Sunday, April 5, 2015

Albuquerque & Grand Canyon

Friday March 27: The drive to Albuquerque via Madrid and the Turquoise Trail was easy and the two of Madrid, considered to have “boutiques”, was definitely not a shopping mecca.  The houses have character though.  There than that there wasn’t much to see.  Our recommendation: Give the Turquoise Trail a pass. 
The countryside along the Turquoise Trail
Colorful Shop in Madrid
Upon arriving in ABQ we went immediately to the Apple store to purchase a new iPhone 6 for Pat. Bill has the cast-off iPhone 5S. Lunch was at an old standby around the US, CPK (California Pizza Kitchen).

After checking into our B&B in "Old Town" we explored a few shops—most sell the typical south western jewelry & pottery, but they are cute. For dinner we went to La Crepe Michelle. The waiter recommended a very nice (and inexpensive) Graves that went well with our crepes (pork for Bill, mushroom for Pat). For dessert we shared a blueberry creme brûlée.

Saturday March 28: A short walk away from the B&B was a trio of sights: the BIOlogical Park (the botanic garden and an aquarium and connected by a short train ride the Zoo.)  The garden was in bloom with spring flowers (including the lilacs) and accented by a large outdoor display of model trains. The Aquarium had a nice collection of sea creatures.

The trip to the zoo follows the Rio Grande on one side and passes a fine (and big) city park that includes several fishing ponds.  We didn’t see anyone actually catch a fish but they were trying.

The Zoo has a broad range of animals, the cutest being the baby elephant....and some excellent ice cream (lunch!).

We should mention that much of the route now is along this well "known" (as least by name) highway. 

Our next stop was at the east end of Albuquerque where a tram takes you 2.7 miles, from 6000 to 10,000 feet, to the top of Sandia Peak for a 360 degree view of the area. There was still a little sun at the top.

The Sandia Tram
The evening meal at Seasons restaurant was excellent. Scallops for Pat and salmon for Bill was accompanied by a very nice sparkling Blanc de Blanc from New Mexico. All in all, good enough we decide to return.
Sparkling Wine from New Mexico...quite good!
Sunday March 29: To continuing building our awareness and understanding of the native history and culture, we went to the Pueblo Cultural Center with displays on the 19 pueblos of New Mexico, each of which had distinct traditions.  There was an Apache dance demonstration, where some of the locals joined in the activities. Pat bought two new bracelets…and received training how to most easily put on bracelets that slip over the wrist.

Apache Fire Dance (the green "tails" on the costumes are fir branches.) 
The following photos represent the use of birds in the designs of 3 of the pueblo cultures.

We studied all the various stages in Indian history under US, Mexican and Spanish control. Basically the self-ordained ruling group first decides that they need to protect themselves and next recognizes that they must really do something to help the natives.  They pass laws accordingly. And surprise, surprise each new law seems to protect the government more than the people.  It’s amazing how much advantage you can take of others while spinning things so altruistically.  As Bill put it the cycle is to cite the need to do good for them (but take advantage of them), claim big improvements (but take advantage of them), claim other improvements (maybe do one minor little good thing). Mind you we were visiting a museum created by the natives, but we drank the koolaid.  Bill compares the result in the US and Mexico as being the same. In both countries the Spanish took anything they thought of value while in the US they legislated their way to the same end.

After a stop at Whole Foods to pickup some supplies (snacks for the trip to the Grand Canyon and breakfasts) we visited the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Bill Gates and Paul Allen started their business (you may have heard of it, Microsoft) in Albuquerque before moving to Redmond, Washington.

The Computer history exhibit includes a PDP-8 (which brought back memories for Pat who spent the majority of her programming years with PDP-8’s). There were also interesting quotes by and anecdotes about Paul, Bill and Steve Jobs.
A PDP-8 with an iPhone 6 held up at the left.
Guess which one has vastly more computing power.

Computer storage media. The blue is a mag tape (vintage 1972).
Displayed in front of the large disk is a flash drive.
Again guess which one has the most storage capacity.
Another exhibit features the creation and evolution of the earth. It is very well presented.

As previously decided, dinner at Seasons Restaurant again.  Bill had Tenderloin and Pat had the Parmesan encrusted Chicken. (Pat cleaned her plate…although partly by taking much of the chicken home for lunch in the car enroute to the Grand Canyon.

Monday March 30: An early morning departure, we were off around 7:15, for the drive to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest for a “few” photos. We had visited here 40 years ago along with the snowy Grand Canyon. The weather was much improved (versus our previous trip.)

Shots of the Painted Desert...

Newspaper Rock, with the lower portion covered with petroglyphs.
A petrified log

A very colorful piece of petrified wood.
We entered the Grand Canyon from the East and made several stops on the way to our hotel in Tusayan. The Canyon is “relatively" narrow at this end and the river is visible far below.

Tuesday March 31: Back to the Park for a day on the West end. More wonderful weather and views that show the vast size of the Canyon. We bussed and walked our way from the Mather Visitor Center to Hermits Rest. 

A young elk

One note: Our best meal was at the Mexican restaurant in Tusayan. We had read that you could pay a lot for OK meals at the “best” restaurants, so we didn’t even bother exploring that. Besides we need to take a break diet-wise once in awhile.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

More Santa Fe

Tuesday March 24: The weather continued to get colder but it was still sunny. We packed up our warm jackets and headed out to Los Alamos by way of the Shidoni Foundry—8 acres of sculpture displays and, yes, foundries, including a glass foundry.
A few of the Shidoni sculptures

I've never seen a blue cactus bloom, but this seems to work.
The only practical use for lobster bouys in the desert. These are made of glass.
Then onto Los Alamos with a stop to check out the views enroute.  Yep, there's snow on the mountains but the weather is beautiful for us.

We visited the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos.  First stop, the restroom where Pat learned how to efficiently dry her hands.

There are lots of exhibits about the research being done there today.

There were also stories about their early works--the Manhattan Project. It was extremely interesting to read about how this mesa with it's simple ranch school was transformed.  In fact it disappeared. Everyone who went there had the same address (109 East Place) in Santa Fe. Personal letters were edited to assure no secrets slipped out.  Frankly we spent very little time on the actual story of the successful deployment of their technology. We know that story.

Then we continued on to Bandalier National Monument, which preserves the homes and territory of the Ancestral Pueblo People. Pueblo structures there date from 1150 to 1600 CE. We'd been there about 20 years ago but it was great to see it again.  

A Kiva (round pit house entered by ladder from a hole in the roof.
A natural formation but could be a cool sculpture.
Exiting one of the cliff dwellings.
Dinner was at Chez Mamou...a little touch of France.  A great bottle of wine from the Languedoc, an excellent cordon bleu, and interesting conversation with the wine loving couple at the next table.

Wed March 25: Museum Hill, yes there is a collection of museums on a hill outside of Santa Fe. It includes a nice cafe for a break between visiting the 3 museums. We visited the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Museum of International Folk Arts.

A portion of the sculpture a life-size sculpture
at the entrance to the museum complex.
No pictures in the Indian Museum
but this was in the plaza.
The Museum of International Folk Arts...simply jam packed with displays...none with titles. There is a detailed printed museum guide that provides the explanations. 
Guatamalan Masks (for a minute there we were transported back
to Bill & Heidi's Mask Museumin San Miguel!)
 The exhibits are mostly displays of village life. At least a hundred of them.

We enjoyed dinner at La Boca Taberna, a basque tapas (pinxtos) bar.  We discovered two things here:...a birthday beer, Tapas and two dessert wines, a Torrentes (outstanding) and a Malbec.
A birthday beer with a candle mounted on the beer can.
...a bit tricky to drink! 
Susana Balbo Late Harvest Torrontes and
Late Harvest Malbec. Both very nice.
A Koshari
Thurs March 26: We started the day by returning to capture the name and location of the shop we enjoyed so much and where a very knowledgable salesperson had enlightened us about Koshari, the clowns and enforcers at events. 
130 Lincoln Ave / Suite F
Then on the History Museum, a half day affair. The museum covers the history under the Spanish (starting with early contact in the 1650s), then the Mexicans (following the Mexican Revolution in 1821) and then the US (following the Mexican American War in 1848). It includes the development of the Sante Fe Trail and the influx of traders and settlers. And finally the railroad led to the rise of the founder of the hospitality industry Fred Harvey. 

Map showing Indian Groups across the now US

With the completion of the railroad to Santa Fe, Fred Harvey pioneered hospitality featuring consistent standards.

Fred harvey hired young unmarried women and provided them a handbook.  
During the Great Depression, the west was seen as a romantic place and holiday cards by the renowned artist "Gus" Baumann were prized. 

Then there is the story of how the Native Americans contributed to the WW II (as well as coverage of the Manhattan Project...but we had learned of that in detail at Los Alamos.)

There was a special exhibit of "Marias in the Americas".  I had always wondered how Mary appeared in so many parts of the world.  Now of course I understand it was Mary (Maria) in various costumes surrounded by locally revered characters and symbols that would help the locals revere Mary (and the Catholic Church).

We continued on to the New Mexico Museum of Art.  Since we had missed the Georgia O'Keefe museum, we were pleased to see this:

Georgia O'Keefe Red Hills with Pedernal, 1936
Other works that caught our eye...

Van Gogh?  No.  Robert A. Daughters, Truchas Road, 1961

Billy Schenk, Coming Down from the Mountain, 1993
While at the Art Museum, we learned that the Georgia O'Keefe had opened earlier than expected and we got to examine her various styles and subject matter. 

This is a photo of a photo of Georgia's Studio with it's view of the countryside.

A final stop to see the Loretto Chapel with it's miraculous spiral staircase with 2 full 360 degree turns and no visible means of support...

Tomorrow...on to Albuquerque.