It has been quite a while since I posted – obviously! First, we were completely out of touch in Northern New Mexico. We headed almost to the border with Colorado and camped at Navajo Lake and Heron Lake. Both were nice and secluded without even cell phone service. At Navajo, we had a beautiful view of the lake!
The campground at Heron Lake wasn’t very close to the lake, but we did take one day to do an 11 mile round trip hike to the neighboring El Vado Lake State Park. There wasn’t much of a destination when you were done the first half – just a picnic table under a tree. That was it. We didn’t even see any wildlife on the hike even though there wasn’t anyone else on the trail and it was pretty secluded.
The beginning (and end) of the trail was across the Rio Chama river on this somewhat rickety suspension bridge! Then, you had to climb up a steep set of stairst to get back to the Trail Head. I would not have liked doing this hike in the other direction. There wasn’t any payoff (except maybe the view) for making the last big effort up the stairs.
We had kind of forgotten about going to El Morro until we got to El Malpais and realized that we were most of the way there. It turned out to be one of the coolest hikes we’ve done. At first we thought it was more pueblos (and there are a lot of pueblos to see in Arizona and New Mexico.)
It turned out that El Morro was much more than that. It was a pretty large mesa that has a pool of water at the bottom. Travelers in the area have been stopping there for hundreds of years and carving their names into the sandstone. Then you can hike up to the top where the National Park service has carved a trail out of the mesa top – including steps!
Well, it has been awhile since I was able to upload anything since we spent over a week in rural Northern New Mexico. We left Grants without posting anything on El Malpais or El Morro – both of which were pretty interesting. We ended up enjoying our time in Grants. Besides having a nice and inexpensive WalMart, we had several good day trips.
The campground was fine. They had their own lava fields (which I’m still baring a scare from getting up too close and personal.) We walked around the campground trail being escorted by the campground cat. She flushed out all of the bunny rabbits and there were a lot of rabbits!
We headed out to see El Malpais which the Rough Guide says is they one National Park that you should skip, if you have to skip one – but we still enjoyed a couple of nice hikes. El Malpais has only been a National Park since 1999. It is half lava and half sandstone monuments. You can get between the two by taking what they called a Backcountry Byway but is really just a dirt road. We had to stop several times for cattle on the road.
We did get to hike through a lava tunnel/cave and see another crater. I should creat a post or listing called “holes in the ground” for all of the cave and crater pictures we’ve taken on this trip!
We did enjoy a hike through one of the lava fields although there really wasn’t a trail. You had to follow these rock piles across the formations.
We got to the sandstone side of the park just as the sun was starting to set. The highlight of this area is the La Ventana Natural Arch. Unfortunately, with the sun low in the sky you couldn’t get the real sense of the Arch in the photo, but is was cool to see. There were other interesting sandstone formations in the area as well, but we only took a few photos. You could see for miles. The area was really remote without any kind of development in the area.
Today we took a drive about twenty miles East and visited the Acoma Pueblo. It was particularly interesting because it is still inhabited by members of the tribe. It is considered the oldest, continuously inhabited settlement in the country. The Pueblo (called “Sky City”) is at the top of a 370 feet mesa without any running water or electricity. Our Guide showed us his house.
A road to the top was only built in the 1920’s so that a movie could be built. We chose to hike down the original “stairs” along the side of the mesa. There were handholds that had been worn away in the rock that made the steep climb manageable.
They don’t really encourage photography, so we don’t have any pictures. You could take pictures on the reservation, but you had to pay for a $10 permit. In the end, I think I enjoyed the tour more not worrying about the camera. The mesa was really peaceful and quiet. Since the homes are still inhabited, they appropriately weren’t open for viewing. You could go in the church that was built in the 1600’s. The cemetery on the mesa is only used for tribe leaders and military veterans.
Here is a link to photos that I found on the web: http://www.chrylab.com/acoma.html
We saw a lot of beautiful pottery being sold by the inhabitants. I did buy a ceramic Christmas ornament that was painted with traditional symbols and markings. We also bought a Fry Bread and Apple Pie from the locals.
We’ll be here for one more day and then we are heading North to Navajo Lake and the state campgrounds.
We had our first day of driving in the rain (which is pretty good considering we’ve been on the road for more than five weeks.) We once again crossed over the Continental Divide. This time, we stopped and took a picture of the Landmark Marker (only because we both had to go to the bathroom.) There wasn’t anything at the Continental Divide Exit except the Landmark Marker.
We are spending Memorial Day Weekend in Grants, NM because we couldn’t get into any of the State Parks in Northern New Mexico. There are some things to see here which we’ll check out, assuming the weather holds, but I’m also hoping that we get some down time. I would like to sew a bit. We’ve already been to the Super WalMart which was way better than shopping in the Safeway in Flagstaff. (I still can’t get over how expensive things were in the Flagstaff grocery store.) There are supposedly only around 10,000 people here and a lot of them were definitely at the WalMart buying groceries.
We did have our first experience hearing a Native American radio station. We were scanning through the options when we both said “what is that?” It was interesting to listen to for awhile, but we couldn’t make heads of tails of what they were even talking about.
We are staying at a nice, clean KOA that has a dog mascot – Buddy. He got up off his comfortable bed for Alan. Dogs always like Alan. Buddy barely gave me the time of day.
We’ve been on the road now for more than five weeks. While we aren’t actually “on our way home” yet, this is our last night in Arizona. Tomorrow we are heading for Grants, NM. We’ll be waiting out the Memorial Day weekend there and then probably heading North to at least one of the State Parks for some relaxing, down time. I’m hoping to get a few days to sew!