Sunday, March 12, 2006

Road Trip: El Morro

Friday March 3, 2006

We departed our gracious friends’ company this morning with a certain feeling of sadness: for Leon, in his stomach, for me, making its way to a moist eye. We headed to Flagstaff where we spent a couple of hours browsing the streets and shops and looking at expensive real estate in glossy Homes For Sale magazines. Stayed overnight at a local RV park.


Saturday March 4, 2006

Arrived at El Morro, New Mexico where we set up camp by the Ancient Ways Café. Spending many hours driving is OK, but we need to STOP, settle in, and take in some local attractions, not just to break the monotony but to experience being here. El Morro is really “out there”. The campground was somewhere mentioned as LGBT friendly, so that got our vote even though it is way “off the beaten path”. We decided to stay for two nights.

Sunday March 5, 2006

Hiked at El Morro National Monument: high cliffs and bluffs, once an oasis in the desert where Spanish and Mexican and American travelers of the 16th and 17th and 18th centuries would stop for water from this natural cistern in the course of their journey. Back then, it took days and weeks to travel the distance we drive in hours. We hiked up the paved trail and along the cliff with our plastic water bottles and camera while reading the graffiti of centuries carved in the rock. Great views.

It reminded me of “Hospital Rock” in Connecticut, where early colonists carved messages of memoriam and ideas of Liberty at the site of a smallpox quarantine hospital in the 1700’s. I never understood how this historical site, lost in the woods, was left to deteriorate from the weather and not preserved.

The young woman who takes care of the campground and café came to El Morro from the Midwest in search of spiritual enlightenment. New Mexico has more than its share of seekers and believers: she believes in a mixture of science, pseudoscience and metaphysics that defies description. Suffice it to say that Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica is probably much simpler and easier to understand.

Except for a “trading post” (read gift shop/coffee shop) next to the campground and café, and a gallery across the road, there is nothing in El Morro for miles around. The Zuni Pueblo is miles away as is the nearest “town”. The Malpais or Badlands are close by – an expanse of lava fields to rival those in Hawaii. Although cooled for centuries and dotted with grasses, the lava is still jagged and rough: as likely a place as any to find spiritual enlightenment.

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