Day 11, Albuquerque to Grants. Sky City and the ancient graffiti @ El Morro
22/8/11 woke up in Albuquerque,
Albuquerque is the home of the nation’s longest main street, Central Avenue; 18 miles east to west.
Besides that, there is a quaint old town, with some decent mexican restaurants and even more of the turquoise jewellery.
We got out of here quite quickly and moved on to Grants, where with a bit of good will, a lot of petrol and 4×4, there was quite a bit to see. Well, not really in Grants itself, but that was our base.
Grants itself is a small town, referred to as “Place of Friendly Smoke” by Native Americans. The place is famous for uranium discovered nearby at a place called Haystack Mountain in 1950. The main attraction in Grants therefore is an uranium museum, which we are planning on visiting tomorrow morning.
Today our first stop was The Sky City, or as maps call it, Acoma Pueblo.
According to their site, or more like it, an organisation responsible for the preservation of this area: Acoma Pueblo is built atop a sheer-walled, 367-foot sandstone bluff in a valley studded with sacred, towering monoliths. Since 1150 A.D., Acoma Pueblo has earned the reputation as the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. The mesa-top settlement is known worldwide for its unique art and rich culture.
A federally recognized Indian Tribe, Acoma Pueblo has a land base covering 431,664 acres and is home to 4,800 tribal members with more than 250 dwellings, none of which have electricity, sewer, or water.
The pueblo, believed to have been established in the 12th century or earlier, was built at this location in part because of its defensive position against potential raiders.
Access to the pueblo is difficult. Before modern times, residents (and raiders) could only reach the pueblo by climbing a hand-cut staircase carved into the sandstone.
Afterward we headed to the Bandera Volcano and Perpetual Ice Caves, as it’s been advertised pretty much everywhere, but we were 4 minutes late, so we’ve missed it (after a later investigation we found out, that it’s not really such a big deal. Every picture we’ve seen looks pretty much the same. Especially being a true blood Pole, I’ve seen more than enough of snow and ice in my life.
From there we headed some 40-odd miles southwest of Grants, to El Moro National Monument.
We were late, but the awesome “but we came here all the way from UK” worked a treat. Yet again. 100% success rate.
El Moro is also known as Inscription Rock. It’s main feature is a 200-foot sandstone cliff rising from the valley floor and bearing inscriptions dating back centuries. The rock sits along an ancient east-west trail that has been frequented by travellers since prehistory as El Morro was the only reliable source of water in the area. There is no spring. The pool at the base of the rock is fed largely by rainfall in July, August and September and by melting snows. It holds about 200.000 gallons of water.
Interesting, isn’t it, that once graffiti gets old enough, it’s considered a cultural treasure?
Awesome sunset on the way back to the hotel…
And a pic of a lightning!!!!!