Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 13, Wednesday 9/18/13 - Gallup to Belen

It's probably not over 150 miles by the most direct route - we took 254.  Ah, but what we saw -  the sky was full of small rain showers, starting at sunrise, making for all kinds of scenic clouds.  First stop was El Morro Nat'l Monument, which is full of inscriptions ranging from petroglyphs to the early 20th Century.  Notable among them is the first inscription by a Spaniard, Juan de Onate, who led their first settlement in the SW, and by an officer of the California Column in 1866.  Even without the inscriptions, it's a very scenic location, with a 1/2 mile walking trail and a 2 mile loop.  Definitely worth a visit.

A bit up the road one finds El Malpais Nat'l Monument.  Malpais means "badlands"which is a good description for these huge lava fields from many eruptions, including one just 2000 years ago.  It has two distinct sections, one a walk around an old crater and lava tubes - we started the walk, but a crash of thunder sent us back to the car.  The other side takes one to overlooks and an arch - but first it was time for lunch at El Cafecito, Grants.  This place is GOOD!

We took the long ride down the road to the overlook - sandstone cliffs that stopped the lava flows.  First, we had to drive thru some of the residue of a rainstorm that had hit the area shortly before our drive - yellow, muddy water running over the road.    After this side trip, we headed for Belen, a 100 mile drive.  We stayed ahead of a big storm, checked into the Holiday Inn Express, and ate at Pete's, another great local eatery with New Mexican cuisine. 

Tomorrow we take US-60 to Mountainair, NM-55 south to visit Salinas Missions at Gran Quivira, US-54 to Carrizozo and Three Rivers Petroglyphs, and on to Alamogordo.

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