The Old and the New

Last Monday we had our introduction to the rock wonderland at Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona. This Monday we hiked another rock wonderland, this time an old favorite of ours, Kasha-Katuwe National Monument (aka Tent Rocks) that is only an hour’s drive from Albuquerque. It was interesting to note that Chiricahua is one of the oldest National Monuments, created in 1924, while Kasha-Katuwe is one of the newest, created in 2001.

We had an opportunity to share Kasha-Katuwe today with friends who are new residents of New Mexico. In the months they’ve been here they have seen many of the sights but hadn’t yet been to Tent Rocks. The day after we had talked to them to arrange today’s hike, an article on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal titled “New Mexico Bucket List Fills Up Fast” featured a quote by Lee praising the attractions of Tent Rocks. What a great opportunity to prove that Lee knows what he’s talking about!


New Mexico bucket list fills up fast
D’Val Westphal
Albuquerque Journal
17 Oct 2014

It didn’t take much prodding after my column on some bucket list items to find out New Mexicans have their own bucket full of ideas about what to do in the Land of Enchantment before you die. As well as a few who just want to get out of the state…read more…

 

Second cousins to the rock spires at Chiricahua.
Second cousins to the rock spires at Chiricahua.
Lunch with friends at the top.
Lunch with friends at the top.
Looking east towards Espanola.
Looking east towards Espanola.
Strange looking rock tents.
Strange looking rock tents.
On the trail into the slot canyon.
On the trail into the slot canyon.

Rock Wonderland

Fantastic, awesome, surreal, inSPIRE-ing are some of the adjectives that come to mind when describing the rock wonderland of Chiricahua National Monument. The Chiricahua Apaches, for whom these mountains are named, called this a land of “Standing Rocks”, an apt description for the countless spires and eroded columns of volcanic rock that line the canyon walls.

It’s about a 7-hour drive to get to Chiricahua from Albuquerque. There is a small campground at the monument and we made our visit there a 2-night stay at the campground. Considering the long drive, that left us with only one full day for hiking. We really should have planned it so that we would have had one more day to hike. It’s not a large area, and the trails aren’t that long, but there is just so much to marvel at that you have to take your time wandering the trails. There’s a whole section of the rock formations that we didn’t have time to see. But that leaves us something to look forward to on our next visit.
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When Pigs and Cows Fly

When pigs and cows fly in Albuquerque it can only mean that it is time for the annual International Balloon Fiesta week.

When cows fly.
When cows fly.

When pigs fly.
When pigs fly.
Time for Balloon Fiesta.
Time for Balloon Fiesta.

Our timing this morning was much better than opening weekend last Sunday morning when we showed up all excited to see the Mass Ascension of the balloons. Opening day was last Saturday and we read in the paper about how well everything turned out for the first day. But we couldn’t get there until Sunday morning and on that day the high altitude winds prevented the balloons from launching. We saw a lot of them get inflated but none of them were lifting off and eventually we got the word that the launch had been canceled.

When a Balloon Fiesta event is canceled, the tickets can be used for another event. So at 6:00am this morning, even though the skies were overcast, we made the trip once again down to Balloon Fiesta park. It’s the winds, not the overcast conditions, that prevent the launches so it was all systems go. We had a wonderful time running all over the field to try to get up close and personal with everything that was going on. It wasn’t a Special Shapes Rodeo like I attended last year, but some of the same special shaped balloons that I remembered launched along with the others.

One of my favorites is the Creamland Dairy cow balloon because it is just so huge. It’s hard to grasp the immensity from a few photos but here is a link to some of the sights we saw today. Can’t wait until Balloon Fiesta again next year.