s/y Nine of Cups
New Mexico
Summer 2010
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New Mexico Facts...

Capital: Santa Fe
Area: 121,593sq mi - 5th biggest state
Population: ~ 2 million
High Point: Wheeler Peak - 13,161'
Low Point: Red Bluff Lake - 2,817'
State Nickname: Land of Enchantment
State Flower:  Yucca
State Bird:  Roadrunner

New Mexico was the 47th state in the USA,
entering the Union on January 6, 1912.

Its name was originally  "Nuevo Mexico".
  • The Rio Grande is New Mexico's
    longest river and runs the entire length
    of New Mexico.
  • New Mexico is one of the four corner
    states. Bordering at the same point with
    Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
  • New Mexico has far more sheep and
    cattle than people. There are only about
    12 people per square mile. (Reminds us
    of New Zealand!)
The province that was once Spanish New
Mexico included all of present day New
Mexico, most of Colorado and Arizona, and
slices of Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas
and Wyoming. The Original American
Territory of New Mexico that congress
created in 1850 included all of New Mexico
and Arizona plus parts of Colorado, Nevada,
and Utah. The boundaries of present day
New Mexico were drawn by congress in
1863, but New Mexico didn't become a
state until 1912.
Each October Albuquerque hosts the world's
largest international hot air balloon fiesta.
We drove from Denver to Santa Fe,
considered by us, one America's most
romantic cities. Above, Kokopelli, the flute
player, venerated by many Native American
cultures in the Southwest.
Santa Fe is the highest capital city in the
United States at 7,000 feet above sea level.
New Mexico's capital city Santa Fe is the
ending point of the 800 mile Santa Fe Trail.
The Palace of Governors now used by artisans,
forms one side of the traditional Spanish plaza
in old downtown Santa Fe and is the oldest
government building in the United States.
Architecture in downtown Santa Fe is
pueblo revival style and quite
appealing. This style is a regional architectural
style very specific to the Southwest and New
Mexico in particular and draws its inspiration
from the Pueblos and the Spanish missions.
St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral Basilica...the original
congregation was established in 1610 as a Spanish
mission. The present church was built in 1886. The
church was beautiful with striking stenciled decoration,
vivid stained glass windows and historic statuary.
The church gift store offered
lots of religious and
philosophical  books, but the
one we liked the best was
"Cooking with the Saints"!.
After a delightful dinner and evening in Santa
Fe, we headed the hour's ride south to
Albuquerque to meet up with niece, Gentry, her
husband, Eric and their family. We were
fortunate enough to be able to stay with Eric's
folks, Cheryl & Andy. They watched the girls
while Gentry, Eric and we enjoyed ourselves in
First stop was old downtown Albuquerque. We
wandered through the traditional Spanish plaza,
browsed in shops (they bought Mexican
jumping beans for the girls) and checked out
San Felipi de Neri church constructed in 1793.
A leisurely lunch at the Church Street Cafe
afforded us lots of time for chat and catching up.
Since Petroglyph National Monument was
right in Albuquerque, we couldn't resist a
visit and short hike.
This national monument boasts more than
20,000 images etched in stone estimated to
have been made 400-700 years ago.
Eric identified this one as a harmless bull snake
(aka gopher snake) and was intrigued with
it...Marcie and Gentry were not.
We wandered along the Boca Negra
Canyon trails in awe of so many ancient
glyphs, trying to decipher their meanings.
Now then, after you see a few of these
signs, you figure they might be serious
about snakes here. I told Eric I'd like to
get a good snake photo and within
Thank goodness for telephoto lenses,
because, no way was Marcie getting that
close...with or without rattles.
Another oddity of this desert area was
the blister beetle (aka desert spider
beetle) with its iridescent blue body.
There were lots of wildflowers including
the broom dalea above aka purple sage.
This beautiful whiptail lizard was one of many we saw.
We had seen similar species in Bonaire.
Our beautiful grand-nieces...Jada Rachel and Macy Jane...and they are indeed, grand!
Bull snakes are constrictors and often exceed
8' in length (2.4M) making them one of the
largest snakes in North America. Our boy
was  only about 4' long so he still had some
growing to do.
What a wonderful time we had visiting, getting to know
Eric's parents and Jada and Macy. Though we enjoyed
old town Albuquerque and Petroglyph National
Monument, we all agreed later that we could have been
sitting in a basement somewhere and would have been
just as happy...chatting and spending time together.

All too soon, it was time to leave. Always in the back
of our minds the projects that David had promised to
complete in Las Vegas before we left for New Zealand
again in September. And, of course, knowing that
something would distract us along the way....
Well, it didn't take long. David remembered
visiting Sky City 35 years ago and wanted to
stop to visit this ancient Acoma Indian city in
the sky.
Look carefully at the houses on the top of the
escarpment above. Sky City sits about 300'
above the desert floor and has served as the
spiritual and physical home of the Acoma
(AH-ko-muh)  people for nearly two millenia.
The adobe and white sandstone buildings
are still inhabited by the Acoma people
today and we were allowed to share some
of their culture with them.
We took a tour, guided by a young Acoma
man, who led us through the dusty streets of
the small pueblo.
Ladders are used to climb to the top floor of
the houses and then down to access the kivas,
special places to talk and hold ceremonies.
House maintenance and repair is universal.
Above, some local men repair the stucco
on one of the houses.
This lone cottonwood is the only tree on
the mesa...the Acoma Forest!
We rode up to Sky City in a small van, but
opted to walk back to the Visitor Center
via the steep trail through the rocks.
Yikes! Above, a brick adobe house with
skins drying on the crude fence posts.
My favorite character...the Storyteller...
always represented as an older man or
woman with children crawling all over
them and impressing  the importance of
oral traditions in handing down the stories
of the People.
Another National Monument? Yes, but it was
closing, so only a brief stop. "Malpais"
(mahl-pie-ees)...the Badlands! Nestled
between the reservation lands of the Zuni,
Ramah Navajo, Laguna and Acoma people,
this wild area is known for its lava flows,
caves and lava tubes. We'll come back some
day  with our headlamps and spelunking gear.
Though El Malpais was near to closing time, El
Morro stayed open later and since it wasn't
far, we stopped. Time for a stretch and a walk
and a little exploring anyway.
We had seen many "el morros" in our travels
through South America..it means headland
or escarpment.
The park has several trails laid out to take
advantage of panoramic views. The fields of
sunflowers in bloom were spectacular and
stretched for miles.
A small, beautiful pool lies at the base of
El Morro and has provided refreshment
to weary travellers for centuries along this
ancient road.
Travellers have left their marks on
"Inscription Rock" for centuries as well.
Above petroglyphs of sheep predating
the Spanish arrival.
Some inscriptions were crude, others
quite ornate. Above, one from 1866, but
the Spanish started "scribing" here as
early as 1605. Native peoples, Spanish
conquistadors and pioneers travelling
west, all made their marks.
We made it to Gallup, NM for the night. A crossroads and trading center amongst the native
peoples for centuries, it still functions as a center for native American activities. There are
more trading posts here per capita than anywhere we've ever been. We stayed no longer
than a night, but got a flavor for the place just driving past the trading posts and Indian
jewelry and souvenir shops.

New Mexico lived up to its name. It was enchanting and most enjoyable. We were nearly in
Arizona now...the home stretch to Vegas. Come on...the fun's not over yet!
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