December 9, 2011

Christmas 2011

Happy Holidays and Warmest Season’s Wishes from the Taylor home, still on wheels. Greetings and hugs to our family and friends! And welcome to our other visitors, too!

We’ve added another year to our personal chronicle, and wonder…How could it have flown so quickly, yet given us so many new experiences and memories? We’re now having a bit of cool weather and welcome rain here in Austin. It’s perfect for a good hot soup and sharing a few 2011 tales.

Wupatki Pueblo (11)Chuck & Gigi at Cleator

2011 Main Stomping Ground: Arizona – far enough north to touch the Utah border on the way to Monument Valley; and New Mexico – four passes through, including a hop north to Rico, CO. In Texas, we were east to Bastrop and south to Port Mansfield. That’s a sport fishermen’s town on the Gulf, where our previous boat home for 21 years is now at the dock. She’s no longer called La Mouette, but she may travel again!

Number of 2011 Campsites: Thirty-one. This includes brief stops and longer, but we rarely rush off before we’re ready. We’ve been tethered to Austin for medical biz and follow-ups, three visits. 

Here are a few 2011 superlatives.

Good Friends: We shared our time this year with many we visited on our travels. It’s always wonderful to connect with family, with sailing, radio and camping friends, and even one of Gigi’s college roomies. Happily, they’re to be found all over the country, especially in the southwest. We track them down. Too many to embarrass them all with their pictures here!

Favorite Campsite: El Morro RV, Ramah, NM. In August the woods, ground cover and flowers were fragrant, campsite casual, hiking handy and sights nearby include Morro Rock, Zuni Pueblo, Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, Art Gallery, more. This busy crowd was always there – at our two feeders! 

El Morro Hummingbird (46)

Zuni Pueblo: At the Old Zuni Mission, men are buried to the left and women to the right. Traditionally, men are responsible for the spirit and ceremonial; women for the home. These craftsmen sell light switch covers.

Zuni Church (5)Zuni Church (2)

Spirit Wolf Sanctuary: Sadly, many  people want Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary (3)to own a wolf-dog mix, so people do breed them. Most end up in shelters or in sanctuaries. Here there are full-blooded wolves, too, like this white one (typical big feet).  Some come from small zoos that go under or can’t handle them.

Produce market at Ramah: Held weekly outside the community historic museum. Yum.Ramah Historical Museum (1)

Toadlena, NM (31)Favorite Place Revisited: We were heading south to Gallup through the Navajo reservation and meant to pass by until we saw the sign. Our wheels turned down the road to Historic Toadlena Trading Post, where owners sell daily goods as they celebrate and support the weaver’s art through exhibitions and more. We arrived in time to join a collectors’ tour of the current exhibition, and to view the owner’s residence and special pieces.

Toadlena, NM

Best Parade: In Gallup, NM, the annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial parade included Native American tribes from the US and Mexico. We’ve seen it before, and enjoyed it again. Later in the day, the Rodeo and dances were pretty much rained out!

Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Parade (19)Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Parade (27)

Tijeras SnowMost welcome departure: At the Tijeras, NM campground east of Albuquerque, we had snow…but had to stay two more days because, well, we were paid up!

Easiest Park to photograph: Monument Valley, where you cannot take a bad photograph! Eons ago, this land was beneath the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

Monument Valley (31)Monument Valley (65)

Awesome-est Place: Canyon de Chelly National Monument. It was also the toughest park to photograph. It’s just too grand to express through the limiting lens. But I tried. And tried. Left pix: There are ruins in the low dark alcove. Right: Spider Rock below, 800 feet high.

Chelly S Rim (50)White House (58)Chelly S Rim (98) Spider Rock Area

If you go, take a tour of the Canyon! The road in is also the river bed. 

Chelly S Rim (50)White House (37)

 Tour (48) Pictograph Tour Pictograph Stop 2-4

We chose Antelope Tours, and saw several ruins and many pictographs. Ben, our guide, took us to his family home, located next to Antelope ruins. Maybe because we liked his stories so much, he did a u-turn to give us an extra view of Standing Rock, located in a family pasture lined with old apple trees that the bears love. Here, a small Navajo group fought to successfully escape the Long Walk, the most terrible part of the tribe’s history and a shameful tactic by US troops that led to the death of thousands.

Tour (79) Standing Rock

Thinking of Christmas:

Nice potential gift for her (silver hair ornament):

Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Parade (64)

Nice gift for him (pick one only) Belen, NM:

Harla May Fat Boy Grill Oysterz

Happy New Year!!!