New Mexico – Day 4

Grants to Farmington via Chaco Canyon and Shiprock. The Chaco Canyon Pueblos have their own thread.

Well, I knew today was going to be good. Grants is located on an Interstate! Hadn’t seen one of those since we “left the trail” in southern New Mexico on Day 1. The night before we had spotted a DENNEY’S at the freeway exit! Woohoo! Good breakfast!

I hadn’t eaten in a Denney’s since probably 84 when I left California. We sat down and ordered, specifying BOTH “over medium” AND “no runny whites”. The milk was ice cold. I love it that way.

Then it hit me. I excused myself and made my way to the bathroom. Once inside I was able to slump against the wall and clutch my chest. I hate having heart attacks in public. It was obvious this was no small pain, so I quickly decided to have a Nitroclycerine snack before breakfast. So, there I was, slumped in the corner of the bathroom clutching my chest when a guy comes in, and goes about his business. I know he is going to ask me, they always do, its why I don’t like doing that in public. As he is leaving, he stops and says “Are you all right?” It almost makes me laugh. I want to say “I’m fine. I just like laying on the floors of public bathrooms!” hahahaha But I assure him I’m fine, that I’m just waiting for the nitro to work it’s magic.

I figure he is going to send someone in to check on me, and I am able to breath again, so I collect myself and head back to the table very slowly. I can see breakfast has arrived and my brother is wasting no time waiting for his plate to cool. I sip the milk while my body returns to “normal”.

In a few minutes, it passes enough for me to start on my breakfast. MMMM, good stuff. Then I cut open my eggs, and a small clear pool of liquid streams forth! . I’ve managed to finish off everything else but the toast by the time I manage to get our waitress’ attention. I say, “I thought we discussed this”. She says “What?” I point to the egg “soup” on my plate. Sheesh. You could hear her yelling back to the cook “NO RUNNY WHITES!” I don’t understand what the hard part of that is. I’ve cooked eggs. It ain’t that difficult.

By the time we hit the parking lot I am pretty much back to form. (I’m doing the riding anyway) We head back down to the Malpais Lava Fields for another look in the daylight. The country is predominately huge slabs of sandstone of different colors. These slabs get cracks which erode and then one day, boom! A whole section of bluff face falls off in one big chunk, and sometimes even stays in one piece. In other cases, most of the bluff has eroded, leaving only the bare sandstone to mark where a great bluff used to be.

Back on the overlook bluffs we can more clearly see the lava flow beneath us. Again, I can’t begin to tell you how enormous this flow was. For as far as the eye can see lava fills the valley floor like an ancient flood that froze in place. Don’t be fooled by the green appearance. The green is caused by the sparse vegetation that has managed to take hold on the volcanic rock. The markers said that is the difference between THIS lava and the lava in Hawaii. The lava in Hawaii does not have vegetation. I guess being around for nearly 1 1/2 million years gives you an advantage in growing vegetation.

My brother managed to catch this shot of me. You’ll notice how far I am staying from the outer rocks. I’m thinking I wouldn’t be so lucky with this particular cliff.

The flip side of that shot was that it marks the spot of my second heart attack for the day. Like one wasn’t bad enough. Guess it’s payback for walking the last two days. The second one takes more out of me, so I spent a while just laying back in the car under the air conditioner vents and sucking on some after breakfast nitro “mints”. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but I have what they call “self terminating” heart attacks. They are not caused by a blockage or MI, as they call them. Mine come from my congestive heart failure. They hurt just as bad, but they DO go away (unlike a MI). So, it’s just something I live with.

Back North of Grants the open plains start breaking up into the typical sandstone bluffs. These show another phenomenon of sandstone, the circular breakouts. Seems that some of this sandstone settled in such a way that it breaks out in a circular pattern. When enough of these circles break out, you are left with an arch. (if IT didn’t break off too)

This is the largest free standing arch in New Mexico (it’s from the Malpais area)

We passed through the Borrego Pass to find ourselves in some pretty wide open desert looking territory. You really got the feeling that you were “on the res”, because we HAVE been on the Navajo Reservation pretty much since we left Grants.

It was out here that we came across a Coyote. He was just strolling across the road, then took up a position in the brush to check us out. If I didn’t know better, with that background and all, I might be likely to think he was posing for the camera.

Our visit to the Chaco Canyon Pueblos got it’s own feature post.

After visiting the Chaco Canyon Pueblos we headed for Shiprock. Shiprock is a chuck of lava/rock that juts 1700 feet straight up from the desert floor. There are also two “walls” created by a crack in the surface that allowed lava to flow and cool as it rose, forming a wall of lava. These two walls converge at Shiprock, possibly giving it the Indian name of “the mountain with wings”. Both the Navajo and the Apache used to be “Alaskan Indians”. Navajo legend says that a large bird transported them far to the south so they could escape their enemies. This year the Navajo celebrated their 94th Annual Navajo Fair, held at Shiprock.

In these two shots I wanted to try to show how thin the wall actually was, and how porous the wall is. Looks a lot more solid from further away, doesn’t it?

We pulled into Farmington as it got dark.

* Extra Pics *

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