Drive from Albuquerque to Chama, N.M.

The Road Scholar Program that took me to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was over with breakfast Saturday morning. As prearranged, I picked up my friend Suzanne from her hotel near the airport (she had flown in the night before) and we headed north to continue my New Mexico adventure.

We started out at Petroglyph National Monument. About 200,000 years ago volcanic eruptions began to create this slope that is now eroded boulders. This 17 mile escarpment is known today as Albuquerque’s West Mesa. As the city grew it began encroaching into this area. The City of Albuquerque bought and preserved three areas within the limits of Albuquerque to protect the petroglyphs and create a public use park area. Those parks are now all part of the National Monument.

The ancestors of the modern pueblo people left these petroglyphs. They date back to about 1300 AD when the pueblos saw a significant increase in population. The petroglyphs are open to interpretation. Even the modern pueblo people cannot say for sure the intentions of the carvers. We saw many examples of human figures, animals and geometric figures.

Some of the rocks look porous, with open holes (first picture below). These are vesicular basalt. Gases escaped from the lava before it cooled and it hardened in this form.

The terrain here is so different from Ohio’s. There are different plants, animals and rock formations. Parts of the day may be gray and cloudy but at some during the day the sun will break through and the sky will again be a beautiful blue. I talked to a girl from Minnesota that has been in New Mexico about 6 months. She said after about 20 continuous days of sun she was wanting a gray, rainy day again.

Suzanne and I continued north. Sometimes it is hard for me to drive with all the beauty around me.

We stopped to eat at a place called The Flying Tortilla on the south side of Santa Fe. It was great but hot. A word about sauces here in New Mexico: they are offered in “red” or “green” based on the color of the chili the sauce is made from. Always ask which is hotter and order to your taste. The red is not always as hot as the green. If you want to try them both you ask for “Christmas”.