Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Ranger Made Me Cry

Thursday March 12
When I talked to the owner of Enchanted Trails RV Park, she told me that I could take Miko out behind the park where she could run off leash. I just had to be careful to make sure that I closed all gates because New Mexico is an open range state and if any of the cows got out through and open gate, Enchanted Trails would be liable. I've always been a little nervous about letting Miko off leash – I would be devastated if she took off after a rabbit or deer and disappeared. I checked out the “range” - there were no cows to be seen. It sort of looked like eastern Montana – nothing as far as the eye could see except flat, flat, flat land. I let Miko off leash and started walking out to the back forty. She stuck pretty close to me until she smelled something interesting. I kept walking and got quite a bit of distance away from her. I called her and she came tearing toward me and then it was like she realized she was free. She zoomed and she zagged all around me. It was fun to watch her. When she got worn out, we walked back to the RV, closing all gates again. I don't think I will do this very often, it still makes me nervous, but there were no rabbits or deer this time so I lucked out.
In the afternoon, I went down to see Old Town Albuquerque. I spent several hours just walking around the shops and the old mission church.
San Felipe de Neri

I didn't have time to get to any of the museums, I will either have to go back or catch them next time. I found some really nice local artist co-ops and an awful lot of mass produced Taiwan southeastern “art” also. I got a hankering for some fish tacos and started asking around. One shopkeeper said that I was in Albuquerque, we don't have fish here. Finally somebody else sent me to the Quesidilla Grill. Told me to tell them “Connie” sent me. They did not have fish tacos but they did have shrimp tacos. The shrimp were the tiny little ones, about the size of fingernail clippings and they put them in a red chili sauce which really overpowered the shrimp so much so that you couldn't taste the shrimp. The chili sauce was really good though. I sat outside and ate and people watched which was fun.
Shrimp Tacos
Another National Monument Day. This time it is the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. Salinas is actually three different missions, all in different states of disrepair. It is going to be a long driving day – just to get to the first mission is an hour and a half drive.
First up is Abo which was a thriving pueblo when the first Franciscan showed up to begin converting the heathens into the Christian way of life in 1622 and in the process enslaving the people to send back trading goods back to Europe. In 1853, the place was in ruins and Maj. Carleton, on an expedition to investigate the Salinas district, came upon Abo at dusk. He wrote “The tall ruins, standing there in solitude, had an aspect of sadness and gloom....the cold wind...appeared to roar and howl through the roofless pile like an angry demon.”
Miko and I took the half mile loop around the place and read the signs. One interesting thing was that right in the center of the whole structure was a kiva, which was used by the natives as an underground place to do rituals. Speculation is that the Franciscans, in the early days, allowed the natives to worship in the old ways as they transitioned into the Christian way. 
Abo - doesn't look like much, does it?

Kiva - used to have a roof and a ladder to climb down into it
We then drove into Mountainaire, NM where the main visitor center for the monument was. I did not have time to watch the thirty minute movie which really hurt, cause I love all those visitor center movies. They are all so earnest and heartfelt and also can give you a feel for what you are about to see. Miko was waiting in the car and I didn't want to keep her waiting.
Ranger Dixie was in charge and we talked about the lifestyle of the Pueblo people. I asked why they allowed themselves to be enslaved when most of the time it was only one or two Franciscans who showed up. These were cities, how did this happen. Ranger Dixie said that in the early days, the conquistadors came and massacred many of these farmer Pueblo people. After that, the people were a little hesitant to resist in any fashion.
Then Ranger Dixie told me about the Apache. The Apache were a warlike tribe down in southwest New Mexico and south east Arizona. When they were finally conquered, they were sent to Florida where half of them died because they were unused to the heat and the humidity and the lifestyle. They begged and begged to be able to come back to their native land and finally they were allowed to come as far as Oklahoma. The story is that as these Apaches are being transported in wagons to Oklahoma, they finally were able to hear the coyotes howling. The Apache women all cried at the sound of their homeland. Ranger Dixie started crying which set me off so we cried together. Very sad story.
She also told me the story about Molly Goodnight
From Wikipedia:

The last of the remaining "southern herd" in Texas were saved before extinction in 1876. Charles Goodnight's wife Molly encouraged him to save some of the last relict bison that had taken refuge in the Texas Panhandle. Extremely committed to save this herd, she went as far as to rescue some young orphaned buffaloes and even bottle fed and cared for them until adulthood. By saving these few plains bison, she was able to establish an impressive buffalo herd near the Palo Duro Canyon. Peaking at 250 in 1933, the last of the southern buffalo would become known as the Goodnight herd.[15] The descendants of this southern herd were moved to Caprock Canyons State Park near Quitaque, Texas, in 1998.[16]

I decided not to drive down to the second of the three missions – Gran Quivira. It was a twenty five mile drive one way and Miko is not the best car traveler. So we moved nine miles north to Quarai Mission, the biggest and most complete mission of the three. I walked into the information center and found the ranger sound asleep, kicked back in his chair, mouth wide open. Of course, he woke up and denied he was sleeping when I asked him if he had a good nap. These missions are way out in the middle of nowhere, so I suppose he doesn't get all that many visitors.
Quarai was founded a few years before Abo. It is large but it's distinction is that it was the New Mexico center for the Inquisition, that terrible period in time where it was pretty much a witch hunt in all Spanish areas of influence. I thought the Inquisition was much earlier, more in the 1200s but I guess there was a revival Inquisition in the 1600s. After we wandered around the ruins, Miko and I took a one mile hike around the area.
Oh, Ranger Leroy, when he was telling me about the hiking trails told me that I needed a heavier coat and gloves. He was inside the information center as he is telling me this, wearing a coat and gloves. I told him I was from Minnesota and this weather was wonderful and balmy. 
On the Trail

Quarai from the Trail
We drove back to Enchanted Trails and came into Albuquerque on the east side through the Sandia mountains. Beautiful, big round hills. There are supposed to be a lot of trails on this side of town. I will have to check them out.
First off I want to mention that today is my mother's 90th birthday party.  Happy Birthday Mom!!!
I have four things on my list of things to do
Albuquerque Alpacas – what is not to love about an alpaca. This farm gives tours and you get to get up close and personal with the alpacas. Alas – you have to call ahead for an appointment. My lack of planning does not allow me to visit the alpacas this trip.
Tinkertown – this schizophrenic guy dealt with his schizophrenia by creating this dioramas where you put a quarter or a nickel in and everything starts moving. It is supposed to be quite amazing but alas – it is only open April – November.
The Balloon Museum – Albuquerque is known for it's balloon festival in October. Balloons are huge. This museum is supposed to tell you the history and all the news that is the news about balloons. Alas, today is their St. Patrick Day Festival – 10 bands, multiple vendors, crowded museum – I guess I'm becoming more and more of a curmudgeon than I thought. Doesn't sound appealing to me
The last trail of the Petroglyph National Monument is the Volcano Trail. Ok, I will do that. It is about four miles away, dogs are allowed. So, after putzing around all morning (cleaned my black tank – it had better be sparkly and shiny in there now), Miko and I went over to the Volcano Trail. There are three collapsed volcanoes that you can hike around. You should not go to the top because the local natives believe the top of volcanoes are sacred. It was sort of a boring hike – not to interesting and you had to watch your step because of all the little pieces of lava rock on the trail.
The collapsing volcano I am going to climb
The mountains east of Albuquerque that I am NOT going to climb
I was thinking to myself, with all this “alone” time, I have time to solve all the cosmic problems in the universe. I can ponder in great depth all sort of “big” questions. What do I find myself thinking on – “gee, I wonder what I should have for dinner” or “I wonder what kind of tennis shoes made those tracks” Ok, maybe this is a self discovery thing – maybe I'm not a very deep person. That's ok, we need shallow people in the world too. I'm glad I'm finding my place.
I headed for the grocery store. Stopped at Albertson's which is your regular grocery story and then I stopped at El Mesquite. El Mesquite is like Trader Joe's of the Hispanic world. Most all of the products were in Spanish (Lays potato chips – flavors you never see up north), there was a deli, a food court and hispanic music blaring. English was not heard anyplace except when somebody wanted to talk to me. I wonder what half of those foods were. All I bought were some avocados – I'll have to branch out more food exploration wise.

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