On Tuesday we left Alamogordo, NM and started our trek North. Along the way, we stopped at the Very Large Array about 50 miles west of Socorro (i.e. middle of nowhere, New Mexico.)
This array is a collection of 27 movable radio telescopes arranged in a “Y” pattern. By bunching up or fanning out the individual radio telescopes, scientists can get different resolution images from deep into space. This is the place used in the 1997 movie Contact (which we rented and watched later that evening.)
This was just a cool rock formation that we saw as we drove through El Malpais National Park and pulled off to take a closer look:
We reached Grants, NM by late afternoon on Tuesday, but the RV park we intended to stay at turned out to be rather scary. This was the only photo I was able to get as Amy sped away.
We found another place a few miles down the road that — believe it or not — was better than the previous RV park. Good enough for one night, anyway. (As an aside, I see this quite a bit in these podunk RV parks: RVs that don’t exactly look ready to hit the open road at a moment’s notice.)
The next day we drove a bit further and landed at Bluewater Lake State Park in Prewitt, NM. It was supposed to be really scenic, but it was merely ok (way better than the RV park, however.)
There was a nice lake where people would fish every evening:
There was also some reasonably good hiking not too far from our camp spot:
Our internet and phone service wasn’t very good, however. We drove back into Grants and crashed at the library on Thursday so both Amy and I could get some work done.
My girls are always glad to visit a new library.
On Saturday morning, we drove another 45 minutes northwest to Church Rock, NM. We parked the RV at a place called Red Rock Park and hopped in the car for a day of sightseeing.
The first stop was at the Zuni Pueblos, which is a community for the Zuni people. The brochure we read beforehand set an expectation of a vibrant community of Zuni artists. It was unfortunately not at all what we expected. In the few minutes we spent at this old mission, for example, we were approached twice by street vendors selling rather rudimentary handicrafts. As we drove around, we saw packs of dogs roaming the dirty, impoverished streets.
I felt like I was in another country, complete with the discomforts of being a foreigner on someone else’s land.
Unsure of what to do there, we didn’t stay long. We drove around in the “safety” of our car for a few minutes, and then left.
In hindsight, I’m a bit embarrassed by my reaction to being in Zuni-land. The people we encountered were quite kind, and both Amy and I feel our reaction to withdraw was a missed opportunity to engage with other human beings from a very different background.
But we did have other things that we wanted to see, namely El Morro National Monument:
One of the main attractions of El Morro are the centuries of carvings on the rock walls:
There are petroglyphs from Native Americans, and hundreds of inscriptions from travelers between 1605 and 1906.
It was also good hiking with some breathtaking views:
At the top of the mesa were some ruins dating back to 1275!
We made our way back to the RV just in time to catch the sun setting on Church Rock off in the distance. We vowed to do a hike the next morning.
As planned, we got up early (early for the girls and me — late for Amy) and made our way toward Church Rock.
We sort of made our own path, which meant scaling some pretty steep rock faces:
There were a few tense moments, but everyone made it up safely.
We didn’t make it all the way to the spires of Church Rock, but it was a good hike and climb nonetheless.
We see little lizards like this everywhere:
Evidence of how the desert is quite full of life:
I love the layers in these rocks and the patterns created by millennia of wind and water:
Off in the distance there is Shiprock, one of the landmarks of New Mexico. We wanted to see it up close, but we couldn’t find the road to get back there. Never saw any signs either. Bummer.
So, we went on to the Four Corners Monument where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet:
Carrie and Em forcing me from Utah into Colorado (this was my first time in Utah). Natalie is behind Carrie doing a backbend and touching all four states:
According to Google Maps, the real “four corners” is here (about 20 feet away from the plaque):
There were several Navajo artist there selling jewelry, painting and other art (Natalie bought a bracelet):
We continued North into Colorado toward an RV park in the city of Cortez, CO (we needed to ensure good internet since I have a busy meeting schedule this week.) But on a whim, we drove on to a nearby National Forest campground to see what it was like. I’m so glad we did. Not only is the internet great here, we practically have the whole place to ourselves.
It’s hard to believe we went from mesas and desserts to mountains and pine trees in less than an hour today.
Amy spotted this little place up the hill across from our campground. In all of our travels so far, this is the closet thing we’ve seen to the type of house we’d like to call home. But we’ve still got time to figure that out.
Speaking of houses, our house in Indy is rented again! WOOHOO! We’re really excited about our new tenants. Unless they are just the nicest couple to ever run a meth lab, we are expecting another great house-rental experience.
I’ll end on a completely random note: this past week I shot my 10,000th photo of the trip.