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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…

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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…

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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…

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OK, so it wasn’t perfect…

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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.

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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…

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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.

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

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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…

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They do cover the vigas now with sheet metal…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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

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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…

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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…

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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…

2018-10-02 – 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…

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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…

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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!

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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…)

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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…

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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…

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Note the overgrown cemetery in the church yard…

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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…

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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…

2018-09-30 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 43 – Gallup, New Mexico – Hot Air Balloons and the Zuni Pueblo…

Today is the day!  Hot Air Balloons!

We drove in the dark to meet at Red Rock State Park, just east of Gallup.  We met up with the balloon pilots and their crews.  There will be 6 balloons going up today.  Weather conditions are perfect!

We drove around to the launch site, in the first of several canyons we would be seeing today.  Then the work of setting up the balloons begins.

The basket is assembled, and the burners are installed and tested…

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The balloon is inflated with a large, loud fan…

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The the burners are fired and the air in the balloon is heated…

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As the air in the balloon gets warmer the balloon rises…

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We all climb in the basket and away we go!

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As we ascended we could look down on the ground crew and the chase vehicles.  These people will follow us along our route and pick us up when we land – wherever that might be…

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Riding in a hot air balloon is an ethereal experience.  Everything is VERY slow.  It is silent, except when the pilot hits the valve to fire the burner to add more heat.  There is no steering wheel and there are no brakes – the balloon simply follows the wind… There are some vents in the balloon to let the pilot release air, and this allows him to rotate and adjust the balloon’s trajectory.

So we flew over five canyons, soaring over the plateaus and dropping deep into the canyon, then back up again…

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Part of the fun is flying along with other balloons…

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This is the official balloon of the State of New Mexico…

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Looking up into the hot air…

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After about five miles and one hour or so the first balloon lands…

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Our chase crew has arrived…

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As the others are starting to deflate and pack up we are still searching for a place to land…

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And we are on the ground!  This is our pilot, Jeff.  He has over 30 years experience flying balloons, and he set us down flawlessly!

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As the balloon deflates we all pitch in to pack it up…

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The basket is disassembled…

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The burners are stowed…

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And we returned to the original meeting spot.  We had a traditional ceremony and we shared a little champagne to celebrate our flight…

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And, with that, our ballooning was over.  On to other adventures…

After such an exhilarating morning, we celebrated by having breakfast at the Railroad Cafe – in a remodeled mid-70s era Der Weinerschnitel.

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And then we headed south about 45 miles to the Pueblo of Zuni

When Lynda retired from Valley Christian High School in June, 2017, another colleague, Tim Becksvoort also left.  But Tim didn’t retire – he moved, with his wife and three children to Zuni, NM, to become Principal of the Zuni Christian Mission School.  We set out today to visit the Becksvoorts and the Pueblo of Zuni…

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In 1897, Andrew and Effa Vander Wagen established a permanent mission in Zuni on behalf of the Christian Reformed Church.  Their passion and love for their Indian brothers and sisters made a lasting impression on all they touched.  They became fluent in the Zuni language and persevered in spite of physical threats to their lives.

The breakthrough for the fledgling Mission came when the Vander Wagens (with their infant children) refused to leave Zuni during a serious smallpox epidemic.  Instead of fleeing, as did the officials at Bureau of Indian Affairs, who were responsible for medical care in Zuni, the young couple went door to door caring for and administering medicine to their Zuni neighbors.  In that and later acts of mercy, the Vander Wagens pioneered the then-revolutionary mission concept that in order to minister to people’s spiritual needs one must also be willing to demonstrate Christ’s compassion and care for their physical needs.  With that groundwork laid, the first ordained missionaries were assigned to the Zuni Christian Reformed Mission in 1906.

In 1908, so that the missionary children might have Christian schooling, Miss Nellie DeJong came to Zuni as their teacher.  Along with the missionary children, four Zuni children were also enrolled.  From that humble beginning, the school expanded rapidly and soon claimed an important role in building relationships in the community, in educating the children and in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the children and their families.

Although the church and school have been housed in the same location within the Pueblo since its inception, there have been many changes in the facilities.  A major setback occurred in 1971 when a devastating fire raged through the Mission, completely destroying the church and school.  Portable classrooms were brought in and “temporary” facilities were constructed.  Forty years later, an amazing venture to rebuild the entire mission campus was begun.  Today there is a beautiful new school, a worship center for the church, residences for up to six families of staff members, a playground, and a gymnasium.

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The school is located across the river from central Zuni, the oldest part of the pueblo, “Middle Earth”, as they call it.  However, the village has, over the past 100 years, grown and now surrounds the school and church.

The Becksvoorts live in this very nice two-story apartment…

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We had lunch with the Becksvoort family, chatted with their three children, and walked around the “Middle Earth”…

The A:shiwi have lived here “forever”.   When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in about 1620 they gave the natives the name of Zuni… The Spanish built a church:  Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It was destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, and the Spanish left and fled to Santa Fe when the American frontiersmen started coming through in about 1800 as part of America’s western migration.   The church was rebuilt in 1960, but, due to benign neglect, it has significantly deteriorated, making it uninhabitable today…

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The church even has vigas, which are, of course, rotting…

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We walked about the newer (1960s) buildings (with vigas…), and saw one of the Zunis’ ceremonial courtyards, and their traditional adobe ovens, used mostly to bake bread…

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(We will come back to Zuni in a few days with the caravan; we will have a native meal with the Zuni people and an official tour… Stay tuned…)

We returned to the RV park in the late afternoon, and enjoyed happy hours with our fellow Airstreamers…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-19 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 32 – Zion National Park adjacent

Slow, quiet day today.  We need one of these every now and then…

We slept in, caught up on the blog, and read the newspaper; we walked around a bit…

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We did walk across the street to the Pipe Springs National Monument… It is an historic site documenting the life and times of the Mormons in this area.  The irony is that these 40 acres are in the middle of the Kaibab Paiute Reservation…

The Indians, of course, have been in this area forever.

The water of Pipe Spring has made it possible for plants, animals, and people to live in this dry desert region.  Ancestral Puebloans and Kaibab Paiute Indians gathered grass seeds, hunted animals, and raised crops near the springs for at least 1,000 years.  The land at that time was rich is grasses, not desert sand as it is today…

In the 1860s Mormon pioneers from St. George, Utah, led by James M. Whitmore brought cattle to the area, and a large cattle ranching operation was established.  In 1866 the Apache, Navajo and Paiute tribes of the region joined the Utes for the Black Hawk War, and they raided Pipe Spring and killed Mr. Whitmore and his ranch foreman.  The  ranch was later purchased by Brigham Young for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), and a fort was built over the top of Pipe Spring.  The LDS Bishop of nearby Grafton, Utah, Anson Perry Winsor, was hired to operate the ranch and maintain the fort, soon called “Winsor Castle”. This isolated outpost served as a way station for people traveling across the Arizona Strip, that part of Arizona separated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon.

The main function of the ranch was to accept tithes from the local Mormons, in the form of cows, chickens, etc.  The ranch fed the animals, and milked the cows and made cheese, and shipped it all off on weekly trips to St. George, Utah.

The Pipe Spring area also served as a refuge for polygamist wives during the 1880s and 1890s. The LDS Church lost ownership of the property through penalties involved in the federal Edmunds-Tucker (Anti-Polygamy) Act of 1887.

In the mean time, overgrazing from as many as 100,000 cattle decimated the grasslands; the topsoil soon blew away, and the land was left with the desert sand and sagebrush we see today.  There are attempts in the area, through better grazing practices, to bring back the grasslands.

As the Mormons took over the ranch lands, the local Indians were deprived of their main water source, and times were hard on the Paiute.  However, they continued to live in the area and by 1907 the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation was established, surrounding the privately owned Pipe Spring ranch. In 1923, the Pipe Spring ranch was purchased and set aside as a national monument to be a memorial to western pioneer life.

The Winsor Castle has been restored, as well as several smaller cabins.  The tours are very informative, and “living history” is on view in the form of a lady demonstrating the use of a spinning wheel, and a blacksmith using a primitive forge.

This is Winsor Castle… We were met at the entrance by the NPS tour guide…

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The interior of the castle are typical of a well-made outpost such as this…

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This is the entrance to the Spring Room.  The spring water ran through here, keeping the room at about 55 degrees (perfect for wine, but these were Mormons living here…).

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We saw some of the out-buildings and cabins for visitors… Interesting earthen roof…

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We watched the spinning wheel lady doing her thing…

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The view of the area known as the Arizona Strip… More on this tomorrow…

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After a few hours we walked back to the RV Park and relaxed and did laundry…

We drove to Kanab for dinner at a very nice, and very busy, French Restaurant.  It has only been open for 6 weeks.  We wished we could have spoken with the proprietor and learn more, but as I said, it was packed – on a Wednesday evening…!

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-24 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 6 – Chimaya and Santa Fe

We began the day with a short drive to Chimayo and the Church of the Dirt…

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Legend has it that the dirt beneath the chapel has healing powers.  The Community that has grown up around this church is quite ancient, and a little ramshackle…

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There is much lovely art…

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And the countryside is beautiful…

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We joined the other Caravaners for lunch at Rancho de Chimayo Restaurante, a highly rated “destination” restaurant, even in this remote part of the world…

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As we left the restaurant after lunch, we beheld a a sight familiar to all caravaners…

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After lunch Lynda and I returned to Santa Fe to do some serious shopping.  As we shopped Lynda was stopped by several people who commented on her new shirt:

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(If you can’t quite read it, it says, “Carpe Manana”…)

We bought Lynda some “cute” earrings…

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And, if you are wondering, the turquoise is not “natural”, we did not get a certificate of authenticity, they are not signed by the artist, and they were not made by local Indians.  But you must admit they are cute…!

We also checked out the Meyer Art Gallery.  They are the local representative of the sculptor Dave McGary.  His specialty is sculpting bronze Indians…

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These are “miniatures”, about 36″ – 48″ tall.  He also does “life-size” statues, at 120% life size, in which the Indians are about 7′ tall, with the headdress, spear, etc., making the whole sculpture over 8′ tall…

Back in the olden days, when I was working, I did a custom house, for a German client, in Palm Desert.  He had one life size Indian in the house, in a space custom designed for the statue, another life size on a rotating turntable in the back yard, and a miniature in a niche inside the house.  These are really spectacular pieces of art.  It was nice to see some of them again…

We returned to the RV “Resort”…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-23 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 5 – Santa Fe

We traveled as a group to Santa Fe today.  Besides some detours on the highway and some miscommunication on where we were to meet, we all finally boarded a tourist trolley to get oriented in and around Santa Fe.

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We had an interesting guide/driver who told us of the history of Santa Fe and showed us the various neighborhoods and significant buildings around the town.  After about 1 1/2 hours we were let off to explore the city on our own.

As usual, I was most interested in the architecture.  Everyone knows “Santa Fe Style”, right?

The regional architecture from which the “Santa Fe Style” draws its inspiration is primarily found in Pueblos of New Mexico and other southwestern States.  In the 1890s, architect A. C. Schweinfurth incorporated Pueblo features into a number of his buildings in California.  Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter’s Hopi House (1904) in Grand Canyon National Park drew heavily on the Pueblo style. The Pueblo Revival style made its first appearance in New Mexico in 1908 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where UNM president William G. Tight adopted the style for a number of building projects during his tenure. 

At the time, Santa Fe looked like Anytown USA, with French, Italian, Victorian, Bungalow, and Carpenter Gothic buildings, mixed in with New Mexican Territorial styles common throughout the State.  In an attempt to attract tourists and the railroad, the city fathers remodeled all of the prominent downtown buildings to resemble what would be known as the Santa Fe Style.  In 1957, a committee drafted Santa Fe “H” Historical District Ordinance No. 1957-18, commonly known as the Historical Zoning Ordinance.  This ordinance mandated the use of the “Old Santa Fe Style,” which encompassed “so-called Pueblo, Pueblo-Spanish or Spanish-Indian and Territorial styles,” on all new buildings in central Santa Fe.  To be exact, the ordinance require all buildings be earthy brown, include rounded edges, room-block massing, and protruding vigas.  This ordinance remains in effect, meaning the Pueblo style continues to predominate.  The point to remember is that the Santa Fe Style is not something indigenous to Santa Fe, but something made up (by Anglos, not Mexicans or Indians or Spanish) to attract tourists.

So here we have it:  Vigas, Brown, block massing, rounded edges…

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Even giant buildings follow this style, which is more suited to small buildings…

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Even parking garages follow the style…

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The Territorial style shows brick cornices and a little more exposed wood, but otherwise is quite similar…

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I like regional architecture as much as the next guy, and I have commented on how well the architecture here addresses the harsh sun.  My only pet peeve is the religious-like adherence to arbitrary rules, despite all evidence that the rule should be modified or abolished.  Nothing exemplifies this idea better than the vigas.

As I showed in my earlier blog, authentic vigas are extensions of roof beams, projecting through the adobe walls…

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Today, vigas are rarely structural, but are only decoration tacked on to an exterior stucco wall.  There is one problem:  In this dry, hot climate, exposed wood rots:

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This has led to attempts to protect the wood with sheet metal – hardly an elegant solution…

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On the other hand, not ALL buildings have vigas, and they look just fine to me…

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Certainly historic buildings need to be accurately restored.  If the wood rots, replace it with wood.  But if you must have vigas, even fake vigas, why not use steel or some other weather resistant material?

One reason why new buildings, or additions to existing buildings, in Santa Fe’s historic district should sometimes employ modern materials, and even a few tastefully contemporary design elements: A century from now, 2018 construction should be distinguishable from that of earlier times. And if the architecture is exceptional, it also may be prized alongside the old.  It shouldn’t mimic the old so perfectly that you can’t see the evolution of the style.  As soon as everything looks the same and you can’t date it, it’s dead. It’s the vocabulary that’s important, not the material or the technique.

More reasons why the wood vigas, protruding through the exterior wall, is a bad idea:  they break the thermal envelope of the building, allowing cool air to escape in the summer and warm air to escape in the winter. They also break the waterproofing envelope, allowing moisture into the building, creating the potential for mold and other water-related issues…

So enough of my rant about Santa Fe style.  We actually had a very good time in Santa Fe…

We saw the country’s oldest house, built in 1646…

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And we saw the country’s oldest church, built in 1610…

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We saw the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi… The interesting story here is that while the church was under construction they ran out of money.  Bankers in the Jewish community loaned them the money to complete the construction.  After many more years of struggling and being unable to pay on the loan, the Jewish bankers forgave the loan as a gift to the church.  This is memorialized in the top arch stone over the main doors with the Hebrew scrip and the triangle.  Also, the doors have 20 panels in bas relief telling the history of Santa Fe…

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We saw the Loretto Chapel…

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And we saw the quaint shopping and gallery district on Canyon Rd…

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We spent some time shopping in the blocks around the plaza…

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We learned that the New Mexico flag has a circle representing the sun and the Indian’s cultural belief in the circle of life.  The four groups of four rays symbolize the four cardinal directions, the four seasons of the year, the four times of the day and four stages of life…
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And we had time for lunch at The Shed…

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After more window shopping we returned to the RV “Resort” in Pojoaque…

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We enjoyed another Fandango”, meeting new Airstream friends.  And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

2018-08-19 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 1 – Albuquerque

Today we begin the Southwest Adventure Caravan.  Our itinerary is roughly this:

New Mexico:  Albuquerque, Santa Fe

Colorado:  Durango, Silverton, Mesa Verde

Utah:  Bluff (Natural Bridges, Monument Valley), Moab, Torrey, Bryce Canyon

Arizona:  Fredonia (Zion), Grand Canyon North Rim, Page (Lake Powell)

New Mexico:  Gallop, Acoma, Zuni, Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

 

But first we have a free day.  We have met some of the other caravaners, and we took several walks arounf the RV park.  I checked out the generators to make sure they were still in good order, and I shifted a bit of out cargo in the back of the truck.

By noon we were ready for a little adventure… We drove down the original Route 66 and made our way to “Old Town” Albuquerque and strolled around the plaza.  There is a 200 year old church, a band playing in the band stand in the plaza, and hundreds of trinket shops that spread around the plaza and throughout the blocks all around.  While we have no use for trinket shops, we did admire the architecture – most buildings have deep verandas facing the streets, providing much needed shade.  Most building have courtyards, again with the shaded areas that made walking around and “shopping” very pleasant, despite the 90+ degrees heat.

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We stopped for a small lunch at the Back Street Grill…

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And we returned to The Villa, ready for a nap…

We had our first orientation meeting where we reviewed the “rules and traditions” of the caravan and went over the drivers manual.  We took a break for happy hours with some of our neighbor caravaners.  At 7:30 we reconvened for dinner and a celebratory cake for dessert…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

2017-09-14 Westbound; New Refrigerator and Minnesota…

We were up at 5:00 am to get the Villa ready to be moved into the service bay here at Shorewood RV, just outside Minneapolis.  All went well, and by 6:15 the Villa was in the Service Bay and we were on the road to the town of Elk River, about 6 miles down the road…

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Elk River is a delightful town along the banks of the Mississippi River.  The town has been around a long time, but recent developments have nicely enhanced the town and the feel of the downtown business district.  As you see in the photo above, the historic buildings are on the left and a new apartment building is on the right.  The new building fits the scale of the street, contains retail spaces at the street level, and provide a very human scaled space.  The same thing is going on around the corner:

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We walked about the town, then had breakfast at the Olde Main Eatery.  It is what a small town diner should be:  friendly people, regulars sitting at their regular tables, with olde time photographs on the wall.  We enjoyed a nice breakfast and looked at maps to better understand the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.  We hope to be there the day after tomorrow (Saturday).

After breakfast we walked down to the Mississippi River; it was very quiet in the early morning light:

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The town has developed a nice waterfront park with an informal amphitheater for community events.  All in all, it is a very nice town!

We returned to Shorewood RV to find out thet there was a small snag in the parts that had been delivered, so it was going to take a little longer to complete the new refrigerator installation.. We spent the morning in their lounge, planning our stays for the next few days…

By 11:30 the refer was done and we were hitching up.  We were underway just before noon.  We are heading west, across most of Minnesota, but first we had to get out of Minneapolis.   We even encountered our first detour of our trip; we were led off the southbound freeway and re-routed back north again for five miles, then west and south again.  Hopefully, we won’t see this type of thing again any time soon.

Once we were out of the city we traveled easily along two lane roads through endless farmland.  While it was quite beautiful, it was not as lush as Wisconsin.  On the other hand, it is one week later and fall is clearly on its way.

These photos show what we saw all day:

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We did see a little Minnesota humor adjacent to one gas station:

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And then, out of the blue, the road was closed.  We had to head back east about 15 miles before we could go south and then west again.. These detours are maddening!  Why can’t they put up better signs and prior warnings?

There are also some small towns that we passed through.  Some are really tiny; this is Gibbon.  It is a little more substantial than many:

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And churches.  Lots of churches:

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Our mid-day break was to stop and see the town of Walnut Grove and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum:

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The Ingalls family lived in Walnut Grove in two increments of two years each.  In between, they moved to Iowa and managed a hotel for two years.  In contrast to the Little House on the Prairie TV Show, they had a miserable time here.  They lived in a dug-out, and their wheat crops were wiped out two years in a row by grasshoppers; they pretty much lost everything and moved to Iowa. Also, Mary had a stroke (not scarlet fever) that left her blind, and a newborn baby boy died.  After their years in Iowa they returned to Walnut Grove, and “Pa” opened a butcher shoppe, while Laura worked as a housekeeper in the local hotel.  But I digress…

The museum has very little memorabilia that is actually from the Ingalls family.  There are lots of historical references, photos, book excerpts, and antiques gathered from many sources that attempt to show what life was like on the prairie.  It was interesting in a modest way.  But, in general, a giant waste of time…

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They have a re-creation of a typical dugout, but it is made from reinforced concrete…

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They have a recreation of a typical school house from the 1880s; Laura taught school for two years, starting when she was 15 years old, but it was not here:

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To prove to you readers just how old I am, I actually did attend a two-room school, and we had desks exactly like this… (We never could figure out what those holes in the desk-tops were for…)

So we moved on; tomorrow we visit De Smet, the actual “Little Town on the Prairie”…

We drove to our RV park for the night, in Pinestone, MN.  We have full hook-ups (water, sewer, power), plus good internet access and satellite TV.  We had a quiet night, with Happy Hours and burritos for dinner.  Tomorrow we can shop to re-stock the refrigerator.

An an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-09-10 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 10…

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Sunday in Thunder Bay; we attend another Christian Reformed Church; in fact, there are three CRCs in Thunder Bay, a town of only about 108,000 people.  Today we went to the suburban church, about 15 miles out of town…  (Around the corner, within 1/2 mile, is a United Reformed Church, an ultra-conservative spin-off of the CRC.)

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It appears to be a fairly new building; it looks like it was built in conjunction with Thunder Bay Christian School.

It was the most conservative, traditional CRC we’ve ever been to… An old CRC tradition was for the members of the Council or Consistory (The governing body of Elders) to walk into the church together, along with the minister.  I remember that tradition from days of my youth.  I just haven’t seen it in 30 years or so.  But another even older tradition was for the President of the Council to shake hands in front of church with the minister before and after the service. I have never seen that… until today.

Every song sung here was from one of the Hymnals.  No repetitive, upbeat praise songs here.  On the other hand, unlike the Bethleham CRC  last week, there were many families, lots of kids, and a good size congregation – I’d estimate 200 people.

But it was a nice service; the minister is the same one who had pre-recordrd the video sermon we heard last week.  (Same minister, different sermon…)

One more CRC tradition: They hold two services on Sunday, and they expect you to be at BOTH!  (We were oncers…)

After Church we had a restful day, catching up after our trip to Wisconsin.  We needed to do laundry, and find some internet; we found both within one block in downtown Thunder Bay:

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Once we were back in the Villa we relaxed until dinner time; tonight we tried Caribou:

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We walked to and from the restaurant; it was nice to get out after all the driving we have done over the past several days.  The weather was nice.  An enjoyabe time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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