Monday, December 8, 2008

Corners of four states

October 19th, 2008
Farmington, NM to Monument Valley, UT

Clear and cool
175.1 miles

Very pretty drive today. A real switch – the roads improved entering Arizona!

There has been lots of turmoil in the geological life of this land – gorgeous!

Had to make the short side trip to the Four Corners Monument, where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. Played tourist and put a foot or hand in all four states at one time! Silly, but fun!

Red Mesa surprised me with it’s very nice lands and housing developments.

Then the road curls up just crossing into Utah and enters the Monument Valley area.

Oh my gawd, this area is even more spectacular in person than on the big screen. Because of course you know that several hundred movies have used this location as the backdrop for the shoot – be it in westerns with John Wayne, cartoons such as Chip n' Dale's Rescue Rangers or science fiction movies such as Back to the Future III; television appearances as in MacGyver; and video games such as the Playstation 3 video game Motorstorm.

Monument Valley is located on the southern border of Utah with northern Arizona near the Four Corners area, within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation.

The Navajo name for the valley is Tsé Bii' Ndzisgaii meaning Valley of the Rocks. The land is holy to the Navajo, and you can feel it.

The drive in was gorgeous, but nothing compared to the late afternoon tour I took with a native guide for sunset colors - it was just awesome! I took over 750 pictures – that was overkill, certainly, but the bouncing of the little open bus made picture taking a challenge, and I wanted to be sure I took some good shots.

It’s tough to take a bad shot in that magnificent country, so I’ll just throw a few in here to whet your appetite!

This is definitely a worthwhile stop on your future travels!!!

Goulding's Monument Valley Campground
Box 360001
Monument Valley, UT 84536

more rain on the road

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
Albuquerque to Farmington, New Mexico

188.2 miles

Took Sooz to the airport, then I headed northeast to Farmington, New Mexico for an FMCA RV Rally (Family Motor Coach Assn) – first rally I’ve attended. Probably the last too, but I’m glad I went.

I criss-crossed the Rio Grande a couple times, and crossed over a couple native reservations. The open countryside was beautiful – the Ojita Wilderness – the Zia and Jemez tribal lands.

The colors and textures on the land were wonderful, then over another hill and it was all gone. Up into wet clouds with more rain, and the Holy Ghost Recreation Area. Many signs for Bob’s French Navajo Rugs. Huh?? Edged along the edge of the Sante Fe National Forest, and passed thru Cuba, where someone was advertising chain saw tune-ups, into the lands of the Jicarilla Apache Indians.

Passed over the Continental Divide at 7,380’ and saw signs about Aztec Ruins. There was one lone oil bird (oil derrick) that looked like it hadn’t been working in a long long time. Then more and more and more oil birds – fields full of them…some pumping, some capped off…on the high plateau 20 or so miles out of Farmington. Saw one big billboard advertising for “everyday heroes” – oil field workers!

Learned later that there are something like 20,000 working oil wells in San Juan County! Good farm/ranch land and it grows oil too – what more could you want?!

The RV Rally (Black Tie and Blue Jeans!!) lasted four days – lots of vendors peddling their wares, several new RVs to drool over, classes and videos and card games and parties – fun to be had by all, if that’s your cup of tea! They even held a dog show, but when I took Misha, she was a little intimidated by all the dogs and people and action, so we left early. She was definitely the cutest doggie there, but we didn’t get to prove it.

I did get my oil changed while there, and a chip in my windshield fixed, so the rally wasn’t a total waste! 

I made a short side trip to the Aztec Ruins National Monument. 

This is a settlement planned and built over two centuries by the ancestral Pueblo people, with a Great Kiva and at least 400 rooms in structures rising to three stories! Vast deposits of well preserved artifacts have been found, and as so often happens, many rooms were broken into and whatever material might have been there is lost to us. 

In 1916, the American Museum of natural History began sponsoring excavations, and seven years later, the West Ruin became a National Monument. It’s a fascinating site! The tiny town of Aztec, just outside Farmington, is the extended community of the original Aztec Ruins site, and is a native area. There is one block of restored old buildings in this working man’s town that equals that of any big city.

25th Rocky Mountain Ramble
San Juan County Fairgrounds
McGee Park
Farmington, NM 

Tram ride

Monday, October 13th, 2008


The last night in town, Suzie and I took the “world’s longest aerial tramway” two miles up Sandia Peak for sunset over Albuquerque, and an exquisite dinner at the High Finance Restaurant . . . chilly at the top, but the views and the fine dining made it all worthwhile!

Ride to the top with me!

Back to the balloons!! and onward!

OK, time to try to get caught up. Back to the balloons!

This’ll be mostly pictures, for a couple reasons. Way too much time has passed for chat (that translates as in ‘for me to remember’), and besides, the pictures are more interesting!

The weather was pretty much awful for the entire Fiesta – most of the events were cancelled because of high winds and/or rain.

You may have heard that one balloon burned – tragic accident where one life was lost.

Apparently there is conversation every year about having the annual Fiesta a couple weeks earlier, thereby avoiding the inevitable bad weather, but for some reason they haven’t done it yet!

We did go to a couple events – two evenings in the VIP Gondola Club and a morning breakfast there too for the last final ascension – pretty much all rained out.

The first night show we attended – this one was a bit of a rip-off. The Gondola Club knew that show was cancelled and the fireworks were also cancelled, but they managed not to tell us until it was too late for us to get a raincheck. The dinner was OK, but it was so cold and wet that it wasn’t much fun at all. Sorry, I know I mentioned that earlier – still rankles.

The weather wasn’t much better for our second night show, but at least some balloons showed up and filled, so the show was colorful, and we enjoyed that! Dinner that night was a little better too!

The final morning, we went again to The Gondola Club for the final mass ascension. Unfortunately, the weather was again vile, so there was no launch.

We did get to see the nightly fireworks on the second evening we were at The Gondola Club. At least the weather didn't stop that show, and it was great. I'm a sucker for fireworks - I could watch every night!

Don’t take it that we didn’t have a good time. Weather aside, we had a grand time. We took a gorgeous drive up to Santa Fe one day, and there was a carnival atmosphere in town that day.

Lots of buildings had their "art" displayed on their walls!

The sun was shining and people were laughing and we had a ball. I love old Santa Fe town – art and history and little boutique shops - it was Suzie’s first visit, and I suspect she’ll drop in again!

All in all, it was a delightful two weeks. I was disappointed, of course, with the weather and resulting lack of balloons, but Suzie and I have fun whenever she joins me on the road! Having friends to share an adventure make life fine!! What we saw was heavenly!

The Animal Rescue Site
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