April 14, 2016


“It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”  Anonymous

Carol writes:  On our initial swing through New Mexico last November, we had spent several days along Route 66 in central New Mexico.  Belatedly, at one of our stops, we had heard very high praise from fellow campers about their visit to a Native American village at Acoma Pueblo.  We made a mental note that on our next pass through New Mexico we would make an effort to head up that way.

This time around we stopped for three days in Albuquerque.  The Old Town section of any city is usually pretty entertaining, so we took an afternoon to see what 300-year-old Albuquerque had to offer.

The shops were colorful,

and the very old adobe church of San Felipe de Neri, anchoring one corner of the city square, was in the classic style of many of the mission churches we have visited this past year.

The next day was another spectacular sunny day… time to get down to the real reason for our stay in Albuquerque—a visit to the highly praised Acoma Pueblo. 


Several natural giant sandstone monoliths dotted the last several miles of the approach along the valley floor.

As we got closer, we were amazed when we realized that the structures atop the largest and most dominant bluff were the pueblo houses of Sky City!

After a short stop in the Cultural Center, we hopped aboard a tour bus for the short ride up to the top of the bluff.

What greeted us atop this 367-ft sandstone bluff was an incredible city of Native American pueblo-style homes that comprised part of Acoma Pueblo.  Sky City is considered the oldest continuously inhabited city in North America, and some of these homes appeared very old indeed.

Other homes had more modern exteriors that frankly seemed a little out of place.  However, the historic character of the village was nicely preserved and, in keeping with ancient traditions, even the more updated homes had no running water, no electricity, and no plumbing.

Artistically symbolic and beautiful ladders led to kiva areas and second-story homes.

A handful of communal domed bread ovens constructed out of stone dotted the village.  As we walked through this fascinating pueblo city, our guide Brandon enthusiastically greeted every vendor and resident he met in his native Keresan language.  It was obvious that the residents of this ancient city were an extremely close-knit community, strongly bound to one another through observance of tribal celebrations in addition to their ancient tradition of pottery making.

I was struck by the rocky, uneven surfaces of the walkways/streets between the houses.  This unique village atop a stony mesa has remained much the same throughout the thousand years that this village has been inhabited.

The crown jewel of this city in the sky was San Esteban del Rey Mission Church, which was constructed by the Acoma people under the guidance of Franciscan missionaries 400 years ago.  To this day, the religious practice of the Acoma Pueblo people is predominantly Catholicism mixed in with centuries-old spiritual traditions that date back to their Ancient Puebloan ancestors that once inhabited the Four Corners area at Chaco Canyon.

No interior pictures of the church or the nearby cemetery were permitted.  However, this very old black and white photo from the Internet has nicely captured what we saw—a hard-packed dirt floor, no pews, simple decorative drawings on the wall, and an eerie open-air confessional along the right wall.  I felt we had stepped back 400 years in time…

What a marvelous experience we had atop the sandstone bluff of Sky City at Acoma Pueblo!


When our daughter, who lives in New Mexico, proposed that we meet up in Santa Fe for a long weekend, we eagerly accepted!  It was an excellent idea to have family time in the Santa Fe Plaza,
grab a few meals, and do a little shopping together.  I was also fortunate to get to spend a mother-daughter spa day at the locally renowned Ten Thousand Waves spa.

Internet photo

Spa day with my daughter was indeed outstanding in this Japanese-themed  relaxing spa built into the surrounding hills above Santa Fe.  Somehow, it seems the older I get, a soak in an outdoor heated pool, followed by a head and neck massage with heated oils, a full body therapeutic massage, and an oxygen facial treatment are just what I need.

Santa Fe has a well-deserved reputation for its art scene.  The mingling of world-class art galleries and historic Santa Fe homes makes a stroll down Canyon Road an eye-popping pleasure. 

Totally by accident, I discovered a feature on my camera that enabled me to convert my photographs to an artistic painting mode.  So, I had a little fun with some of the galleries…

The flowering trees in Santa Fe were at their peak, which only enhanced the appeal of this most beautiful capital city.  Kudos to our lovely daughter for suggesting we spend our precious family time together in Santa Fe!


Just below Raton Pass we spent our last few days in New Mexico at a campground on the grounds of NRA Whittington Center.  

Reminiscent of the Burma-Shave signs along the highways of my youth, the entrance to the NRA facility was lined with signs promoting various gunmakers.

This modern facility of over 33,000 acres in the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains was a gun lover’s delight with 18 separate shooting ranges in a most deserted part of New Mexico.

The hard-core gun culture is not something either of us would say we identify with, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t willing to take a look… especially when they have an excellent campground 

in a remote area of New Mexico, with wildlife all around and killer views in every direction. 

What I especially admired about our campground on this NRA facility was the lack of many rules, which on second thought wasn’t very surprising...  As far as I could discover, the only rule I saw concerned quiet hours.

In fact, with very few campers, it was quiet here all day long, and we were able to catch up on chores and even enjoy a bit of down-time after our somewhat hectic social life the past few weeks.  The only sounds we heard in camp were very faint pops of gunfire coming from a nearby range, evidence that on these lands the Second Amendment is alive and well!  As they say at NRA Whittington Center:

“Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”  Mark Twain


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