Blue rocks, Baby Einstein & Jerry Carson

Trip Start Mar 13, 2013
Trip End Apr 13, 2013

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Where I stayed
Thunderbird Lodge, Grand Canyon
What I did
Petrified Forest National Park
The Painted Desert
The Blue Mesa

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Monday, April 1, 2013

The pc that was available and also the WiFi at Sandia Peak Hotel were very frustrating. We wasted 40 minutes attempting to contact family before giving up. After a simple breakfast we took off to the Petroglyph National Monument just west of Albuquerque where we spent a very short time walking amongst the lava rocks, picking out petroglyphs before returning to the car; this is just another place I will return to as my love affair with the Southwest continues, as I'm sure it will.
 The Visitors' Centre is an interesting building; in the 50's it was bought by Dr Sophie Aberle and her husband; she was an anthropologist who studied Puebloan women and improved medical practices for them as a result of her studies. She lived to be over 100 years old.
 It is shameful (for want of a better word - maybe criminal?) that the wheels of the gravy-train are  entwined with those of politics, ensuring that the integrity of sacred sites such as this is unfortunately never to be taken for granted. Housing development and a Highway have already compromised this site.

We found the Road again and headed for Los Lunas. On the outskirts of Albuquerque on Isleta Blvd - pre '37 66 -  we spotted the Road Runner and The Blue Castle, both 66 icons. Lots of old motels and other wrecked buildings line the road on our way from Los Lunas to Laguna. Passing through a pueblo I spotted a Post Office and we stopped to post postcards to home. There are signs at the entry to pueblo's asking people to be respectful and not take photographs, so of course I left my camera in the car.

After posting the cards I started chatting to a couple in a car out front of the Post Office who had a cute little dog with them called Drew. We had a conversation about Australia, birds and feathers - Fred asked me if I had any - then Fred and Mary Martinez asked me if we'd like to come to a fiesta in September. Would I! They pointed out the direction of their house, just in case I made it back to The States at fiesta time. Their description of the festivities and food sounded wonderful.

On we went though, towards Arizona through  Acoma, Grants (where Viv and I stayed after getting lost at Chaco Canyon in 2011) and Gallup, loving the Road and the many sections of Old Route to drive. We were never far from the I40 in this section though. Just before - well, actually right on the state line of New Mexico/Arizona we spotted what looked like a cave of sorts, at the end of a drive-way. There was what looked like a store of some kind, a yellow school bus parked there and a couple of other vehicles. Interesting!

So in we went, parking near the building that looked like a shop. We got out of the car just as the other car that had been there left without anyone having gotten out. 

 The giant cave-like hollow was fenced off and lots of old and interesting-looking stuff were scattered around the ground. A ways over to the right was a small shed with a faded and peeling painted Route 66 sign on the front and an old pick-up parked nearby. As I started walking down the track for a look, the pick-up began trundling slowly towards me before stopping near the fence. Trotting alongside the truck was a gorgeous golden tan dog. His name was Baby Einstein, and in the pick-up were two cats; Bear and Tiger. Their human introduced himself as  Jerry, and offered to give us a tour for $3 each. By then another person had pulled up and we talked her into coming with us - why are some folk so resistant? 

 Even before we knew his name there was a sense we were about to have an experience and maybe hear some stories. So, the four of us followed Jerry around the back where he showed us the ruins of the cliff dwellings and we learned a bit about what he was doing there.  When Chief Yellowhorse died in 1999 the property was passed on to his grandson; Jerry lives there as a kind of caretaker/tour guide, and carves sculptures out of stone which he sells to businesses or private people. He is currently working on a truck for the truck stop near by. The government has offered Jerry full time work and a house, due to his Indigenous heritage - he is the Great Great Great Grandson of Kit Carson and one of his Indian wives - but he has refused, preferring to stay where he is. He was only too pleased to pose for a photo, but of course my camera battery died......he is a really interesting dude! He lives in hope that the deceased Chief's grandson would see sense and re-open the Indian store. There is a stack of petrified wood that could be sold off to people travelling East - the Petrified Forest is only about 60km' away and anyone who resisted the exorbitant prices in the gift shop there would be interested in this shop I reckon.

It's the unexpected things that happen when one's travelling that I really love....

Our next stop was of course, The Petrified Forest National Park, where there were several drives and different sites. We drove through the Painted Desert, so called because of the layers of silt, dirt and shale of different types and colour which changes with weather and light; down Blue Mesa Scenic Road - and YES the mounds are blue! One of the most amazing things I've ever seen! Along with the remains of a Triassic period coniferous forest, fossilized over millions of years. I just wanted to laugh like a maniac for the joy of being alive and witness to the world I live in. This area is part of The Four Corners, and is home to the Navajo and Hopi and very close to The Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and Chaco Culture, where Viv and I went last time.

We drove through Holbrook and into Winslow in the dark, and lo and behold - there was a flatbed Ford parked near the corner! We all got out and laughed with delight, Shell and I got up onto the Ford and she took lots of pics of the statue on the corner and the giant Route 66 shield painted on the road. (Once my camera battery runs out around 2pm, that's it)

On, to the Grand Canyon! We didn't get there until 11pm and we were all pretty knackered, but the room was lovely. When Shell asked the guy on the desk how close we were to the rim he said: " 27 paces, and if you walk 28, see ya later" 

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