Ruins, a Shiprock, and the Animas River

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Mom and Pops RV
What I did
Ruins, a Shiprock, and the Animas River

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Saturday, July 23, 2011

Unfortunately, we had to leave Colorado today. We do have to head home sometime as I have to get back to work in just over a week. Colorado is one of my all time favorite states. I need to come back more often or just make a whole summer out of it. Our next town is Farmington, New Mexico which is the largest town in the NW of the state. It is not too far away as we are in the far SW of Colorado. So pretty much just across the state line.

We left our wonderful little scenic campground around 10:00. Today, my mpg would be great as we were coming down from the plateau to the Animas and San Juan River valleys. It was funny how the nice tall forested mountains just ended when we crossed over into New Mexico. Now it was just hilly and low scrub to desert like landscape. And it looked poorer too. You could tell Durango had some money as there were plenty of nice houses and apartments. Here in Northern New Mexico, the houses were mostly trailers, and single wide at that. It could also be that we were on an Indian Reservation and unfortunately, they are some of our poorest people in the US.

Just a few miles across the state line, I hung a left on this small two lane road for 15 miles. It was full of bumps as the truck and RV were jumping all over the place. The road was narrow also as anyone in the other lane came inches away from my truck mirrors. After this small road we came to the town of Aztec which held the Aztec Ruins National Monument.

We took a little tour of the place which took just a bit over an hour. Although this was built by the local Native Americans, early explorers thought it was too complicated for them and thought the Aztecs has built it. And the name stuck. This pueblo is one of the most intact in the whole SW. And the dude who first excavated it, rebuilt the main kiva in the place. The ranger was very nice and loaned us a big spiral bound walking guide to the place which gave us all the info we needed to understand the place and how it was built. Compared to other ruins in the world, this is not the most impressive place. But considering the advancement of the Native Americans, this was amazing. We walked inside some of the buildings – very rare in Native American ruins, and the doors were even small for Pooh. It about killed me trying to stoop over that low to get through. The Great Kiva that was reconstructed was the main event at this place. It was the largest kiva, by far, I have seen on this trip. The local Native Americans use this place for religious ceremonies and celebrations.

After our hour here, we drove 15 more miles to Farmington. This was a much bigger city than I anticipated. It went on and on for miles and miles. Everything was low-slung buildings and either chain businesses or something industrial having to do with petroleum. Though there is black gold here, it seemed like a poor town as the houses were pretty small as were the trailers. High level of Native Americans here. I did see a newspaper report that every school – 32 in all – in this county (county's here are as big as some states back east) did not meet AYP – the No Child Left Behind standards. Wow, every school failed. Ouch.

We set up camp in an industrial part of town – as 50% of the town was – in a place called Mom and Pops. It was a dusty old place but the crusty old man who ran it was very nice and had most of his front yard filled with a model train. Inside his office was hundreds of small models of everything military. Plus, we got a pull through site with full hook-ups for $20. Not bad.

After lunch Pooh and Quique stayed back in the RV while I took a small road trip to this place called Shiprock. It was about 30 miles east of Farmington. Shiprock is this 1,800 ft. tall plug of ancient lava that sticks out of the plains. It was a guide post for early pioneers in the area. You could see it right as you left Farmington almost 30 miles away. I drove as close as you could at 5 miles away. This is on Indian ranch land and for some reason is not a park or something. It must be a religious place for the Natives. I then drove back to town after I took a few pics. Then I did a little shopping at Wal Mart and got some diesel.

Back at the RV, I picked up Quique and Pooh to go on the river walk in town. It was along the Animas River, which is the same one in Durango. The walk was just a half mile away but it was so hot we had to drive it. At the river walk it was nice and shaded. Right at the parking lot was a Native American festival with arts and crafts, food, and an Indian blues band on stage. I got Pooh the last roasted corn at a concession stand which was one of the best I have ever tasted. We then took a two mile loop around the river. It was a nice trail, though not as good as the one in Durango. This is a poorer town, but it is nice that they are able to have this. One observation we made on the trail and at the festival was how overweight most people were. I’ve always derided how our poor people could be so big, but then that is the way our food production works in America – the cheapest food is the junk food, while healthy food is more expensive. We should give tax subsidies to healthy food instead of bad food like we do today. It would be a major investment in lowering health care costs. But politicians do not see that.

After our walk it was time to go out and eat. I found out that this place has a Greek restaurant. So I had my heart on going there. But when we got there it was closed down – as in out of business. I guess this town could not handle a Greek place – too bad. So we went back to the RV where I made a killer chicken alfredo. Then it was time to relax and go to bed.
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