Sunday, September 28, 2014

Restaurants, Galleries & Adobe

September 28, 2014
Roadrunner RV Park
Pojoaque, New Mexico

Sante Fe is a nice town, but just a little too touristy for me. Building codes demand that any new building be adobe style.  The locals refer to this as "Santa Fake" since everything appears to be much older than it is.  Surrounding the main plaza are restaurants, galleries and shops.  Most of the museums are farther out from town on Museum Hill.

New Mexico has a very unusual capital.  It is stuccoed in the adobe style and has a flat roof like all the other buildings.

Inside it is quite pretty.

This is the stained glass roof in the center of the building.

Outdoor sculpture on Museum Hill.

Several dozen of these fish were sticking out of the sand.

Ladders, Trails & Radioactivity

September 27, 2014
Roadrunner RV Park
Pojoaque, New Mexico

We are staying a couple of miles north of Santa Fe, NM for about a week until we leave for the Albuquerque Balloon Fest.

Santa Fe is a nice town, but there are too many tourist for my tastes.  Some of the locals call it "Santa Fake" because all of the buildings are constructed to look like they are several hundreds of years old.

We have been taking day trips seeing the surrounding area.  On our way to Los Alamos area our first stop was the Bandelier National Monument.  Visitors are only allowed to access the site via a shuttle bus. It was about an half hour ride to Frijoles Canyon, home of the Ancestral Pueblo people ("Anasazi" is now considered politically incorrect).  Numerous structures are still standing against the canyon walls with trails along the canyon floor linking the sites together. 

There was a very bad flash flood last year, but this year has been dry.

We weren't sure of the meaning of this sign since it was about 65 - 70 at the time.

It turned out to be a lot further across the canyon floor than we originally thought.

Dave's best side.

It was kind of spooky being inside these structures.  I don't think I would want to spend the night here.

When we finished the main trail we were still feeling adventurous so we started on the extra one mile hike to Alcove House.

We were a little surprised when we walked out of the woods to find that Alcove House wasn't on the canyon floor, but up a very steep area accessible by small steps and four long ladders.  I couldn't get it all in one photo.

Dave had been having trouble with some of the shorter ladders earlier.  His hand doesn't grip very well since his heart surgery.  He decided to sit this one out so I proceeded on my own.

This is a photo of the kiva at the top to prove that I made it all the way.

If you look closely at the red spot at the base of the center tree, you can see the wimp that sat on a log and waited for me to return.

After that big adventure, we visited the science museum in Los Alamos to learn out the laboratories built during WW II.  The area must be safe because we didn't glow in the dark when we got home.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sand, Wind & Rain

September 22, 2014
Alamosa KOA
Alamosa, Colorado

The weather didn't look too promising today but we managed to miss most of the rain as we drove to Alamosa - just a few sprinkles as we went over the pass.We decided to spend the night here use the afternoon to explore Great Sand Dunes National Park.

The sun was peeking through the clouds so we hoped that meant the showers were over.

It was quite a sight.  It's hard to comprehend that all this sand is right up against the mountains.

We made it up the smaller dunes and then the sky suddenly changed.  Note those dark clouds behind Dave.

We are both in such splendid shape that it must have been all that loose sand that made climbing so difficult.  We were thankful that the impending storm saved us from having to make the climb all the way to the top.  We made a mad dash back to the truck and just made it before the sky opened up.

Earlier, before we started climbing the dunes, we took a short hike.  We met a couple on the trail from Rochester, MN.  He worked at IBM and she taught at Mayo High School.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chili, Castles, Gorge & Cons

September 21, 2014
South Pueblo KOA
Colorado City, Colorado

After we checking in on Friday, we headed to Pueblo for the Chile and Frijoles Festival. Everyone around here must eat a lot of these peppers because they brought them in by the truck-full.

The peppers were put into round wire baskets on a spit.  A very large burner roasted the peppers while a worker turned the basket so the tumbling peppers roasted evenly.

It had been a long time since we were in the city so Pueblo's Riverwalk came as a pleasant surprise.

One end of the Riverwalk formed a large lake with these whimsical  paddle boats for rent.  We enjoyed dinner at the festival but needed about a gallon of water each to cool our throats down.  Obviously, the word "mild" has different meanings in different locales.

Back at the campground, we got drafted to help crew a hot air balloon event over the weekend.  Saturday we were up before dawn to meet at the launch site.  Unfortunately a last minute weather forecast of rising winds cancelled the event.  It would have been nice to sleep later but we enjoyed the time and met a lot of interesting people.

With our balloon duties dismissed, we took time to drive up in the mountains for the day.  It was a beautiful day and the aspen trees had started to turn.

It's difficult to describe Bishop Castle.  It was built by one man, Jim Bishop, in his spare time.  Some of the towers are over 80 feet high.  The iron walkways stick out the sides of the buildings and railings were not mandatory.

The iron structures at the top lead to lookouts and walkways between the towers.

This dragon's head was an extension of the roof of the main room.  A old discarded hot air balloon burner in its throat provided fiery breath on command.

I was shaking a bit coming down the stairs.  I don't think this place was approved by OSHA.

We were close to Canon City, so we decided to check out the Royal Gorge Bridge before we went back.  Last year a fast moving forest fire engulfed the area and all the buildings burnt to the ground.  Planks on the bridge were scorched but otherwise the bridge remained intake.  A new visitor center has been built and other structures will be completed by next year.

The Arkansas River is about 1000 feet below the bridge.  The train tracks follow the river.

An adventurous group was rafting on the river while we were walking across the bridge.

Canon City's largest employer has always been the prison system.  The old territorial prison contained a museum of its questionable history.

Dave must be gaining weight.  Did you notice how all of him did not fit behind the fashionable prison stripes?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kivas & Forts

September 18, 2014
La Junta KOA
La Junta, Colorado

Yesterday Dave wanted to relive some of his younger years so we stayed in La Junta a couple days.  In 1956 he stopped over here while on a Boy Scout trip from Delaware to New Mexico.

We visited the Koshare Indian Museum where his group spent the night in the kiva.  This large circular room is about 60 feet across with a self supporting roof made from 620 white pine logs. 

Dave thought it didn't look as big as he remembered, but it might be that he was smaller in those days.

Today we went to the nearby Bent's Old Fort.  It was a sunny day but warm with temps near 90.  It's a fairly long walk from the parking lot to the actual fort.

This adobe structure was built in 1833.  I imagine the site of it was more welcome than a Holiday Inn for the early travelers and traders on the Sante Fe Trail.

This photo was taken from the second story looking into the courtyard.  The machine in the center is a fur compress used to compress the buffalo hides into bundles for transport east.

 Notice the shape in the middle of the main gate under the flag.  A horse wandered in to stand in the shade.  When we were ready to leave, we had to move him out of the way to get through the doorway.  It must have been his private space.