We are on I-40 again, approaching the New Mexico border. I should have known that Mo and I couldn’t get through the desert without doing a side trip or two. At Holbrook, we took off on the old Route 66 to go to the Painted Desert. The most amazing thing we found unexpectedly was Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company.
It was amazing, with a huge lot filled with logs of every shape and size, and inside the shop aisles upon aisles of petrified wood, jewelry, huge tables made of stone and amethyst geodes, and even a pond and a waterfall. On the walls up high were all sorts of Route 66 memorabilia, photos, old license plates, coke bottles. The place was just too much fun. We bought some “mother road” refrigerator magnets, a book about the Petrified Wood national park, and an ironwood road runner for Mo’s collection.
Continuing into the park, we ambled along the quiet roads completely enjoying the silence, the distant views, and all the shapes and colors off the old betonite clay deposits that were a major factor in the process of petrification. Since silica is the main mineral that transforms the wood to stone, a good source of silica is needed in the waters that buy the wood to preserve it. Ahaha, volcanic ash! Huge piles of ash from all the volcanic activity in Triassic times 225 M years ago. The piles of ash, full of silica, helped create the stone. Then the ash weathers to heavy clay after millions of years, gets colored by iron and manganese and creates tourist opportunities for people like me and Mo.
It really was a great little park, though, with nice trails and beautiful views. Another nice part was that they allowed dogs on the trails which doesn’t often happen in a national park, so of course Abby got her morning walk.
It was a nice side trip and now we are back headed east. Last night was really comfortable after we settled in, even though it got down to 20 degrees. We were warm and cozy with the little electric heater that we use so we can save on propane. It’s also much quieter than the big heater.
We just crossed into New Mexico, and there is pink rock and golden mesas topped with dark green juniper. I am always amazed at how the landscape changes so much at state boundaries. This one is a great example. We moved from the huge flat plains of Arizona where you can see for 120 miles to the mesas and arroyos of New Mexico in just a couple of miles. Georgia O’Keefe country, pink and gold and juniper green.
Evening in Albuquerque. We settled in to our campground in plenty of time for daylight setup which was really great after our experience last night! Funny thing that the rv campground is right next to a Camping World which any RV’r knows is like REI for hikers. Super fun. So we shopped there a bit and I found the perfect chili pepper lights for the awning. I love the stupid little light thing, and Mo said, “no flamingos, but I suppose I could tolerate chili peppers”. So I have been hunting chili peppers. Of course, I probably won’t put them up until we are going to be somewhere longer than a single night, but you wait, pictures will be forthcoming.
We unhooked the baby car and headed downtown to the “Old Town” of Albuquerque, settled in 1705, just a young baby city compared to 400 year old Santa Fe, but still old by US western standards. It had a real pasea and town square, which Moana really loved. That was her favorite part of traveling in mexico and we enjoyed this one as well. Not as big as the square in Santa Fe, but still fun, although pretty quiet since it was a Monday night. There are Christmas lights going up and the luminaries everywhere which is so enchanting in New Mexico nighttime.
The restaurant was in an historic home. http://www.churchstreetcafe.com/
Lots of history here and really great service and good food. The waiter brought me exactly what I wanted, in pieces ala carte instead of those groups of things that are always way too big. I had some kind of Spanish chili relleno that was different, and sopapillas with green chili soup. Perfect. Oh yes, the marguerita was perfect as well.