Exploring Acoma Sky City

Day 26: Saturday, May 25, 2013
Visited: Acoma Pueblo (Sky City)
Miles Driven Today: 178
Total Miles: 3,766

Today’s adventure took us to Acoma Sky City (thanks to Ken and to Pat for the suggestion!) We got up early this morning (6 a.m.), got the girls ready and took them to the Academy Kennel just a half mile from the hotel. We boarded them for the day (it cost a whopping $20…thanks!) and we were off. We weren’t sure how long it would take to get to Acoma or how long we’d be there, so we decided to get an early start.

As we drove on I-40, the landscape was beautiful, but severe. Dry mesas seemed sad and unforgiving in the 90-degree heat. There were a few towns along the way–mostly marked by truck stops and casinos. We took our exit and then drove the 15 miles to Sky City.

Today's open road

Today’s open road–on the way to Acoma Sky City

As we neared the Acoma Sky City, the landscape changed. Tall mesas, incredible rock formations, a valley full of trees and another breathtaking vista greeted us. We stopped at a scenic lookout and chatted with one of the community members about the valley. He had some pottery on sale, and we bought a piece–another hummingbird for our collection.

Acoma panorama

Panoramic view of Acoma (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Rock formations Acoma

Rock formations as we approached Acoma

We reached the visitor center and were immediately whisked off on the next tour. The visit to Acoma is an hour-long guided tour. The gal giving the tour was great, and the history was very interesting. This is a living community; with no running water and no electricity (except for a few generators) it’s a hard place to live. But it’s clear that the community is still active.

The views from the Sky City were amazing. But prior to the road being built, the only way to the Acoma Sky City were up some sandstone staircases. Imagine having to haul food and water up this huge bluff! Is the view worth it? Hmm…

Panoramic view from Acoma

Panoramic view from Acoma (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Million dollar view Acoma

Million dollar view at Acoma

Mesa View

View of a Mesa from Acoma

They don’t know how old the adobe buildings are in the Pueblo since there is no written history of the people–only oral histories. But the community is active, and these homes are handed down from mother to youngest daughter. The Acoma are a matriarchal people.

Adobe in Acoma

Adobe in Acoma

Adobes Acoma Pueblo

Adobes in Acoma Pueblo – No running water, electricity

All along the tour, there were vendors selling their acclaimed Acoma pottery. Many were handmade pots decorated in their unique style, while others were decorated bisqueware. Both were beautiful and affordable. Many people in the group went home with trinkets.

Acoma Pottery

Beautiful Acoma Pottery

After the tour, we were taken back to the visitor’s center (you had the option of climbing down a sandstone staircase, but I opted out). For Memorial Day weekend, there were native dancers (someone mentioned Zuni) demonstrating their dances. We stayed for a couple, toured the museum and decided to depart.

Dance Demo

Dance Demo

Tom was hungry, so we stopped at the local Casino and tried their brunch buffet. Mistake. But at least they had fresh veggies and fruit on the salad bar!

On the way to pick up the pups, we stopped at a local Quilt Shop. Yes, this is getting to be a ‘thing’ for me! However, this place was SO fun! Hip Stitch is a little quilt/fabric shop near I-25, just a few miles from our hotel. The gals who own the place are really welcoming and fun! They obviously love what they do and love to share their enthusiasm. They have an awesome ‘hangout’ room in the back where you can come and work on your projects. They even have sewing machines that you can use!!! I picked up some fabric and notions for a ‘road’ project that I’m going to start. But the best part was making new friends. They want to start art swaps with people. Are you game? If so, let them know!

With the Hip Stitch Gals

With the Hip Stitch Gals! What a great, fun store!

Tonight’s dinner was at County Line BBQ. County Line was one of my favorite places when I used to visit Austin on business, and it just so happens that they have a restaurant in Albuquerque! I found them on Yelp, and both Tom and I were SO happy! Of course, we ate way too much, but the food was so good! Tom really couldn’t contain himself.

County Line BBQ

County Line BBQ – Three meat platter with okra. Baby back ribs, brisket, smoked pepper turkey. YUM!

County Line BBQ

County Line BBQ – Tom’s 5 Meat platter, not including sides!

Happy Tom

Happy Tom, master rib eater!

Tomorrow’s agenda includes the Petroglyph National Monument and some down time. We have a long travel day on Monday, so we’re going to chill tomorrow. As you can see, Jasmine has recovered from the kennel ordeal. Both dogs were happy to see us, but it was nice to know that they were well taken care of while we were gone.

Jasmine recovers from her ordeal

Jasmine recovers from her ordeal

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Albuquerque Day Into Night

Day 25: Friday, May 24, 2013
Visited: Albuquerque

Today was a sight-seeing day as well as a night out for us. We have been spending so many days out sightseeing and driving that we haven’t done much in the evenings. In fact, we haven’t watched a single sunset since we started this journey. Tonight, we decided to remedy that situation!

We started the day (late) in Old Town. Peppered with galleries, boutiques and souvenir shops, Old Town is a quaint historical district with a huge plaza, church and stores galore. It was a hot and dry day, and we spent much of it in the sun. The pups were in their stroller, once again eliciting interest and chuckles as we walked along the busy streets.

We had lunch at the Back Street Grill, a tiny little restaurant (a little more than a stand) in one of the back alleys around Old Town. The food was fabulous–Mexican Pizza, Pork Tacos with mango puree and Mole sauce and fresh and zesty salsa and guacamole. Fabulous! Unfortunately, all I remembered to take pictures of this morning was a tub of turtles next to the Rattlesnake museum, the dogs and our lunch. 🙂

Mexican Pizza at Back Street Grill

Mexican Pizza at the Back Street Grill. Delicious!

Tortoises

Tortoises. Nuff said.

Flirty dogs

Jasmine and Juliet were especially flirty today. Even Jasmine, who is usually shy, came out of her shell to look around!

We spent a good part of the day in Old Town and then went back to the hotel to take care of the dogs and get ready for dinner. (I did find time to shoot down to the local scrapbook store and take a look! :-))

I made reservations at the High Finance restaurant at the top of Sandia Peak. We drove over to the base of the mountain, passing the Sandia Casino on the way. We first had a quick drink at the Mexican restaurant at the base (yummy Coconut Margarita) and then took the tram up to the top. Even though the day was hazy, it was a dramatic and breathtaking view. I didn’t feel nervous…being enclosed in the gondola was fine. But it was a 2.7 mile trek up to the summit–a whopping10,387 feet! We got to the top and took in the view. It was about 60 degrees up top, while at the base it was still in the high 80’s!

Sandia Peak Tram

Sandia Peak Tram

Going up!

Going up!

Happy couple!

Happy couple!

Sandia Peak Panoramic View

Sandia Peak Panoramic View (CLICK TO VIEW LARGE VERSION)

We got to the restaurant, and after a hassle about our reservation (GRRR), we were seated a few minutes later. The food was okay, but the view was fabulous. Let’s face it…people don’t come to the restaurant for the cuisine. The Green Chile Beef Stew (soup) was pretty good.

High Finance Green Chile Beef Stew

High Finance Restaurant Green Chile Beef Stew

We watched a spectacular sunset and then headed down the tram to the base. It was getting dark, and we once again had a breathtaking view–this time of the twinkling lights of Albuquerque below.

Glorious Sunset at Sandia Peak

Glorious Sunset at Sandia Peak

Albuquerque at night

Albuquerque at night

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Sandia Casino. One foot into the front door and we were hit with the heavy smoke. Ick. The casino was bustling with people and was mostly comprised of penny slots. But given that a max bet is generally a dollar or more…it’s not really ‘penny’ slots! We stayed a few minutes (aka $40) and went back to the hotel.

Tomorrow, we’re kenneling the dogs and heading to Acoma Pueblo. They have a craft fair and native dancing for the Memorial Day weekend; we’re really looking forward to experiencing this pueblo!

Bandelier National Monument and the Road to Albuquerque

Day 24: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Start: Taos, NM
End: Albuquerque, NM
Miles Driven Today: 183
Total Miles: 3,539

We left Taos today after a great few days. Taos itself has a bit of small town charm, but we really loved its proximity to some beautiful country.

Today's open road

Today’s open road on the way to Bandelier National Monument. Stunning vistas and sky!

ET Phone Home!

ET Phone Home! Dishes at Los Alamos.

We had originally planned to visit Bandelier National Monument yesterday, but since it was about half-way to Albuquerque, we decided instead to visit on our way. It was a smart choice! Luckily, the weather (and a shady parking lot) allowed us to keep the pups in the car while we were hiking the main trail at Bandelier; otherwise, we would have had to take turns walking the trail and, as Tom put it, they would have had to send a search party for me after I froze in terror on the way down. Hey, I can’t even climb a ladder without getting dizzy.

We snaked through some pretty country before arriving at Bandelier. We were also fortunate to get here before Memorial Day Weekend. Tomorrow, they stop allowing people to park on the property; instead, visitors must park at the closest town (White Rock) and shuttle into the park. Of course, dogs aren’t allowed on the shuttle. Our timing couldn’t be better!

Arriving at Bandelier National Monument

Arriving at Bandelier National Monument

Before we arrived at the Visitor’s Center, we stopped at a scenic overlook. It was deserted. But in mere minutes, there was a sudden horde of people at the edge of the bluff! We’re such leaders!

Scenic overlook at Bandelier

Scenic overlook at Bandelier. (CLICK FOR LARGER PIC) When we pulled up, this vista was deserted. In less than five minutes, about 15 people followed us in. Lemmings!

The trail started with a Kiva and the ruins of the Tyuonyi pueblo. The canyon itself is Frijoles Canyon, and were populated with Ancestral Pueblo people (once identified as Anasazi, which is now an outdated term).

Frijoles Canyon

Frijoles Canyon

View of the pueblo ruins

View of the pueblo ruins

The trail then wound up to the cave dwellings. The Ancient Pueblo people were on average 5′ to 5’6″…still large for the size of these caves. The people also built dwellings on the outside of the caves…often several stories tall. This was a fascinating place and well worth the visit! On the way up, the rock formations were fascinating and really beautiful.

Beauty in the rocks

Beauty in the rocks

Oooh! Scary caves!

Oooh! Scary caves!

We also loved the view from the caves down on the valley. However, I was getting a bit dizzy. I have no idea how these people scaled these walls, dug these caves and made a home in the side of a canyon!

View from Frijoles Canyon

Panoramic view from Frijoles Canyon cliffs. (CLICK FOR LARGER PIC)

Tom climbed up a wooden ladder to look into the cavate (official for cave room). He wanted to take a picture inside. This is the result.

Technical difficulties

Tom had, um, ‘technical difficulties’ when taking a picture of the cave rooms. Hahahahaha!

After we left Bandelier, we drove back through Santa Fe and onto the Turquoise Trail. Going through Santa Fe’s business district was a reminder of how lucky we’ve been with our open roads and lack of traffic. It was a bit of a rude awakening, and we were glad to hit the Turquoise Trail. We stopped briefly in Madrid, but we found parking to be sparse, and it was then too hot to leave the pups in the car.

We motored on to Albuquerque and arrived at our hotel. We’re now chillaxin’ in the room. The pups are totally exhausted from their hard day of riding in the car. Strangely enough, the wind started whipping us around when we got here, including pelting us with sand and rock. Welcome to Albuquerque!

Jasmine and Juliet

Jasmine and Juliet love the Drury. The paparazzi…not so much.

Jasmine and Juliet

Oh, riding in the car is SO exhausting!

Tomorrow, we’re going to explore Albuquerque and then have dinner at the High Finance restaurant at the top of Sandia Peak. We’re going to dine and then watch the sunset. Even in all the beautiful country that we’ve toured, we haven’t spent a lot of time out at night. This should be a lovely view. Saturday, we plan on going to Acoma, and Sunday we plan on visiting a few more sights as well as checking out the Art & Wine festival in town. It should be a nice weekend!