Dear Maia and Isaac,
Today started in Grants and ended in Carrizozo. The day started on Interstate 40 – it used to be Route 66. You can still see the old 2-lane road off to the side of I-40 sometimes. My family took a vacation to Route 66 when I was little. Now, it has so many semis that it scares me in my little Honda Fit. It has more semis than I have ever experienced on any other highway, so I try to avoid it, but it is hard to travel through New Mexico and Arizona and not use it sometimes.
As I was driving the 30-mile stretch of I-40, I was thinking to myself how lucky I am to live in these times. It use to be women didn’t travel alone much. I think how lucky we are to have safer, smarter cars and GPS. Definitely cellphones. And, yet, still so many people are surprised that I do this by myself. It is still a bit of a stigma for women. Like camping.
So, once we got off I-40, we took a shortcut road to 1-25 so we would miss Albuquerque. It was a pretty road and I could feel us dropping off the Colorado Plateau to the Great Basin. It got warmer and was kind of windy. We got to I-25 in about 30 miles, and we only stayed on it about 30 miles, headed south.
Our exit was US Highway 60. It is another rural road. Hard to believe it is less than 50 miles from Albuquerque. Maizzy and I serendipitously discovered the ruins about 3 years ago on our road trip – there was a photo of Abo in the motel room so I googled to see if the ruins were local – and they were. When I was figuring out my trip route, I really sort of dreaded today with all the freeway time until I figured out a way to take backroads so we could see the ruins, again, today. Before we got there, we crossed the Rio Grande River.
The first ruin you get to is Abo. It was the one that was in my motel room picture. These ruins are so big compared to Ancient Pueblo ruins. I got a book about these ruins on our last trip, but I don’t remember as much as I wish I did. The early Spanish conquistadors came at the end of the Ancient Pueblo Indians. The Spanish learned masonry from these Native Americans. So, the ruins have kivas that are part of the Ancient Pueblo culture but they are like big Spanish mission churches and villages. I don’t think the Native Pueblo Indians had many rights but they lived with the Spanish people for many years when these buildings were in use. There is a lot more info on the history at this link.
Maizzy road in her k9 Sport Sack some – she gets so short of breath now. Usually, she sleeps but she did look around some at Abo. She is still happy and likes to eat! She slept in the suitcase last night. Silly girl.
We had grilled cheese in a little town called Mountainair and then visited a ruin that is about 8 miles north called Quiarai. It is mainly a big mission church with most of the rest of the village not visible. It is so big that it is a great background for little dogs.
Then, we headed South on State Highway 55 for 36 miles. It is clearly becoming hotter with more la cholla cactus growing. There are small mountains occasionally, but nothing like Colorado. It is mostly grassland. Then comes the last ruin, Gran Quivira. It is white stone instead of red like the others. I can’t imagine how much work it would have been to build these.
Then, we continued on Highway 55 for 60 more miles. There were very few cars on that road – it looked like nature wanted to reclaim it. The scenery turned into totally flat grassland. I sang with my ipod a lot. Finally, we got to this little town called Carrizozo and found our motel. We were the only guests when we first got here, but I think there is one other person now. They were selling BBQ in the parking lot, so that made dinner easy. My computer is being horribly slow though. So, I want to get this finished, as tomorrow we do White Sands National Monument. Why did I dream we went there – then, I just had to go. Can’t wait.
Love, Grandma Hartt