand and footholds which had been chiseled into the rocks many years ago.




Eric called later on in the day to wish Manny a Happy Birthday. In relaying to him what we had seen, he told us that his roommate, Theo was from Acoma and his family stilled lived there. We had remembered that Theo was from New Mexico and he had told us his family lived on top of a mesa but we did not put the information together. It would have been great to met Theo’s family. We were sorry to have missed this opportunity.

After Acoma, we traveled further west  to El Malpais which means “the badlands” in Spanish. It’s volcanic features include jagged  spatter cones, a lava tube cave system extending 17 miles, and ice caves. Lava poured out of McCartys Canyon and established a new land surface 2, 000 to 3, 000 years ago. Today there are ancient Douglas fir trees, ponderosa pines and aspen trees thriving in this landscape. This area of El Malpais is quite large so we were only able to visit one area called El Calderon. This particular area includes lava tube caves (see picture below), sink areas and the El Calderon cinder cone which is what remains of the once active volcano. The Mexican free tail bat which we had seen at Carlsbad Caverns also resides here in the caves. The 3 mile walk was easy but also beautiful.

2013-05-20 18.17.55

The picture below shows a view of the sandstone cliffs in the distance from the El Calderon area.

2013-05-20 18.50.35

As we continued on our journey west, we crossed over the Continental Divide on our way to El Morro, in Spanish – The headland. On a main east-west trail used by Native Americans long before the Spanish arrived, El Murro, a great sandstone promontory with a pool of water at its base, rises out of the land.  Over the centuries, those who traveled this trail stopped here to enjoy the shaded oasis under the cliffs. They left carved symbols, names, dates and fragments of their presence here.  Unfortunately we were unable to hike here as it closed at 4pm and we did not arrive till 5pm. Many of the National parks and Historic sites have been open till 6pm but not so in this case. We did get close enough for a picture. It will suffice for now.


We stopped on the way back to Albuquerque in a town called Grant. This town is on historic Route 66. Do I need to say more? It was right in keeping with the general decline along this old route. We were able to find a restaurant serving burgers and fries. They were hot and cooked through but we needed at least 3 napkins on our plates to soak up the grease. Nonetheless, it did provide much needed nourishment. I think we would have done better at the only other choice a McDonald’s  No great meal and certainly no wheaties icing cake for Manny on his birthday but  still a great day as we returned to our B&B around 8:30 pm.

Thanks to Nathan and Eric for calling in their birthday wishes for Manny this evening. It was good talk with both of you.

Today, Tuesday, I needed a break from vacation. Who knew you could be tired from just relaxing!  Manny had some business work to complete so I took advantage of the opportunity and grabbed a book while  I stretched out on a chaise in the warm sun shining down from the Sandia Mountain. It was fabulous. Just 4 hours of relaxing , reading and reflecting on God’s astounding beauty all around me!

Manny finished his work and we headed out for a bike ride along one of the bike trails here. While we have biked parts of this particular trail earlier this week , today we were able to ride the entire trail about 45 miles round trip. While on the trail today, I was humbled but truely impressed to see a man riding a regular bicycle with a left above knee amputation and with no balance nor speed deficits. On the way back, a woman with paraplegia was riding a specialized bike using her arms to cycle. Again she was doing well with the bike and her pace.  Kudos to each of them for reaching a high level of fitness and striving to regain function. A lot of effort and determination to achieve! I will remember them when I feel exhausted and need to continue on the bike.

We enjoyed a better dinner this evening at a local bistro. Then returned to the B&B for dessert, homemade cookies, again stretched out on the chaises. This time with Manny joining me as the moon rose and the sun set behind us illuminating the Sandia Mountain.

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