Saturday, May 2, 2015

2015-7 Gallup New Mexico to Blue Water State Park


Gallup New Mexico
Blue Water State Park, New Mexico
Grant New Mexico

Campground:  Red Rock Park.  $20 Water/elect. 50 amp.  Excellent G4 Verizon signal.  No tv signals.  Great hiking trails through the red rocks.

Campground:  Blue Water State Park.  $4 per night elect. with my previously purchase yearly camping pass.  Remote park, closest town is Grant about 25 miles away.  Lake it low and electric sites do not have views of lake.

Distance traveled:  228 miles

White Mountains, Highway 60 between Globe and Showlow AZ

I was eager to begin my drive along hwy 60 through the Apache reservation’s White Mountains.  If you enjoy feeling light headed, butterflies in the tummy and woozy feeling as you drive along the edge of mountain cliffs and switchbacks traversing steep ravines and canyons, you’ll love this adventure.  Fortunately, there were many turn-outs and scenic viewing stops along the way to break up what could be a stressful drive.  The highway is very well maintained.  Quickly gaining in elevation from Globe, the scenery quickly changed from high desert to mountain pines and pinion trees with a couple of Alpine meadows thrown in.  Then came the dramatic decent and climb out of those White Mountains.

enjoying one of many pull-outs

Needless to say the journey took a few hours longer than expected with all the stops I had to take along the way.  There would be no reason to go this route if one didn’t stop to enjoy the dramatic views.  Even the bathrooms at one of the rest stops had a view!

Gallop New Mexico, Indian shopping mecca

Gallop is like the commercial selling place for all things Indian as there are Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Acoma and many other Indian tribes that sell their wares here, both wholesale and retail.  The town is filled with “Trading Post” after trading post filled with rugs, pottery, jewelry and other Native American art.  Even saw specific shops dealing only with one item such as Indian Fetishes, rugs and pottery.

Gallop NM

So being a good traveler, I headed to the visitor center in town to get more information on a site called “Spring under Rock”  out near Window Rock.  As I described the site, which is supposed to be one of many lesser known sites in the area, the gal behind the counter immediately called for help from in the back.  I got as much info as I could and then she asked if I would be visiting Canyon De Chelly , Mesa Verde or Chaco Canyon?  I told her I had visited all three already but planned on revisiting Chaco Canyon again.  She then told me, though she has lived in the area all her life, she has never visited any of the sites and even had trouble pronouncing a couple of them.  Said she was too busy with life and hoped when she got old, her and her husband would tour some of these sites.  (I would guess she was in her mid 30s or early 40s).  Also asked both people at the visitor center if there was anything in the immediate Gallop area I should not miss and they both basically said to just tour around and enjoy the area.  Oh-Kayyyy.  Getting back on track, although I did find the “haystacks” and Spring under Rock, it wasn’t what I was expecting.  Oh well, I did get to see Window Rock, the Navajo Capital and the memorial to the WWII Navajo Code Talkers.

Window Rock the is center of the Navajo Nations Capital

WWII Code Talker Memorial

I should also mention that Route 66 goes right through downtown Gallop and when I head out in a few days from Red Rock Park, I’ll be taking it the entire way to Blue Water State Park about an hours drive away.  Getting to experience once again the Mother Road practically right out my front door.

  • Gallop has 100 trains pass through each day
  • Gallop was once a thriving coal mining town
  • They advertised for experienced miners all over Europe and paid their ocean and train fair to get them here.
  • The Indian manning the front desk of the local museum said, “once all those Polish, Germans, Italians and Irish arrived, we couldn’t get rid of them.  They’ve been here ever since.”

The next day after doing my laundry in one of the largest Laundromats I’ve ever been in and clean too I might add, I headed south to the Zuni tribal lands.  The Zuni Pueblo was built on an ancient site called Halona, on of the fabled Seven Golden Cities of Cibola.  Francisco Coronado arrived in 1540 in search of the 7 cities of gold and found none.  Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission was built in 1629 and later burned down during a Zuni revolt.  It has been reconstructed 1968.  Many Zuni’s were not for the rebuilding, but the other half, more progressive Zuni’s supported it’s rebuilding.

Zuni Reservation Land 
Zuni Museum

Zuni Middle Village

Zuni Adobe Village buildings

Mission rebuilt 

Road from Gallop to Zuni New Mexico

I visited their museum, which from of the outside looked like a pretty rundown building, but to be fair, most all of the buildings in town were very mostly run down.  Upon entering, the museum was quite large and well laid out.  I enjoyed the exhibits, (no photography permitted), and only saw one attendant on his way to the bathroom.  Said for me to enjoy the museum and walked off.  The Zuni’s have the most unique language of all the Native American tribes probably because of their remoteness to all other tribes.  They were the first tribe to take over the schools from the U.S. government.

I drove around the stone and adobe pueblo buildings.  After getting out to take a few pictures I was approached by two Zuni Indians on separate occasions.  The first had a few beautifully created black stone bears with turquoise inlays.  Of course he wanted to sell them to me, which I respectfully declined.  As we talked, I could tell he was inebriated. (time: 10:30am)  He pointed out where he lived on one side of the pueblo and his wife lived on the other side, where I could find him today if I changed my mind and decided to buy his wares.  A short time later, I drove around the mission and another man came over to my truck.  He asked if I needed directions and before I knew it, he had jumped in my truck and sat on top of all my stuff on the passenger seat.  He too was very inebriated, and of course my thought was how do I get him out of my truck without creating a scene.  So I drove around the mission slowly and let him talk and ask me questions.  I stopped on the other side of the mission, having only gone around the block so to speak.  Parked the truck and got out, thanking him so much for his help.  Figuring, if I didn’t get back in the truck, he would eventually get out.  As it turned out, a young couple walked on by touring on foot, and he got out to engage them in conversation as they drifted further and further away.  I got back in the truck, locking the doors, still with the windows open.  The Zuni Indian came back over to my truck and asked if I could spare a couple dollars. Since he smelled strongly of alcohol, I declined to give him any money and drove off.  Sad to think that their may still be a high degree of alcoholism within the Native Indian tribes.  85% of the Zuni’s are artist and go into the family business.  If it be jewelry making the father may design and work the silver, the wife may cut the stones, the sons and daughters may polish and work the intricate channeling work.  About a dozen shops selling the local wears are on the main street.  It appeared to me that there was a lot of poverty in this community.  With no shops, Family Dollar stores or restaurants we come to expect in even the smallest of towns.

On my way to the Zuni village, it had been recommended to me that I stop at Joe Milo’s Trading Post (or cash pawn) as it is also known.  Trading Posts are where Indians bring in their wares and sell them for resale to we tourists.  Joe Milo’s Trading Post carry’s all the raw materials that the Indians use to make their jewelry.  So Joe is making money selling the raw materials to the Indians and making money off of the finished products as well.   It’s an old establishment and further on back in the store are the many cases of fine Zuni jewelry for sale.  The Post also is an official Post Office, bringing many of the local in.  Two Indians were there sell their jewelry or rugs, waiting for the price to be given before deciding on whether to take the deal or not.

Joe Milo's Trading Post

Zuni Indians waiting to get appraisal of goods for sale

official U.S. Post Office inside the Trading Post

Raw materials for sale, by the ounce to make all the jewelry

It’s my last day in the Gallop area and I feel I’ve only touched the surface of this fascinating western land.

Red Rock Park

possible cougar or mountain lion

views from my campsite at Red Rock

Red Rock Cathedral

Distance Traveled:  40 miles

Blue Water State Park.  How does a 45 minute drive take two hours?  For starters, I took route 66 instead of I-40 which parallels the historic route.  A few stops along the way and then I follow the signs to Blue water, south about 14 miles… well that would be fine, except once I got to the lake, I was on the wrong side of it.   The campgrounds are on the other side.  Sooooo, I back track which takes a full 45 minutes to get to the other side of the lake.  Made it before noon, set up and then a group of campers arrived, taking all but one electric campsite.  It’s all first come first served this time of year.  Lucky to get a nice electric campsite.  Unfortunately no water views from the electric campsites.  Well,  Blue lake is pretty much a pond in my estimation.  Lots of hard packed sandy shoreline, which they permit campers to park on for dry camping.  Still boaters are on the much smaller lake, fishing as usual.

Indian Paintbrush

Blue Water State Park, New Mexico

dry camping permitted along the lake front

This State Park isn’t the most ideal park, in that it is a 25 mile drive into the nearest town.  But there is so much to see/tour in the area, that I just had to make it as my “home-base” for camping.  Besides, I hope to take advantage of the distance from town, by having some down time in staying close to the campground.

Wild horses grazing outside of Blue Water St Pk

As I headed out towards the town of Grant, I came across a couple wild horses grazing just outside the parks entrance.  They often wander through the park as well.  Driving along Route 66, the first historic ruin I come across is Brock’s Bluewater trading post, 1946-50.  Looks like it would have been a great trading post.  A little further on down the road is the Blue Water Motel.  Looks like it’s been converted into low income apartments/hotel rooms.

Brock's Blue Water Trading Post -Route 66

Blue Water Motel- Route 66

Route 66

At exit 85 (I-40) in Grant is a new El Malpais National Monument visitors Center.  Glad I found it, as I had some questions about the area before doing a few shopping chores in town.

wild flower along White Mountains

And that wraps up another week on the open road.

More pictures on Picasa as usual.

1 comment:

Nancy Phillips said...

Very Nice Blog! Makes Me Want To Visit!!