15 October 2010

Ancient faces

We left Flagstaff this morning just as the morning rush was ending and made good time on I-40. Truck traffic going east has been heavy so far. The trucks were sort of obnoxious at times, a couple of drivers running side-by-side, their speed dropping slowly but steadily over the miles, trapping traffic behind them. There was nothing to do about it, but try not to be irritated (yeah, right) and try even harder not to make any mistakes as the situation grew dicier.

For most part, though, it was a pretty day. I must say, too, that the train traffic more than made up for odious truckers. Since catching myself actually counting the cars of mile-and-a-half long trains and making myself stop it on the trip out, I contented myself with simply counting the trains themselves. Today's total? A whopping 16! Each of them very long with multiple engines at each end.

We arrived in Albuquerque late enough to check in to our hotel immediately. We have a room with a view of the Sandia Mountains. So very lovely.  The hotel is also close to the Petroglyph National Monument, our reason for the stop in Albuquerque, although a couple days earlier than planned. 

It was too late in the day to go to the visitor center and also to have time to take in any of the three major petroglyph sites, so we opted to walk in Rinconada Canyon, a 2.5 mile circuit along the base of the West Mesa escarpment of basalt boulders.  The petroglyphs were fascinating, maybe not as old as those at Capital Reef, but closer and easier to see.  And, these petroglyphs illustrate a continuity of culture which I found very interesting, as they were made not only by the ancestors of today's Native Americans, but by Hispanic clergy and sheep herders of the 1600s, as well as explorers moving through during the 1800s, and even modern-day graffiti artists.  This locale has been well-travelled over the centuries.
This is the view from the trail in Rinconada Canyon, looking east toward the parking lot and Albuquerque in the distance.  The petroglyphs are on the escarpment to the left.

Sadly, there are some who cannot leave
well-enough alone, bearing arms without
anything better to do than blow the surface
of the basalt and the art on it to bits.
We had an early -- and delicious -- supper across the street from the hotel at the Pueblo Harvest Cafe, part of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.  The dining space was breath-taking and the service superb.  Tal had blue corn encrusted chicken and it was my last chance for one more Navajo taco.  Oh, yum!

We're planning to head for home in a serious way in the morning.  Today has been a sweet and fulfilling culmination of a season of memorable travels. 

No comments: