Day 10: Into the Southwest

Trip Start Sep 08, 2005
Trip End Sep 25, 2005

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Sunday, September 18, 2005

Guess what we did today? Drove! Wow, we're tricky; you probably didn't see that one coming.
Today we completed the Santa Fe Trail, and, gluttons for punishment as we are, decided to continue on into Albuquerque and made it to Winkie's sister's house. We are now officially out of the prairie and in the desert. The drive today took us through three very different ecosystems: prairie, high mountain range, and desert. In the last part of the prairie we saw today, we skimmed the edge of the Comanche National Grasslands and saw lots and lots of antelope out grazing. It was very interesting to see the prairie gradually change as we climbed up the mountains in southern Colorado, and to see the range environment change into desert on the southern (New Mexico) side of the mountain range.
Unlike our two previous days' driving, we did stop for a good dose of history and local exploration. We took our stop in Trinidad, Colorado, for a tour of a preserved historical adobe house and to look at the Santa Fe Trail Museum there--which included history on settlement up to the 1920's. Both were very interesting, but with all the museums we've seen on this trip, it is sometimes hard not to go into historical overload.
Winkie had a particular interest in Trinidad. In 1907 her grandmother's brother, and Winkie's godfather, Antonio Boller immigrated to Trinidad with Romano Moltrer, another young man from their small village in South Tyrol, in what was then Austria. (After WWI it became part of Italy.) They arrived at Ellis Island with $30 (and a train ticket?), and made their way west. Uncle Tony probably worked in the coal mines, which at the turn of the century provided ready but dangerous jobs for immigrants from many countries. He and Romano Moltrer were sponsored by Romano's brother, who was married to Katrina (Catterina) Slomp, another village family on Winkie's grandfather's side. She was likely an aunt or cousin. After the war, Tony sponsored his brother-in-law, Winkie's Grandfather, John (Johan, Giovanni) Slomp. John worked for several years and in turn sent for his wife Rosa and daughters Emma (Winkie's mom) and Agnes. Apparently Uncle Tony did well--some years later he bought a vineyard in California's Central Valley and passed his middle age and older years happily pruning his vines, selling his grapes, and supplying Grandfather John with enough to make the family wine supply and Grandma's special wine vinegar.
After Trinidad, we hit the road and shuffled on down I-25, passing Santa Fe, and making it to Albuquerque. We'll be staying there with Winkie's sister, Loretta, for a couple of days, exploring cool places nearby, and then heading westwards for Arizona and California.
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