A day in New Mexico (7/20/03)

Last updated 7/25/03                                                                                                                                                     Russian translation here

After Arizona, our next stop was in Albuquerque New Mexico. Driving in New Mexico also rocks for the same reason as Arizona: 75MPH speed limits everywhere (I'm getting spoiled by this, and I'm sure it won't last throughout the trip!) We stayed in one of the "Kamper Kabins" at the KOA near Albuquerque, which spared us from having to put up the tent, and provided needed electricity (blogging) and a ceiling fan for the hot weather.

We visited the El Morro National Monument, more commonly known as Inscription Rock during our way to Albuquerque. Inscription Rock is aptly named, since it is the sight where various travellers beginning with the Spanish in the 16th (?) century carved various inscriptions into the rock to signify their passage through the area. There were tons of different inscriptions in old-Spanish, Spanish and English that all amounted to: "Bob was here". Kind of interesting that currently we condemn the works of similarly-motivated youth as "graffiti" -- who knows, in a couple hundred years, they could have a "national monument" with a bunch of urban graffiti (sounds plausible to me). In any case, some of the inscriptions were really well done and looked pretty. The area is also historic because it provided water for the travellers and some Native American tribe used that area as a water source and lived in the surrounding regions.

In Albuqueurque we also visited the historic downtown region which had a lot of pretty shops and architecture that had a southwestern feel due to Spanish and Native American influences. A final stop in Albuquerque was to the museum section of the town, which had several (more than 5 if I recall correctly) different museums. We ended up visiting the National Atomic Museum, which houses a lot of info on the devestating history of atomic weapons and the science behind them. The picture below shows a replica of the "Fat Boy" bomb that was dropped on Japan during WWII. Overall the museum was nice, but depressing and we didn't have too much time to explore the exhibits in enough detail. I discovered, to my surprise, that dentures are substantially radioactive, and so are most hot springs -- apparently, their benefitial health effects are due at least partially to the radiation from the underground rock strata.

After Albuquerque we visited Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. I really enjoyed Santa Fe, and we spent the better part of a morning and afternoon exploring the historic downtown of this city as well. There is a lot of beautiful architecture there, mostly in the old Hispanic style, with winding little streets (the cutest one is Burro Alley where donkeys used to deliver firewood to, for sale; see picture of the burro statue below). We visited the Loretto Chapel which is famous for its "miraculous staircase". The staircase which was necessary for the nuns to be able to climb to the 2nd floor (I forget the appropriate terminology that was used during the explanation at the chapel), was built by a "mysterious" carpenter who worked on it for 6 months using nothing but a saw, hammer, and hot water to shape the wood. In addition, the carpenter disappeared after finishing the staircase and didn't ask for any payment for his efforts. If you're trying to figure out what's miraculous about all that... well nothing! The supposedly miraculous part is that the staircase has no central support and isn't supported on the sides either. Supposedly the only thing keeping it up, and allowing it to function appropriately, is its "perfect" design which allows the staircase to support both its own weight and those who used it. I personally don't buy into all of the religious explanations for the staircase, and instead believe that sometimes people end up performing their job well (just think of all of the times that someone has screwed up your order at a fast-food joint... for each of those, there should atleast be several other times that people don't, and maybe even a few times when they do a superb job). In any case, the chapel was beautiful and the staircase was certainly pretty -- and if it makes you happy to think of a higher power acting through the "perfect" design of the staircase, then please don't let my previous comments spoil this wonder for you...


 KOA "Kamping Kabin" near Albuquerque       Daria on a swing at KOA       KOA campsite in Bernalillo, NM, near Albuquerque. This time we picked a "kabin" over a tent.

El Morro National Monument, aka Inscription Rock       Puneet at the Inscription Rock       One of the inscriptions       Inscription Rock (El Morro National Monument, NM)

Santa Fe architecture       Burro Alley in Santa Fe, NM       Miraculous staircase at Loretto Chapel       Sorry, full view of the staircase came out blurry       Santa Fe, capital of New Mexico.

"Fat boy" bomb at the National Atomic Museum       National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, NM. This bomb is identical to the "Fat boy" that was dropped on Japan.