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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Santa Fe Art Day

Day 19: Saturday, May 18, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
No travel today!

Today was the first day in weeks that we haven’t packed up and moved on. We’re spending a couple of days in Santa Fe, seeing the sights, eating way too much food, and just enjoying ourselves. Like we haven’t been doing that all along the way…

Our plans today were focused around the museums and galleries in Santa Fe. Our hotel is full of local art, and this is the first item that I really liked–a display of Kachina dolls.

Kachinas

Start of our art day–Kachinas at our hotel

However, before we started our gallery tour, we had to have sustinance. Our pet sitter showed up a little before 10 a.m., and we were soon seated at our restaurant of choice–Tia Sophia’s. Tom chowed on the daily special–a chorizo and potato burrito, covered with a green chile sauce. I had the green chile stew and some eggs. I do have to say that Tom’s meal was exceptionally good; mine was less so. The green chile stew at the Blue Corn Cafe kicked butt. This one, not so much. Sorry, but we ate so fast that I didn’t get photos! 🙂

After breakfast, we headed to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. It was museum day there, and we were given a package of post cards of her home in Abiquiu as a special gift. Sweet! I had been expecting skulls and flowers; I was surprised to find out and see that O’Keeffe’s first love was abstract art. We watched a fascinating biography of her life and viewed her artwork. While the exhibit and the museum was much smaller than I expected, it was still quite special.

Georgia O'Keeffe Quote

Trees: Georgia O’Keeffe Quote

O'Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico

O’Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico: “Her” Mountain

O'Keeffe Skull

O’Keeffe Skull–one of only two skull paintings at the museum

O'Keefe Kachina

O’Keefe Kachina

O'Keeffe Kachina

Another O’Keeffe Kachina. I see such personality in these!

Portrait of O'Keeffe

Portrait of O’Keeffe by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, gallery owner and photographer

After the O’Keeffe Museum, we headed to the Santa Fe Museum of Art. There, they had an exhibit of New Mexico art from ancient times to today. They considered the arrow heads part of the artistic landscape; they required significant skill to make. This Kachina was my favorite piece of art…again, the personality of the Kachina spoke to me! They also had a very odd video art exhibit; it was…unique.

My favorite Kachina

My favorite Kachina. Isn’t it great??!!

The museum was housed in a fabulous building. The entrance to the exhibits were through a lovely courtyard with this fountain:

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

It was a very beautiful and temperate day in Santa Fe. Reaching a high of only about 70 degrees, it was mostly sunny. We did some people watching in the central Plaza. It was a beautiful Saturday, and there were many local artisans with booths all over the Old Town area. It really was an ‘art’ day!

Beautiful Santa Fe Plaza

Beautiful day at the Plaza

People watching

Great people-watching day!

One of the other things I was really excited about was visiting a bona-fide Rubber Stamp store! Rubber Stamp Art has really died down, mostly due to the use of digital art and the focus on scrapbooking that the craft industry took in the last decade. But there it was–Guadalupe’s Fun Rubber Stamps on Don Gaspar Avenue!

Guadalupe's Fun Rubber Stamps Santa Fe

WHOOP! Rubber Stamp Store!

I had a great chat with the gal at the store, Lea Daugherty. Of course, I couldn’t leave without some stamps to play with!

On our way back to the hotel, we encountered a great little band of street musicians. Alas, we couldn’t stay long because we had to get back to the room to rescue the pups from the DOG SITTER!

Street Music

Street music at Burro Alley

 
Yes, we hired a dog-sitter. We were going to be out all day and we didn’t want the pups to suffer. We found a pet sitter service that came out to the hotel and stayed with the dogs, took them out for walks, etc. It was worth the money for the peace of mind!

Pre-dog sitting

Our sweet cherubs (pre-dog sitting!)

Tomorrow, we’re going to do some more art gallery touring. I have a pampering session booked at the spa in the afternoon. Now that’s what I call a vacation! 🙂

Route 66: Deep in the Texas Panhandle

Day 16: May 15, 2013
Start: Elk City, OK
End: Amarillo, TX
Miles Driven Today: 196 (including in-town miles)
Total Miles: 2,736

We left Oklahoma behind, but not before reminders of its history. Right before the border, we saw this memorial commemorating the rededication of Route 66 in 1952 as the Will Rogers Highway. Nice.

Will Rogers Memorial Highway

Will Rogers Memorial Highway

Texas. We finally made it to Texas.

Texas State Line

Texas State Line

Suddenly, the road and the land got flat. The green rolling prairie turned into sagebrush and wide, flat plains. The Texas Panhandle has been called the place “where the wind pumps the water and the cows chop the wood.” The former refers to the abundance of windmills, and latter refers to cow patties…and how they used to be used for fuel. Charming!

But perhaps cow patties would be preferable to what is considered snack food here. This tasty morsel was found at the Dollar General (el cheapo stuff) store. We had seen the Dollar Generals all over the area, so we decided to stop to get some spray paint (explanation later). This was on the snack shelf at the check-out.

Texas Snackin'

Texas snackin! Mmmmm…mmmmm…good? Marty Watts, this one’s for you!

We reached McLean, Texas, and stopped at the Devil’s Rope/Old Route 66 Museum. Tom wasn’t thrilled about stopping, but I wanted to peruse the gift shop. Inside was a fascinating account of the Dust Bowl and a Barbed Wire museum. While I wasn’t quite interested in the history of barbed wire, I was fascinated by the barbed wire art! Whowouldvethunk?

Jackrabbit Barbed Wire Art

Jackrabbit Barbed Wire Art

Tree and Swing

Tree and Tire Swing barbed wire art. I love the wind-blown tree.

Barbed wire cowboy hat

Barbed wire cowboy hat. Wouldn’t wear it, but…

Giant Cobra

Giant cobra. I have no idea what significance this has, but it’s kind of cool.

I’m glad we stopped. I saw something original and beautiful made out of something as mundane as barbed wire. That’s what I love about this trip. While the big things are (and will be) great, the little things fill us with wonder and joy. This is what we wanted to see and experience.

The next stop after McLean was at the Bug Ranch in Conway. Created as a parody of the Cadillac Ranch (an outdoor piece of artwork featuring 10 Cadillacs planted nose-down in the ground), the Bug Ranch features the hulls of half a dozen Volkswagen Beetles. We took our Dollar General spray paint and left our mark.

Tom Inspects Bug Ranch

Tom inspects the art at Bug Ranch

We left our mark at Bug Ranch

We left our mark at Bug Ranch

We motored on, mainly driving on frontage roads next to I-40. The old Portland cement roads peeked in at various stretches, giving us that satisfying whomp-whomp as we watched the plains roll by.

Today's Open Road

Today’s open road.

We reached Amarillo and took the Historic Route 66 path through town. The long path wound around the industrial part of the city…not particularly attractive. We did go through downtown as well as the SW 6th Street Antique Row district and finally reached our hotel. We got settled and then headed for our feast–a steak dinner at The Big Texan.

The BIG Texan

The Big Texan! YAY!

Mooo!

Mooo! MMMMM! Steak!

The dining room was filled with kitsch, and the place was terribly touristy. But it was FUN. We had a BIG Texan waiter (he looked gigantic) and we ordered our steaks and some cold, frosty beverages.

Kitschy and fun

Main dining room at The Big Texan! Kitschy and fun!

Of course, I couldn’t wait. I had to go see the steaks cooking!

Cookin' the steak

Cookin’ the steak! Can’t wait!

And then…it came!!!! Yes, that’s fried okra on my plate. *LOVE*

My dinner

My dinner…before…

But it didn’t last long.

My dinner after

…and after!

And yes, we did save room for dessert!

Texans really mean BIG

Dessert anyone? Texans really do mean BIG!

We waddled to the big rocker after dinner. As Tom says, “DAMN, that was good!”

BIG Rocker

BIG Rocker. After a meal like that, we needed one!

We had a great day today, and a great dinner tonight. Yes, the Big Texan is touristy. But the steaks were great, the drinks and dessert were both HUGE, and we had a great time! What could be better!

The dogs, however, did NOT get doggie bags. 🙂

Speaking of the dogs, we’ve been seeing real change in Juliet. She’s getting more vocal and bold (and more impish). She’s really coming out of her shell. We were walking into the hotel today, and she BARKED once at the resident dog. We’ve heard her bark maybe a half a dozen times in the last 18 months…this is yet another change for her. Hm…maybe not for the better!! But we have seen her showing more curiosity and less fear as the days have gone on. It’s wonderful to see!

Back seat driver

Juliet, the back seat driver

Tomorrow, we plan on visiting the Cadillac Ranch and heading out for another short drive day to Tucumcari (or, as I keep calling it, Tutankhaman. LOL!

Route 66: Oklahoma City to Elk City, OK

Day 15: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Start: Oklahoma City
End: Elk City, OK
Miles Driven Today: 116
Total Miles: 2,540

The travel today was special. Much of old Route 66–with its concrete roadway–is now covered with asphalt or gone altogether. But certain parts of 66 have the old concrete pavers, with the whomp whomp of the tires across the expansion joints, singing as you drive along. The route between OKC and Elk City was mostly this type of road…a favorite for Route 66 fans.

We drove this road today, mainly as frontage that zig-zagged under, over and next to I-40. But our road was empty, and the pretty green plain flew by just a little slower than going the Interstate.

Right outside of OKC, we encountered our first bridge. It marked the entrance to Lake Overholder and a spectacular neighborhood of tony homes. There was a walking path along the lake…this would be a great place to live in the OKC area!

Lake Overholser bridge

Iron bridge to Lake Overholser

We got out of town and reached the town of El Reno and stopped at Fort Reno. Fort Reno was a remount depot where troops came and exchanged their horses for fresh stock. Troops from the Fort also supervised the first Land Run for settlers and helped the “orderly transition” of Indian Territory to individual farms. The most interesting artifacts were from the last remaining Buffalo Soldier from Oklahoma…he passed away earlier this year and left his memorabilia to the museum.

Fort Reno

Fort Reno

Bridge #2 was a 3/4-mile long Pony Bridge that spanned the South Canadian River near Bridgeport, OK.

Pony Bridge

Cool Pony Bridge

Motoring on, we drove our whomp-whomp road and stopped at the Cherokee Trading Post. While the shop was a bit cheesy, we did get to see a Longhorn steer and a Buffalo in the pen outside. Jasmine and Juliet were not impressed.

Longhorn

Howdy Longhorn!

Buffalo

Baby Buffalo

The rest of the road was peaceful and lovely. We’re getting spoiled with the lack of traffic and the wide expanses of prairie!

Open Road

Today’s open road on the concrete pavers. Whomp Whomp!

We reached Elk City in early afternoon, checked into the hotel and headed for the Route 66 National Museum in downtown Elk City. The museum is a complex of staged vignettes (buildings and scenes) plus museum exhibits. There were four main exhibits–Transportation, Route 66, Old Town and Farm & Ranch. Each of these buildings held artifacts. The Old Town building was fascinating with its collection of Rodeo memorabilia from the Buetler family–Rodeo riders and promoters famous in the area. The statue outside was created to depict one of the more famous riders in a Buetler rodeo.

Rode rider

Rodeo rider statue at the Route 66 National Museum

There were a couple of kachinas outside by artist Wanda Queenan. Kind of cool!

Wanda Queenan Kachina

Wanda Queenan Kachina

Wanda Queenan kachina

Another kachina

Tom particularly liked the Farm exhibit. I wonder why…

Tractor Envy

Tom has tractor envy

The Transportation building had some great vintage cars and motorcycles, including this Indian.

1948 Indian Chief

1948 Indian Chief

We’ve been having some great meals on the road. Yesterday, we had lunch at the Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK. Great fried dill pickles and a really flavorful chicken salad as well as great burgers. Tom’s description of the burger was mmmmmmfrlmmmmmm. 🙂 We met a young bus-boy, Wyatt, who kept us company as we ate and was happy to sign my Route 66 book. This 9-year-old kid was curious, funny and the epitome of the friendly nature of people we’ve met on the road.

Tonight, we had dinner at Prairiefire in Elk City. While it’s seen as a burger joint, they also serve a great assortment of steaks and a really really delicious salmon salad. YUM!

We’re in for the night, enjoying the company of our two travel companions. Of course, they’ve already commandeered the bed.

Bed hogs!

Bed hogs!

We’ve planned a bit out to ensure that we’d have reservations and some of our stops. Tomorrow, we’ll stay in Amarillo, TX. Thursday, we’ll stop in Tucumcari, NM. Friday night through Sunday night, we’ll stay in Santa Fe at a swanky spa hotel. Then we’ll most likely do a side trip to Taos before resuming the Route 66 trek. Stay tuned for more fun Lost in America posts!

Route 66: Joplin, MO to Tulsa, OK

Day 13: Sunday, May 12, 2013
Start: Joplin, MO
End: Tulsa, OK
Miles Driven Today: 166 (including 33 miles in Tulsa)
Total Miles: 2,284

Today was a three-state day. Given that we were only in Missouri for about five minutes after we left the hotel and that Route 66 only traverses 15 miles within Kansas, it wasn’t a great feat. But hey, three states are three states! We started off with our first state-line crossing into Galena, Kansas. We had planned to stop at the “4 Women on The Route” restored O-Tex gas station, but it was closed. Sunday (and Mother’s Day) means empty streets and closed shops and restaurants in these parts!

Welcome to Kansas

Welcome to Kansas

We drove down the road towards Baxter Springs and encountered the Rainbow Curve Bridge. This is the last of three “Marsh Arch” bridges (named for the designer) that were on Route 66 in Kansas.

Rainbow Curve Bridge

Rainbow Curve Bridge near Baxter Springs

Rainbow Curve Bridge Sign

Rainbow Curve Bridge

We really liked the road stamps all across the short stint of Route 66 in Kansas. We saw these everywhere across the 15-ish miles of road across the state.

Route 66 Kansas

Marking the way across Route 66 Kansas

After a few minutes, whoooooosh…we were in Oklahoma!

Into Oklahoma

After a blink of an eye, we were in Oklahoma

We drove through Quawpaw, Commerce, Miami and Narcissa, OK before we made our first stop at the Afton Station and Route 66 Packard Museum in Afton, Oklahoma. Laurel Kane (owner) and Ron (a volunteer) greeted us warmly as we walked into the museum and gift shop. Laurel has acquired and restored quite an impressive collection of Packards (and one odd vehicle). My very favorite was the 1917 Packard Twin Six–what I call the “Original RV.” I also loved the simple but graceful hood ornaments. Laurel had around twenty cars in her collection–all in mint condition! We were encouraged to spend time looking at both garages to view these vintage treasures!

After some time, we went back to chat with Laurel and Ron. She took our picture with the girls, talked about Jay Leno’s interest in her vehicles (she emailed him and invited him to visit when he was touring the area; he received the email too late and called her personally to chat with her about the cars!). It was a worthwhile stop and an incredible collection!

1953 Packard

Afton Station – Route 66 Packards – 1953 Packard

1950 Studebaker

1950 Studebaker – Tom said that his family had one of these when he was growing up!

Hood Ornament

Love the hood ornaments!

Maserati

What’s a Maserati doing here?

1917 Packard Twin Six

1917 Packard Twin Six – The first off the line, according to Laurel! This is the true original RV!

Off we went down the open road, once again enjoying a beautiful day.

Fine day

A fine day

Open Road

Another day across open road. I could get real used to this!

We decided to take a side trip off Route 66 near the town of Foyil to visit the Totm Pole Park, home of the World’s LARGEST Totem Pole. Built by Ed Galloway between 1937 and 1948, Galloway built this and a number of other concrete totems in this little park. The park also houses the 11-sided Fiddle House that once housed over 400 hand-carved violins. A collection of about 100 of them still resides in the museum/gift shop.

Tallest Totem Pole

World’s Largest Totem Pole – Ed Galloway built the totem pole over 11 years (1937-1948). Over 90 feet tall!

Another Ed Galloway Totem

Another Ed Galloway Totem

After we got back on Route 66, we had to stop and visit the Blue Whale. A remnant of an old amusement park, this whale now resides at a pond and is open to the public. When we visited, a couple of families with kids were fishing off the tail of the whale. There were squeals of excitement as one of the little girls caught a fish! Whee! Okay, it was kitschy, but cute.

The Blue Whale Catoosa OK

The Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK

The Blue Whale

Isn’t he cute?

The Catoosa Blue Whale

Tom in the belly of the whale! EEK!

We made it to Tulsa today, We settled into our dog-friendly room at a La Quinta, and then drove around town. We saw Oral Roberts University, more churches than we could count, and had dinner at the traditional Tulsa Vietnamese Pho house. But seriously, we did have dinner at Pho Da Cao (FABULOUS) and then followed that up with frozen custard at Freckles.

Tomorrow, we plan on reaching Oklahoma City and Amarillo, TX the following day. That is, unless we see something/someplace that pushes us in a different direction or makes us want to stay in a different place! That’s how we roll!

Corning Museum and Central PA

Day Two
Start: Corning, NY
End: Duncannon, PA
Miles Driven: 157

Bob

Bob – He doesn’t bite (very often)

What a lovely smile!

Doesn’t Sharon have a lovely smile!

We’re sitting here in Duncannon, PA, sipping cold, frosty beverages and greatly enjoying the hospitality and company of our friends, Bob and Sharon. We met Bob and Sharon a number of years ago during our (then) annual trek to Maui, and got to know them from years of great evening conversations around the stone table, soft breezes fanning the friendship. And here we are in their home, picking up on those conversations again.

We had another great day. We started out at the Corning Museum of Glass. If you thought that Corning was just about Corningware, you are sadly mistaken. From Thomas Edison’s light bulb to the most wonderful art glass, Corning’s history is fascinating, and their collection of glass is beyond imagination. From millefiori canes depicting Egyptian kings to contemporary sculpture, the HUGE collection is magnificent and somewhat overwhelming! We watched the Hot Glass demo (the first vase broke!), the lampwork demo and the Breaking Glass show (HINT: Volunteer to break the glass and get a free figurine–I got a penguin) and went through the galleries. After a few hours, we were glassy-eyed (yeah, a bad pun) and started on our trek down to Duncannon.

Swirly bowl

Swirly bowl

Chihuly Sculpture in the CMOG lobby

Chihuly Sculpture in the CMOG lobby

The drive to Duncannon was pleasant. Route 15 is a four-lane semi-highway (and sometimes local two-lane road) through pretty country. When you think of PA, you think of the urban areas…but the rolling hills and the drive along Susquehanna River made for another pleasant journey. Of course, there were sights that made us both laugh and scratch our heads–the Nipple Convalescent home, the propensity for Adult Bookstores…hmmmm. We did have a great lunch at Fry Bros. Turkey Ranch Restaurant (truck stop decor, the best Turkey Vegetable Soup I’ve had anywhere) in Trout Run, PA, and an even more fabulous dinner thanks to Sharon.

We’re now sitting around the dining room, once again sharing good conversation and laughs. Tomorrow, we are going to visit Amish country and go to a restaurant that serves ham balls. When in Rome…

Another great day in Paradise, USA.

– Margaret

P.S. Any grammatical or spelling errors are directly attributable to the Vodka Cranberry beverages coursing through my bloodstream as I type.

Our Adventure Begins

On The Road

We’re Movin!


Well, we’re on the road! At 9:30 this morning, we finished packing the car and headed for the open road! Our first stop will be Corning, NY. We’ll get to the motel sometime this evening (depending on how much we want to stop, if we see anything fun along the way) and then spend a couple of hours at the Corning Museum of Glass tomorrow morning. If it’s as fascinating as we hope, we’ll probably stop by on the way back. They have hands-on classes (I always wanted to try lampwork) that would be fun!

We’ll leave Corning after lunch and head to PA to visit our friends Bob and Sharon near Harrisburg. We want to visit Amish country and see the sights…and have some time to visit with good friends.

I can’t believe the trip is finally here! Stay tuned for some fun and adventure!

(Posted via my iPad in the car…isn’t technology wonderful?)

– Margaret