New Mexico, Nov. 1, 2012

November 17th, 2012 | Posted by Steve in National Monuments | New Mexico | Parks | Photography

This will be a short post despite all the pictures I took this day.  The photos will be déjà vu with a few landscapes.  To me nothing is exceptionable, but some of you may like the trees.

Fran & I started the day in Tucumcari, NM & were on the road just after 8:00 am.  We had an 11:00 am get together with an old high school friend of mine, Bob, and his wife Steph.  They live in Albuquerque.  We hotfooted it along I-40 stopping only to make a brief visit to Clines Corners.

When Jonathan was at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell we would visit him a few times a year.  We drove or flew into Albuquerque.  From there we would always head east on I-40 to Clines Corners and stop there before turning south to Roswell.  At Clines Corners we would usually stop for the restrooms and buy a few snacks.

One time we came in just after a winter storm.  The stop sign at the off ramp wasn’t just iced over, it was dripping iced over.  Clines Corners, after all, is over 7,000 feet in altitude.

Clines Corners is a classical tourist stop with gas, food, restrooms, and of course trash & trinkets.  It has been on the north side of I-40 since the 1930s.

The first photo is a panorama of 4 different shots.  I mounted the camera on the tripod then swung it around for this view of about 120 degrees.

Then I put on the fish eye lens for a few obviously distorted photos.


From Clines Corners we went to Bob’s house, had a great lunch in town, then went for a walk nearby in the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park.  Here I caught a few photos of the autumn colors.  Bob said the colors had already peaked, but they still seemed to be pretty good.

An overflow channel of the Rio Grande.


Fran and I had a wonderful visit with Bob & Steph.  By the time we left it was 3:00 pm.  I was hoping to make it to Gallup for the night with a stop in the Biste Wilderness.  As the miles rolled by we ignored Petroglyph National Monument, and the Laguna Mission.  If any of you are in the area both are very rewarding visits.

Near Grants, NM we saw this tree as we sped by.  We turned back & caught a few photos.  There was a horse feeding outside of the fence on the roadside nearby, something unusual for us.


By this time it was obvious that the Biste Wilderness would have to wait for the next day.  We saw a sign for El Malpais National Monument & headed off for that.  We drove up to the ranger station at 5:00 pm to see the gate was locked at 4:30 pm.  From there we continued onto the El Ventana Natural Arch.

El Malpais is Spanish for ‘The Badlands’ although the literal translation is more like ‘bad country’ or ‘ill country’.  The little we saw late this day was very scenic just the same.  The highway into El Malpais skirts the Acoma Indian Reservation.

Some places along the highway you find signs saying you are entering or leaving the reservation.  The last time I visited the Acoma Reservation I went to “Sky City”.  Before being allowed to visit all cameras were levied a fee or a one time tax.  This was over 10 years ago, long before cell phone cameras.  I don’t know their current policy, but I was still sensitive to it.  There are some interesting sandstone formations and cliffs along the highway to the arch.  They are in Acoma territory and in the afternoon they just begged to be photographed, but no photos here.  If you want to see them you’ll just have to visit them yourself.

By the time we got to the arch it was about 5:30 pm.  The arch faces north in a bend in the cliffs a few hundred yards from the parking lot.  Unfortunately the light was fading fast.  A hike to the base of the arch and back would have brought us back to the car after sunset so we let it be.  The best time to photograph the arch is around noon.

So, what is the difference between a natural arch and a natural bridge?  A natural arch is formed by wind erosion.  A natural bridge is formed by water erosion.

There is an arch here.  If you want to see the sky behind it you have to walk up to it.  This photo gives you a hint its there, but a photo from almost below showing the arch against the sky will have to wait for another visit.

The last post of this trip will show the Biste Wilderness, NM, Window Rock, AZ and a few others.

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