Monday, February 15, 2010
Hiking in the Desert, Crossing the Continental Divide and Sleeping with the Stars
"Travel is the frivolous part of serious lives, and the serious part of frivolous ones." -- Anne Sophie Swetchine
Today we hiked at Petroglyphs National Monument in Albuquerque, N.M. We saw hundreds of petroglyphs and also our first sighting of Mountain Bluebirds that differ from the Eastern Bluebirds by having an entirely blue body and not the russet colored breast of the Eastern species. The petroglypghs have been chipped into the black volcanic rock by ancient ancesters of the Indians still living in the area and also by Spanish settlers and early explorers to the area. Unforntunatley some also show signs of modern vandalism and even bullets holes. We had a great time hiking with snow covered mountains in the background and even climbed to the top of one of the old volcanic mountains that surround the canyon. The sun was very intense and after a couple of good hours exploring the area we headed west once more toward Arizonia on I-40. We stopped in Thoreau, N.M. just before the divide because I just had to see the town named after Henry David Thoreau! It was disappointing because there was nothing there, not even a single thing worth taking a picture of. We were hoping for a diner to have lunch in Thoreau. We next crossed the Continental Divide and headed into Gallup, N.M. We had been seeing billboards for 50 miles advertising "The Home of the Stars" El Rancho Hotel built in 1936. It was built by a brother of a Hollywood big shot and was soon a hangout of movie stars of the era filming westerns in the area. We decided to have lunch in the hotel restaurant but as soon as we saw the lobby we knew we had to inquire about spending the night! The lobby was an amazing medley of heavy wood beams, brick and stone with Indian and Spanish artwork and old Hollywood movie stars pictures all over the place. Trophy animal heads adorned the walls around the massive fireplace and an old player piano was going in the lobby. This is truly a unique old building and we just had to stay the night! We were afaid to ask for the rates but found with AAA discount and the off season it was just 80 bucks....so here we are in the Jack Benny Room and feeling like big shots ourselves!
Posted by Steve Chase at 8:53 PM