Saturday, June 1, 2013

Land of Coronado Enchantment

Every time we travel, we seek out river access, mainly because I like to say I've touched the river. On this trip to New Mexico, I stood in the Pecos river a couple of times; I also dipped my fingers into the Rio Grande right where it runs beside the road that connects Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

We stopped at Bernalillo to see a museum detailing Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's stay among the Kuaua Pueblo, a Tiwa speaking tribe who had taken refuge at this spot to escape a drought in their previous more northerly home.

They had been here a couple of hundred years when Coronado discovered their village of adobe apartments--some as high as three stories. The homes were little more than cubicles with holes in the roofs and ladders for access.

 Fortunately, the people spent most of their time outdoors, cooking in clay ovens, raising crops, shepherding livestock, and fishing. There was precious little moisture, but the Rio Grande was close by for irrigation, and the altitude kept the temperature pleasantly cool.

There were large Kiva's--like the club in Great Britain I imagine--and the men sat around spinning and weaving all the cloth--unlike the men at the clubs in Great Britain I imagine. 

Turtle and I took the usual hike around the museum grounds and I took pictures. I thought they had a unique way to keep people on the hiking trails. If you read the sign you'll see what I mean.

Another Coronado place we visited was a village called Puerta De Luna, because Coronado and his men watched the moon come up nightly through a cleft in the mountain there.

They also stayed long enough to build a crude bridge across the Pecos River. There's a much nicer one today, with public access for fishing and a lot of trout--despite the ongoing drought. The water was clear enough to watch them swim right up to the fly on the end of Turtle's fishing pole, sniff at it, and rapidly head upstream for something tastier.


We wandered around the village and took pictures of this little chapel, and the church that replaced it over a century ago.


The ground was bare and dry, but occasionally cactus flowers and jeweled weeds sparkled in the sand.

Birds were plentiful--large birds, pipers, buzzards, and hawks, and the cliffs in the distance made the place beautiful despite the lack of greenery.

That wasn't enough for Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, evidently. He had one thing on his mind-- the seven golden cities of Cibola and how to find them, since nobody had given him a map with X marking the spot.

Wearily, he ordered his men to take up their goods and follow him to fabled treasures beyond the desert mountains.

For an explorer who never accomplished his goal, he certainly got a lot of mentions.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Land of Adobe Enchantment

Neither Turtle nor I had ever been to Santa Fe, the capitol of New Mexico and an old Spanish settlement in the "New World". So it was with high-altitude anticipation that we drove up onto that fluted pie-plate in the sky.
It was an amazingly flat stretch of bare desert, with jagged tips of mountain poking their way up at the outer edges. The land had been suffering drought conditions for several years now, so there was very little green.
The downtown area was delightful for tourists:--lots of ornate buildings, like this old theater.
Art galleries abounded. Who needs an art museum when the shops are so amazing!  These warrior sculptures were made entirely of leather.
And these busts were typical of the storefront window displays. Statues, paintings, jewelry, pottery, geckos, geese, and gardenias.

Even outside the buildings, art abounded. . . or graffiti. Or both, depending on your point of view.
Old sidewalks led under shade trees, and the adobe benches were inviting. Even though the sun was shining and temperatures were in the low eighties, it was cool in the shadows under the continuous breeze.
Everywhere we looked, we saw adobe.              (We surmised they must have a building code that says: If it isn't adobe, at least it has to look like it.) Gas stations, fast food chains, motels--even Walmart--were all wearing adobe.

This old church caught my eye at once. I love  stained glass, round windows and square towers.
An official building seemed to be the only one allowed to irrigate the lawn. People strolled and lolled about on it, as if it were a public park. Maybe it was.
This lot at the edge of a busy uptown street was full of columns. I guess one could buy them to enhance a garden or front entrance. It just looked whimsical to me to see so many gated entrances to nothing.

Here are a few more examples of the ubiquitous adobe. Flat roofs are common, like they seem to be everywhere there is little rain.
This is actually the facade of the Santa Fe Art Museum. We didn't explore this one, as we had already been through the historical museum around the corner and a multitude of hopeful little shops in hidden crannies, some with fountains in the sunlit courtyards.            
On the outskirts of the city, I felt a sense of endless space. The sky was huge above me. Large black buzzards swooped in open blue sky, and there were crunches and rustles under my footsteps when I ventured out to snap a picture. These two were taken next to a Wal-mart parking lot.

Occasionally, a tumble weed loosed it's gnarled grip on the gravel and took off across the landscape, seeking a ravine or a moist crevice where it could settle in for the long, hot summer.
The highways south were strewn with abandoned adobe houses, evidence to resilience in an arid environment.

A few trees managed to survive on the plain and climb the sides of mountains, persisting to the very summits. This was the view along the interstate--all the way to Albuquerque. Flat clouds in a beautiful blue sky cover.

 Turtle and I rode serenely along. We had been to Santa Fe and found it worth the visit.