The day ahead looks so easy that Iím thinking about driving an extra 200 miles to go see the VLA, or the Very Large Array. If youíve seen the movie Contact with Jodie Foster you know what Iím talking about. The VLA is a group of 27 very large radio telescopes, arranged in a Y formation on 9 miles of railroad track in three 3-mile sections. It would be very cool to check it out. But when I think about it some more, I decide against it. I could use the shorter day to get some rest, and Iíll have time to do some laundry in Albuquerque. Iíll save the VLA for my next trip. The one where I ride to the largest ball of twine, and that big statute of Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox, up in Brainard. And donít forget Carhenge and The Cadillac Ranch.
My first stop is about an hour southeast of Gallup, the El Morro National Monument. El Morro, or "The Headlands" in Spanish, is a massive 200-foot high sandstone mesa rising from the valley floor. Travelers along an ancient trade route used the mesa as a marker, and a natural basin at the bottom provided the only water source in the area. Inscriptions, like ancient graffiti, mark the base of the mesa. Petroglyphs carved by prehistoric Anasazi people date from 1000 to 1400 AD. Two Anasazi pueblo ruins sprawl atop the mesa. Spaniards continued the tradition of writing on the wall as they colonized New Mexico in the late 1500s. And later, as they traveled across the west, American soldiers added to the writings in the mid-1800s.
Just down the road is El Malpais National Monument, or "The Badlands" in Spanish. Massive volcanic eruptions, as recent as 2000 years ago, poured rivers of molten lava into this high desert valley in west central New Mexico. After a brief stop at the Information Center to get the stamp, I head over to the El Calderon Area to hike down into a lava tube cave. Then I ride around the park area, following the sandstone bluffs and mesas that border the eastern side of the monument. An easy hike reaches the base of La Ventana Natural Arch, one of New Mexicoís largest arches, carved by wind and water from the Zuni sandstone.
The interstate gets me to Albuquerque quickly, and the Petroglyph National Monument. More than 15,000 petroglyphs carved by ancestral Puebloans, Hispanic sheepherders and early settlers, stretch along The West Mesa, a 17-mile-long table of land rising along the western side of Albuquerque. Yeah, whatever. Just give me the stamp, and let me go do my laundry.
Well, I plug the Cannon Elura in to the laptop, and the thing practically takes over. Windows 98 says its recognizing new hardware, and then I start up the Sony DVgate Still program that came with my Sony Vaio PGC-505TR Notebook Computer. I can control the camera from the laptop and press the capture button when I see something I like. Before I know it I have a dozen still pictures. Itís so easy to use this thing, I think my mother could even do it.
Now Iíve got all these photos, so I guess Iíve got to do something with them. I donít want to stuff up your e-mailboxes with these things, so itís time to build a web site. What have I gotten myself into? Itís been hard enough to ride the bike everyday, visit all these National Parks, and write this journal. How am I going to find the time to design, update and maintain a web site too? Well, as Iíve been saying a lot on this trip, Iíll have plenty of time to sleep, when Iím dead.
| DREAM | JOURNEY
| IMAGES | STATS
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| GEAR | LINKS
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