– Albuquerque, New Mexico to Page, Arizona –

Man, it was chilly for our run this morning. Albuquerque has an elevation of somewhere around 5,000 ft, and this is never more apparent than just around dawn in the winter. Luckily, we brought plenty of warm running clothes, so we were all bundled up for our unaccustomed run at altitude.

There are many trails in and around Albuquerque, and I honestly can’t even tell you the name of the one we chose, though it is very close to our La Quinta on the western side of the city. We did drive across the highway to park at a Walmart for trail access, though we technically didn’t have to. There is a pedestrian bridge over the highway, so we could’ve crossed if we had wanted to, but it was pretty inconvenient for us. We were doing really well on our four miles, despite the conditions, until the very last stretch of our run, when we had to run back up to the top of the hill we’d parked on. Nobody stopped running, but we were wheezing when we finally made it to the top. There’s so much less air up here.

Boca Negra Canyon area

Post-run, we headed back to our hotel, showered, had some breakfast, and packed up. Our first stop for the day was actually in Albuquerque at Petroglyphs National Monument, which neither Mark nor I had ever visited before. Unless you are into history, or you have a large amount of time to hike around, it really isn’t that interesting.

We stopped at the Visitor Center first, where we got our stamp and our map, so we could find out what the park had to offer. There are several trails, and a number of them have petroglyphs, as you might expect, though some of them simply explore the volcanoes on one of the far edges of the park. I think we will come back to do that someday. Dogs are allowed on every trail but the one that was most convenient to us for today, which made us sad.

Funny-looking petroglyph people

Map in hand, we drove up a couple of miles to Boca Negra Canyon, which has a couple of small trails right off of the parking lot that lead to petroglyphs. It’s really not very far at all, so even though Ripley couldn’t come, we didn’t have to leave her for long to snap a few photos of petroglyphs. The particular petroglyphs in the Boca Negra Canyon area are as old as 3,000 years, and were created by the Ancestral Pueblo peoples.

It’s interesting to speculate about the meaning of the petroglyphs, or why they might have been carved. We even joked that someone might be looking at our graffiti in a similar fashion someday, though it is unclear to me if these were created in the same spirit as graffiti. I suspect not, though I did read that it is inappropriate to speculate. I suppose since I am not an expert, and my speculations wouldn’t make it onto any sort of sign, what I do hardly matters.

There’s a snake!

From Petroglyphs, with a quick stop for tea at McDonald’s, we hopped onto I-40 and headed toward Gallup. Along the way, we stopped and grabbed our lunch from the cooler and ate on the road, with food much the same as yesterday. Mark tells me we got it out at exit 72, if that’s the sort of thing you find interesting. I suspect he only knows it so well because he got out his film camera and took some pictures while I walked Ripley around for her bathroom break.

We finally reached Gallup just after midday, then turned off of I-40 to head up to Window Rock. If you’ve read our travel blog before, you may remember me mentioning that we have been reading all of the Tony Hillerman books, which are mostly set on the Navajo Reservation in this area. Mark has been wanting to travel through the areas we’ve read about to see the sights, as the area is notoriously lovely, so this part of our trip is a bit of a survey of the places covered in the books. There’s a lot more to see, including Canyon de Chelly National Monument, which we did not have time to visit today.

Do you see what I see?

In Window Rock, which is finally in Arizona, we stopped to check out the arch for which the town in named. It’s pretty cool, and there’s a little park around it to honor the Navajo Code Talkers that served during World War II. The park itself was decorated for Christmas. We also got some cute pictures of Little Ripley, which is one of the most important parts of any stop.

Not far away in Ganado, Arizona, we stopped at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. This park is the site of a former trading post that allowed the local Navajo to trade with settlers in the area beginning in the late 1800s. It remained in operation as a trading post until it was sold to the National Park Service in the 1960s. I suppose it is still in operation now, as you can still purchase things in the actual trading post building.

The bane of Ripley’s existence at Hubbell Trading Post

We met a trading post resident immediately upon our arrival, and Ripley took an intense dislike to her. As you can see from the photo above, this particular resident was of the feline persuasion, and she rather audaciously perched on the hood of the Tacoma while Ripley barked at her. I was a little nervous she was going to try to into the truck with Ripley, since the windows were cracked. Perhaps she was a hitchhiker trying to escape the trading post. Regardless, she was very sweet, and totally oblivious to Ripley’s (seat-belted) threats.

In the end, we shooed her away from the truck and wandered inside the visitor center, where we got a stamp for our National Parks Passport book and took a look around. They had a large loom inside that people use to make blankets, which were once a primary good sold at the trading post. The blankets are generally made of wool, and sheep are a very popular livestock on the Navajo Reservation, and were even more popular when the trading post was active.

The barn on the left and trading post on the right of the photo

The trading post itself has blankets woven by local Navajo available for sale, and many of them are quite intricate and beautiful, though they are quite expensive. Even small blankets were at least $250. I imagine a great deal of work goes into the blankets, and we read on the sign that the entire family would be involved in the process of making them, be they herders or weavers. There’s also a barn attached to the trading post, and the Hubbell Family home, which we did not see since we did not have time to wait for a tour. It isn’t a bad little park.

With the trading post behind us, the stops for the day were basically done. All that was left were miles to traverse across the rest of the reservation, to Tuba City and then off the reservation and on to Page for the night. It’s a long, empty drive across this part of Arizona. The sun was particularly difficult as sunset approached and we wound our way through the mesas, constantly blinded every time the road shifted and our sun visors were no longer in the right spot.

Stopped on the Navajo Reservation for a lovely view at sunset

We stopped once for a few pictures, just because we could, and we stopped one other time for a break because the sun was so bright. It was literally directly in front of the road on a hill, and Mark couldn’t see well enough to even drive until the sun went down a little further. We waited for perhaps five minutes while sunset approached and the view up the hill cleared. When we could finally see again, we moved on.

For dinner, we had Subway in Tuba City. They don’t have many restaurants, and our options were basically Subway, Sonic, and Taco Bell, and we figured Subway was the healthiest, even if it is our meal of last resort when we are on the road. Ripley, as is her custom, had kibbles. Somehow I’ll bet you aren’t surprised.

Waiting for the blinding sun to go down

Tomorrow we are heading over to Horseshoe Bend at the crack of dawn to get cool pictures of the river and the sunrise. Our prospects for running don’t look good, as there isn’t much here, but if we can, we will do it after we’ve finished at Horseshoe Bend. If nothing else, it is a 1.5 mile round trip to the edge of the canyon to get our pictures. Maybe we can make the trip more than once for a bit of exercise.

– Trip Total : 1,041 miles


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