So we realized not everyone knows that wiwaxia is the name of our car: it has a license plate with its name, and here is Jim posing with the clean car in Sarah's and Tory's driveway. You can see how warm it is here by Jim's modeling his shirt in the sun. The car is doing well, resting here as are we for Tory's been taking us on outings in his (company) truck, a comfortable ride. On Saturday, we went back to Hesperus, north of Farmington and enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Kennebec cafe & bakery (I put a review on Trip Advisor), then went to Durango, definitely a trendy place with Disneyland character in its narrow gauge railroad. The class divide which seems to accompany the border between Colorado and New Mexico in this area is quite noticeable, even at first glance. We picked up provisions: a very delicious free range chicken, vegetables for Korean cooking Saturday night dinner, and four bottles of rum. Not just any rum, either. Jim will explain below. Now, part of the significance of Hesperus is its relationship to our Volvo's license plate, Hespera, the car currently being driven by Robin. We chose the name among several referring to the Amazons' colonies. Hesperus is also the name of the evening star. You can see the landscape, as Jane Austen would say, is meaning to have spring again. Everywhere around here is just on the verge of bursting into leaf and bloom. We left Seattle past that stage (and no, I hadn't planted my peas yet). But four corners area (of which Hesperus and Farmington are part) is filled with fields which will grow (presumably short season) beans as the soil warms and nights don't overchill. On the way back from Durango, we drove through Aztec where is located some ruins of ancient Pueblo construction (we saw one of the unexcavated mounds from the road). The entire area including Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon contains many ruins from an urban society active between 850 and perhaps as late as 1400 CE. Tory's employer maintains its offices in Aztec, and when he's not out in the field, Tory's at the office, about twelve miles from his house. His commute is about 20 minutes through a pretty residential area with cottonwoods and juniper dominating the mesas and the Animas River. Sarah and Tory have been the most generous hosts: asking for both our slide talks last night (Tory brought home a digital projector from work). Their eldest son, August, is away from home during our stay, but the younger son, also Tory, is here working on projects for his studies at the college. We saw his paintings last evening, and he has quite a painterly stroke, good sense of composition.
We have spoken with Robin, and he is flying tomorrow to Phoenix to visit Gregory Smart, longtime TOPS fellow student and church school pal who is studying at Prescott College in Arizona. We don't expect to connect up with him as it is unlikely they will go to the Grand Canyon and he will stay only until Friday; however, it is coincidental that we have friends in the southwest. It sure is another interesting coincidence that New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is in the news over his endorsement of Senator Obama. I like that he's got the beard now that he's not running for prez, making him look less fake.
Here are some photos Tory (the elder) took of the Pyrenees dog and the accompanying sheep which invaded their property recently. No shepherd available, and the sheep eating everything in sight. Forget any fencing by the Bureau of Land Management.
Jim: We found four bottles of Beachbum Berry-approved rum in Durango yesterday (Saturday), one a 151 proof Demarara from Guyana which is a famous "floater" and an essential flavoring for many genuine faux tropical drinks, and another golden rum. I dropped a bottle on several adjacent bottles of gin in one of the liquor stores--not the big Liquor World, but a smaller wine shop where we understand the proprietor is arrogant and has bad breath. Fortunately, nothing broke, but I did attract the attention of the owner's wife, who latterly kept a close eye on me. We hope to find one or two more rums in Santa Fe or Arizona, and return with a critical mass for my planned birthday Tiki party in May. This is not to mention some very fine dark Venezuelan rum of Tory's we were able to sample back at the ranch. Moab featured a western supper with a scheduled 7pm gunfight, but I felt that Durango had even more potential as a cowboy showplace, despite its superior airs.
Today, we rose (relatively) early and set out for Chaco Canyon, locale of the largest pre-Columbian edifices north of Mexico City. These have a very spiritual quality and purpose, and the various places are aligned according to solstices and also lunar cycles of substantial length. The largest, Pueblo Bonita, contains over 400 "apartments", of several stories, and is as huge as the Roman Coliseum. It is now thought that these were not dwellings, but rather gathering places, and the many petroglyphs, often spirals, as well as abstract figures, are fascinating. Numerous kivas exist now as below-ground spaces once covered, one of which I nearly fell into, to the chagrin of our hosts. We'll post some pictures soon--an incredible place, full of mystery.
Back in Farmington, we witnessed another beautiful New Mexican sunset, and after dinner, Tory got out the Celestron telescope. The moon rose late tonight, so stars were very bright and visible in the cloudless sky. We saw rings and moons of Saturn in clear detail, as well as the pleiades. I saw a shooting star across the field of the telescope, then another while gazing unassisted. We are having a great visit with Sarah and Tory, and will be off tomorrow for central New Mexico--Santa Fe and hopefully, Los Alamos, where nuclear mysteries will be revealed (or not).