The gift of time – Part 1 – New Mexico

I have not written anything on this website in almost a month.

Not because of stress as in pre-Moab times. Or because I am too tired.

It’s for more prosaic reasons.

The gig I picked up keeps me busy but not overwhelmed, and at night I’d rather spend time with Joan than write on this website. And with three-day weekends, it seems we have a cycle of finishing a trip, unpacking and cleaning gear, and then getting ready for the next trip by Weds with frequently leaving town on Thursday nights.

In other words, we spend more time getting ready for the outdoors and then (crucially) getting outdoors than pining for it. I’m not about to complain. 🙂

If you peek at my Instagram profile, you’ll see lots of trips. Just a couple of hundred words at a time seems more in line with what I wish to write this past month.

Among these trips?

A two-week road trip from Moab to Big Bend National Park and back. Joan and I had two weeks available over the holidays, and I’ve wanted to check out a different part of Big Bend now since my trip there four years ago. And if we had some green chile’ delights while in New Mexico? So much the better!

We packed up the truck, drove to Grants, NM (where I did enjoy some green chile’ delights and some delicious sopapillas), and then made our way to the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.

The national monument comprises three units and is essential for Pueblo and Spanish colonial history.

Joan and I went to the Abo unit on our first day. The more well-visited of the three divisions, it reminded me of the Pecos Pueblo near Santa Fe in terms of the Spanish church, location on the grasslands and between the mountains, and the Pueblo structures.

By luck, more than planning, within thirty minutes of our arrival, a guided tour of rock images (otherwise not accessible to the public) got scheduled. Fantastic timing!

A short walk brought us to a prominent wall with both pre and post-Columbian imagery.

The images always have meanings I won’t begin to interpret but will always admire.

Originally we planned to camp, but we wanted to see the other two units. Add in the later hour, fewer daylight hours, and the sub-20F temps, and getting a hotel room in the small community of Mountainair seemed a better option.

And it gave us a chance to go to a place we did not plan – dinner at the historical Shaffer hotel and diner. The green chile’ cheeseburger proved tasty, and the original 1920s decor with a southwest motif ended up fascinating!

The following day, we went to the Quarai unit with more Spanish than Pueblo presence.

New Mexico’s complex history can get seen up close by walking the grounds of this part of the national monument.

Shortly after, we drove to the most remote of the three units at Gran Quivira. 

This unit had much more of the Ancestral Pueblo influence still present.

After our visit, we made our way further south towards a BLM campground and crossed over into traditional Mogollon lands. The BLM campground gave us access to an area with over twenty-thousand images (!), including a ridge that took an academic team well over a year to catalog alone.

The images proved more intricate and much different than what we know from our Colorado Plateau jaunts.

With the early winter night, we only saw a fraction of what there’s to see, and I know we’ll come back at some point.


The winter sunset from our camp gave promise to what waited for us in Texas.

An excellent start to enjoying our gift of time.

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eddy de wilde
eddy de wilde
2 years ago

Looks like you had great weather to enjoy the ruins and rock art. Whoever made the carvings had a lot of inspiration.