Albuquerque/Balloon Museum/ Museum/ Petroglyph NM

Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
Trip End Jun 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday, May 26 – We left our campground in the morning and headed north to Albuquerque.   Drove through the University of New Mexico first since it runs right along the highway and has a street University Blvd that runs the length of it.  This campus is big over 640 acres and has over 27,000 students.  The buildings on campus are Pueblo Revival architecture and the grounds are designated as a National College Arboretum.  There are a number of museums and libraries on campus as well as Popejoy Hall which is home to ballet, musicals, lectures and the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.  The campus is so big that they have three maps south, central and north.  We started at the south where the golf course is (yes ,this campus has its own golf course) and all the sports venues are – football where the New Mexico Bowl is played, soccer, baseball and of course the famous basketball building which is known as "The Pit".  The central area houses most of the academic buildings and library and the northern area the residences and frat houses.  In April 3,000 Native American dancers and singers participate in the  “Gathering of Native Powwow”, in the Arena here.

   Drove through “Old Town” and thank goodness it was a Sunday morning because the streets are narrow and parking for RV's is hard to find.  Old Town has shopping, restaurants, church, museums and that quaint “Old Town” atmosphere.  Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as an outpost and farming Spanish community along the Rio Grande.  It was laid out around a church with a central Plaza and government buildings surrounding it.  It became a major supply depot in 1847 following the Mexican-American War when a federal garrison was sent here for protection.  When the railroads came through (Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fee in 1880), the “old town” section was bypassed for a place two miles north.  The city is the biggest city in New Mexico but it feels like a small town.   The Sandia Mts are to the east and the Rio Grande flows through the town from North to South.  When the balloon festival is on in October the sky is filled for nine days with 550 balloons in the sky during the day and at night and the designs on the balloons are great. 

   We drove west of the city and headed for the Petroglyph National Monument.  This only became monument in the 1990’s thanks to a woman who did a lot of research on the native people and the surrounding area.  She and her husband lived in an Adobe House on the property and after he died she sold it to the NPS to use as a visitor center.  She was still living in 2005 when they invited her back to see what her home looked like now.   There are over 24,000 Petroglyphs in the area and one must hike to see some of them.  The park is divided into three sections and they are a drive away from the Visitor Center.  Volcanoes, Rinconada Canyon and Boca Negra Canyon have hikes and only one is a .5 while some of the trails take close to three hours to hike.  There had been news on TV, that this park has a lot of vandalism because it is too big to control.  Now the Rangers are allowed to arrest and carry guns and if you are arrested it is now a federal offense.  One of the biggest problems is that visitors let their dogs roam and they are destroying some of the Petroglyphs – they have to be on a leash.

     Next we drove to the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque  International Balloon Museum on Balloon Drive, which had been recommended to us and was it worth it.  First, on Sunday mornings the museum is free, and the museum was so enjoyable with some great exhibits about hot air balloons.  George and I like to see hot air balloons but we do not really know much about them.  All the history of the flights across the Atlantic and Around the World are displayed.  Even the use of balloons during the Civil War and WWI and II was exhibited.  The Japanese released over 10,000 balloons with bombs on them and only 1000 hit the US mainland -one as far as Michigan.  The public was never informed so that the American People would not panic.  Six people were killed in Oregon but the Japanese hoped it would start a lot of wild fires in the west.  Japan discovered the jet stream and proved that it could take balloons from their country to ours.  Interesting!  During the Civil War the north had better balloons for spying and warfare thanks to a man from New Hampshire who was the head of the balloon divisions.  At this museum, huge windows open up to the field where the balloon festival takes place every October and over 800,000 people come to enjoy it.  Rooms are booked at least a year in advance.  This is a must stop if coming through this area.  There were also some interactive exhibits which were fun to try.  George crashed his balloon on his first try but then got a score of 82 flying across France and landing it on the target.  This city during the fall is one of the best places to fly in a hot air balloon because the morning temperatures are cool but an atmospheric effect known as the “Albuquerque Box” makes precision flying possible.  The “box” is a set of predictable wind patterns that balloon navigators can take advantage of to change direction by varying their altitude, thus staying with a confined area.

  Headed north to the Coronado State Monument  next which is along the Rio Grande and is where Coronado with 300 soldiers entered the valley while looking for the seven cities of gold.  He brought with him many things the Indians had never seen – one of them being horses.  There weren’t any horses in this section of the country until he brought them over.

The museum has exhibits on the Spanish influence here and shows the ruins of the Indians that lived in this pueblo.  When they were excavating this area they found over 1000 murals.  Some of these murals have been copied and are on display in the museum.  Art work from that time period that is on loan from our government is also displayed here.  Nice museum.

   We headed south for about seven miles back to the Sandia Resort and Casino on Tramway road.  Nice casino and hotel and we were allowed to stay overnight in the parking lot facing the Sandia Mts.  There were about ten other RV’s that were already set up.  We had dinner in the casino.  This casino and hotel  was packed especially since it was the Sunday of Memorial Weekend.

   We got caught twice trying to get on some roads in this city that we couldn’t go on because we were over 5 tons.  They really should post the notices sooner.  At the Sandia Casino the sign was posted but we went anyways to get to the casino.  The signs were wrong because RV’s can drive to the casino but cannot head into the mountains to take the Sandia Tram that goes 2.7 miles up the Sandia Peak.  They say the views are amazing from up there and it only runs  from Memorial Day to Labor Day and during the balloon festival.

We had a very busy day but it was enjoyable even though the temperature was to hit 90 again.  Where we spent the night has cooling winds because the mountains are only about a mile away and we are sitting on top of hill looking at the mountains and at the valley below with the Rio Grande.  Heading north tomorrow .
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Linda on

Oh, another interesting place!

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