|Cathy and Joyce atop the Gran Quivira ruin.|
|Joyce, Rheta and Cathy|
|Chandelier and carved/painted ceiling in|
We stopped by the Visitor Center which is a block from the Shaffer, picked up maps and information, then headed south to the Gran Quivira section of the three part Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. The ranger on duty was a handsome young man named Mario Medina, with a long black braid and a head full of facts and anecdotes. We learned about the Inquisition at Las Humanas (that pueblo's name), the church's influence on the Pueblo people, the trials and tribulations of 400 years of Spanish and American domination, plus the amazing difference the introduction of cattle and sheep made on the local environment. At one time there were springs and a lake near the 2000 person village allowing them to grow food for over 4000 using the surplus for trade with the nomadic Plains Indians. Now there are no springs and the lake is a huge meadow used to graze, you guessed it, cattle. We were the only visitors so Mario took us on a long walking tour of the site, told us all about the financial motivations of the Spanish as well as the desires of the Church to convert souls. He was fascinating and we were thoroughly charmed by his enthusiasm and knowledge.
|Lobby at the Shaffer Hotel|
In the dark we headed to Albuquerque for gas and a light dinner at Panda Express, the perfect last meal of 2011.
|Abo Mission at sunset|
|Abo ruins with 2 meter thick walls.|
|Ruins with half moon.|