We Westerners find it a very beautiful creation, with exotic scenery stretching from horizon to horizon. Other parts of the country are very confining to Western States people used to the wide open spaces. Vertical Lava cores of ancient volcanoes standing at over a thousand feet above the endless miles of valleys, stretching to the horizons, gives a panoramic view into the prehistoric past.
The vast open areas and large mountains are not blocked by trees, so the beautiful sky is seen as a 360 degree blue dome interspersed with distant clouds. We have driven through parts of the nation where the trees are thick on both sides of the road as to make it seem like you are driving through a green maze or tunnel. Not so in NM. NM has forests of course but they are scattered throughout the State on mountains and in river valleys.
The drive 20 miles North on I-25 leaving ABQ toward a sleepy, stagnant little town, turn West on hwy 44 to Bernalillo NM. That little town shows the results of endless years of Welfare and Government subsidies. Just a couple of miles to the West, along our hwy NM 44, is a vast section of free enterprise off to the south. That area is growing with leaps and bounds, new homes, schools and businesses. Rio Rancho NM extends ever farther across the hills leaving the little government subsidised town of Bernalillo to wallow in the dirt. Old families that have no ambition or incentive to develope their town has resulted in nothing happening other than the EBT card and the government subsidies.
If any person needs proof that Communism as well as Socialism does not work they only have to look as far as the government subsidised areas like this and the hundreds of miles on both sides of this highway, the 'INDIAN RESERVATIONS'. I have lived here for most of my life and the only 'happenings' are around the Las Vegas and Atlantic City franchised, 'Indian' Casinos and the towns and cities that allow a person to fail or succeed by their own enterprising skills.
Heading up and over the long hill to the Northwest toward another fine example of Government support is the little town of San Ysidro. 'Economic dead stop' is the way to describe it as well. Further up the beautiful new 4 lane highway which was at one time known as the deadliest 2 lane highway in the state, (NM 44), is a succession of great scenery and the remains of a prehistoric sea bed. Matter of fact most of NM was at one time the bottom of a shallow sea. Did you ever wonder what the bottom of the Ocean looks like? Check out the Western States.
Just South of 'Cuba' across the wide horizon to the South and West, is the set of Prehistoric remnants of Volcanoes I mentioned previously. Cabezon is the most prominent. It is accessable from a gravel road south of Cuba, leading southwest across the open terrain and back crosscountry to I-40. I and a friend ,climbed Cabezon as younger adventuresome men. The biggest heaviest Rattle Snake we ever saw and grabbed onto, tried to give us a shot of 'Venom' near Cabezon's base. If you do go there keep your eyes open for his decendants. (the rattlesnakes that is)
As you approach the next remote example of 'Cuba' NM, a similar 'Govt. subsidised' arrangement keeps it at the lowest common denominator. I sort of compare it to the 'Island of Cuba' in that respect. A few gas stations, 'El Brunos' newest restaurant, and a recent addition of Mc Donalds in a Shell station is the only Free Enterprise signs, of course always a liqour establishment or two, they always survive.
As the drive over the continental Divide continues, the altimeter reads over 7,000 feet and still climbing rapidly. The Motor home gets less fuel economy heading north on this highway for that reason.
Along the highway are the remains of many once lively and prosperous local 'Trading Posts'. 'Chaco Canyon' is world famous and the still unpaved access holds the traffic to a minumum. Years ago as a younger man, I worked and endlessly traveled this entire state as a tech rep for a major company. The once numerous 'trading posts' were the center of activity for the surrounding reservation residents. Their hand made jewelry, crafts and rugs were on display and in 'Pawn' vaults.
The shelves were stocked with groceries, supplies and clothing, wool and yarn, handmade rugs and crafts. Kerosene Fuel, gasoline and light vehicle maintenance, Of course also livestock, both to buy and sell. Unique but similar to many small stores in city centers across America today. The Trading Post system was used extensively as a 'bridge loan' for the surrounding citizens while waiting for the government 'wellfare check' to arrive, similar to 'pay day' loans and 'pawn shops' are today in major cities.
The despicable 'Liberal' 'Activists' of the past labeled this convenient local system as 'exploitation', using the Mainstream Media as their 'Bully Pulpit' along with their consort 'tort' lawyers. The localised systems were outlawed. Now the 'Res' citizens have to drive at minimum, one hundred miles one way, wasting expensive fuel, to use facilities similar in nature to the historic, locally convenient, 'trading posts'. Only now they are located in the distant large cities.
Now that was absolutely brilliant was it not? Politically 'Correct' is far from the terms actual meaning. 'INCORRECT' should be the word. These 'activists' are holding power across the USA today using their old standbys 'the Main Stream Media and their 'Tort' lawyers. How sick and ignorant this Politically Incorrect, Liberal (NOT) system is.
Another massive US government boondoggle called the 'NAPI' (Navajo Agricultural Production Industries) is located on top af a once barren dry mesa along HWY 44 South of Bloomfield, and grows vegetables, grain and hay (at an exorbitant cost), all to sell cheaper than the diverted river water (average use over '500 cubic feet' per second) to irrigate it. An engineering marvel, high pressure water system pumped from the valley far below, US government taxpayer, paid for and built during the 60's and 70's, endlessly Tax subsidised, 'NIIP'. (Navajo Indian Irrigation Project)
As you drive past these endless miles of lush irrigated green in the middle of an arid desert on top of a high Mesa, you will be amazed at the enormity of this total government waste of Taxpayers dollars with no accounting of costs versus profits, (typical government accounting).
The next town is using some enterprenorial spirit and starting to develop motels and fast food restaurants. Bloomfield NM followed by the neighboring town of Aztec NM. Oil and Gas production from the San Juan Basin, as well as the immense surface coal reserves powering the Four Corners electrical generating stations, have supported these towns as well as the industrious Farmington NM, to the West. This area is known as the four corners for its point where the states of NM, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah come together. Shiprock NM (Shipwreck as we called it) shows the results of heavy Govt subsidy, the 'Res' of course.
Continuing North to the Colorado State line and into Durango Col, is more to the liking of Tree oriented folks. Durango nestles in a nice river valley and has been undergoing a building boom for the last five years. The new Super Walmart and Home Depo on the South end, is but one example. The town was built around mining and the the old 1800's steam powered narrow gauge railroad, (restored and running scheduled trips to Silverton) built by General Palmer of Civil War fame.
Downtown Durango is like taking a time capsule back to the days of Victorian hotels 'Saloons' (with piano players), Melodrama Theatre with vaudeville and Victorian businesses and homes being restored and built along with new tasteful Condominiums slowly marching in all directions. The only government checks here will not buy a person more than a few days food and lodging. Everybody has to work to live in this area, 'WHAT A CONCEPT'!
There is no way a family can just sit around and 'wait for the Check'. Now you can see the drastic difference in systems I am referring to. We stayed in the United Campground 3 miles North of Durango. I am sure it's days are numbered because the 'Condos' are going to be built on the prime real estate it sits on. The Animas River runs through the property as well as does the Narrow Gauge Railroad, which takes scheduled tours North to Silverton twice daily. This is bicycle tour paradise with mountain climbs to work the lungs and legs. The Iron Horse Classic brings cyclists from around the world. (they 'race' the train to silverton) Rafting and Kayaking are summer sports. Also excellent winter skiing. Free enterprise opportunities are evident every direction a person looks.
The 3 Granddaughters swam all day, fed the ponies, Watched the rented 'gliders' being towed to altitude by a retired 'crop duster', watched the 1800's restored Steam locomotives 'Iron Horse' pass by four times a day, rode the local scheduled 'Trolley' into town twice, visited the numerous litte shops. Evenings were spent sitting in their beds watching a video before falling asleep and just enjoying the stay away from the stress of home life in ABQ.
Away from parents telling them what to do and how to do it every day. The 'young ladies' all started advanced Summer School at the Alb Academy on June 4Th, so this was their last respite. Hopefully we can get them away to 'just be kids', at least one more time this summer. The three nights away from ABQ were just right as far as they were concerned. The ride home came too early for them but by Saturday afternoon we returned them to reality and their parents.