Archive for October, 2008

Tuesday, Oct 21 – Belen, NM

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Day two of my confinement.

Nothing to report.

Monday, Oct 20 – Pueblo Isleta, NM

Monday, October 27th, 2008

While Denny and Ron Kirkpatrick are out hiking the Battalion trail, my route leads me to a podiatrist in Albuquerque. My ingrown toenail finally has to come out. The details will not be given to you but suffice it to say my left great toe is somewhat sore.

I continue my online research and planning whilst others get to enjoy the fall day.

Perhaps I can convince Denny to give some details of their hiking.

Otherwise, nothing of importance happened on this day, dear reader.

Sunday, Oct 19 – Albuquerque, NM

Monday, October 27th, 2008

We attended Ron & Susan’s LDS ward. We’re too tired to do much else. In fact, we’re so tired we even make our church meetings into a day of rest. Not that the lessons are boring - we’re just bushed after these special events. Somehow they really seem to take it out of us.

Saturday, Oct 18 – Albuquerque, NM

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Blaine Bachman and Ron Kirkpatrick are the local folks who have done lots of leg work to pull together a couple of events here in Albuquerque.

This morning, Blaine has organized a “day hike.” About sixty Scouts, Cubs, young women and old men join us to hike into the Old Town Plaza. Ron has arranged our afternoon events. Read on.

Jerry and Ron “enlist” the “recruits” having each of them sign a volunteer form. They are “inspected” to determine they are of sound mind, not drunken with alcohol and medically capable of performing their duties as soldiers.
Mark and Peter act as quartermasters, distributing packs, belts, muskets and canteens to the youth. Then, using the 1846 “Articles of War for the Armies of the United States”, I have the youth raise their right hand and “swear” them into the service using the same language to swear in the 1846 group and commit them to protect the United States against all enemies, to obey the orders of the President and of their officers.
We start hiking along the riverfront trail to Old Town Albuquerque. It’s not exactly the same route the Battalion likely used, but for most of the hike we’re within a mile of the old route to the Plaza. The group is carrying ten muskets. Our period packs are heavy and soon are less of a novelty than an annoyance, bringing to mind Col Allen’s comments about the men not wanting their guns for very long.

Along our pathway on 23 October 1846, Lt Col Cooke had to resort to dispersing his Battalion’s companies for their night camps. There wasn’t enough forage in a confined area for his animals, so they were “encamped on the road, extending half a mile along strips of grass.”

I’ve mentioned that Mark Cummins is a fast hiker – well in excess of four miles per hour. It appears Ron Kirkpatrick is another speed demon. He flits back and forth from the front to the back of the group, checking on people, places and things. We needed this man months ago when we were doing our planning and looking for an organizer to help us.

When we arrive at the Plaza, a wedding is underway – 30 minutes later than they were supposed to be, so we quietly (as quietly as possible with jangling canteens, muskets, etc.) move to the far side of the plaza and take a seat on the grass. The wedding planner looked pretty flustered as a military parade threatens to rain on her wedding, but we try hard to not disturb the happy event.

Always looking for a way to take the edge off a rough spot, I put the kids up to a cheer for the bride and groom using the old “Huzzah” cheer instead of “Hurrah” as we do today. Hey, it’s old style reenactor stuff.

So, as the happy couple descends from the gazebo where they took their vows, the Battalion group sends up “three cheers for the Bride and Groom.” “Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!” (Note: One must also wave ones hat in the air as they give this cheer.)

It rather takes everyone in the plaza by surprise but after the initial shock, even the bride and groom smile and are pretty pleased with the unexpected embellishment to their wedding. And it didn’t cost anything to boot. Probably the only freebie of the day.

The city staff folks quickly rearrange the sound equipment and we take the stage down near the cannons. After asking the spectators to join us in a pledge to the flag, we explain our hike, the local involvement on our hike today and the importance of the original Battalion’s journey through Albuquerque.

At the southeast corner of the plaza stands a building in which the nephew of Governor Manuel Armijo had a store. Susan Magoffin comments on the store as do Battalion journalists Keysor and Pettigrew.

As we start to disperse from the Plaza, our family members also must take their leave. Now I can empathize better with original Battalion members who had to see “the girl I left behind.” At 3 PM, we’re scheduled for a presentation at the Museum of Albuquerque. We’re in the small theater and about 15 people show. Since it’s a beautiful early fall Saturday afternoon, one can understand there not being a door busting crowd for a couple lectures about an obscure military outfit from 150 plus years ago.

Ron Kirkpatrick gives a good rundown about the Battalion in the Rio Grande valley area. He concentrates on journal entries by the men and weaves a good talk out of the descriptions left to us. My presentation is very informal since most of the people had ancestors in the Battalion and the story is fairly well known. I concentrate on the lessons learned and give a general overview of the route, the Trek and my involvement with Scouting. A few questions afterward and it’s close to closing time , so we beat a hasty retreat as another wedding get started. My, but Albuquerque downtown seems to be “the place” for weddings.

Dinner and bedtime about 11 PM.

Friday, Oct 17 – Rancho de Albuquerque, NM

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Ach! My ingrown toenail is better but still in trouble, so I’ve made an appointment for Monday to get it amputated. OK – not really amputated. Just get the toenail cut out so I can finish the hike to California.

Since Mark, Peter and Denny are willing to hike trail today and let me rest my foot, I take the opportunity to work on our BLM permit for Arizona. There’s a specific area we need a special permit in order to use a motorized vehicle and since it’s a “first come, first serve” permit process and there are only ten permits issued annually, I have to hurry to get the application in today.

So, I have nothing of importance to report for this day as pertaining to the Trek.

Daughter Catherine and GSon Trent and sister-in-law Lisa are visiting and it’s wonderful to have them here. Trent is a hoot. At 23 months old, he’s a chatter-box that hardly ever quits telling you about things. Trucks in particular. He likes the “big yellow truck” we have. Family. Gotta love them.

Thursday, Oct 16 – Bernalillo, NM

Monday, October 27th, 2008

This is pronounced, Burn-a-LEE-YO. It only takes about a hundred times for me to finally get it right.

Mark, Peter and I get an early morning start to cross the San Felipe tribal lands. First, we stop in at the Tribal Government center to see if there are any issues we should be aware of prior to hiking through. The staff was most pleasant and carried our request to the Governor and tribal leaders. After a short time, Governor Tenorio and Vice Governor Chavez met with us. We explained our purpose in wanting to rehike the trail and that their tribe had been gracious to the 1846 group whom we were representing.

The tribal crest is inlaid into the Administration Building’s entrance. Represented there are corn, pumpkins, melons, gourds and other items the tribe traded to the Battalion 162 years ago – and the tribal traditions are still strong.

They are seeking to preserve their old language and customs – things that are important not to lose. After all, we are reenactors and recognize the loss of many things from just five generations ago. Imagine a culture thousands of years old based upon oral traditions to share its history. Such things are easily lost. Remember what Nephi said about the importance of the brass plates in preserving his language and traditions?

Governor Tenorio explained our responsibilities to their people while on tribal lands: We are asked to not photograph or sketch the tribal lands in order to preserve their religious importance to their people. Trespassing into areas outside our planned route along the highway is not permitted. Of course, we agree to these conditions and express our appreciation for their hospitality.

The route down along the Rio Grande valley must have been a welcome change for the Battalion who had not been near a strong water source since they’d left the Missouri River nearly three months earlier. True, there had been streams but not any real river of importance except the Kaw (Kansas). Today’s river bottoms are covered with cottonwood and other trees. The area in 1846 was almost barren, the trees having been cut over the decades for fuel, building and ceremonial uses.

In particular, off to our right, closer to the river, there is a large field of grass – about ten acres – with a scattering of large cottonwoods that are starting to show their yellows in the early fall. It’s a very pretty sight, but one that will have to stay with Peter, Mark and I as a memory since we couldn’t photograph it to share with you, dear reader.

Down the river bottoms we hike as the Camino Real winds between bluffs and flood plain. The tall, black capped basalt volcanic mesas to the west across the river tell of eruptions and faulting that formed the valley. The sky is deep blue today and it’s pleasantly warm. We pass a friendly farmer in his field who waves and we wonder as we wave back if the corn being harvested is a community garden or his own.

At the end of our day’s hike, we return to the camper and begin preparing to travel south. This evening, we will move to the Kirkpatrick’s outside of Albuquerque. This will be our “home base” for a few days while we’re in the metro area.

And we get a most pleasant surprise. As I’m dumping contents of the Jed Clampett Memorial Port-a-Potty, I hear Denny giving a squeal of pure delight. Sticking my head out from behind the little green house, it seems that my sister-in-law Lisa, my daughter Catherine and grandson Trent have arrived unannounced for a visit. Sneaky family. Sorry, gotta go.

Wednesday, Oct 15 – Pueblo San Felipe, NM

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Today started brilliant blue sky, bright sun and crisp air. Peter, Mark and I begin hiking at the intersection of I-25 and State 587 – aka “Entrada la Cienega.” We cross over the interstate to the south side, turn the corner and lo and behold! Ruts. Real El Camino Real ruts. It’s Mark’s first time seeing confirmed ruts and he gets pretty excited. Peter and I smile because we’re happy to see him so excited. Truth be known, I still get goose bumps finding ruts and standing in them.

After a photo shoot session with all our cameras, we continue hiking the frontage road for a couple miles, all the while glancing back to our left to see if we can keep finding sections of the Camino. Off and on, we convince ourselves we see ruts off in the fields, crossing at a stream with cottonwoods and along the side of the hills.

After about four miles, we’re faced with a … well … challenge. You see, New Mexico is investing in a high speed rail system expansion from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. The Rail-Runner track is almost done – and it parallels a goodly section of our “new” Battalion route as studied by Hal Jackson. This late variant of el Camino Real drops off a 600 foot high mesa into the Gallisteo River basin. It’s a better wagon road than the older and more established route and Dr Jackson thinks this is the route Col Cooke likely took.

We casually (well, as casually as one can wearing 1840’s clothing) walk through the construction zone and down along the side of the tracks. Kids, don’t try this. We figure if we can get three miles or so in, we will be past the construction and won’t be bothered.

For the first mile or so, we do OK, but finally a supervisor type drives up in his truck and asks what we’re doing. We explain our research to him, then he explains to us that it’s an “active track” and dangerous. Not that we’ve seen anything on the tracks – certainly not a train – and after all, there weren’t any “Do Not Enter” signs – so how were we to know? Acting dumb (ignorant) has served me well my whole life. It comes easy.

We promise to get off the property ASAP – but mention that hiking back is just about as far as hiking forward to where we want to go, so the supervisor encourages us to hurry up and get gone. Off we go and smile all the way down to the Gallisteo – checking out the ruts all along the way. Beautiful. Our luck holds. And, no prison time - yet.

We reach the limits of the Santo Domingo pueblo lands and in this case, discretion is the better part of valor, so we bundle into Jerry’s vehicle and drive an “end run” around the off-limit area over to the Mormon Battalion monument just off I-25 at exit 257.
We’re met there by Holly Young, a local photographer, writer and Battalion descendant. She’d arranged to meet us for a photo shoot. Turns out she’s appointed herself as the monument’s guardian angel. Seems there’d been a ton of trash, broken beer bottles, soiled diapers, etc., etc., etc., not to mention overgrown noxious weeds and other undesirable eyesores. Holly has taken it upon herself to maintain the monument property, place some trash barrels and promote the site when she can. Three hearty “huzzah’s” for Holly, folks!

Come to think of it, last summer as I made my “drive through” survey of the route, I noted that quite a few of our Battalion historic site markers are in pretty bad shape. One city in particular had a nice marker but it was completely overgrown with weeds. That doesn’t seem to square with “honorable rememberance” does it?

Isn’t there any Scout Troop that will take on maintaining a marker in their area as a perpetual responsibility? Can each Stake maintain the markers within their boundary? Shame on us if we can’t do this simple thing. What hope is there for a National Historic Trail designation if we can’t maintain what we’ve done so far? Can we do better?

We transfer our vehicles to the San Felipe RV park where we plan to spend a couple nights. A nice dinner and off to bed we go.

Tuesday, Oct 14 – Cerillos, NM

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Ay! Caramba! Somehow, the irony of having our very first day of DRENCHING rain while hiking occur at Santa Fe seems too ironic to be true, but true it is. I just don’t associate this section of New Mexico with hard rain.

Mark Cummins, Peter Guilbert & I set off from the Palace of the Governors located on the Plaza at 8 AM. Before we’d gone a mile, the gentle mist turned into an all-out downpour that continued until about 1 PM. As this was a strong cold front, the temperatures dropped to the mid-50’s and a slight breeze from the north pushed the chill factor down into the uncomfortable range for me.

To avoid a nasty day getting us sick, Denny managed to locate a couple rainslickers for the guys and I used my oilcloth for my raincoat. Still, I got we enough that my fingers were ice cold, my feet were numb to the ankles and even my thighs started numbing. Marginal day for hiking.

We follow Agua Fria Road southwest out of Santa Fe. Near downtown, the old adobe houses have windows that go almost to ground level. The houses are right next to the road with only a foot or two of sidewalk between the outside wall and the traffic. The old road winds along the ridgeline that’s about a quarter-mile south of the Santa Fe River. After a mile or so, the houses become more modern in their design although adobe/southwest exteriors must be mandated.

Agua Fria means “Cold Water” and today, it applies to the rain and not the stream. We pass San Isidro, one of the old churches from 1835 and off to our left a hundred yards or so, we can see traces of el Camino Real de Tierra Adentro in some of the original land lots that are preserved without buildings. This “Royal Road” of the Interior Lands dates back to 1598 when it’s completion linked Taos New Mexico to Mexico City over 1,500 miles away. It was 250 years old when the Battalion passed by. What history must have been made along its route.

“Following the Royal Road; A Guide to the Historic Camino Real de Tierra Adentro” by Hal Jackson is a newly published road guide. Lavish with maps, photos and lots of historic tid-bits, Dr. Jackson managed to get this published just in time for the Trek to benefit from his years of work on this trail. I heartily recommend it for those who live in New Mexico and for those who want to follow sections that pertain to the Battalion. True, there are not many miles that the Battalion followed, but the Camino’s history lays the foundation for what the Battalion experienced on their march. The book is well worth the price for helping understand the Rio Grande Valley.

We pass Rancho de Los Golondrinas where we were on October 4-5 for their Harvest Festival. We pop in to see Mike King, present him with a Battalion poster and again express our appreciation for all the Rancho and its staff have contributed to our event. They were wonderful to us and we have a standing invitation to visit and participate anytime in the future.

From Dr. Jackson’s research, it seems more likely that the Battalion passed by Golondrinas on their way to La Cinega rather than following the route of modern road NM 14 to Cerrillos as proposed in a prior Battalion trail study. While there was a primitive trail leading south from La Cinega, there was a better one leading southwest out of La Cinega, “the last water on the road to the [Rio Grande] river” as Col Cooke described their route. Our experience today supports this new interpretation.

The final miles of our hike today curve around up and down to La Cinega which means “swamp” or “drowned land” as in a marsh or lake. Sure enough, there are a few small lakes and marshes here.

Late in the day, the sun comes out and we start drying out. I’m just glad we don’t have to stay in these same wet clothes overnight or sleep covered by a wet blanket on the wet ground. My hands regain feeling and we have a good cup of hot chocolate to warm our innards.

Monday, Oct 13 – Santa Fe, NM

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

“Nothing of importance happened today.”

Today was a layover day for us. We had much work to do on the trailers and towing vehicles but not all of it got done. Tires are still causing some frustration, but we will get them straightened out - I hope. Denny did the wash, got some shopping accomplished and we’re in fairly good shape to start Part II of the Trek.

Jerry’s moved back in and rarin’ to go do some driving for us. Good man and we’re happy to have Denny’s dad back with us.

Sunday, Oct 12, – Santa Fe, NM

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

After a wonderful night’s sleep, we attend church here at the Santa Fe LDS Ward. Our visiting family members, Pat, Gayle and DaNece have left for home. It’s a lovely day and we’re going to upload the old blog entries we’ve been accumulating whilst out of range, send some family e-mails and generally have a very slow day. I actually had to go find a wireless internet connection so I could upload these stored up entries. Our broadband unit (VERIZION) is not very reliable - even when in a large city like Santa Fe.

Tomorrow will be busy with repairs, purchases and preparations for leaving. So please don’t expect a large entry tomorrow - if any.

For Peter and Mark, we’ve decided to have a slide show of our collected photos after dinner.

So, with your forebearance, we’ll end with a short entry today, wish all our friends well and catch you up as we proceed down the Rio Grande as we begin the second half of the Trek.

We appreciate all the support, prayers and suggestions.