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New Mexico - “It Grows as it goes “

We had planned several domestic trips but due to Covid-19, the fear of Covid-19, and the high cost of domestic travel, we put those trips on the back burner. I have traveled abroad but to date, have only seen 17 states, most of them in the Northeast. A trip to the Southwest was definitely warranted. The stars aligned, airfare was reasonable and a lovely rental home was found.


We started with a great airport day, Uber on time, no traffic, breezed through security, boarded with ease, and best of all, an empty middle seat between us. There was only a brief fear that everything could only go downhill from there.


With no baggage to claim, we got into our rental and headed towards Albuquerque. The house was as nice as was promised on the booking site, perfect for us, spacious, with all the amenities we could hope for.


Our first day after a trip to Sprouts, to stock the refrigerator, we headed to Petroglyphs National Monument and Rinconada Canyon. What you ask is a petroglyph? A petroglyph is a rock-carving, often a prehistoric one. On black volcanic rock, the effect is dramatic. While the images may look like modern day graffiti, the overwhelming majority are authentic petroglyphs with wide and deeply carved lines.

Look at the rocks behind us not our faces for the deep lines.
Look at the rocks behind us not our faces for the deep lines.


















Below are some of the ones we actually did see.

Petroglyphs National Monument has several hiking trails. The petroglyphs that we saw on Rinconada Canyon Trail whet our appetite for more and so we headed to Piedras Marcadas Canyon where there are over 400 petroglyphs.


Before we entered we were warned of the forest fire risk

To see more photos Petroglyphs National Monument please visit:


After an early dinner we decided to go look for some of the historic architecture that I had researched so we headed to

Adrian , House - New Mexico Vernacular Architecture - built circa 1900

7618 Guadalupe Trail NW,Los Ranchos, Albuquerque


Refugio Gomez House - Territorial Architecture

7604 Guadalupe Trail NW,Los Ranchos, Albuquerque


Unfortunately unless we wanted to trespass or hire a hot air balloon to fly overhead, there was no way that we could see these buildings. Little details like that are frequently left out of “places to see.”

The weather report said it was going to be hot and sunny all day. Well, the hot part was right, but it started getting really overcast. Of course we did not bring our rain jackets with us when we left our house. So it was pouring when we got to where we saw the tin man. Fortunately we were able to drive close enough to get some shots from the car.


One of my husband’s favorite movies is the Wizard of Oz. He often makes references to the characters, Scarecrow, diploma, no brain, tin man, no heart, lion, no courage… etc. Nearly cost him his job, but he still does it.

Stephan indulged me in Scotland by going to numerous Outlander filming sites,now it was his turn to see a filming location. So, our next stop was Los Pollos Hermanos (Twisters) from Breaking Bad. The photo below should look familiar to Breaking Bad Fans.

Near Twisters was a wall with a mural of New Mexico key features. The photo below is just a small segment of this fantastic wall..

In pursuit of another building, we ended up in “Old Town”. The sculpture with a waterfall behind it attracted my attention.

A short distance away was the Romero Street Gallery, one of the largest galleries in New Mexico.

It was passing the golden hour and getting close to sunset and it was over 90 degrees F, 32 C…and being a little jet-lagged we decided to call it a day.


Up at the crack of dawn, on a cool sunny morning, we had a quick breakfast and headed towards Sante Fe. Our first stop was Randall Davey Audubon Center. We arrived by 8 am and luckily happened upon a guided bird walk. When we started, the guides outnumbered the birders. One was Chris Chappell,who pointed out a great many birds that we had never seen. Almost every species west of the Mississippi was new to us Easterners. We saw scrub jays, grosbeaks, finches, warblers, a Cooper's hawk and more. When Chris asked if we had spotted anything new, we just pointed to the 3 different kinds of hummingbirds at the feeder next to him and said “For Starters”.


Below are some "lifers".

Black-chinned Hummingbird


And yes there are deer out west but the ones that you will see have rather large ears and are called “Mule Deer”

As we were walking we saw a rather small and nondescript blob on a tree which as it turns out was a hummingbird nest

Two hummingbirds




In New Jersey it is really easy to Id a hummingbird as there is only one species. In New Mexico it is much more complicated. Both the Rufous and Broad-winged Hummingbird have a lot of rust color on them. Both have white wing tips, and if they are female or immature, the differences are very subtle. The photo to the left is of either a Rufous or a Broad-winged. What do you think?






Upon our return to the visitors center we felt a few drops of rain. We heard that there were monsoons in the area during the summer which we thought to be very unusual for New Mexico. The bonus was that the Sante Fe area was relatively green.


To see more photos of Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary please go to:


On our way to Pecos National Historic Park we stopped and took a picture of a Pueblo inspired church that we saw on our way into the Audubon Center.

Soon we arrived at the Pecos National Historical Park, where the powerful village once housed over 2000 inhabitants. It was the center of trade.



Again at Pecos we felt raindrops. This time I had rain gear with me. Can’t say my husband was as fortunate. As we drove from Pecos to Sante Fe the skies opened up, so much so, that we had to pull over until the rain subsided a bit. I’ve noted the rain a lot because, well, we were in a desert area.


To see more photographs of Pecos National Historical Park, please go to: https://mariamarkatos.smugmug.com/USA/New-Mexico/Pecos-National-Historic-Park/


After exploring Pecos we headed to the town of Sante Fe where we were greeted by a rather large dog.

One of the must see places, at least for me, in Sante Fe, was the Georgia O’Keefe museum. To enter this museum you need reservations which should be made a day or so in advance for the best entry times.

Santa Fe is not near any large body of water but rather in a high desert. It is however an art “hotbed” and perhaps that is why we saw fish emerging from a finely crushed gravel surface.

On our list of places to visit in Santa Fe was Canyon Road, which has a plethora of Art Galleries

Still photography does not do many of the sculptures justice as they move and change direction as the wind does.

I finally saw a large mammal in New Mexico, a Moose.

To see more photographs of Santa Fe, please go to: https://mariamarkatos.smugmug.com/USA/New-Mexico/Santa-Fe/


As we were driving back to Albuquerque we saw a wonderful sunset.

The plan was to start the next day at Rio Grande State Park. A sign indicated parking without a permit will result in a fine.There was no attendant. You just grab an envelope, write down your license plate, stick part of that in your windshield and the other with the $3 in a box. There was no way of getting change or using a credit card. Not having 3 singles, nor a pen, we had to forgo this for another day and set off to the ABQ Biopark.


We stopped along the way to snap some Street Art.

The ABQ Biopark is a really nice zoo. Our first stop was the Flamingos.

To see more photographs of ABQ Zoo animals, please go to: https://mariamarkatos.smugmug.com/USA/New-Mexico/Albuquerque/ABQ-Bio-Park/

Soon after we left the zoo we saw

To see more images of Street Art in New Mexico, please go to:


Our plans for the evening were to take the Sandia Peak Tram to the top of Sandia Mountain (taller than Mt. Olympus - the mountain of the Gods), have dinner, and then watch the sunset. We watched the weather forecast and on the morning of the first day with close to 0 percent chance of rain, we made reservations for a 3-5 pm tram ride up the mountain. Reservations are guaranteed for when your section of the line is to enter but the actual time that you get on the tram is not.


Our “reservation” meant that we had to arrive between 3pm-5pm and wait in a line with hundreds of others with the same reservation.


Approximately 40 people can fit on the tram at once. There are two trams so theoretically every 15 minutes the tram leaves. The wait is long but the ride is spectacular in both directions and the tramway is the longest in the United States. A tip for the shortest wait: If you want to enter at say 3, choose the 1-3 PM slot and arrive on your line close to the end of that interval. Also, if you opt to have dinner at the restaurant, you jump the queue to arrive for your dinner reservation.







Sunset








Albuquerque is known as the ballooning capital of the world. Everyday, weather allowing, balloons launch at the crack of dawn.

After watching balloons launch and with $3 cash, a pen, a camera, water, and insect repellent in hand we drove to the Rio Grande State Park.


Heeding the advice of the parks representative, we crossed a bridge and walked toward the city owned part of the park in search of birds on the Paseo del Bosque Trail.



Little Lizard





While squirrels can be a problem if they enter your home, they are still really cute.

After a morning of hiking, we decided to look for street art and found some really nice pieces in the Nob Hill part of town


Considered one of the most important authors of contemporary Chicano literature, Rudulfo Anaya has published a few dozen works and is best known for “Bless Me Ultima”.

The iconic route 66 goes through Albuquerque and is the home of the Route 66 diner.

Not all Public Art is painted. Below is an example of a collage.

Rt 66 Collage
Rt 66 Collage

Rt 66 Collage

Not only does Nob hill have beautiful street art, so does downtown

Having read that Bosque de Apache was a beautiful spot for hiking and birding, we decided to take the 90 mile ride to southern New Mexico. Since the speed limit is 75 and the roads are relatively open it seems much closer than 90 miles would in the NJ/NY area.


The National Wildlife Refuge is located in San Antonio, New Mexico between the Chupadera and San Pascual Mountains is over 57,000 acres in size of which over 30,000 acres is designated wilderness. This land is home to a large number of birds, mountain lions, lizards, snakes, and more.

The scent of sage brush wafted past us as we walked on the trails.

Should we climb it - maybe


Mountain Lion Country



The park as noted above is huge and so some of the places were a nice car ride away from each other. When we got out of the car to take our next short hike we saw an interesting sign.











Our walk was a short one. Once the other hikers we saw went to their cars, we decided to go to ours. While I like cats, the ones larger than me are a little intimidating. We called it a day.


Since we were staying less than a mile from Petroglyph National monument and since we had seen many birds there on an earlier visit we decided to revisit the place, this time early in the day and equipped with a long lens.


The lesser goldfinch did not disappoint

Click here to see what was on the trail




As we continued our walk we saw a sign prohibiting bikes and dogs and with some type of warning


Click on the image to the left to see what crossed our path.









We decided to try a different entrance to the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park. This one had sculptures carved out of the tree remnants that had remained after a forest fire. We saw the rebirth of a forest and the reutilization of its wood, a day of hope. A beautiful day.

squirrel and acorn sculpture from tree killed by fire

The Little Free Library is a non-profit that promotes literacy via neighborhood book exchanges with the often seen logo, “Borrow a Book”, “Lend a Book”. Since 2009 these libraries have proliferated and can be seen in many cities throughout the country and throughout the world. I love photo-collecting them. Below is one we saw in Albuquerque.

Little Free Library, Rio Grande Nature Center State Park



















We hope you enjoyed reading our New Mexico blog segment and that you join us as we explore Sicily in our next blog.


If you missed our Scotland trip and would like to read about it


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