We left Tucson with Russ’ sister, Nancy on board, and headed to Deming NM, where our parents met in the spring of 1945. (The rest is history!) A minor detour took us to colorful Silver City NM, an unlikely location for a thriving art and restaurant scene.
Deming wasn’t much to look at as we drove through, but we found a sweet camping spot at Rock Hound State Park just outside the city.
That evening some fellow campers (full-time RVers) invited us over for a campfire, and offered a couple of suggestions that we decided to follow. One was to retrace our route back to Deming to go to the local museum (*****) and the other was to make our next overnight stop at Hueco Tanks State Historic Park near El Paso TX.
Both proved to be worthy, though we somehow managed to miss most of the famed 3,000 pictographs in Hueco Tanks, despite a rather challenging hike up the “Chain Trail” that led to some of them. Oh well, a good time was had by all.
Today Sue took us into the Jemez Mountains, northwest of Albuquerque. There are several pueblos along the way, but the most predominant one is the Jemez Pueblo with about 3500 inhabitants. They are a non-gaming community, so their way of life involves commuting, farming, arts and crafts, and harvesting the natural resources on their 88,000 acres. There were signs along the road that said “No photographs, no videos, no tourists, etc.” I resisted taking a photo of the sign, but took this one at the Visitors Center.
It’s easy to see why they consider the surrounding Jemez Mountains sacred.
Just down the road is the charming village of Jemez Springs, where we had lunch in a quaint little restaurant called Jemez Stage Stop. We had a good lunch, despite the quirky service, and their being out of tomatoes, cheddar cheese, Coke, corn tortillas, and fish.
We bought some local honey, wishing we had room for some just-strung chili peppers.
Jemez Springs is also home to natural mineral hot springs, which we’ll save for another visit. This is a place we definitely want to come back to!
Tonight is our last night driveway camping in Sue and Linda’s beautiful ranchero, nestled next to the Sandia Mountains just north of Albuquerque.
This is the land that Georgia O’Keeffe loved to paint. After spending 20 summers here, she moved to the tiny village of Abiquiu in 1949, where she lived until her death in 1986 at the age of 98. Her favorite subject was Pedernal, a nearby mesa about which she famously remarked, “It’s my private mountain. God told me that if I painted it often enough, I could have it.”
After a lovely sunrise, we spent a leisurely day kicking around Abiquiu, enjoying the landscape and art galleries
We got a recommendation to go to a tiny restaurant in El Rito for authentic New Mexican cuisine. The food was good, but the experience was even better! We were advised to be there early since seating is limited. The website and sign on the door said they opened at 11 a.m. A local said it’s really 11:30, but don’t expect them to open until 11:45, which was the case.
A trip to the Abiquiu Dam Visitors Center was interesting and informative. So far Abiquiu Lake has been able to avoid the Quagga Mussels, but Lake Mead has a real problem. These mussels can reproduce asexually, with over 1,000,000 offspring in a single season.
Once again we are staying at an Army Corps of Engineers campsite, which have never been a disappointment. For $6 a night (Sr. National Parks rate), we have a nice site, hot showers, water and dump facilities available, and a great view!
Lady Luck was with us as we arrived at the Bisti Badlands a day earlier than planned. Rain was in the forecast for later that night and the following day, so we set out on a hike despite an ominous cloud lurking in the west.
The clouds kept us cool as we wandered in this trailless wilderness of hauntingly beautiful mounds, rocks and hoodoos. The ground was almost sponge-like, making me think more than once about taking off my boots.
As promised, the rains came hard later that night, and continued this morning. We were grateful that our neighbors, who had pitched their tent on dry dirt, were able to break camp and get out of without getting stuck!