October 3-6, 2014 – Aztec, NM

We left Chama Friday morning and drove west to Aztec, NM where we are visiting with Nancy’s uncle and aunt, Lonnie and Roylene.  We are staying at the Ruins Road RV Park, a nice no-frills park that is just down the street from Lonnie and Roylene’s house.  We are also just down the street from Aztec Ruins National Monument but as we went there last time we visited Lonnie and Roylene we will not go there this trip.   We enjoyed a very nice dinner and a great visit with Lonnie and Roylene on Friday evening.

We had a great time Saturday at the Aztec Highland Games and Celtic Festival.  Aunt Roylene fell a couple of days ago and hurt her leg so they did not come with us.  We enjoyed listening to music by the Wicked Tinkers, a great bagpipe and tribal drum band that had a twist – one of the members also played the Australian didgeridoo and a bronze-age Irish horn.  The blend of bagpipes, drums and didgeridoo was awesome!  We also listened to the Order of the Thistle Pipes and Drums band, traditional Celtic music by Maria Blair and watched a Highland dance demonstration.  In between all of this we watched the men’s portion of the Four Corners Regional Championship Highland Games – we missed the women’s competition.  We watched the Weight for Height where they stood under an adjustable bar and threw a 42-56 lb weight up and over the bar.  The bar was finally adjusted to over 20’ high before the competition ended.  We watched the Scottish Hammer Throw, the Weight for Distance and, our favorite, the Caber Toss.  The poles in the Caber Toss get longer and heavier as the competition progresses with the last pole in this competition being 20’ tall and weighed 85 lbs.  The toss is not judged on distance or height, but on how closely it falls to the 12 o’clock position when it lands after the “turn”.  To “turn the caber” an athlete must first pickup the caber by the tapered end and then run forward and toss the caber so that it turns end on end, with the upper end hitting the ground first.  Each competitor must “turn” the current caber in order to advance to the next largest caber.   We enjoyed great Scottish food for lunch – Nancy had Sheppard’s Pie with fried cabbage and onions and Rex had a Messie Nessie (a banger with Sheppard’s Pie meat on it) along with fried cabbage and onions.  

Sunday Lonnie and Roylene joined us for a drive to Navajo Lake which is northeast of Aztec.  Navajo Lake is fed by the Pine and San Juan Rivers and is 25 miles long.  We got a great view of the lake from atop the dam but forgot to take the camera so we didn’t get any pictures of the beautiful views.  Roylene fixed us another great dinner Sunday evening.

Monday we had planned to take Lonnie & Roylene to look for some natural arches that are just north of Aztec but Lonnie called us about mid morning and said they were at the hospital in Farmington getting an x-ray and CT scan on Roylene’s leg as it was still very swollen.  We decided to go ahead and spend part of the day looking for the arches as it would be a while before they found out anything about Roylene’s leg.

There are over 200 natural arches in this area and we found a brochure with directions to about 20 of these arches.  We spent the day finding 6 arches – driving through beautiful country with lots of rock formations.  There are also hundreds of gas wells in this area and we parked at a couple of them so we could walk to the arches.

In Potter Canyon Pillar Arch was the first arch we found – we hiked around it and climbed up the back side of the rock formation.

We next found Outcrop Arch

In Pilares canyon our first arch was Peephole Arch.

Then Petroglyph Arch - there were some petroglyphs on the right side of the rock face.  The petroglyphs were very faint and also vandalized and our pictures were not very good so we are not posting any of them.


Farther into Pilares Canyon was our favorite arch of the day – Rooftop Arch.

 The area around Rooftop Arch had a lot of interesting rock formations.

Another arch we found that wasn’t in our brochure – there are 20 arches in this canyon.

We drove into Caballo and Crow Canyons and tried to find three of the larger arches but were not successful.  After following the directions a couple of times we finally gave up and it was getting late in the afternoon so we headed back to Aztec.   When we got back from our drive, Lonnie and Roylene were home so we went over to their house.  While we were there she got a call from the hospital and they told her they found no fractures or blood clots but that she needed to stay off her leg until the swelling went down.  We ordered a couple of pizzas and enjoyed a pleasant evening.  We really enjoyed our visit with Lonnie and Roylene and thank them for their great hospitality.


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