Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Days 23-25
9-11 July 2011
Albuquerque, NM

Saturday the 9th we drove up from Las Cruces to Albuquerque. It was a relatively easy drive and went well. We're camped at Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post. The main building is the "trading post" and dates back to the late 1940s as a site on the old Route 66, the "Mother Road" of USAmerica. It is also called "America's Main Street." The Enchanted Trails trading post has a lot of character and the RV Park is pretty good. We actually have a tree to provide some (limited) shade. There are also some classic trailers that can be rented as places to stay while here.

On Sunday, we visited the Petroglyph National Monument. Unfortunately, due to the fires and fire danger in the area, only one of the trails, the Rinconada Canyon trail, was open. We took the 1-1/4 mile trail (1-1/4 mile in and 1-1/4 mile out). We saw petroglyphs all along the trail, but most of them were located at the head of the canyon. Although it was another scorcher of a day, the walk was great fun and quite interesting. After the visit to see the petroglyphs, we drove to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, wanting to be there in time to catch the 2 p.m. native dances.

The IPCC is one of the best museums we have ever visited! It is exceptionally well done. The exhibits are informative and well laid out, the activities are pertinent, and the restaurant is very good! (Yes, there is a full restaurant in the IPCC, the Pueblo Harvest Cafe, and it was our stopping place for a late lunch/early dinner.)

One of interesting and informative displays was "INDIVISIBLE", a Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibit. The exhibit is about African-Native American lives in the Americas. I want to applaud the IPCC for sponsoring this exhibit which has to be controversial in the First Nations community since it is the story of the coming together of African and Native Americans and the resulting genetic mix of both traditions/origins and the difficulties which the African-Native Americans experience in both Native American and white USAmerican cultures. It was an eye-opener to a subject that had not been very much in my consciousness.

The dances were fun to watch and the commentary provided insight into the cultural and traditional expressions that are present in these dances. I appreciated and admired the stamina of the young people who danced in the HOT sunlight, seemingly with inexhaustible energy. I'm sure they were exhausted after the dances. The dances all had spiritual significance and were explained as prayers and communication with the Spirit. I had thought about videotaping some of the dances and putting them on here, but I know I don't think it's appropriate for people to tape my prayers and so I didn't tape theirs. And it kind of bothered me that others didn't feel any restraint from photographing and videoing the dances. But, in all fairness, the IPCC had said that photographs were okay.

The Pueblo Harvest Cafe provided us with the first experience of the classic New Mexican question, "Red or Green?" The question is asking whether we want red chilies or green chilies on our food. I wimped out and said "Christmas" which means "give me both". Mary picked green. Green chilies are the livelier of the two and the red are the more mellow. Both were good (although I drank more than my usual allotment of water, which I completely attributed to the dehydration due to the long walk in the hot sun at the Petroglyphs National Monument). We both had enchiladas (mine with chicken) and they were good!

Monday we took a leisurely morning with a good walk ... which just happened to take us to the Camping World store which is next door to Enchanted Trails. After a few strategic purchases made necessary by the purchase of our new coach, we walked back, ate lunch, and then headed off to Old Town Albuquerque. We could have driven down I-40 to the proper exit and been right at the Old Town area. Instead, we chose to drive down the route of the historic Route 66 which goes right past our RV Park. The drive down "Nine Mile Hill" was interesting. It is a LONG constantly downhill drive to the Rio Grande River. We crossed the river and were quickly at Old Town. It is a market of everything you might want to buy. Many old adobe buildings, open plazas and courtyards, and interesting people were the order of the day. We both "shopped 'til we dropped" without actually purchasing anything. I seriously considered buying one of the Tilley hats which are perfect for walking around in this kind of sunlight but since they run about $75, I decided to pass. Although it is still tempting. They have a lifetime guarantee against wearing out. And for the first two years are insured against loss. Quite a deal! We saw lots of beautiful pottery and jewelry and many other items of "classic" tourist junk. And we didn't buy any of it.

Today (Tuesday) will be our last day here in Albuquerque. We're still deciding where we'll go for the day, but are looking forward to tonight when we'll meet Debra Burke Rockman and her boys for supper in one of the local eateries. Deb and I were part of the Housing Mediation Program of the Tenant Resource Center in Madision, WI. Deb was actually the coordinator that I worked for as a volunteer and then I took her place on staff after she moved to New Mexico. I'm looking forward to reconnecting and catching up with all that has transpired in her life since we last saw each other.