Monday, October 10, 2016

Monument Valley AZ to Cuba NM

Saturday October 8, 2016

We enjoyed breakfast and exploring around The View.  The décor is very high end Navajo crafted with beautiful rugs, metal ware, and other décor here and there.  The lobby is particularly dramatic with two stories of arts and crafts. The breakfast was served buffet style and was certainly adequate – nothing special but good. 

We finally loaded up the van and headed south. We were driving east and south through the Navajo Nation.  We headed back to Kayenta and then across AZ to NM.  Nothing outstanding about the territory we covered as there are few towns of any size in this part of the country.  We crossed over into New Mexico and quickly saw the huge shiprock that we had been expecting. 
Shiprock from distance

Soon we came to the town of Shiprock – the first city of any size we have seen since Page.  It is Saturday and there were two huge flea markets.  We opted not to stop and drove on exiting the Navajo Nation and through Bloomington and on to Aztec where we were planning to visit Aztec Ruins National Monument.  First we needed lunch and stopped at the New Mexico fast food chain – Blake’s Lota Burger. We have only had fast food once on our trip – at Wendy’s the night I spent time in the Emergency Room!  Lota Burger was OK - the onion rings were great!

The Aztec Ruins were interesting and very well preserved.  The Kiva had been discovered and restored by an archeologist in the early 1900’s.  It was outstanding – when built by the ancient Puebloans it must have taken a huge number of workers years to construct.  The timbers for the roof had to be cut and carried from over 20 miles away.  They park service has native flute music that could be played – it was quite impressive.  The rooms of the rest of the ruins were well preserved as well.  The park service says that over 90% of the ruins present are original.  The designs in some of the walls were exquisite.  It was possible to see the outside and inside so carefully constructed and the area in between filled with rubble.  Ben was busy measuring and comparing to the work at Chaco.  He also enjoyed his discussion with the rangers about his favorite archeologist Steven Leckson – found out he has perhaps written a new book which I am sure we will be buying soon. 
Aztec Ruins National Monument

Part of the ruins
Second outside Kiva

Ben measuring doors

View through several doors
Jane in ruins

Original designs in walls

We finished about 3 PM and instead of staying here decided to head on south.  Jane remembered a restaurant recommended by a friend years ago in Cuba NM so we thought we would head there about 70 miles south and hopefully find a campsite.  The area we drove through is the San Juan Basin which is a large oil-gas production area.  We crossed the Continental Divide.  We first crossed it on our way to Gunnison early in our trip and here we are coming back across.
San Juan Basin Equipment

More Petroleum Equipment

Cuba it turns out still had the great restaurant – El Bruno’s but the campsite was less than suitable – and there were few motels.  We found one the Frontier that looked pretty good- one side of the road was the original Frontier Motel – across the street his “annex” looked like he had bought out the competition.  We chanced it and remarkably while it was nothing fancy it was clean, had a great bed and decent TV and WIFI.  What more do you need for 10 hours!

We drove the couple blocks down the road to El Bruno’s and had good New Mexican food  Jane had her favorite Chile Rellenos and Ben had Tacos.  Both were very good – we did finally determine that the “green” sauce is hotter than the “red”.  I did not think this was true from previous adventures eating in this area – but the last 2 nights the green sauce has been too hot for us.  The folks at El Bruno’s served it on the side and graciously brought me some red for my Rellenos.  Great stop and I can’t thank Carolyn enough for the recommendation years ago – and my memory for recalling it!
Chili Rellenos


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