Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Swing Southwest Part 4: New Mexico!

PART 4: New Mexico!
Friday, March 20
Tucson to ShowLow, Arizona
196 miles

West end of Catalina Mts. north of Tucson
            We are ready to depart sunny Tucson and it is a beautiful morning!  We saw goodbyes to Ted and Elinor, Josh and Abi (doing a little extra CHRPA work today!)  Abi said she was ‘so excited to see you were still here’ when she rode in on her bike!  Two final hugs!  We are finally ready to head out at 8:45 am. 
            The drive today was everything we hoped for: different and scenic.  We took Dan’s suggestion and followed Alvernon north to where it turned into River Road which wound around to meet up with Highway 77 heading north toward Oracle.  We literally skirted the edge of the Catalina Mountains and then around the tip.  To see those mountains up close from a different perspective was great.  Some very sharp cliffs up there! 
Is this not a classic Arizona photograph?  Taken from moving car....hence a bit of reflection on bottom. 
            I can’t tell you how many times my ear popped today from the constant up and down.  We climbed up and then we headed down….over and over!  Gradually we lost our saguaro cactuses by the time we got to Globe.  We stopped in this central town of 7500 to gas up and lunch up!  The drive over the Mescal Mts. was filled with cuts and strata, bluebonnets aside the road, fields of yellow and orange.  White fluffy clouds and dark storm clouds.  We even had a few drops of rain during the day. 
Salt River Canyon
            From Globe we climbed another 1500-2000 feet, only to descend steeply down into the Salt River Canyon, a spectacular mini Grand of proportions.  We stopped at a viewpoint enroute down to see some sweeping views both east and west.  Gorgeous! 
Desert mallow at Salt River
            As we neared ShowLow we entered a Ponderosa Pine forest!  Finally what I consider merits distinction as a National Forest!  ShowLow is a popular summer home town for the communities of Phoenix and Tucson – or any hot place in the south!  Its elevation of 6400’ means cooler temps in the heat of the summer months.  We passed multiple affluent housing developments and mini resorts.  Fool Hollow Recreation Area lies just a couple miles north of town and it is a beautifully maintained and managed campground, lake, fishing area, etc.  Campsites are meticulous.  Cement pads, sturdy tables, campfire rings.  We were lucky and able to get into one of the few remaining unreserved sites.  Full hookups for only $30.  Not bad. 
Beautiful old building at our turn in ShowLow. 
Fool Hollow Lake
            Afternoon spent relaxing, reading, and I took a short walk around the two loops nearest us and along the lake.  Got a presunset picture down near the boat ramp. 
            Tomorrow morning we will zip into New Mexico, hoping for a Socorro arrival around noon….just in time to take a hike with our son! 
            Stars tonight were ‘stellar’ – such a dark sky, no moon yet.  High elevation and clear.  Wow. 
Campsite at Fool Hollow Rec Area
Panorama of Salt River Canyon
SATURDAY, March 21
ShowLow, AZ to Socorro, NM
205 miles
San Lorenzo Canyon Hike

Typical flat land view
          Brrr! It cooled right off last night – temperature showed about 28 this morning out on the picnic table, and the front window of the truck was definitely frosted over.  That made packing up a challenge as everything was STIFF!  But we got ‘er done and on the road by 8:20ish.  And then….we got a little disoriented in getting back to Route 60 and made a little detour through a ShowLow subdivision.  Missed the Circle K we intended to gas and coffee up at, but found a Giant heading out of town that did the trick! 
Quemodo's touch of class
          And then we climbed some more!  Between ShowLow and Springerville, AZ (near border) we passed a roadside elevation sign of 7500’ – almost as high as the 7700’ at the Continental Divide in PieTown!  Mountains to the south had patches of snow on them.  This is such a high plateau area – golden grassland, small juniper trees, and wide vistas! 
Snow on the road!
Into New Mexico shortly before 10am.  We have driven this section of road before, but never coming from the west TO Socorro, always leaving.  In late summer, after the monsoon season, these grassy fields are lush and green.  Right now they are pale yellow and brown!  We realize it might be pushing it gas wise to get clear to Socorro, so we stop in Quemodo (practically the ONLY option along the way at this point!) and put 3 gallons in to assure a safe arrival.  Tiny town at a crossroads out in the plains – 140ish residents, but they have the nicest restrooms in their gas station!  And Grant Wood’s American Gothic graces a sign just down the road!  Culture!  Just after Quemodo we discovered snow alongside the road and then….snow ON the road!  Just a little patch where it had probably drifted. 
Datil Mts and pine trees!
  It is always a fun ride over the Datil Mountains – the road curves through the pine trees – a nice diversion from the plateau.  Then we drop down onto the Plains of St. Agustine and the VLA Radio Observatory setup.  The disks are in tight right now, I can count all 27 of them, 9 in each arm of the array.  As we near Magdalena Ridge, I finally spot the white and silver dome of the observatory atop the mountain to the south.  Hard to see against a white cloud background and while sitting in snow! 
VLA dishes
Jed pulls up at the campground to show off his new car!
         We arrive in Socorro around 12:40, get set up at Casey’s (we’ve stayed here before), and Jed brings us breakfast burritos from Sophia’s to tide us over until dinner.  We had suggested going out, but Jed had just finished eating a big breakfast!  Admire his new Scion car that he bought from Jack Ho….Grandma will appreciate that the TXM ‘Taxi McLean’ license plate is still proudly showing under a spoiler on the back!  He thinks his new roommate Will is going to buy the old Corolla.  Hopes to seal that transaction soon so we can get it off the insurance. 
Route A... or
          Jed thinks the Scion (which has little clearance!) will be fine on the dirt road into San Lorenzo Canyon, so we don our hiking shoes and take off north on the freeway for about 5 miles.  Sun roof down and I love the image from the back seat of their hair flying upwards into the opening!  Another 5 miles of frontage road north and we head west on a washboarded but otherwise good dirt road.  The canyon is tucked back into the hills and you wonder who ever discovered it was even there!  An upper and lower area, the road winds through the lower section and deadends.  Campers were enjoying the last of the New Mexico spring bread along the way.  We stopped a little before road end and hiked up part of the lower canyon and then up a side canyon trail. 
Route B?  Neither was
But we made it to the top of the mesa!  

          Great hoodoos, cliffs, weathering lines and cracks, and sculpting by the elements.  Fairly dry right now, but new growth is emerging on the shrubs.  Junipers and salt cedars (the latter not native and considered invasive).  A few wildflowers.  Pockets of cottonwoods which would be beautiful in the fall, but not leafed out yet this year.  We hiked up the various trails of the side canyon, sometimes losing touch with Rick as he was slightly ahead and we didn’t always pick the same route!  We eventually wanted to get to the top for a view.  Had heard the trail went up.  Not sure we found THAT trail, but with a little help from my guys, we got up there!  Loose rock in many places.  A good adventure, although Rick came back with a little blood on the side of his leg from a slip.  We came down by a different route! 
Cottonwood leaf beauty
          I found a cottonwood leaf (very distant from the trees) at the base of a tiny slot canyon.  When held up to the light filtering through, it was beautiful!  Rick discovered some sand patterns on the face of a cliff which were fascinating.  All of us discovered some random prickly pear bushes, usually by a prickle! 
Twister Chili
           Back down to Socorro and a meal at the Twisted Chili, down in the OldTown Plaza.  Jed had eaten here before and said it was different, but good.  And it was!  Afterwards, a wander briefly through the plaza.  Socorro’s is very nicely done with public artwork, a veteran’s memorial area and children’s playground with a military theme.  GREAT playground.  I climbed on some of the equipment!  Socorro is so old – established in 1598.  It is one of the oldest continually occupied cities in the country.  Amazing.  Then up the hill to the MRO offices and a chance to see Jed's new digs.  Big desk with big boy computer toys!  
At home in his office!
          To Jed’s house….to discuss plans for his graduation party, take measurements for the ordering of his doctoral gown, and FIND the missing registration stickers for the car in the old Toyota glovebox!  Thankfully I remembered I had given them to him in Salt Lake City at the concert last summer and there they were!!!  Details! 
          8:30pm and we were ready to crash!  Plenty of sunshine, a hike, a drive, and a good meal for the day! 

SUNDAY, March 22 
Socorro to Edgewood, NM  via Mom’s in ABQ
110 miles

            A good lazy morning in Socorro.  We are both fighting colds and sore throats, so a quiet morning was good.  We would have had to unhitch to attend church, so I’m afraid I spent the morning drawing prayer pictures instead.  Hope God understands! 
A quick snapshot at Red Lobster
            We left Socorro around 11:30 to head up to Albuquerque.  We called last night to let Mom know she would get a visit today instead of Monday!  Jed is driving up himself for his volleyball matches, so is going to meet us afterwards for dinner with Grandma! 
            Arrival at Mom’s around 1p and a quiet afternoon visiting.  I run over to Wal-Mart to pick up a few basics for our breakfast menu while out at Randy’s.  Jed arrives around 4:30.  Our hope was to dine at Azuma’s Grill, but there was going to be a 45 minute wait, so Grandma’s second choice?  Red Lobster, of course!  (Azumas was Jed’s hope!)  Good meal as usual. 
            We drop Jed and Grandma off at Three Fountains and then head out to Randy’s.  Arrival just as it was fully getting dark, but we get backed in around all of the cars parked here and into our ‘slot’ by the garage.  Hour of visit time with Patty, Rach, Reg, and little Jaxon before heading out to bed. 

I'll been having internet connection problems at Randy's - mostly with the phone, so it isn't uploading my photos to Dropbox so I can access them!  So I shall post this much and catch up as I go this week!!   

MONDAY, March 23
Chillin’ with Mom
            Nothing too exciting today!  Rick didn’t get up until nearly 10:30 (trying to sleep off his cold!), so we visited with each of the kids during the morning and didn’t move too fast!  Jaxon is going to the doctor today for HIS cold (Dominic is really sounding bad!)
            Got to Mom’s around 1.  Lazy afternoon just being together.  Mom and I went over to JoAnne’s Fabrics and Walmart for a little shopping time.  I managed to talk my way into the WW meeting at 5 even though I can’t find my tracker weight guide.  A good weigh-in! 
            Mom made ham loaf and taters for dinner and I added a tossed salad (naturally).  I drove us back out to Edgewood around 7pm, in time for Regan to cut my hair! 

TUESDAY, March 24
Santa Fe! 

St. Francis Cathedral
            Had to get moving today a little quicker as we are heading up to Santa Fe for the day.  Rick went down to the basement at the Fountains to retrieve the wheelchair so if Mom gets tired she can just ride!  It is a really light-weight chair so easy to move around. 
            Hardest part of the day was finding the parking lots for the downtown sector.  Not that well marked and we didn’t do our homework ahead of time!  Shame on me!  I’m finding no internet out at the trailer is hard, and I can’t get my phone to connect to Randy’s wireless, so I am using up tons of data to transfer high quality pictures! 
Rick and Mom R at La Plata 
My yummy grilled sandw
Silversmith and armor he restored.  Reminded us
of Mike Braymen

            Weather in Santa Fe was sunny, but a cool breeze blowing!  We ambled around the plaza shops, poking in some stores.  Hard to keep up with Rick cause unless Mom said she wanted to go in, they just peeked in windows.  I got a few more gifts for kids. 
            We ate lunch at La Plata, a very quiet restaurant that used to be attached to the St. Francis historic hotel, but is now unaffiliated with the hotel.  Regal austerity for the décor.  Menu was reasonable (by Santa Fe standards).  I had a grilled cheese sandwich to die for: filled with cheese and avocado and tomatos, plus an artichoke-tomato soup (I couldn’t taste the artichokes, though!)  Grandma had a stuffed sopapilla and Rick a chicken fillet sandwich he couldn’t get his mouth around! 
Statue to first Native American
woman to be a saint. 
Forsythia blooming near Prayer Garden
            Poked in a couple of the old mission churches, admired the flowers budding and blooming, including forsythia, and in general spent a relaxed day (once we found that parking spot!)  We got a downtown map of the city that will now STAY in Mom’s car! 
            Home around 5 and Rick put a razzleberry pie in the oven for his ‘dinner’!  I had salad and a sliver of pie.  Stayed in later to watch NCIS with Mom and then back out to Edgewood for a SHORT visit with the gang before bedtime. 

Laundry and Ho Ho Chinese Restaurant
        We are really getting into 'laid-back' mode now.  As everyone leaves the house one by one, we are finally the only ones left around 11pm.  Doing our laundry so we can make it through the final week of travel.  Once we hear that Reg, Jax, and Dom will come back over on Sunday afternoon, we decide to spend the night at Mom's so we don't have to get up so early on Thursday to take her to the doctor.  
       So, it is a windy 3pm when we finally get everything ready to go and head into town.  Mom has a coupon for the Ho Ho Chinese Restaurant, so dinner is on her tonight!  Mostly a take-out type place with just styrofoam dishes and plastic silverware, so we take our entrees back to the apartment to dine.  Good meal, and plenty left over for tomorrow.  
       Lazy evening with Mom and around 10 we pull out the new hide-a-bed and crash for the night.  (Wish I could say it sleeps better than the old one, but IS a hide-a-bed!)

THURSDAY, March 26
Eye Appointment

          Up early as the sun floods the room rising over the shadow of the Sandia Mts.!  But we need to get up early as Rick and mom leave at 7:15a for Mom’s 8a eye appointment.  I work on a few computer issues while they are gone, and draw and write Friday’s devotional (a fast from computer media day!) 
          I can’t say the rest of the day was that eventful!  Mom was a bit tired, so Rick and I went to pick up water, etc. from Wal-mart.  I ran over to Jo-Anne’s again to get some yarn.  We did a couple little chores around the apartment – adjusting some new sheer drapes and magnets on the cupboards.  We ate spam spread for lunch and leftover Ho Ho for dinner!  Watched the first game of March Madness basketball before heading out to Edgewood. 
Sunset at Randy's

FRIDAY, March 27  Happy Birthday, Ryan!
Albuquerque Old Town!

          Our agenda for today was a visit to Albuquerque’s Old Town, a historic plaza that we actually enjoy more than Santa Fe.  The shops are more reasonable, it isn’t quite so crowded and squeezed together.  We don’t get there until nearly noon, however, so only a few stores before we find the Backstreet Grill for lunch.  Good dining, although my chicken salad was just a touch too spicy for me.    We poked around in some new shops, visited old ‘friends’, and made some purchases!  Mom bought a new shirt and a gift for Jax, I bought a shirt and a new nativity from Indonesia (love the Christmas Store!)  Happy Birthday to me! 
      The San Felipe Mission Church was absolutely beautiful with its white spires against a deep blue sky today.  Add the blossoming trees, the warmest day of the year in Albuquerque, and we had a wonderful time!  To top it off, the pan flute ‘band’ Amauta was playing in one of the little courtyards as we were ready to leave.  We have bought their CDs before, so today we just stood and listened to about three songs.  So beautiful!
Amauta Band
          After our big lunch, Rick just ate Scotcheroos for dinner.  I finished up the salad.  We again watched the first game of basketball and then headed out to Randy’s. 
          No birthday celebration for Ryan today.  Randy comes home late Sat night.  They will do their traditional family bowling party next weekend.  But Patty was making cookies (for church on Sunday) so Ryan was enjoying them! 

          Patty, Ryan, Rach, and I enjoyed a trivia game of Bezzerwizzer (or something weird like that), which I was winning until Ryan make a dramatic come from WAY behind victory.  Oh well, it WAS his birthday, after all!  
St. Felipe Mission Church, Albuquerque Old Town
SATURDAY, March 28
 Weekly Shopping for Mom
          Big shopping day on the agenda for Mom!  Actually, just her weekly stock up that she usually does when Ran and Patty come into town to shop each weekend at Sams, etc.  We decide we need sustenance first and Mom has a coupon for Olive Garden she wants to use!  So….off for a little Italiano!
          Always like Olive Garden.  We ask for the lunch menu (they didn’t give it to us even though it was 1pm on Saturday – good to know – it pays to ASK!)  I seriously consider the soup and salad all you can eat, because I love their Caesar Salad and a vast array of soups!  (Not to mention the breadsticks!)  But Rick points out a portabella ravioli on the ‘light’ menu and that sounds very inviting, especially with the endless salad to go with it!  Mom had angel hair spaghetti and Rick lasagna.  A good meal.  A very good meal.  J
Our little spot by Randy's shop, from back balcony of house
          Then it is across the street to Hobby Lobby – Mom rarely gets a chance to just peruse the aisles of such stores.  I think she left empty handed, but I didn’t!  Found a few fun quilling and paper flowers kits and instructions, plus a fun gift for Kaila to honor her new little brother. 
          Finally in to Walmart to let Grandma do her grocery shopping.  Rick and I pick up a couple items and I make one last trip to Dollar Tree for a few birthday cards. 
          A late night at Moms as the Kentucky-NotreDame March Madness BB is on the TV and no one is at Randy’s anyway tonight.  They are in town and picking up Randy at 10 pm at the airport!  So we stay to watch the end of the game and arrive out in Edgewood shortly after 9:30pm.  We are still up when we hear the car pull in around 10:45 from the airport, but will save our hellos until tomorrow! 

SUNDAY, March 29
Regan, Dom, and Jaxon
Covenant Presbyterian Worship
Family time in Edgewood!
          Up a little earlier today to be ready to leave for town shortly after 8:30 to have Grandma to church on time!  The service has been moved from 10:30 to 9:30am!!  But Mom is ready to go and we just pick her up and head to the church.  I like this church – largely on the surface because of all the rainbow colors!  They are Covenant Church and the Rainbow covenant with God is evident everywhere!  A nice service for Palm Sunday.  Mom had a palm to wave! 
Jed and Jaxon meet!

 Straight out to Edgewood and the Walmart to pick up some roasted chickens for dinner plus potato salad.  Nothing fancy on the menu, just EASY!  Patty now has the cold, Randy is tired.  No one wants to cook, just chat!  Patty pulled out some baked beans and I made a tossed salad, plus some cut pineapple (especially for Jed!)  Mom is spending the night and Jed will take her home in the morning when he heads back down to Socorro. 
Mom and Jaxon

          Everyone joked about when Jed would arrive.  He said between 3 and 5 and I suggested  closer to 3, but hadn’t heard anything back.  Patty and Randy said we would see him at 6 then!  But….Jed surprised everyone by pulling in 5 minutes BEFORE 3!!!   Amazing! 
Jax checks out his
new birthday book
      Ryan and Rachael got home from work around 4:30 and we ate dinner!  Regan and Dom back with Jaxon around 6:30, just after we all returned from a walk around the ‘block’ (about a long mile in this area!).  Good time playing with Jaxon.  We gave him his birthday present – a shirt and book, both with geckos. 
          Ry, Rach, Jed, and I played a game of Galaxy Trucker. Ryan was the eventual winner.  A strange game as both Jed and Ryan and Rach all lost
Rach, Rand, Patty, and Ry
their ships during one round or another.  Fun time, however.  I think Grandma just plain enjoyed being in the middle of all the chaos.  Randy and Patty are leaving on Monday also for a three day vacation over to Arizona country. 
          This will wrap up the New Mexico portion of our Southwest Spring Swing blog for 2015!  Tomorrow night we will be in Colorado and homeward bound! 

PS.  This will be a little slow in getting posted as I don't have good enough internet to process the pictures on the way home!   

No comments:

Post a Comment