Where Is Datil And Why Go There?

Very Large Array, Datil, New Mexico, El Morro NM, elk

Panorama Of The Very Large Array

Just a quick entry before we get too far behind and fall off the blog wagon again. Datil, NM isn’t near anything you’d know. It is 60-70 miles west of Albuquerque on US 60. We came here to stay at the Datil Wells BLM CG for the amazing price (senior rate) of $2.50/night. Even full price is only $5. Now it is dry camping but most of the sites are large and private. There is water available and vault toilets. Because of the volume of RV use the stay limit is 7 days in 28 rather than the usual 14 days. There are no reservations. We used our generators early AM and in the evening but kept the residential refrigerator going with the new solar panel during the day.

vla-4

Our reason for coming was to see The Very Large Array nearby and visit El Morro NM which was more of a drive than we expected. We would come back here again just to relax as there are some great trails to explore. The area was a major cattle drive route with wells placed every 10-15 miles to keep the animals watered, hence the name Datil Wells. The Spaniards were the first to call it Datil as they thought the fruit of the local yucca looked like dates. The second ocean to ocean highway came through here during the early days of auto touring. Interesting history kiosks and a small visitor center describe local history. This is ranch country however when the locals need to quench their thirst the local gas station also sells “white lightening” (apparently legal here) as Steve overheard a customer ask openly. Never know what you’ll find on the road!

vla-5

Backside Of Telescope Dish

The Very Large Array is a set of 27 huge radio telescopes used for researching the galaxy and far beyond. The dishes are 92′ across (think 2 school buses wide) and dwarf a person standing alongside. Most pictures you see are of the dishes arranged close together in what is called the A position but they can be spread up to 13 miles apart in the D configuration. The closer they are the more general the information gathered and the further they are, the more detailed the information. When we visited the dishes were in a mid point formation. There are films in the visitor center detailing the array and the discoveries made, how the dishes are moved on rails and maintenance required. After our visit we put the movie “Contact” with Jodie Foster on our Netflix list as it was filmed here

Tracks Used To Move VLA Dishes

Tracks Used To Move VLA Dishes

 

el-morro-1-hdr

El Morro As A Landmark

Another day we drove a backroads route to El Morro NM. This rock formation seems to arise out of no where and served as a landmark for travelers from native Americans, Spanish conquistadors and priests to pioneers. It also was a known source of safe water in this dry land. Many left their mark and the rock is covered with petroglyphs, drawings and names. We’d hoped to also visit El Malpais NM but time got away from us. On the way back we had a National Geographic moment as we came upon a herd of elk. To our left were about 20 elk and one bull. To our right were about 50 cows and one very handsome bull with a huge rack. He knew he was in his prime. He bugled and pranced. It was too dark for photos so we just parked by the side of the road and enjoyed the scene. Now that’s one busy guy!

Time to move along. Next stop Durango.

Cool Cool Water

Cool Cool Water

Shadow On The Rock Is It The Pause That Refreshes?

Shadow On The Rock Is It The Pause That Refreshes?

El Morro Petroglyph

El Morro Petroglyph

Military and Religious Carvings

Military and Religious Carvings

A Pioneer Makes His Mark

A Pioneer Makes His Mark

A Long Weekend In Phoenix

Just two weeks before we finished our time at Petrified Forest NP we took a long weekend to see some sights in the Phoenix area. Once again we opted to use a pet friendly motel rather than move the trailer. For Opal it meant several long days in the truck. I don’t know why they call it sightseeing. When you’re a dog all you get to see is the back door, the front seat and a hotel room. If I heard ‘be good, we’ll be right back’ or ‘you’re on duty, guard the truck’ once I heard it twenty times!

Salt River Canyon, Arizona, scenic byway, road trip

Our GPS Showing The “scenic” Salt River Canyon Byway

Salt River Canyon, Arizona, scenic byway

Salt river Canyon Overlook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way down  to Phoenix we drove a scenic route through the Salt River Canyon. A wonderful alternative to Interstate travel. Naturally we had to stop at several overlooks for photo ops and to stretch our legs. The 3000 foot elevation change brought us from the 40s to the 70s. Mmmmm…sun, warmth, ahhhhhh!

After checking into the hotel we chose a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives restaurant for dinner only to find it was closed on Sunday when we arrived. So we headed to another Triple D selection called Chino Bandito. This is a walkup counter  place that combines Asian and Mexican food. Want your stir fry on a flour tortilla or to eat your carne asada with chop sticks, no problem. It is inexpensive and filled with students and young families with a few snowbirds mixed in. The food was tasty but the atmosphere was definitely in the Dives category. Don’t be surprised if you have to bus your own table and if children were there earlier food may decorate the floor. Next time we’d probably do take out.

Chino Bandito, Diners Drive-ins and Dives, Triple D

Mealtime at Chino Banditio

Day 1 we headed for the Museum of Musical Instruments. Had we known how large this place was we’d have gotten there earlier. As it was we spent five hours and had to run through the last few galleries to see it all before closing time. At $20 per person you might think it expensive until you experience all the museum offers. You are given a headset and as you walk into the galleries with TV screens a white box near the floor connects to your headphones. Music begins to play and/or a video starts. Soon you are foot tapping, head bobbing, hip wiggling and maybe even singing along as if you’re the only one there. Funny thing is, no one cares because they are in their own small world. Downstairs galleries are devoted to the history of instruments where some instruments date to the 1500s. In the special exhibits hall was a drums of the world exhibit. As we entered the drum circle was just starting. There was only one seat left so I told Steve to take it while I took pictures. Lights under the drum let you know when and what rhythm to do. Later we went to the gallery with a calliope demo and on to the gallery featuring instruments from stars such as John Denver, Carlos Santana and John Lennon. Upstairs the galleries are set up by geographical location: Africa, Asia, Middle East, South Pacific, South American, European or by instrument type (ex. violin). We later learned that only half of the museum’s collection is on display! You can also watch conservators work on restoring new additions to the collection or items from other museums or collectors. The collection runs from a Stradivarius violin to instruments made from a garbage dump in Paraguay. It’s hard to describe the total experience. One of the best museums we’ve ever visited. But wait…there’s more. Several evenings a week the MIM hosts performances of professional musicians. We missed seeing Carlos Nakai by one day! This is a must see (hear) museum!

Music is the language of the soul 1

Motto Of The MIM

Music In Africa

Music In Africa

Chinese Instuments

Chinese Instruments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music In Celebrations

Music In Celebrations

Costume From Peruvian Scissor Dance

Costume From Peruvian Scissor Dance

Music In Switzerland

Music In Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flamenco In Spain

Flamenco In Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indonesian Gamelan

Indonesian Gamelan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Lennon's Piano

John Lennon’s Piano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Apollonia

The Apollonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tunes In The USA

Tunes In The USA

Steve Joins A Drum Circle

Steve Joins A Drum Circle

Great Design From Germany

Great Design From Germany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 took us to Talesin West, the Arizona home of Frank Lloyd Wright and his school of architecture. Access is by tour only and we chose the 90 minute version. Our tour guide was excellent and gave us a lot of information about FLW, his personal life, his work and the architectural program. For a mere $40,000/year you can send your child here too where for the first six months they will have to live in a primitive shelter they designed. I have been fond of Wright’s designs for many years and have now toured three of his buildings. Steve is less impressed with Wright as he feels the designs are not comfortable. This should be a must see attraction for anyone visiting the area.

Examples Of Student Shelters

Examples Of Student Shelters

Desert Garden At Talesin West

Desert Garden At Talesin West

Entry Sculpture And Fountain

Entry Sculpture And Fountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View Of Taliesin West

View Of Taliesin West

In the afternoon we stopped at the Fire Fighters Hall of Flame. Our favorite display was the hand and horse drawn fire engines. Some were used to fight fires while others were only seen in parades. Other displays of firefighting equipment, fallen heroes and walls covered with fire company patches. Steve located a patch from the small town of Altus, Oklahoma where I was stationed in the Air Force in 1971-72. The restored trucks are all the work of volunteers especially a retired fire chief who has worked almost full time for the past 25 years.

fire truck, museum

Ceremonial Parade Wagon

Hand Pulled Truck With "Balloon" Type Water Tank

Hand Pulled Truck With “Balloon” Type Water Tank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Truck Inspired By An Elephant?

Fire Truck Inspired By An Elephant?

Truck With Jumper Net Just Like The Old Movies

Truck With Jumper Net Just Like The Old Movies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patch From Altus

Patch From Altus

Dinner At DeFalco's

Dinner At DeFalco’s

By then we were hungry so off to DeFalco’s Deli, a Triple D spot, for some more of their great sausage and dinner. We’d been there last October. If we were in the Phoenix area for an extended time we’d be regulars. We had lasagna, salad, bread and a glass of wine for under $20 each.

Day 3 we drove about an hour south to visit Casa Grande National Monument. A volunteer gave a wonderfully informative talk and tour about the Hohokam people and how they adapted to the arid land, not only surviving but thriving. They built irrigation canals and were known for their pottery which went beyond utilitarian needs. The 2 story ruin protected by the monument is the best example of their work still standing. We were fortunate to be there on a Wednesday when they had a guest speaker, an archeologist specializing in ancestral puebloan cultures. For once we just visited and didn’t take photos!

It was late but we really wanted to stop by the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. We only had a bit more than an hour which allowed us to see just a fraction of the garden. Fortunately we were given passes good for two years so as we are fond of saying…”when we come back…”

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

3 Generations Of Cactus

Barrel Cactus In Bloom

Barrel Cactus In Bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get The Point?

Get The Point?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sticky Subject

A Sticky Subject

 

 

 

Dinner was at yet another Triple D restaurant (he really likes Phoenix) called Barrio Cafe. Yes it is Mexican but done with a very different style. Not a nacho, taco or burrito to be found here. A bit on the pricey side but the food was out of this world. We’d definitely recommend you try it. The art work on the building is worth coming by even if you don’t go in.

The Barrio Cafe

The Barrio Cafe

 

 

Barrio Cafe Artwork

Barrio Cafe Artwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our bellies were bursting with all the restaurant meals and our heads were full from sightseeing. On the way home to PEFO we stopped by some campgrounds at Roosevelt Lake in Tonto National Forest to evaluate them for future use. We also stopped at the USFS Visitor Center to see a film about the Salt River dam project and the Apache Trail. While there we spoke with some volunteers about work camp jobs there. The area is beautiful and we have applied for next winter. Just a bit down the road is Tonto National Monument which protects some of the few ruins associated with the Salado people. We took an hour or so to tour one of the ruins then spoke to the head of Interpretation about possible volunteer positions. We’d love to spend some extended time in the Phoenix area.

We’d hoped to be home earlier in the afternoon but by the time we got to Show Low it was dinner time. We decided to stop at a Thai restaurant we’d enjoyed a few weeks earlier. Tired and full we returned to the trailer. Now our attention turns to finishing up at the park and getting ready to hit the road.

A Grand Canyon Birthday

birthday, Grand Canyon

Chari, steve and Opal at the grand Canyon January 2015

So far for the past two years as we travel each Spring we’ve fallen way behind in posting to the blog. We’d sworn we wouldn’t do it this year. Guess what? Never say never! So we are going to crank out a few quick posts in an attempt to catch up.

On our 2010 trip to the west we spent two days on the north rim of the Grand Canyon only to have it filled with clouds and fog. When New Years 2015 brought snow that reached all the way to the canyon floor we decided to visit the south rim. By the time we had our days off much of the snow had melted. Enough remained to give this icon lovely contrast and warm weather to enjoy it. Besides, if you don’t want to feel older on a birthday just go find something that’s six million years old. You’ll feel like a youngster!

Not wanting to move the trailer as it was set up with additional insulation for our stay at PEFO, we found a pet friendly hotel in Flagstaff. After arriving and checking in we headed for the Museum of Northern Arizona. If you want to learn about Colorado Plateau geology, paleontology and ancestral puebloan culture this is a wonderful place to start. The display that grabbed our attention was the story of Tim’s Cave. In 1991 Andy Seagle was taking a helicopter ride near Flagstaff in memory of his brother, Tim, who had died the year before from cystic fibrosis. Tim had been interested in archeology. During the flight, he spotted a cave high on a mountain containing some large pottery vessels. He contacted the USFS archeologist and together they located the cave and retrieved large intact ancestral puebloan jars. During the retrieval Andy discovered that Tim had worked with USFS archeologist,  Peter Piles Jr., the previous summer. The cave was named in Tim’s memory. We also saw silver work by Fred Kabotie who had painted the murals at Painted Desert Inn. Those murals were some of the last ones he did before turning his talent to silversmithing. The museum houses a mural by Fred’s son, Michael.

Discovering Tim's Cave

Discovering Tim’s Cave

ancestral puebloan, pottery

Exquisite Ancestral Pueloan Pottery

dinosaur, museum

Paleontology On Display At Museum Of Northern Arizona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following day we had breakfast at Brandy’s Cafe, a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives location. Yummy! Then off to the Grand Canyon. What can words or even pictures do to describe the canyon. How could one river do all of this? We headed first to the Desert View area to see the Watchtower. The structure is one of Mary Jane Coulter’s best known buildings at the Grand Canyon. With our new found fascination in the Fred Harvey/Mary Jane Coulter period we really enjoyed our visit. Best of all, just three days prior, the NPS had taken possession of the Watchtower from the concessionaire. Instead of the first floor being filled with tourist trinkets it is empty so you can focus on the details. The NPS plans to have interpretative displays there in the future. As you go up the spiral staircase the native graphic paintings are everywhere. Then on to several overlooks, a visitor center and finally photographing a grand Canyon sunset. It was almost a full moon and we would have stayed to do night time photos but the temperatures plummeted and we were like two ice pops by twilight.

The Watchtower At Desert View

The Watchtower At Desert View

murals, Watch Tower, Grand Canyon

An Example of Watchtower Murals

Mary jane Coulter, art

View Of The Watch Tower Ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paintings Cover Every Surface

Paintings Cover Every Surface

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

art

Beauty Is In The Details

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Canyon View

Grand Canyon View

 

Nature Is A Sculptress

Nature Is A Sculptress

 

Sunset At Mather Point

Sunset At Mather Point

We’d planned to wait for dinner and hit another Triple D joint in Flagstaff. However our stomachs didn’t cooperate so we stopped in Williams, Arizona on the way back at a historic brewery and restaurant.

Leave Only Footprints...

Leave Only Footprints…

Fossilized Dino Eggs

Fossilized Dino Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way home to PEFO we took the scenic route back stopping at the dinosaur track site near Tuba City. This was a tourist trap but interesting. Later on we also learned the hard way that one should not go wandering around unescorted in a reservation. Suffice it to say, we were “escorted” out by the Hopi police.  We certainly won’t do that again!!

A Week In O’Keeffe Country

Sorry for the delay in posting but our Jet Pack we use for internet died and we had to get a new one. On a good note we want to say thanks again to everyone who follows us or has stumbled onto our blog. We have now hit 25,000 views! That was a goal we’d set for 2014. With your help we made it. Where will we be on the total views for 2015? You’ll have to check in and see.

We now start on our way up and down US 50 through Colorado and then turn south into New Mexico. Our last day at Curecanti was a rainy one but high in the mountains it came down as snow covering the peaks. It was magical! The DreamChaser climbed it’s highest point at Monarch Pass, reaching 11,200 feet. The decent was “interesting” as we negotiated a ten mile 7-8% grade.  At one point Steve said “The transmission temperature is getting hot. I’m going to pull over and let it cool down.” That gave us a chance to get out and snap a picture or two. I only had my iPhone which handled the contrasty situation OK but not great. We continued on without incident.

Colorado, US 50, Monarch Pass

The View At Monarch Pass

Before long we reached flatter ground. Soon we found ourselves out of the woods and into the desert. The Chama Wild and Scenic River, Santa Fe National Forest and Carson National Forest along with beautiful rock formations make the northern New Mexico landscape appealing. We arrived at our campground on Abiquiu Lake. This is a Corps of Engineers park and a beautiful place to stay. With our Interagency Pass it was also very inexpensive. In fact for the next two weeks we’d be in Corps parks and our total cost was less than $150. In the summer you have to reserve an electric site way ahead. This time of year there were still vacancies. There is a beautiful view of the Pedernal from the campground. This was Georgia O’Keeffe’s favorite mountain. She is quoted as saying “Maybe if I paint it often enough someday God will give it to me.”

Abiquiu Lake, Corps of Engineers campground,

Abiquiu Lake

Pedernal, Georgia O'Keeffe, art, New Mexico

View Of The Pedernal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2008 before Steve came into my life, I’d visited Santa Fe with friends. We’d driven up to Abiquiu to see where Georgia O’Keeffe had lived. We learned you could tour her home through the O’Keeffe Museum but weren’t able to fit it in on that trip. I put it on the “someday” list. This week is “someday”. We choose the regular tour which costs $35 as the curator led tour for that week was already full. We were fortunate to have as our guide a retired fine arts professor who was also a painter. He said he’d been doing tours for only a month but you’d have thought he’d done it for years. He’d certainly done his homework. The tour did talk about her art but centered more on giving you insights into O’Keeffe as a person. Our guide talked about how she’d found the run down building belonging to the Catholic Church and how it took her ten years to convince the Church to sell it, the restoration and design of the home, her relationship with the community and the healthy lifestyle she followed. O’Keeffe lived to be 96. Many of the people who work on the estate today are grandsons and granddaughters of people who worked there when she was alive. Steve and I both loved the story about her relationship with her gardener. O’Keeffe collected rocks from many areas in the southwest and displayed them on her living room window sill. Of course being an artist she had them arranged aesthetically. Without ever speaking about it to each other occasionally the gardener would move a few rocks. O’Keeffe would spot the change and move them back. This went on for years. Neither of them ever acknowledged the game. Unfortunately no photos are allowed on tour. The photos used here are from the O’Keeffe Museum website.

Abiquiu O'Keeffe Home

O’Keeffe Home Living Room Looking Onto Garden

Studio Annex

Studio Annex

Courtyard Of O'Keeffe Home

Courtyard Of O’Keeffe Home

We spent time exploring the Ghost Ranch, a large workshop and conference center now owned by the Presbyterian Church. When O’Keeffe lived there it was a private ranch where she stayed and painted prior to obtaining the Abiquiu house. Today they hold self improvement, art and literature, paleontology and other workshops. They also rent rooms and cabins and have hiking trails and two museums on the property. We took a hike, visited the museums and enjoyed the gorgeous New Mexico fall weather. Toward the front of the property there is a log home. Does it look familiar? This was left on the property after being built for the set of “City Slickers”, the classic Billy Crystal movie. And yes, the sky was really that blue!

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

Hiking At Ghost Ranch

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

movie prop, wagon

A Wagon From The Movies

A Tree Grows In New Mexico

A Tree Grows In New Mexico

movie, City Slickers, Billy Crystal

Cabin Used In “City Slickers”

At the suggestion of our campground host we took a drive to Echo Amphitheater in Carson National Forest and then to a monastery along Forest Road 151 in the Santa Fe National Forest. In other parts of the country these would be prominent sites. Here they compete with so many other beautiful sites that they are hidden gems. Echo Amphitheater true to its name creates a voice Echo, echo echo… The drive out FR 151 was amazing as we passed rock formations that looked like hobbit houses, the Chama River and at the end of the road the beautiful  Christ In The Desert Monastery of the Benedictine order that just celebrated fifty years in this location. Georgia O’Keeffee came here often to paint. The monastery was designed by renowned architect and woodworker George Nakashima. When I lived in the Washington, DC area I took a day trip with the Smithsonian to Nakashima’s home and workshop in Pennsylvania. The monastery uses solar power as the only source of electricity. The monastery runs the only monastic brewery in the US, the Abbey Brewing Company. In 2006 a five part television series, The Monastery, was made for TLC about five laymen living and following the monastic life for forty days. It is a place of total peace and serenity. While we were there no services were being offered but if you are lucky you might hear the monks performing Gregorian chants. Amazon offers a CD of the chants but we were not able to locate the TLC program.

New Mexico, Echo amphitheater

Inside echo Amphitheater

Rt. 151, scenic drive

The “Hobbit” Houses

Chama River, scenic drive

Chama Wild And Scenic River

church, landscape

Christ In The Desert Monastery

Monastery Gate

Monastery Gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

church, Christ In The Desert

Inside The Monastery Chapel

Another day we headed over to Bandelier National Monument. If you can get in before 9am you can drive right to the Visitor Center.  After that you must park in the satellite lot and take a shuttle to the park. This is because the parking in the park is so limited. We got ourselves up and going. The drive up the canyon is worth the trip all by itself. We arrived just in time to take a special tour given by volunteers telling about the work the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).  Until the CCC built the current road the monument was very difficult to access and had low visitation. We didn’t know at that time we’d be giving similar information about the CCC at Petrified Forest National Park. Following the tour we walked the trail through the cliff dwellings and posed for a picture.

Bandelier, national monument, scenic drive

Driving To Bandelier NM

Along The road To Bandelier

Along The road To Bandelier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frijoles Canyon Scene

Frijoles Canyon Scene

CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps

CCC Buildings At Bandelier

rock formations

Tree In The Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Amongst The Ruins

Walking Amongst The Ruins

Posing In A Cliff Dwelling

Posing In A Cliff Dwelling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our way back we decided to go through Los Alamos and see the Bradbury Museum which tells the story of the Manhattan Project and current studies at the laboratory. It was strange to go through a security check point to enter a city. The museum was very interesting even though we were pushed for time.

atom bomb, Manhattan Project, Bradbury Museum

Display At Bradbury Museum About The Manhattan Project

Delivery Of The Nuclear Capsule For The Trinity Device

Delivery Of The Nuclear Capsule For The Trinity Device

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trintinite

Trintinite Formed From Heat Of Nuclear Blast

 

 

 

 

Our week went very quickly. Now we make a short move down to Albuquerque for an event we’d been anxiously anticipating for several months.