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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Friday, March 10, 2017

Belen to Gallup New Mexico

Well, hello again Trekkies! It has been a few days since I've been able to catch you up on our activities. They have actually been very laid back. Other than the Getting to Know You missive this morning I don't think I've been in touch since the Bosque in San Antonio New Mexico. I know that I told you of the getting up, heading out and prep to move on to Belen to visit Bud and Gloria. I think the pix of the Bosque are pretty self explanatory. Lots of ducks, quite a few Canadian geese, a big herd of javelinas, a number of hawks, a red-winged black bird, singing his heart out for us, and my favorite, the great blue heron who always lurks in the vicinity of the fast moving waters passing through a connecting culvert. As I'm sure you can see besides the wildlife, the serenity of the place and the changing light from 630 to around 8 in the morning is, of itself, soothing and beautiful. Once we checked out of the hotel we started up the Interstate to Belen. I had told Gloria I'd call her when we left Socorro, but, of course, I forgot. Remembered about 15 miles from her house and didn't get an answer--told Bill we might have to wait for their return but they knew we were coming in the early afternoon so wasn't too concerned. As it turned out, Gloria was home and Bud was out on errands. Visited for about a half hour and the doorbell rang--an old neighbor of theirs was visiting his son in Albuquerque. and decided to drop by for a visit. I cannot remember if Gloria and Bud knew him back in NH-Vt but Jim Harlow had a home on the mesa above the community in which they live now in Belen. Bill and I know Jim from Thetford Academy where he substitute taught. He is retired military and after being at TA he came to NM to work in Los Alamos. They never sold their home in Vermont and have returned there but we haven't seen him in years. His son, Matt and daughter, Melinda were both students at TA and I taught them both. Actually, I do know that Gloria and Bud knew them back home, because Jim's wife worked at Dartmouth with Gloria. When we were first visiting them Matt and his wife lived in the house on the mesa. They have since sold it and live in Albuquerque. Jim was on his way, after visiting Matt, to Arizona to meet up with his nephew who is moving with his family to Wasilla, Alaska. They are all driving up the Alaskan Highway. I asked if he were going to visit Sarah Palin--he said if she's still wearing her bikini, definitely! As our conversation went on, we discovered that both Bill and I taught his nephew, Steve White. Never knew they were related. By the time Jim was ready to leave Bud arrived home. and got to visit, too. Now that it was only the four of us, it was catch up time and the delivery of Eastern things they can't get in NM==Bell's poultry seasoning, Fluff, Maine potatoes, Stewart's shell beans and, of course, maple syrup. I always ask what she'd like--the one thing we haven't been able to take her is the hot dog buns she likes. I told her to write and ask for their recipe and explain how much she misses them. I'll bet they'd send her a bunch and she could freeze them.During the course of the afternoon we enjoyed the rabbits which they feed on the deck. They have seen as many as five at a time. I think we saw five altogether but only four at a time. They are adorable. Gloria says it is the best of both worlds. They have wild animals as pets but no vet bills, no mess and if one dies they all look so much alike they probably wouldn't notice so they don't have pet loss grief. They do ask neighbors to come over and feed them though when they go away so that they will continue to come. Who knows where the time went but soon it was time for dinner. Gloria had been preparing it as we visited--home made meatballs and sauce, spaghetti and chicken cutlets, seasoned and fried. AND our favorite of all she makes--we have to have it at least once while there--her tossed salad. I make mine just like it--she taught me --but there is something about the Gloria touch--it just tastes different and BETTER--the BEST. I think I could live on it. Crazy, huh? Moving away the table, almost unable to move we adjoined to the living room for a bit of TV and more visiting and then it was time for the three of them to retire. I'm bit more of a night hawk so I stayed up to watch the NCIS episode Gloria had recorded for me. I dozed off during the commercials at one point--laughed and said to myself--guess you aren't so much a night hawk after all. Finished the show, put out the lights--after about five minutes trying to find the right switch for the kitchen lights--lol Glad no one came out and saw me playing on and off with the switches! The next morning I slept in a bit later than the rest--which embarrasses me but it was around 8ish I think that I arose. Delicious pancakes, oj, bacon, and coffee for breakfast. We had planned on going up to Old Town but Gloria asked if we minded not going. She'd started a headache the day before and it was just untouchable this morning and she needed to call the chiropractor--which she did as we ate. They told her to come down, they'd fit her in. We assured her that there was not a problem with it--visiting with them is the focus of our stopping and it wasn't necessary to do something " fun" unless we all were into it. Last year, I was sick and they went out without me. This year we could fend for ourselves and she should get better. So, Bud went off to one of his hobbies, Bill took the opportunity to get the gasket on the sun roof fixed and the oil changed and the tires rotated on the car, Gloria napped and I watched last week's Big Bang which she also recorded for me as well as The Americans from the night before. The men showed up together having met in the driveway. I did some pix uploading etc and then Gloria got up. The guys did whatever and we went into the craft room where she taught me how to do a pinwheel card and we looked at some of her new projects and just talked girl talk. When the guys got back Bud and Gloria pulled dinner together--they won't let anyone help--but if you could see them move around the kitchen and each other you'd know why--it is like a well choreographed dance and if anyone else tried to join there would be lots of shuffling, jostling and irritation--best to stand back and marvel. We had a really good summer night's meal--grilled hot dogs and rolls, macaroni and tuna salad, fresh veggie sticks and dip. Bill isn't crazy about mac-tuna salad though he doesn't hate it and can eat it without a problem --it just isn't a favorite of his. I , on the other hand, LOVE it. I make it periodically and Bill eats it--I just don't make it as often as I'd like since he is humoring me--BUT-- you got it--he LOVED Gloria's and actually ate about three servings. I know I did and really couldn't move. Bud loves it, too! During our meal we lost Gloria for awhile to a business phone call but still, we had a wonderful time. Next morning I was up by 8. This time I had to be on the phone because I forgot to ask for senior rate when I reserved our room here in Gallup. A bit of a run-around but finally managed to get the rate changed and all was well. Got ourselves packed up after breakfast but lingered a bit over coffee to make up for our alone time yesterday. Gloria felt badly that she wasn't feeling herself and therefor was not the hostess she likes to be. I'm not sure how to convince her that visiting them is like visiting family--we feel totally relaxed and at home and that like any family we adapt to whatever is happening. Every visit we've ever had with them has been the best. Bill took camera in hand and photographed me and Gloria--a tradition on our last morning. But in all the good-bying I forgot one of the wonderful oranges they had--was taking one for the road. But we did get sent off with Gloria's super chocolate brownies--another Bud favorite ( mine, too!) so I demurred not wanting to take them from him but she said she makes more all the time. She also gave us another of her delicious banana breads. Boy, you can tell this lady is Italian--she feeds you coming and going and who can say no??? We left around noon time and traveled 40 West to Gallup. How many pictures have I taken through the years of these red formations and more Malpais lava beds. At one point, if you look closely, you can just see the top of the train traveling along with us as we both cut through the beds. Went right to Applebee's to eat and then checked into the motel. We talked about our plans and decided we wanted another night here. Well, our room was not available because several tour buses had already reserved most of the rooms. Lady told us to check back later to see if there had been a cancellation. I explored the possibility of going to Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley again. Also looked at Chaco Canyon and Taos Pueblo. Antelope Canyon is something I want to wait on--there are two canyons--upper and lower,. It appears the lower requires climbing ladders etc while the upper sounds equally beautiful and an easy flat walk. The reason I want to wait is that it is way up there and it makes sense to do both AC and Monument Valley in the same trip. The motel I want to stay at in MV is booked until late next week and we don't want to hang around until then. So, I think I'll arrange that trip from home for next year. Chaco has a paved loop road, however the access road is on the reservation, is unpaved and very, very rough--Douglas is not the vehicle for that road. We will try to rent a jeep or something another time and do that park out of Gallup or Farmington. In the meantime, the Taos Pueblo is closed in early spring for their religious observations --so unless we change our travel plans I'll never get to visit there. Feeling kind of at loose ends for next step we decided to sleep on it. Meantime, Bill went down to the desk and the young man who now was working decided to give us a ground floor--we were in a ground floor king, all taken tonight-- two queens. He wrote that I couldn't use stairs or elevator--lol so one of the bus party people we going to be moved! Today we had to cool our heels--check out is noon. The couple in our new room hadn't moved out and we couldn't do anything until the room was emptied and cleaned. Thomas, the fellow the night before, had also asked that the room be cleaned immediately upon departure since we were elites already in residence and needed to move asap. So, I took the time to write you the Getting to Know You post and once we were ensconced in our new abode, we took off for Perry Null. Imagine my pleasure and surprise to find Karen there. Karen is the first lady we ever dealt with at Perry Null. She is from New Iberia, La and is married to the editor of the Gallup newspaper. I haven't seen her in years because she and her husband are world travelers and are usually gone when we are here. One year it was South Africa and a Safari, another year Iceland, yet another it was Russia, they also went to China and last year it was Cambodia, VietNam and Laos. I was amazed to find her home this time. In addition to us having a ball picking out stuff for me to buy--though I came with a list, too--we were having a great time catching up on Louisiana, her travels. our travels and a concert going to happen tomorrow night--which sounds so wonderful but --nope. Oh, well. We have very similar tastes and so it is especially fun for us because we like the same things so it is more like shopping with a girlfriend than the salesgirl. When we were finally getting ready to add everything up, a young Navajo man--handsome, handsome--came in and she said, Katherine turn around and meet this gentleman--Melvin Francis--and to him she said, she's just purchased one of your pieces. I had it in my hand showing the salesman what I wanted on a ring I was ordering made for me. To say I was star-stuck is putting it mildly He works with Eugene Chee and I have several of his pieces already and not only was buying the Wild Horse bracelet but also a pair of his earrings. He was so delightful-friendly and humorous and humble as I praised his talent and the beauty of his work. He even said with a straight face that the fellow on the cash register gives him all his ideas for jewelry and Melvin just makes it. Golly-- it was the highlight of my day to meet him--I wanted to go home with him and watch him create these pieces of art. While all this was going on, Bill and Randy, and another of the salesmen got going on the computer. Randy looked up where we live and pulled our house and property up to see it--then they got talking about the trees and about Maine and the fact we are in the middle of nowhere--they found Burlington funny as our largest city--but were impressed that we were so close to Montreal and Boston. Wanted to know about Montreal. Karen took me into the saddle room. Locals bring their saddles in and get money for them but they are in pawn. They do it primarily to have a safe and environmentally controlled space in which to store them. When they need them for celebrations or ceremonies or rodeo they come in and buy them back then when they are done they pawn them once more. If they decide they are giving the saddle up for good, Perry buys it but he keeps it for a year, just in case conditions change or the guy or gal changes his/her mind. After a year, if not reclaimed, he puts it out for sale. Soon, at least two hours later, I gathered my loot, arranged for them to contact me when the ring is ready for my approval and bid good-bye to all, including Perry who was taking care of a couple of artisans. What a fabulous day. Took some pix for you, Joyce, in the store. Also of the jewels I've added to my collection although at least four boxes are not revealed, being Christmas presents. Came back to our room. Bill went to Applebee's, I watched The Five and played with my new stuff. Heard the distinctive sound of cat out the window so communed with the two strays in the courtyard beneath it. We have decided to go to Ramah tomorrow to see the Wolves, then down to either El Morro or MalPais or the Polar caves and stay in Grants tomorrow night. Sunday we will head up to Farmington and on Monday I'm going to go into Mesa Verde this time. From there we will start heading East--through Colorado? Back into New Mexico? From there, who knows? Got to look at the map. But for now, I'm going to sign off and make our reservation in Grants and check out Enterprise outlets in Gallup and Farmington for that future trip to Chaco. Good night, all KandB

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