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Monday, March 25, 2013

A Touch of Paint, and Petrification

A strange land form along Route 66, New Mexico
Have been on the road in the southwest, headed eastward. I'm traveling with an friend who used to work with me in Project Recycle for the State. She asked if I'd like to join her trying out volunteering at a YMCA at a mystery destination in an Eastern state. I thought, 'Hey, I'm retired, why the heck not, right?'
So, we left Sacramento, drove south and now we've already entered Arizona, and exited it, 'stage right' so to speak. Today we are in New Mexico, but only for the day as we whiz on through it. Not really taking time for doing much but stopping to gas up and/or eat.
A New Mexican Mesa
Other than a very few 'out the window' shots along the New Mexican Highway, there was only one other photo op. I noticed freeway signs touting "Painted Desert National Park". I thought, 'If that park is just off the freeway, we're going to stop there."   It was only a mile or so from the freeway ramp, so we checked out the visitor center.

Here's my 'we were there' shot
 Interestingly enough, some places are so full of cool things, that they each deserve a park of their own. Hence, the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert, share a Visitor Center but are each a separate park in their own right.
The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert Visitor Center

I'm always intrigued by the pottery of the New Mexican region. The unique  design often puts 20th and 21st Century artwork to shame, at least in my opinion.

Hopi Indian Kachinas and Squash Blossom necklaces on display, represent the Southwest's original artwork and beliefs.

I collected the National Park ink stamps for the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Parks. Sad news is we didn't take the time to actually walk or even take the auto tour for either park. So, in honor of the occasion, I invented a concept - Cheat Visit. A cheat Visit means I got a park stamp, but didn't actually tour the park. Until I properly tour these two parks, the ink stamps will have 'Cheat Visit' penciled in under them. I do believe this quick stop in New Mexico represents the first time I've done such a thing. I hope I don't have to do it again in the future.

The day ended in the not-exactly-sleepy-or-little town of El Paso Texas. We thought we had driven into the town of El Paso, and I looked to the south of the freeway and saw what looked like a Brazilian slum. Turns out it was actually a Mexican city. Always shocks me to see how drastically things can differ when an imaginary land bisects a single land mass: USA on one side, and Mexico on the other. As we drove on we realized El Paso is a huge city, rather overrun with shops and stores and it sprawls a bit. We'll spend the night here tonight, then continue due east, and on across the BIG state of Texas.

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