Monday, April 6, 2015

Bandelier National Park

Day 4 (4/1/2015)

We saved the best for last and had decided to head up to Bandelier National Park for our last full day in New Mexico. Once again the weather was beautiful but the wind had picked up slightly. Again we headed out to pick up Tauni. She had been very gracious through this whole trip and never tired of showing us the sights. The trip to Bandelier is through the Jemez Reservation and some of the most beautiful scenery that New Mexico has to offer. Our first stop is at the Walatowa Pueblo of Jemez Information Center were we learned about the very proud traditions of the Jemez Pueblo, one of the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico. We also spent some time talking to a young potter who had one of her pots sent to the 9/11 memorial representing the Jemez people. I have always been a sucker for a good story so we bought one of her small seed pots. Across from the Center is one of the most beautiful red stone bluffs I have ever seen. From what the Pueblo lady told us it had been the area where they shot some of the movie, “A million ways to die in the west” along with scenes from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. A guide was required to go beyond a particular point so we headed back and hit the road again. Not far up the road we stopped at San José de los Jémez Mission and Gíusewa Pueblo Site. It is the site of an early 17th century Spanish mission. By the 18th century the Jemez had banded together with other Pueblo and drove the Spanish out of the area. It is an interesting mixture of Spanish and Pueblo religion and architecture. Our next stop was Soda Springs a sulfur spring that has developed some interesting mineral formations. Apparently there is hot springs in the area that the locals frequent. Our plan was to go down into Valles Caldera National preserve but when we got to the entrance there was security blocking the road. Apparently they were filming an Adam Sandler movie and the park was closed until the weekend. After talking to the guard and taking pictures we headed off to Bandelier. The park did not disappoint. In spite of being plagued by floods that had left fallen trees scattered across the landscape the cliff dwellings were amazing. We climbed up and into some of the chambers where you could see the remains of wall painting that were hundreds of years old. The highlight of the day was climbing 165 feet up the cliffs via ladders to the main Kiva, or sacred site. It was a perfect climax to a wonderful day. After that we wandered back through the park and took the scenic route home. It was sad saying goodbye but we have already decided to go back and hit the spots to the south of Albuquerque.   
Information Center

Red Rocks

Mission Church



Soda Springs

Battleship Rock

Valles Caldera


Interior Painting

Remains of Village

Starting the Climb

Second Stage

Almost There

Kiva in the Sky

Another View

The Climb

Valles Caldera

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Santa Fe and Madrid

Desert Sky
Day 3 (3/31/2015)

Our goal for the day is to head north to Santa Fe and Madrid. Tauni is once again serving as our tour guide. One of New Mexico’s outstanding features is its skies. Perhaps because of the altitude the desert sky is very blue and large. It always seems to have layers of clouds, overlapping in different directions. We spent a lot of time on our trip admiring those clouds. Just outside of Santa Fe we came across a sculpture garden that looked like it was going to be dedicated to paper and origami. It wasn’t open yet but we did take a few pictures through the fence. We also stopped at an area were an owl was nesting in rocks that looked like Swiss cheese. Our first stop in Santa Fe was at the city center where the Native Americans were out selling their wares. We bought a couple small pots and some necklaces. Next we found a gallery that had a handmade papermaking show. It gave me some ideas that I want to incorporate into my own work. The gallery also had one of those cigarette machines that sold art. I really want to find one for myself. After the paper show we worked our way to the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. I had forgotten that that Georgia was born in Wisconsin. Whether you like her art or not you have to respect her tenacity. We were starting to get a little peckish so we stopped at a little French bistro and had some lunch and coffee. After a little more a shopping we headed for Madrid. Madrid is a dusty little mining town that has been reborn as an artist community. We didn’t spend a lot of time there but managed to make a few more purchases. Then it was back to Steve and Tauni’s for some pulled pork and Moscow Mules.
More Desert 


Nesting Owl

Red Rocks

Rock, Paper, Scissors


More Paper

Travel Guitar

Adobe Church


More Madrid


Day 2 (3/30/2015)
Train around the Biopark
Our friend Tauni had agreed to be our tour guide for the day so after sleeping in and a quick breakfast at the hotel we were off to pick her up. We decided to start with the ABQ Biopark and see the spring plants in bloom. It was a good introduction to Albuquerque and brought us up to speed on some of the history, flora and fauna of the area. It was a beautiful warm sunny day and walking through the park and soaking in the sun was just what we needed after winter in the northland. Since it was early in the season, not everything was open, so our ticket also gave us admission to the aquarium. We were fascinated by the Stingrays and Jelly fish. It seemed like the stingrays wanted to interact with us and one in particular would come over by us, turn on his side and flap his fin at us. I tried to get video of it but was never prepared at just the right time. After spending some time trying to get pictures of one particular mean looking shark we took off for Old Town and a bit of shopping and ice cream. Albuquerque has become Santa Fe light and I was impressed with the quality of artwork to be seen around the town. We ended up making a couple of purchases. Our last stop before meeting Steve for dinner was going to be the historical museum but it was closed on Mondays. It was all good though and I spent the time photographing the sculpture in there sculpture court. In that way Albuquerque seemed very European with sculpture everywhere. Then it was off to meet Steve at El Pinto, Albuquerque’s premier Mexican restaurant. On the walls were pictures of most of the recent presidents eating there along with an assortment of other celebrities. The server explained the differences in chili sauces and had us try them before we ordered. It was a great finish to the Albuquerque experience.
Traditional Family Life

Road Runner

Sting ray

More Sculpture

Bronze at Historical Museum 

One of my Favorites

Another one

Detail from a huge grouping

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Steve and Tauni's

Sandia Mountains
Day 1 (3/29-4/2/15)
We were not sure if we were going to go anywhere for spring break. We had thought about going to Torreon, Mexico to see my friend Roger but things just didn’t seem to fall together. At the last minute we decided to go see a classmate of my wife’s and her husband that we hadn’t visited in thirty years. The last time we had visited them they lived in Portland, Oregon. Shortly after that they had moved to New Mexico. For years we had been talking about getting together again but it just never happened. This year the stars aligned and it seemed the perfect opportunity because my wife’s friend Tauni had spring break as well. We had never been to New Mexico before and really didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be perfect weather. It was just starting to warm up but the spring winds that apparently sometimes plaque the region hadn’t started yet. Our friends Steve and Tauni live in Rio Rancho, a suburb overlooking Albuquerque with the Sandia Mountains forming a backdrop behind the city. At sunset the mountain turns bright red orange which is where it gets its name Sandia, Spanish for watermelon. After getting our rental car and finding our hotel, it was off to Steve and Tauni’s for a long overdue reunion. We had a delicious dinner and spent the first evening talking over old times and catching up on thirty years of life. We decided to spend the next day in the area around Albuquerque and take in the local fair.
Our Motel

View from Steve and Tauni's

Close Up

End of Day 1