Search

Category

2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan

2018-10-09 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 52 – Caravan is over; we head for home…

We watched the balloons fly one last time… We walked on the field amidst the chaos…

img_9774

It’s always fun to see the special shaped balloons – later in the week they will have a special competition just for them…

img_9781img_6324img_9791img_9790img_6332img_9800img_9803img_6335img_9809img_9808

This is Bill Lee, the pilot who organized our balloon rides last week in Gallup.  His balloon is the official balloon for the State of New Mexico… We tried to talk to him, but I think he was preoccupied…

img_9817img_9818img_9819

So we walked on…

img_6338img_9823img_9827img_6346

After a few minutes we looked back and Bill Lee was aloft…

img_9829

Once all the balloons had ascended we walked back to the Villa, hitched up, and left our happy campground full of Airstreams…

Our destination today is Gallup, NM, back to USA RV Park, which we left less than one week ago… We are spending one night, to dump the tanks, take showers, and get re-oriented again for our trip home…

We stopped briefly to stretch our legs, and then traveled on…

img_9830

We crossed the Continental Divide (7275′ elevation) at about 11:00 am.  It was 44 degrees outside… And then the rain began.  It was not heavy, and it did not hinder our trip…

There is not a lot going on out here in western New Mexico…

img_6347img_6348

But soon we were settled in to our site at USA RV Park, just west of Gallup, NM.

img_9836

This evening we had planned to walk the 1/2 mile and eat at Virgies, a Gallup institution.  Literally seconds before we left the Airstream it started to rain in a giant downpour.  It didn’t last long, but we didn’t want to get caught in another such downpour… Also, the highway was too wet, in our opinion, to walk…

img_9837img_6351

We called Uber and 9 minutes later we were at Virgies:

img_9839img_9840

By the time dinner was over we were able to walk back to the Villa…

img_9841

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

Oh!  Here’s Evelyn:

img_9769

 

2018-10-08 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 51 – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It rained all night and it was cold… But this morning the winds were gentle and the balloons flew.  But it was an unusual flight…

img_6304

The balloons lifted off and drifted away from the Airstreams, towards the northwest.  Then the balloons dropped down, close to the ground, where a southern wind blew them south, then southeast; then the balloons ascended and caught the north winds again and the balloons came back over the launch field again.  This isn’t exactly the “Albuquerque Box” that they talk about, but it was close…

img_6305img_6308img_9710img_6310img_9717img_9721img_9727img_9755img_9753img_9752

And then they were gone…

img_9757

After the balloons were done, we headed to Costco to pick up a few supplies for our trip home…

This afternoon was our “final banquet” for the caravan.  These are normally held in the evening, but since there are 900,000 people visiting Albuquerque this week going out to a restaurant for dinner is not an option… So 2:00 pm it is.

The banquet was at El Pinto, a great New Mexican restaurant.  We were in a nice, spacious room, and we had a nice buffet lunch of all things Mexican, with a New Mexican twist… There were the usual speeches, toasts, blame for the innocent and accolades for the uninvolved…

img_9761img_6317img_6318img_6319img_9762img_6320img_9763img_9764img_9765img_9766img_9767img_9768

A slide show was presented that recapped our trip, and a few hokey songs were sung.  Well-deserved praises were said for our leaders, and we all vowed to keep in touch…

We returned to the Villa and had a simple (no food) Happy Hour.  But then it got too cold for these Californians, so we were turned in early…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-07 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 50 – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It was windy this morning, so the balloons could not fly.

img_9696

We walked around a bit and relaxed all morning, then at 1:00 we re-visited the Turquoise Museum…

img_6525

We had been here when we first started the caravan, and we learned what to look for when shopping for turquoise.  Since then we have been lied to by every jewelry store and trading post and gift shop in the Four Corners States… We had a nice chat with the owners…

On our way back to the Villa we stopped at a local New Mexico winery…

img_9697img_9699img_6302

We enjoyed a nice, casual tasting, chatting with a couple visiting from Virginia…  We bought a few bottles to augment our supply for our trip home…

This evening was Happy Hours again, but it was really too cold to sit outside, so we had three other couples join us inside the Villa…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-06 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 49 – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

We were up at 0 dark thirty to see the commotion on the field…

img_9608

There are about a dozen or so balloons outfitted to fly at night; these are the “Dawn Patrol”.  They go up and report back on wind currents and other issues the balloonists might encounter…

At about 6:00 am they fired their burners and lifted off:

img_6197img_9616img_9619img_6199img_6201

At 7:00 am the “Mass Ascension” begins… But first we have a flyover of some vintage airplanes…

img_9624img_6220img_6222

One by one the balloons ascend until the sky is filled…

img_62151img_6209img_9623img_9630img_9631img_9632img_9642img_6240img_6241

You can even walk on the field and get up close and personal with the balloons as they are about to launch…

img_6242img_6243img_6244img_6246img_6250img_6259img_9671img_9678img_9681img_9673

Some balloons don’t make it very far…

img_9688

And then, just like that, they are gone… By 9:00 or so the ballooning for the day is over…

img_9690img_9691

We walked amongst the hundreds of vendors selling atrocious looking foods (Pork Chop on-a-Stick?) and cheap but expensive “souvenirs”…

This evening we had another gathering right in front of The Villa, but this time there were only about 100 people and it was just “Happy Hours”

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-05 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 48 – Convoy to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

We were up early, disconnecting, and getting ready to roll.  At 8:00 the lead driver of our convoy of 15 Airstreams rolled out of his site and we all rolled in behind him.  At 8:15 we headed out towards the freeway…

img_6171

After about an hour we exited the freeway and drove the frontage road to Camping World, the staging area for Airstreams entering the Balloon Fiesta Grounds.

img_6173

img_6176

Right on schedule, the pilot car pulled in front of our convoy and we convoyed in for the last 10 miles or so.  When we arrived at Balloon Fiesta grounds we were directed in, and we parked in order of our arrival – no picking of spots allowed.  However, by some happy coincidence, we were parked directly facing the “plaza”, the open space reserved for our evening activities…

img_9593

Including our caravan of 30 Airstreams, there are 150 Airstreams parked in this “VIP” parking area…

img_9594img_6180

With no hook-ups there is little to do to set up, so we walked to see the Balloon Museum…

img_9598

The museum was mobbed with thousands of school children, but it did offer great overviews of the Airstreams…

img_6183img_9600

We could also see out over the main field where the 600 or so hot air balloons will be setting up…

img_6189

After that, we headed to downtown Albuquerque for a wonderful lunch at El Troquet, a tiny French bistro just dripping with charm…

img_6191

After lunch we walked a bit on Central Ave., the route of Historic Route 66.  Lots of new shops, bars, and restaurants are here and it is quite a lively spot…

We returned to the Villa, where Happy Hours and Dinner were soon in full swing…

img_9604img_9605img_9607img_6192img_6193

Just dinner with our closest 300 friends… Above is our caravan leader, Jay.  His job is just about done…

After dinner more socializing continued.  At 8:00 there were fireworks out on the balloon field…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-04 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 47 – Cubero, New Mexico and Sky City Pueblo at Acoma

This morning we headed out to see the Pueblo at Acoma, called Sky City…

img_9591

Acoma Pueblo is an Indian pueblo approximately 60 miles west of Albuquerque.  Four villages make up Acoma Pueblo: Sky City (Old Acoma), Acomita, Anzac, and McCartys.   Today we are visiting Sky City – Old Acoma, a National Historic Landmark.

The Acoma people have continuously occupied this general area for over 2,000 years, making this one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States (along with Hopi, Zuni, and Taos pueblos). 

The Acoma people say that the Sky City Pueblo was established in the 11th century, with stone buildings as early as 1144 on the Mesa indicating as such, due to their unique lack of Adobe in their construction, proving their antiquity.  These old buildings are native stone with mud mortar, covered with a straw-and-mud plaster.

The Pueblo is situated on a 365-foot mesa, surrounded by a (relatively) fertile valley.  The isolation and location of the Pueblo has sheltered the community for more than 1,200 years.  They sought to avoid conflict with the neighboring Navajo and Apache peoples.

In 1540, Coronado’s expedition became the first non-native visitors to Acoma.  While their first encounters were not particularly friendly, they did share food; Coronado’s men left on friendly terms.

Their next encounter was not so friendly.  Hostilities ensued when the Spanish Conquistidors attacked Acoma, resulting in many lives being lost on both sides.  The Spanish called for reinforcements, and they ended up taking many men and women as prisoners; they were deemed to be quilty of these hostilities and they were sentenced to 25 years of slavery.  In addition, the men each had their right foot cut off.  The Acoma lived under the Spanish rule until 1598.  This dark period of Acoma is known as the Acoma Massacre.

However, the survivors of the Acoma Massacre rebuilt their community between 1599–1620… Between 1629 and 1641 Father Juan Ramirez oversaw construction of the San Estevan Del Rey Mission Church.  The Acoma were ordered to build the church, moving 20,000 tons of adobe, straw, sandstone, and mud to the mesa for the church walls.  Ponderosa pine was brought in by community members from Mount Taylor, over 40 miles away.  The 6,000 square feet church has an altar flanked by 60 feet high wood pillars. These are hand carved in red and white designs representing Christian and Indigenous beliefs.  The Acoma know their ancestors’ hands built this structure, and they consider it a cultural treasure to this day.  In contrast to what we saw in Zuni, the Acoma have kept this church in good repair over the years.

In 1680 the Pueblo Revolt took place, with Acoma cooperating with the other Pueblos in planning, organizing, and fighting against the Spanish.  The revolt brought refugees from other pueblos to Acoma.  Those who eventually left Acoma moved elsewhere to form Laguna Pueblo near by.

During the nineteenth century, the Acoma people, while trying to uphold traditional life, also adopted aspects of the once-rejected Spanish culture and religion.  By the 1880s, railroads brought increased numbers of settlers and ended the pueblos’ isolation.

In the 1920s, the All Indian Pueblo Council gathered for the first time in more than 300 years. Responding to congressional interest in appropriating Pueblo lands, the U.S. Congress passed the Pueblo Lands Act in 1924.  Despite successes in retaining their land, the Acoma had difficulty during the 20th century trying to preserve their cultural traditions.  Protestant missionaries established schools in the area, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs forced Acoma and other Indian children into boarding schools.  By 1922, most children from the community were in boarding schools, where they were forced to use English and to practice Christianity.  Several generations became cut off from their own culture and language, with harsh effects on their families and societies.

Today, about 300 two- and three-story houses stand on the mesa, with exterior ladders used to access the upper levels where residents live.  Access to the mesa is by a road blasted into the rock face during the 1950s.  Approximately 75 or so families live permanently on the mesa, with the population increasing on the weekends as family members come to visit and tourists, some 55,000 annually, visit for the day.

Acoma Sky City Pueblo has no electricity, running water, or sewage disposal.  A reservation surrounds the mesa, totaling 600 square miles.  Tribal members live both on the reservation and outside it.  Contemporary Acoma culture remains relatively closed, however.  According to the 2000 United States census, about 5,000 people identify themselves as Acoma.

We drove about 20 miles across back country roads to get to Sky City.  All along the route we saw ruins of ancient buildings, all built of native stone and all in various stages of disrepair.  Some were next to brand new houses, and some were over run with weeds…  We have not seen this landscape before…

img_6162

img_61591img_9589img_9583img_9582img_9580img_9579

We met in the Acoma Visitors Center.  It is the best piece of architecture we have seen on this trip.  The front of the building, and the interiors, are very contemporary, although traditional forms are used in modern ways.  Around the back is a ceremonial plaza, where the design is much more traditional.  It was a treat to see a building this nice here…

img_9476img_9477img_9478img_9485img_9479img_9481img_9482img_9483img_9486

OK, so it wasn’t perfect…

img_9484

We boarded a bus and were driven to the top of the mesa, where our tour began.  We saw St. Stephen’s Church, and the adjoining cemetery.  No pictures are allowed inside the church or in the cemetery.

img_6090img_9493

Note that the vigas are not only authentic and functional, but the ends are carved, and the beams are hand-hewn to be rectangular, not round…

img_9491

Scuppers, hand-carved from one piece of wood…

img_9505The buildings atop the mesa range from some original 12th century buildings, plus buildings from the 1500s and 1600s.  They have been added onto over the years, so we can see buildings with parts built from the 1940s, 1960s, and 1980s also… It was VERY interesting.

img_9502

Mud and straw “plaster” covers the ancient stone… It needs to be re-done about every 5-7 years…

img_9506img_9512img_9518img_9517

Some structures are in the process of restoration and/or reconstruction.  According to one of our caravaners who has been here several time in the past 10 years, the Pueblo is looking better and better every year.  The money from the casino is being spent to improve the Pueblo…

img_9520

They do cover the vigas now with sheet metal…

img_9528

You read above how there is no running water or sewer.  Water is brought up to the mesa in tank trucks.  Most houses have propane for heat, cooking, and/or lights.  Wood is also used for cooking and heating.  As for sanitary facilities:  The mesa is surrounded with two-story, solar powered, waterless and composting outhouses…

img_9548

We walked through the oldest part of the Pueblo.  These houses were originally built in the 1100s and the 1200s, although they have been remodeled and expanded many times over the years.  The original houses were three stories – on the ground floor there were no doors and windows.  The ground floor was accessed via internal stairs or ladders, and the area was used for storage.  The second level was accessed by a ladder from the ground to the second floor.  The living quarters were located on the second floor, with the roof of the ground floor storage areas used as a terrace.  The third floor contained the cooking facilities.  Since heat is generated here, and hot air rises, having the cooking areas on the top floor kept the other areas of the house cooler.  This arrangement allowed security, in that ladders could be drawn up to the “terrace” to prevent intruders from accessing the house…

img_6125img_6124img_9546

As any good architect knows, in desert climates in the northern hemisphere houses should be oriented to the south for maximum control of, protection from, and use of solar heat gain from the sun.  Here we see a world famous architect demonstrate a south-facing front porch…

img_6118img_9544

The mesa offers many fine views of the surrounding valleys and other rock formations…

img_6129img_6130img_6132img_6134

There is a mesa a few miles away from Sky City, which was the original site of the Acoma Pueblo.  They had only been living there a few years when a violent lightning storm destroyed the only access to the mesa.  Fortunately for most of the Acoma, they were away tending their fields and hunting game.  Unfortunately for the two women atop the mesa, they were trapped. Rather than starve to death, they jumped to their deaths… The Acoma have never been back to the mesa since, and they rebuilt their Pueblo at the location where we now stand…

One of the traditional ovens being fire-up…

img_9562

At the end of the tour, the lazy people headed for the bus.  We hearty types walked down steps carved into the rock in the 12th century, sometimes needing to use the hand-holds cut into the walls of stone.  It was a great trek!  Until the 1950s this was the only way to get to and from the Pueblo…

img_9563img_6137img_6139img_6140img_9564img_6142img_6143img_6144img_9566img_6146img_6147img_6148img_6155

We returned to the visitors center, had a New Mexican lunch of tacos and enchiladas, Christmas style… We drove back to The Villa…

In the evening we held our LAST drivers meeting.  Tomorrow we convoy the 60 miles or so to Albuquerque to park at the Balloon Fiesta… The fiesta starts Friday and runs for nine days.  We will be staying four nights, leaving Tuesday.

Since we must be ready to go tomorrow at 8:00 am, we did much of our hitching up after the drivers meeting.  Lynda cooked a pizza for dinner…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-03 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 46 – Traveling from Gallup to Cubero, New Mexico

Another travel day… These days are my favorite – driving down the highway, watching the scenery, going places that we’ve never been before… Today we took the long way around, choosing to drive the back roads for three hours instead of the interstate for two hours…

img_60681img_60691img_60701img_94631

We drove south from Gallup, towards El Morro National Monument, then through El Marpais National Monument.  This area is very volcanic, yet the mesas still exhibit interesting rock formations…

We stopped at a few historic markers…

img_94611img_94641img_94651img_94661

The road eventually turned east, then northeast, where it intersected with the 40; about 20 miles later we were at Cubero, site of the Sky City Casino, Hotel, and RV Park.  Sky City is the name for the Pueblo at Acoma, where we will go tour tomorrow…

img_60751img_60761

We had an easy time setting up in a very modern, but very bleak RV park.  Naps, then Happy Hours, and dinner ensued…

img_94671img_94691img_94701img_94711

As Happy Hours were transitioning to Dinner we were hit by a sudden thunderstorm, followed by a rainbow…

img_9475

News flash!  This morning it dropped below 70 degrees in Los Angeles, and rain MIGHT happen.  Erin quickly dressed Evelyn in all her winter clothes:

img_9460

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-02 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 45 – Gallup, New Mexico – and the Zuni Pueblo…

The caravan traveled to the Pueblo of Zuni today…

We arrived at the Visitors Center and had the usual confusion as to where to park 15 or 20 pick-up trucks…

img_9340

Once we were all at the visitors center we all left.  We drove about one mile to a typical house in the Zuni village… Note the exterior appears to be unfinished – exposed concrete block, unprotected particle board, no paint…

img_9342

But inside we found a very modern house; there was a modern kitchen and a room large enough to feed lunch to 60 people!

They served us salad, bread baked in their traditional adobe ovens, posolle (a beef soup or stew), and our choice of peach cobbler or apple pie for dessert.  Very nice!

img_9341

After lunch we returned to the visitors center where we heard the history of the Zuni people.  He condensed it to only 10 hours (or so it seemed… It was actually about 1 1/2 hours…)

img_9343

img_9344

The speaker was a native to Zuni, who had an interest in the history and archaeology and anthropology of his people.  He left Zuni after high school to attend Stanford; he returned to become the local expert in all things Zuni.  He has excavated parts of the pueblo 70 feet down to find remnants of the ancient village…

We then drove back again to the center of the Middle Village, and we learned more of the history of the pueblo…

img_9347

As I mentioned a few days ago, the Spanish built the church – Our Lady of Guadalupe – in 1620, only to see it destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt in 1680.  It lay in ruins until it was rebuilt in 1960, but today it is in sad shape.  Plans are underway for a full restoration…

img_93461

Note the overgrown cemetery in the church yard…

img_93451img_9349img_9350

The Spanish left in about 1800 as the American frontiersmen started arriving in the west.  However, the frontiersmen showed little interest in Zuni, and the Zuni continued to live totally alone and isolated for over 100 years.  The “modern era” caught up with them in the early 1900s and the community continued to thrive, although in their traditional, non-modern ways.

These buildings were built from the 1940 – 1960 and they continue to be added to today.  This is “modern” wood frame construction, with ancient stones taken from other ruined buildings, made into veneer, and installed on the wood frame.  This courtyard, as I said before, is used for religious ceremonies… The roofs and the courtyard will hold over 2,000 people during these ceremonies…

img_9351img_9352img_9353img_6051

The history we heard here in the village was much more interesting than what we heard in the visitors center, and we left with new knowledge of the Zuni people.

This evening we had a drivers meeting, sharing ice cream, an Airstream tradition…

img_9457 And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-01 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 44 – Gallup, New Mexico…

img_9333

The figure above is “Kokopelli”, and this image is all over the Southwest USA; in fact, this caravan uses it as the caravan logo.  The oldest images of Kokopelli appeared between 750 and 850 AD.

There are lots of stories of Kokopelli being a fertility deity, holding forth over childbirth, or being an agricultural deity, or being in charge of livestock… My favorite story is this:

A little man named Kokopelli used to travel to the various villages of the Southwest long ago.  He carried a bag of corn seed on his back, and he taught the people to plant corn.  At night, while the people slept, Kokopelli roamed the corn fields, playing his flute.  The next morning, villagers would arise to find the corn four feet tall, and there would be no sign of Kokopelli.  Also, many of the young women of the village would be found to be pregnant…

Today I tried to get caught up on my this blog; the only activity was to visit another Trading Post and learn, again, about the practice of Pawn, and to have the opportunity to buy rugs, pottery, and silver and turquoise jewelry.  No thanks.  Lynda went along with another couple; I stayed and tried to find good internet access, with little luck.

Lynda and the others returned about 5:00 pm.  It was raining, and many people had gone out to dinner.  We stayed in and had a quiet evening…

Tomorrow we return to the Pueblo of Zuni; this is the sacred Zuni Mountain…

img_6049

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑