Visited March 29 – April 13, 2017
The landscape driving out of Texas was wide open and dotted with oil derricks and lots of pronghorns grazing and lounging about. We had been cautioned about the roads in New Mexico, but we found them to be great, at least the ones we were on. And as soon as we turned west toward Roswell, there was a mountain straight ahead on our horizon!
We spent a couple nights at Bottomless Lakes State Park, on the edge of the Pecos River valley just south of Roswell. The legend goes that cowboys tied lassos together and dropped them into the lakes to measure depth but never hit bottom, hence the name “Bottomless”. In reality, the deepest is about 90 feet, and most are surrounded by colorful limestone cliffs. Our campground was on lovely blue-green Lea Lake. It was a little chilly and windy, so no swimming for us, but we walked the nature trails and explored the area. In Roswell we had a great meal at Farley’s (our granddaughter’s last name), and especially enjoyed the Alien Amber Ale. 😉 Of course, we also had to see the International UFO Museum. It’s pretty interesting, with a unique mix of historical, academic, and kitschy exhibits.
We loved Albuquerque, and made High Desert RV Park our homebase for two weeks! It’s a nice park (park is a relative term since there is not much landscaping, it is the desert, after all). But it’s clean and has a great location just off the Interstate, above the city. Two days after we arrived, we had SNOW! It was April 1st but it wasn’t foolin’! When we woke up, we had some crystals collecting on the windshield wiper blades and soon it was falling in big, fluffy flakes and swirling like a mini-blizzard, probably 3-4 inches accumulated! We captured pics and videos and were a little giddy over this first snow of our roadtrip. 🙂 Remember, for us Florida flatlanders, sights of mountains and snow are a big deal!
We explored all around the area within a couple hour’s drive, marveling at the volcanic mountains and climbing among the petroglyphs on them at Boca Negra Canyon. When we got out early enough in the mornings, we saw the hot air balloons rising over the city. Watching them is awesome, but neither of us was interested in riding, though we haven’t ruled it out for the future. We found a great church for worship, Mosaic Church, then strolled in Old Town Albuquerque and had a great meal at the historic 1706 Church Street Cafe, the oldest former hacienda in the city and the oldest structure in the whole state, they say. Then, we spent the afternoon at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, immersing ourselves in the history and art of the state’s 19 Puebloan tribes/nations, including a ceremonial dance performance.
Our immersion in Puebloan culture continued as we explored the Acoma Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum. Acoma is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America, since 1150 AD, home to the Anaasazi people. The valley driving in is filled with huge sandstone monoliths and the pueblo is built on top of one, 367 feet up! We really enjoyed the drive and the museum.
Further west, we explored and hiked around in El Malpais and El Morro National Monuments with their amazing volcanic landscapes. In between, we came upon a herd of elk just off the highway, probably 30 of them! We stopped, watching each other while Tom reached for his camera and in that instant the scout of the group gave the signal and they all bounded into the woods. We only had time to capture the memory in our minds, not film.
Albuquerque also gave us a great airport hub to fly “home” to Florida. I was going through kid and grandkid withdrawals after two months away! We left our rig at High Desert and made a surprise long weekend visit to Crystal River. It was late when we arrived, so we had to gently wake our granddaughter, who couldn’t believe her eyes and cried happy tears. A welcome doesn’t get any better than that! It was hard to leave, but Alaska was calling to us… 🙂