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Pueblos

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…

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

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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…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-31 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 13 – Traveling to Mesa Verde National Park

We pulled out of Durango and drove to Mesa Verde National Park, so designated in 1906, one of the very first fourteen National Parks, back before Park Service was created in 1917;  Mesa Verde was designated to “preserve the works of man,” the first national park of its kind.  The other first National Parks were all created to preserve natural wonders…

It was a short drive – only 35 miles – but that is the horizontal distance.  We also climbed up over 1,000 feet vertically, as the campground was at the top of this mesa…! (Not the top of the rock, just to the mesa behind it…

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We are “dry camping” here – no water, sewer, or electrical hook-ups.  Thus, there was a plethora of solar panels and generators present around all the Airstreams…

We had little set-up to do, and we soon set out for a 5 hour bus tour of the Mesa Verde Park.

We saw some splendid scenery – the bus tour drove us around the mesa-top and we saw many archaeological remains.  Native peoples – the Ancients, or Indians, or Puebloans (pick your terms – I’ll call them Indians, as the locals prefer to be called…) – settled in this area about AD650 and continued to live here until the early 1300s, when they all moved, over about a 20 year period, to Taos, Sante Fe, and the other 17 Pueblos in New Mexico along the Rio Grande River.  No one knows for sure why they left, but the obvious reason was to find more fertile land with a reliable water source.

We saw several various structures used by the Indians across the centuries… And I have thousands of photos to prove it…

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We saw some cliff dwellings from a distance.  But the pay-off for the day was seeing the Cliff Palace, the largest, and best preserved, of the cliff dwellings.

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On December 18th, 1888, two cowboys, Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law Charlie Mason, were riding across the mesa top looking for stray cattle. At the edge of the pinyon and juniper forest they came upon a vast canyon.  It looked like this…

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Today, it has been restored and reassembled where possible.  Basically, they put back up the blocks that had fallen, and they stabilized the ruins.

We assembled for the tour at a platform that offered a closer view…

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We were able to get even closer by descending from the mesa about 150 vertical feet into the canyon, climbing down stone steps built by the National Park Service.  (Indians used ladders and hand- and foot-holds and climbed up the face of the canyon…)

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Once we were at the level of the pueblo, we heard a ranger talk about the history and give us archaeological information.  There are 150 rooms, including 19 kivas, or subterranean dwellings with religious significance.  The 150 rooms extend back into the cliff over 90 feet…

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We proceeded to walk along the base and see the pueblo up close…

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Yes – even here there are vigas… more on the vigas tomorrow…

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After our final ranger talk, we had to get back up to the mesa again, up 150 feet!  We started out on steps, then had to climb three ladders…

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Finally we reached the top…

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Back at the Villa, we had some visitors…

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We returned to the campground, had dinner, and went to bed before it got dark, so we didn’t have to use out batteries… (This dry camping is relatively new to us…)

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-25 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 7 – Taos

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Today we traveled to Taos, about 45 miles (1 1/2+ hour drive…).  As usual, the landscape around here is stunning…

Along the way we stopped at several small towns and villages to see some of the local color…

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In Taos we enjoyed another unique lunch at Lambert’s…

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We looked around Kit Carson’s house…

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Kit Carson was born in the early 1800s and spent most of his life exploring the wild west, enduring many dangers and surviving them all.  He died in Taos at the age of 59 of a burst aneurysm…

Taos has many nice shopping streets, but on a much smaller scale than Santa Fe…

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After enjoying all that we could, we headed back to Pojoaque, taking a detour to see the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge…

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The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, locally known as the “Gorge Bridge”,  is a steel deck arch bridge across the Rio Grande Gorge 10 miles northwest of Taos. Roughly 565’ above the Rio Grande, it is the seventh highest bridge in the United States.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while recall that we recently visited the Cold Springs Canyon Bridge, near Santa Barbara…

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While the Rio Grande bridge is taller, the span of the Cold Springs bridge is longer… It is also more fun to walk under a bridge like this than to walk over it…

The road back to the main highway turned out to be a little more adventurous than we had expected…

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The drive along the “Low Road to Taos” is quite beautiful.  The river is well used by rafters, tubers, campers, and people like us, just enjoying the scenery…

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We had an uneventful drive back to Pojoaque.  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…

 

2018-08-22 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 4 – Moving to Santa Fe

This morning we found that there had been a little rain overnight…

Today is a travel day, so we started by doing a little laundry, cleaning up, and hitching up The Villa.  We pulled out of the RV park about 9:30.  Today’s travel is to the Pueblo of Pojoaque, just north of Santa Fe.  It is only about 85 miles from Albuquerque… An easy drive…

We stopped alongside the freeway after about an hour to stretch our legs and to keep our Apple watches happy…

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Since we could not check into the next RV park until after noon, we took a detour to chase down the two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in New Mexico…

A few miles north of Pecos is the Alfred Friedman House, “Fir Tree” (1945).  The good news is that we found it easily; the bad news is that it is not visible from the street and it is a private residence, not open to the public…

We respected their privacy and did not pull The Villa up their driveway…

We turned around at the next wide spot in the road, getting mud all over The Villa.  We headed into Sante Fe and looked for the “Pottery House”, 1984.  Obviously, this was built long after FLLW’s death; he did the design in the early 1950s; the lot and the plans were purchased by a builder, who modified and enlarged the house.  It may or may not be a “real” Frank Lloyd Wright house – but we’ll never know.  We could not find it.

So on we went, to the RV park in Pojoaque.  We set up (in the rain…) and walked around.  It is very sparse and bleak in the RV park, but the surrounding high desert is quite pretty…

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Tonight we enjoyed a dinner with the caravaners at Gabriel’s, a very nice New Mexican restaurant near by; we rode along with caravan neighbors from Houston…

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We returned to The Villa, and enjoyed a lovely sunset…

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An enjoyable time was had by all…

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