October 1-2 New Mexico III - Federal Shutdown & Santa Fe

We woke up to another beautiful day in New Mexico on October 1, but ominous clouds were on the horizon. Our Federal Government saw fit to shutdown again, in another of its seemingly never-ending series of "crisis" situations that don't seem to accomplish anything. So there we were in the middle of a vacation, with a long list of things to see, and lo and behold, the meat of the schedule involved visits to places administered by the NPS and BLM. They were all in the process of closing their doors. Fortunately, we had not made hotel reservations for the entire trip. We decided to give it a try and see if we could go around gates or walk into sites, just skipping the visitor centers.
We drove south from Albuquerque along the Rio Grande, with Mountainair as our destination. It lies at the end of the Sandia-Manzano Mountain Range Complex that runs north and south to the east of Albuquerque. Our day got off to a rough start, as we were 20 miles down a particular stretch of road when we hit a rail crossing that was closed for construction and had to backtrack the full 20 miles to take a detour we missed seeing. We finally arrived at our destination, the Abo Ruins, part of the Salinas Pueblos Missions NMT. To our surprise, the gate was open so we drove right in with no one around. The visitor center was closed but we saw what we wanted to see. These missions are part of a very early effort on the part of the Catholic Church to bring religion to this part of New Mexico. All that is left are a series of ruins at various locations, Abo being one of them. Their reason for being are the nearby salt deposits that were exploited and the salt traded to other surrounding groups from trading points in the area. The light was perfect for pictures and we stayed for a while enjoying the stillness of the spot. 

We then hooked north of Mountainair on 55 and 337 through Escabosa to Tijeras Canyon, then north on 14. We took a short cut on a gravel road to see if we could intersect I-25 near Santa Ana Pueblo and Cochiti Pueblo. The goal was to try and get in to see the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks NMT in the area. We finally arrived at the gate ready to go in on our own, but what-do-you-know, the government had hired temporary people to STOP any cars from entering or people from walking in - well that put a crimp in our plans. We figured this was being done now at every federal facility on our schedule. We decided to call it day and regroup, having dinner in the clubhouse of the nearby Cochiti Golf Course.

Disappointed about the Governmental Developments, I
Look for Dinner at Cochiti
We spent the nights of the 1st and 2nd at the Courtyard Marriott in Santa Fe. It is fairly close to the older downtown area and a good jumping off spot. We evaluated our options and decided to take in Santa Fe and Taos, and see what we could, reserving the federal sites and the balloon festival for a return trip. This would allow us to leave for St. George a few days earlier than we had planned, but it would also get us back in time to prepare for Amy's visit.

The entire day of October 2 was spent taking in the sounds, smells, food, and colors of Santa Fe - a nice little city with a very unusual downtown area - lots of southwest-style architecture and few tall buildings. I like it. A very relaxed feel to it all. Some of the places we visited were: Harrell House Bug Museum (in a mall, small, but very cool), Museum of New Mexico (excellent, especially the new exhibit on cowboys), the  St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral (beautiful), and the main plaza in the older area of downtown, featuring the Palace of the Governors (okay, but my feet were hurting by then).

KR Kinda Likes Bugs

Did You Know Scorpions Fluoresce Under
Ultraviolet Light?

This Spider Was Something, It Even Let Him
Turn It Over, Pin Its Legs Down and Rub
His Tummy

Spiders? Not so Much

Again, Highly Recommended for
Museum Lovers

St. Francis of Assisi

Cathedral Door

Interior of Cathedral

Main Plaza

Palace of the Governors

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