Tag Archives: Albuquerque

Four Corners – Maria and Lipbone

30 Jul

There are miracles in this world. That was proven when I convinced my family to go on a road trip. They had never been on an excursion that called for nights in different hotel rooms and days driving through different landscapes, which is exactly the kind of traveling that I was raised on.

When our trip to Europe was cancelled, we knew that something had to be done. Going an entire summer without traveling was not an option. We debated. We studied. We debated some more. Then, we put together an adventure through the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. It is part of the country that I wanted my family to see, and the next several posts will chronicle our journey.

Before daybreak, we made our way to the airport for a typical flight on Southwest Airlines. Except, our layover was not at a typical airport. We spent a few hours at Love Field, the place where John F. Kennedy started his tour of Dallas in 1963. A few hours later, Love Field witnessed the swearing-in of Lyndon Johnson as president of the United States.

Our second plane landed in Albuquerque. We got off the plane; got our luggage; and got our rental car. As we pulled out of the parking lot, my wife read that Southwest had a system failure and people were stranded all over the place. Our timing was perfect.

We drove to Santa Fe, where the Inn and Spa at Loretto awaited. However, that was not the only place on the agenda. When we started talking about the trip, my wife and I knew that we would definitely go to one place in particular.

Maria’s – the best New Mexican cuisine in Santa Fe. We wanted to make sure that the teenagers on the trip got some real food.image-24

After the meal, we went back to the hotel and to the first of thousands of pictures of the teenagers.image-23

I think we broke a record for pictures. My stepdaughter’s friend sent a ton of pictures to her mom. Then, her mom said she wanted some pictures of the scenery, too.

Taking the picture must have been tiring because my wife went to the room. I, on the other hand, took the girls to the plaza. They needed to see the real Santa Fe. I did not expect to walk onto a plaza filled with people dancing and listening to the music of Lipbone Redding.image-22

Eventually, we made our way around the plaza and to more spots to take selfies. The next day would start our real adventure.


New Mexico Days

26 May

Another trip to New Mexico has been completed, and it is time to write about our adventures in the Land of Enchantment. For those who do not know, a few members of our faculty teach a field trip course in northern New Mexico. With Santa Fe as our base, we take students on daily excursions.

The days were packed with various activities and learning experiences, but I am not going to write about all of them. That would take a week’s worth of posts. Instead, this post will be about the thing I liked most about each day.

Friday – The morning was spent in a ghost town and at a national park. However, lunch at Horseman’s Haven was the highlight of the day. I saw the restaurant on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show and asked that it be added to the dining list. My burrito proved this choice to be a good one.image-30

Saturday – We went to a few places that are on the itinerary every year. Then, we went to a place that was new for the trip. I have been told that Taos is a great place to visit, but the trip organizer has a bad opinion of the place. Due to months of badgering on my part, he agreed to take us there. He got more grumpy with every mile closer we got.

Unfortunately, it was raining in Taos, and we did not see much. However, it was not raining when we crossed the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which is 565 feet above the river. It was cool to walk across it and take a peak at the bottom of the canyon.image-31

Sunday – This day brought the highlight of the trip. We had lunch at the home of Josephine, a lady who lives in the Santo Domingo Pueblo. It was a feast of Native American food prepared by her and the other women in her family. Everything was delicious, and the tamales topped it all.image-32

While we ate, Josephine talked about growing up in the pueblo and about the problems facing her people. She mourned the slow disappearance of her native language and lamented the effects of alcoholism on her community. Hopefully, the students were as touched by her hospitality and honesty as much as we teachers.

Monday – As a historian, I should pick a historic site as the highlight of this day, but we visited a site that I have seen many times. Instead, I am picking a hike up one of the volcanoes that helped create the northern New Mexico landscape.image-33

Three ancient volcanoes sit on the edge of Albuquerque and serve as sentinels over the city. I climbed one of them with a former colleague who retired and moved to Santa Fe. It was great to walk with him and rekindle our friendship.

Tuesday – Have you ever been to a town that died from its evil and was reborn through love? When I first went to Madrid and asked about its history, that was the story that I heard. We jokingly call Madrid a hippie colony, but it is an old ghost town that, in the 1970s, became inhabited by people who wanted to escape the rat race and live a simpler life.

I did not take any pictures of Madrid, but you have seen it if you have watched Wild Hogs. In fact, that movie became part of this year’s experience.

Madrid has become a destination for motorcyclists who have seen that film. As we stood in front of the building featured in one of the pivotal scenes, I explained to a student that the building was part of the movie set. An old biker overheard and got mad because he had ridden a long way to eat in a fake diner.

Unlike him, I am never disappointed in Madrid. I always wonder what it would be like to escape to an old town and live a life without worry. Of course, I would probably get tired of it after two days.

Wednesday – Chaco Canyon is an amazing place to visit. It is even worth the long journey to get there. The canyon was home to a people who disappeared, and archaeologists have been trying to figure them out ever since. The conclusions often change, and some are scoffed at with ridicule. The questions may be hard to answer, but the beauty of the canyon leaves no doubts.image-34

Thursday – This was another day of national parks and historic sites. However, they did not compare to our visit to Santa Fe Bite, home of the city’s best green chile cheeseburgers. The restaurant used to be in another location and go by a different name. The important thing has not changed.image-35

Friday – Our last day in New Mexico was spent at Ghost Ranch, where dinosaur remains have been found and artists have been inspired. We hiked the high mesa trail and looked over a landscape that can be found in the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe.image-36

Like I did on all of our hikes, I looked over the land and listened to the theme of Centennial, the 1970s miniseries about the American West. Everyone else thought I was insane, but the music inspires me. I knew that listening to it would add something to my experience and offer something to visualize when I hear that music in the future.

As always, we had a great trip filled with great experiences. These were just a few of them.

Musical Journey

14 May

In a few days, we will be leaving on our annual field trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I will return with stories from the Wild West, but, until then, I will be out-of-pocket for a while.

The trip to Santa Fe is an adventurous one. Four teachers and ten students jump into a couple of vans and journey from one end of the continent to the other. It’s a long way, but the directions are easy. My town sits on Interstate 40. That means we stay on one road through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and part of New Mexico. Like Bugs Bunny, we take a right at Albuquerque.

Or maybe it was left.

Or maybe it was left.

The stretch of Interstate 40 between Nashville and Memphis has been dubbed the “Music Highway”, but the entire road to pretty musical. It seems that a lot of the places we pass have songs written about them.

Nashville has a bunch of songs written about it, but one of my favorites is “Nashville Cats” by The Lovin’ Spoonful.

Not long after Nashville, we go through Jackson. Now, I don’t know if June and Johnny Cash were singing about the Jackson in Tennessee or the Jackson in Mississippi. However, this is my blog, so it’s going to be Tennessee.

Next, we go through Memphis, a city of Blues and Rock n’ Roll. Like Nashville, there are a lot of songs about Memphis, but one of the best was by Johnny Rivers.

I guess Little Rock has some songs about it, but we don’t really go through that town. This means that Oklahoma is the next musical place we hit. Obviously, there is a musical about this state, but Three Dog Night recorded my favorite Oklahoma song. It’s a weird tune that talks about Spain and the Beatles.

We stop in Oklahoma City, but I can’t think of a good Oklahoma City song. However, Carrie Underwood has a song about her hometown of Checotah.

From Oklahoma, we venture into the panhandle of Texas. There’s not much in the panhandle of Texas but the city of Amarillo. George Strait has a great song about Amarillo.

That’s about it for Texas, but there is one more song. When we get close to Albuquerque, I always think about a song that is about a guy driving on Interstate 40. However, he is traveling the opposite direction. Instead of going west, he is going east through all of the towns that we have passed. He is leaving a bad woman, and “by the time I make Albuquerque she’ll be workin’“.

So, that’s the musical journey I will be making this week.

Listeria – New Mexico Edition

17 Jul

New Mexico is one of my favorite states. How’s that for a short and to-the-point sentence? It is a place that I have visited numerous times, both for my job and for pleasure. Each time I go, I discover something new about the state and about myself. That’s the kind of place that New Mexico is.

Last night, I was grocery shopping and made my way over to the magazine aisle. There, I picked up a copy of Cowboys & Indians (a very non-politically correct title) and flipped through the pages – mostly looking at the pictures. That’s when I noticed some recognizable scenes. Turns out, they were part of an article called “100 Reasons We Love New Mexico”.

Another list after recently writing about lists! And, this list is about New Mexico! So, the magazine people did their job and sold a copy. I took it home; read through the list; and realized that I knew a bunch of things on the list. After counting, I had experienced 41 items on the list. Not bad for a history professor in Tennessee.

In homage of a great state, this is the list of the 41 things I have experienced on the Cowboys & Indians list of 100. First, a few disclaimers. The number is where the magazine has each item listed. Second, the quoted comments in bold come from the magazine, and the comments without quotes come from me. Third, the photographs come from me, so I don’t have pictures of everything.

1. “First impressions: clean air, blue skies, clear light; soft colors.” New Mexico definitely has plenty of each.

2. “The Sangre de Cristos Mountains.” They look over Santa Fe.

4. “The high road to Taos!” I’ve driven on the road but not all the way to Taos.

6. “Sunset at La Fonda’s rooftop Bell Tower bar in Santa Fe.” This place is on top of one of Santa Fe’s premiere hotels and provides a great view of the Santa Fe Plaza.

7. “The view of the Santa Fe and Jemez Mountains from the Cross of the Martyrs. Dedicated in 1920 to commemorate the 21 friars and numerous Spanish colonists killed in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, the site is accessible by stairs from Paseo de la Loma.” This site has a few issues. First, parking is a problem. Second, it doesn’t say anything about the Native Americans killed by the Spanish.

11. “Ristra hanging everywhere.” El Pinto in Albuquerque is my favorite place to see these.

12. “The pinyon, the cherished state tree names by Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca in the 1530s.” These plants are everywhere and are an important part of the state’s landscape.

15. “The Sandia Mountains at sunset.” This is truly a beautiful sight.

16. “The Zia symbol for the sun (from the ancient Zia Pueblo people) flying on the red and gold (for Spain) state flag.” The state capitol, which I walked around and through this year, is also built in this shape.

17. “Pueblo cliff dwellings and Kokopelli’s image among the ruins at Bandelier National Monument.” This is a great hike, and there is also a great visitor center with a grill and gift shop.

19. “Frito pie – served in the bag – at the Five & Dime on Santa Fe Plaza.” It’s also a great place to buy t-shirts.

22. “The oldest Madonna in the country, Our Lady La Conquistadora statue (she arrived in 1625 with the Franciscans), in the chapel at Santa Fe’s cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi; and in the cathedral’s outside portico, the Blessed Kateri statue of Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-80, Mohawk-Algonquin), the first North American Indian to be beatified.” No building in the downtown district can be taller than the towers of the cathedral.

24. “A museum pass and a shuttle ride up for a day on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill.” I must admit that I have never taken a shuttle to the hill, but I have walked through the maze several times.

25. “Friday night gallery walks along Canyon Road.” I have never been there at night, but I have walked through the galleries. I have even witnessed a few friends make purchases.

26. “Herds of elk.” This is one of the items that field trips students are supposed to mark off on their list. Sometimes we see them, sometimes we don’t.

29. “Scoring a find at the Pueblo of Tesuque Flea Market.” I have bought a few things at the flea market, but the best was a tall cup of prickly pear lemonade.

30. “Meditative moments inside the thick, old adobe walls of the lovely San Miguel Mission Church, perhaps the oldest church in the country (1610-26).” On this year’s field trip, some of our students helped make new adobe bricks for the church.

36. “Hiking slot canyons at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument on the Cochiti Pueblo through formations that look like giant rock soft ice cream cones or petrified sand castles.” We hiked Tent Rocks for the first time this year, and it was a fantastic experience.

43. “Albuquerque’s Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the gate way to New Mexico’s 19 pueblos.” I went here several years ago, and, admittedly, don’t remember much about it.

47. “The healing shrine of Santurio de Chimayo.” This church is a pilgrimage for those suffering from various ailments and maladies. The dirt in the side chapel supposedly has healing properties. Whether you believe that or not, it is a beautiful church.

50. “Shopping for turquoise and silver from the licensed American Indian vendors under the historic portal of the Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza.” The Palace of the Governors is the oldest government building in the United States. If you walk its exterior to buy something from the vendors, then you need to remember to negotiate the prices with them.

51. “The Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos.” This is a great museum about New Mexico’s impact on the 20th Century. Los Alamos was the place where scientists built the first atomic bombs, and the museum chronicles the history of the town.

53. “The De Vargas Street House in Santa Fe for its history, tiny museum…Built ca. 1646, it is reputedly one of the oldest homes in the country.” It sits across the street from #30.

56. “Chacoan ruins…in Chaco Culture National Historic Park.” This is a great place to visit. Interesting ruins. Great mesa hike. But, it is a pain getting there.

58. “Georgia O’Keefe – from the eponymous museum in Santa Fe to her Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu homes to her seeming presence everywhere in the high-desert landscapes she loved and painted.” I have been to the museum and seen her house in Ghost Ranch, but the best part of the O’Keefe experience is hiking the mesa at Ghost Ranch. It overlooks one of her favorite landscapes.

60. “Four Corners Monument, marking the only place in the United States where four states – New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado – meet.” When I was a kid, my parents searched for this place forever so I could lie down in four states at once. A few years ago,  I went as an adult and wanted to do it again. They had it fenced off for construction, and I could only walk around in four states.

67. “Exploring old mining towns and galleries along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway.” I have purchased several pieces of art in Madrid, but I think I like Cerrillos better. For a special experience, try making a concert at Two Rocks and a Hubcap.

72. “The 16-mile scenic drive…at White Sands National Monument.” This is one of the strangest landscapes in the United States. You are driving along typical New Mexico landscape when there are suddenly sand dunes everywhere.

74. “Fry bread stands.” I didn’t realize until I tried this that Native Americans invented the funnel cake.

76. “Hiking Inscription Loop Trail at El Morro National Monument and taking in some 2,000 petroglyphs and Spanish inscriptions dating back to the 1600s.” This is an amazing trail because the inscriptions make you feel that you are hiking through time.

77. “An extraterrestrial day in Roswell.” The most famous UFO crash in American history happened outside of town, and the downtown museum is a perfect destination for conspiracy theorists.

81. “Going subterranean at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.” You know a cave is cool when you hike into it and ride an elevator out of it.

85. “Ghost towns.” My favorites are Cuervo, which sits along I-40, and Shakespeare, which is in the southeast corner of the state.

86. “Hiking in a collapsed volcanic crater at Valles Caldera National Preserve.” Ok, I haven’t hiked it, but I have driven along its rim. This is the place to see the elk of #26.

87. “Stargazing at the Very Large Array in Socorro.” Ok, I went there during the day, but it is still impressive. It is also where Jodie Foster first heard the alien transmissions in Contact.

89. “Green chili cheeseburgers – at Bobcat Bite, Bert’s Burger Bowl, and all along the green chili cheeseburger trail.” I have dined at both restaurants, and Bobcat Bite is the best by far. I don’t care what Guy Fieri says.

90. “An abundance of ancient ruins and petroglyphs that are now national and state monuments and historic parks.” The magazine lists a bunch of these, but I am only including the ones I have visited. Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Bandelier National Monument. El Morro National Monument. Petroglyph National Monument. Pecos National Historic Park. Coronado State Monument. I wonder what the difference is between a “historic park” and a “monument”.

92. “A docent tour at the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors on the Plaza in Santa Fe.” The New Mexico History Museum is the best museum I have ever visited.

93. “American Indian pottery, from Maria and Julian Martinez to Barbara and Joseph Cerno.” A few years ago, I bought a piece of Martinez pottery, and it is one of my prized possessions.

95. “Historic Route 66.” You can’t go anywhere in the Albuquerque area without crossing it.

97. “The miraculous staircase in Santa Fe’s Loretto Chapel.” I saw this on That’s Incredible when I was a kid but never knew where it was. One day, I walked into this church, and, lo and behold, I found it.

There you have it – my version of New Mexico Listeria.