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Posts Tagged ‘Placitas New Mexico’

Algodones, Bernallilo and Placitas, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on April 15, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2338; A Landing A Day blog post number 769.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 35o 27.830’N, 106o 30.472’W) puts me in Cen-N New Mexico:

My local landing map:

I’ll zoom out a little to let you know that I actually landing in the greater Albuquerque area:

On my local map, you may have noticed that the Rio Grande runs past my landing.  But before I codify my watershed, let’s look at my streams-only map:

So . . . I landed in the watershed of “Wide Stream Intermittent” (known as WSI by the locals), which discharges (rarely, I suspect) to the Rio Grande (50th hit).  Congratulations, Rio Grande, on your 50th hit milestone!

I want to look at the WSI on Google Earth (GE), but first we’ll need to strap in for my GE spaceflight.  Click HERE, enjoy, and then hit your back button.

So here’s my drainage pathway, down the WSI to the Rio Grande:

 

And an oblique GE shot looking up the WSI towards my landing:

 

There’s no Street View coverage anywhere close to the WSI – let alone my landing.  The best I can do is have the Orange Dude look across the Rio Grande towards the break in the distant bluff that was carved out by the WSI:

 

Here’s what he sees:

 

I spent some time looking at USGS maps of the area, hoping to find a name for the WSI.  No luck.  I found a great map, which clearly shows the WSI valley:

 

Here’s a closer look at the same map; believe me there’s no label for the thin blue line that is the Wide Stream Intermittent:

 

Of course, I did get Street View coverage of the Rio Grande:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

But here’s a better picture of the Rio Grande (from Bernalillo), a GE Pano shot by Alex Tucker:

So what about Algodones?  It is truly hookless.  The only thing I have to go on is the name itself.  In Spanish, Algodone means cotton.  “Algodones” by itself doesn’t really make sense, it should be “los algodones,” which would be translated as “the cottons.” 

From TheRoute-66.com, about the origin of the name:

The name is a Spanish word that means “cotton.”  The name may be derived from the fact that cotton was grown in this area and sold to the other pueblos in the 1700s. But drought and less land available for cultivation plus the raids of the Apaches led to its demise.

I stumbled on this expression:  “vivir entre los algodones.”  In Spanish, this idiomatic expression means to be spoiled and overprotected.  Literally, it means, “live between the cottons.”  Maybe live between the sheets?  One may wonder why I brought this up, since the chance that this expression has anything to do with the town is practically nil. . .

About 15 miles SE of my landing are the Sandia Mountains.  Here’s a view (from a real estate website) that shows the view from 8 Via Sole Drive in Algodones, looking SE:

Moving to Bernalillo.  Here’s a screen shot of the “History” section of the city’s website:

You’ll have to trust me on two points:  First, this is, in fact, the top of the “History” section on the website (even though the word “history” is no where to be seen).  Second, the word “Coronado” doesn’t appear in the fairly extensive write-up after the title. 

Say what?  If “The City of Coronado” has nothing to do with history, what does it have to do with?  Well, a little bit of research, shows that there is, in fact, a Coronado connection.

I stumbled on some local information about Coronado, after seeing the title of this GE Pano shot:

It wasn’t a great shot of the Sandias, but I dug a little deeper into Kuaua, and found this, from NMHistoricSites.com:

The Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo are located in Bernalillo.  In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado—with 500 soldiers and 2,000 Indian allies from New Spain—entered the Rio Grande valley somewhere near this site.

Coronado was searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold.  Instead of treasure, he found a dozen villages inhabited by prosperous native farmers.  These newly “discovered” people spoke Tiwa, and their ancestors had already been living in this area for thousands of years.

Coronado called them “Los Indios de los Pueblos” or Pueblo Indians.  He and his men visited all twelve Tiwa villages during the course of the next two years.  They weren’t only looking for gold; they survived on food and other supplies that they obtained from them.  Without the assistance of the Tiwas (willing or unwilling), Coronado and his men very likely would have starved to death.

Kuaua was the northernmost of the twelve villages.  Its name means “evergreen” in Tiwa.  It was first settled around AD 1325 and was occupied by approximately 1,200 people when Coronado arrived.  Conflict with Coronado and later Spanish explorers led to the abandonment of this site within a century of first contact.  Today, the descendants of the people of Kuaua live in the surviving Tiwa-speaking villages of Taos, Picuris, Sandia, and Isleta.

From a Coronado perspective, it is interesting that back in June 2016 I landed near Lochiel, Arizona, which is more-or-less where Coronado entered the United States as he began his mission to find the 7 cities of gold.

Even more interestingly, in October 2016 I landed near Gypsum, Kansas, which is more-or-less where Coronado ended his mission.  Here’s a map:

So now I landed more-or-less where Coronado crossed the Rio Grande . . .

Moving right along to Placitas.  Let me go back a couple of days when I first landed here in the desert northwest of Algodones.  As has happened before, I was sitting at my kitchen table, using a website to select my random lat/long landing location.

My wife Jody was sitting across the table, and I let her know that I was landing.  Sometimes she’ll ask what I’m doing at my computer, and I’ll say I’m “landing,” even when I’m doing research/writing.  But when I’m actually coming up with a new landing location, I’ll let her know that now, I’m “really landing.”

So, this was one of those real landing moments, and I told her that I just landed in New Mexico.  Knowing that she used to live in New Mexico, I asked her if she knew Algodones.

“Algodones?  Yea, I’ve heard of it, but I’m not sure where it is.”

I zoomed back a little more, and I asked her if she knew Bernalillo.  Of course, I mispronounced it, and she corrected me (bern – a – LEE- o), and let me know that it was in Bernalillo County.  She was paying attention now.

When I zoomed back a little on my local landing map, I caught my breath.  Here’s our dialogue (more-or-less):

“Jody – you’ll never guess where I just landed.”

“You landed near Placitas, right?”

I turned my computer around so she could see:

“Yup – Placitas.”

Oh my.  Jody used to live in Placitas.  To this day, she uses the word “placitas” (along with some miscellaneous letters and numbers) as several of her standard passwords.

She didn’t just “live” in Placitas.  While a student at the University of New Mexico, for about 8 months she lived in a non-functioning school bus that she and her then boyfriend bought for $300 and towed out to a piece of vacant land in Placitas (rent free, but with owner’s permission).  A school bus with no electricity, no water, no toilet.

They dug a pit and put an outhouse over it; they brought in two wood stoves – one for cooking and one for heat.  They used kerosene lanterns for light.  They built a chicken coop, and kept chickens for eggs.

As you might expect, this whole episode in Jody’s life has become one of our family legends.

About 20 years ago, she and I visited some friends who lived in Albuquerque, so of course we cruised around Placitas.  Things had changed so much, she couldn’t figure out where her school bus had been.  But while interviewing Jody for this post (and thanks to Google Earth), we pretty much nailed it.

Let me start with this GE shot of Placitas today:

She lived west of town, and the more she thought about it, she was able to say that she lived south of the main drag and just west of road with word “tunnel” in it. Hmmmm . . .

And there it is, Tunnel Springs road.  Zeroing in, she also remembered “the arroyo,” a little further west.  That nailed it.  I’ll put the magic yellow oval on this gotta-be-it zone:

“By jove, Sherman, I think we’ve found it!  All we need to do is crank up the Way Back Machine – let me see, let’s set it for April 23rd, 1971.  We’ll put the Orange Dude out on the main drag, and take a look:”

“The bus!   And yes, that’s Jody!  Good job, Mr. Peabody!”

Not a bad view from the bus – those are the Sandia Mountains in the background.

A quick detour on the Sandias:

Sandía means watermelon in Spanish, and is popularly believed to be a reference to the reddish color of the mountains at sunset.  [This is what Jody told me].  However, as Robert Julyan notes, “the most likely explanation is the one believed by the Sandia Indians: the Spaniards, when they encountered the Pueblo in 1540, called it Sandia, because they thought the squash gourds growing there were watermelons, and the name Sandia soon was transferred to the mountains east of the pueblo.”

Here’s a lovely shot (from Wiki) of the Sandias over the Rio Grande:

Back to Placitas.  No surprise, Placitas was quite the hippie community back in 1971.  From PlacitasSage.org:

In the 1960s, Placitas was an alternative to nearby urban areas which offered employment but little space. Improved roads allowed a reasonable commute, and the population of Placitas began to grow gradually.

Some moved here to write, to make art and music, to enjoy life at a slower pace. Some wanted to “live off the land,” a movement which gained strength in the 1970s. Some of these folks gathered in communes, others simply built their own homes on acreage that was affordable and available.

One of the Placitas communes was “Lower Farm,” which Jody remembers visiting.  Here’s a classic hippie photo by Roberta Price (check out the guitar player’s pants!).  She wrote a book on communes in the west (Across the Great Divide – A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture) which includes this photo (with the caption below):

Placitas was the southern point of our commune explorations in the summer of 1969 and again in the early winter of 1970, and though we spent a short time there, we caught a glimpse of the vibrant counter-cultural life at that time.

But the real center of Placitas life was the Thunderbird Bar.  Jody remembers it well, and occasionally went there to hear some live music.  I googled the Thunderbird, and came across a facebook page belonging to Larry Goodell, the Placitas “poet-in-residence.”  Back in the day, he performed at the Thunderbird and has collected Thunderbird memorabilia and posted it on his page. 

Here are some posters, mostly from the early 1970s when the Thunderbird was at its prime (it burned down in the mid-70s).  Note REO Speedwagon, Tim Buckley, Mason Williams, Albert King, John Lee Hooker and Freddie King – some pretty big names . . .

(I really enjoyed perusing these.  If you’re not so inclined, you can scroll down quickly.)

Fifteen cent beers!

Here are a couple of inside shots from the same era (I don’t see Jody):

And, this, showing the outside (featuring, I think, Dolly from “Dolly and the Lama Mountain Boys):

From SandovalSignPost, this, by Bill Pearlman, relating a Thunderbird Bar conversation with Joe Gonzalez:

Old days that run the gamut. How the myriad conversations came and went, the goodwill exchanged in language. The strange creatures that appeared here, the wild days at the old Thunderbird Bar of Placitas.  Joe reminds me that the Thunderbird was our center, our forum, our symposium— where ideas were explored, where stories were told, and where laughter surged from friendly voices and passed beyond us. The camaraderie of those days, what we did with our energies, our affections, our vehemence. Lived out a youth, a Volks camper, a bad war, a skyrocketing high, a refugee’s sense of distance.

In one of those JFTHOI* moments, here’s Mason Williams performing Classical Gas in 1968.  Great song.  He was a pretty big name to be playing the little ‘ol Thunderbird Bar!  This is skippable, but this song was a huge hit, and I enjoyed seeing him play it.

*Just for the heck of it

 

And in another JFTHOI moments, here’s Tommy Emmanuel (who I’ve seen four or five times) also performing Classical Gas.  In my humble opinion, if you don’t know Tommy, you should really check this out.  And if you do know Tommy, you’ll enjoy it.

 

For the record:  Even though I’m sure it was going on all around her, Jody was a non-drinker, non-druggie during her days in Placitas. . .

I came across a YouTube video of a 1970 BB King concert in Placitas, the “Medicine Ball Caravan” festival.  I wasn’t going to bother posting it, but I realized it’s a great performance with good sound quality, and well worth your time (and it has some classic hippie shots):

 

That’ll do it for Placitas; now I’m going to cycle all the way back to my when-I-was-really-landing moment.  As most readers probably know, I often “land” outside of the lower 48, because of the roughly rectangular landing area I have to identify when coming up with my random lat/long.  Anyway, this was one of those times when I first “landed” in the Atlantic Ocean, and then Mexico.  And Mexico again.  And (AYKM?) Mexico again. 

I was blown away when Mexico came up for the fourth straight time!  But this one was special.  So special, that I’m going to let you see the special place I landed.  Click HERE (and don’t skip this trip!).

Here’s a static shot of the Isla San Jose (and the yellow push-pin that was my landing location):

The island is about 18 miles long and 5 miles wide, and is uninhabited.  But it (along with the much smaller San Francisco Island just south) is incredibly beautiful.  Here are some GE Pano shots.  I’ll start with this, by Samir Gonzalez:

Rodriguez 324:

Also, Rodriguez 324:

And yes, another by Rod:

And again:

By you-know-who:

Geez.  Enough already . . .

Hold on to your hats, this is by KNBStover (of San Francisco Island):

Same beach, another angle, by Jack Bennett:

 

I’ll close this segment with this, by Bacamacari:

I’ll circle back to Placitas, and close with this lovely GE Pano shot of the Sandia by NMGuy:

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

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