Updates From The Socorro Defensor-Cheiftan

Mon 25 Oct, 1995

On The Road Again

With Holly back from her brief visit to Kansas City and the Chain Reaction Homepage complete with all up to date information, we left Los Alamos (9-15) for our next hill climb. The Sangre De Cristo Mountains were as magnificent and the people as cordial as our journey across the Jemez Mountains the week before.

Our first stop was to visit the santcuario in Chimayo. We have always heard of this small church but is was the first Holly or I had taken the time to stop and visit. It is a beautiful church that sits along side a river. Both the interior and exterior are as they were probably 100 years ago. The sanctuario and the famous back room are open to the public which included a greeting from the father and a nun. The back room, with its healing dirt, was of special interest to us since we had been reading a book (Maria: The Potter of San Ildefonso) about a Indian woman. As a child, she made a pilgrimage, with her father, where she covered her body with the sacred dirt to heal a fever.

While visiting the church we ate our lunch at small outdoor cafe called Leona's. Her burritos were delicious and we discovered you could buy a package of home made flavored tortillas. Some were sweet and others were chili and pinon flavored. After trying a variety pack we decided our favorite was the red chili. Her brochure says these are available in health food stores through out the US. As we travel we will look for them again.

Our next stop was Truchas, which was at 8000 ft elevation. The pull up the hill to get there, on 125 LB bikes, makes us glad our body's are in shape. The first thing we saw as we rode into town was a art gallery. Ready for a break we stopped for a look. The owner greeted us and showed us his, and his daughters work. To reciprocate Holly brought out her photos which fascinated the local artists. One thing lead to another which lead to us being invited to dinner and hearing the history of the their families which lived in the area for the last three generations. They were really a nice family that we remember.

After passing through several small villages and the Picuris Indian Pueblo, we arrived in the town of Penasco. Since this was an education center for the area, we made camp in Santa Barbara Canyon, so we could visit the schools in the morning. The next morning we packed a cold wet tent and rode to town and the schools. The science teacher was our contact and invited us to give a talk to two of his classes. The students at this High School were very interested in what we had to say and show. This is not the norm for High School students. What made this school different? We are not sure but is was a pleasure to deal with students that paid attention and were able to verbally express their thoughts and questions. I asked a teacher why the difference in the attitude of students and she said it depends on the teacher. By the end of this trip we will be able to tell you which teachers are the good ones.

This update and log are being written in the park office of Coyote Creek State Campground. We arrived here, in a snow storm, after giving eight programs to the Mora School District. Our minds were mentally exhausted after dealing with the frustrations of talking with the older students. The campground had three sided shelters so we could get out of the snow and not be pinned in the tent. The site, we picked, was for the camp host so we decided to volunteer for a couple days in exchange for no fee and use of the office. The Park Manager also asked us to talk to the YCC (Youth Conservation Crops) about our Project New Mexico. The trade was fun and gave us a couple of days to just fish and enjoy nature. By the way the fish were suburb barbecued on hot oak coals.

Tomorrow (9-23), unless it snows again, we will work our way up the hill to Angle Fire to see the New Mexico Mountain Bike Championships. I bet we will be the only ones to ride our bike to the event.

It has been busy since the last updates. We have finished the art project with the ZEE and had the dedication. It turned out better than expected, which is true of most of Holly's projects.

Leaving Zuni was hard on us and our new friends since we had been there for over five weeks. The relationship we developed will be missed, but we promised to return in a year to see how the seeds we planted are growing. The promise to return made the departure easier.

From Zuni we headed north to Gallup where we had a chance meeting with Holm and Earl Bursum. They were there to attend a Hiway Commission meeting. It was good to see and talk with friends from Socorro. While in Gallup we stocked up on food supplies and visited the newspaper office to thank them for the stories about the Zuni Art Project.

With only a few hours of daylight left we departed Gallup and rode to Red Rock State Park to visit the Museum and camp for the evening. Our next stop, after riding cross country through Navajo country, was Crownpoint. We had met a school teacher, from Crownpoint, while attending the MESA conference in Albuquerque who invited us for a stay. Needing to catch up and organized our thoughts about the Zuni Project, we accepted her offer and stayed a few days. On our last day there we were invited to give a slide show and talk to the whole student body (grades 7-12). That's a lot of kids to gear a talk to.

Presently we are in Chaco Canyon, which is believed to be the center of the Anasazi Culture. If you have never visited Chaco, as we hadn't, it is well worth the adventure to get here.. The dirt roads into the canyon are 20 miles of wash-board and ruts but the scenery and ruins make it all worthwhile. None of the Park Service Rangers can remember seeing touring cyclists in Chaco, so we became a topic of discussion that led to meeting lots of new friends.

From here we head to the Farmington area to buy some parts for the bikes and spend a few days fishing in the lake and streams.

We spent last night in Farmington at Mom and Pops RV Park. Pop showed us his "G" gauge railroad setup which was a great treat. This afternoon we will be heading to Aztec and maybe stay through Sunday to do some fishing. From there we will move to Navajo Lake for some more exploring and fishing. We should be in Dulce and Chama mid-week.

Log: Milage, 920 mi. Places to buy food the last 4 days, 0 . Number of times we bummed water off of Navajos, 4 . Friendly Navajos we have met, All of them.

We did make it to the San Juan River, below Navajo Dam, and found a beautiful campground called Cottonwood. Sharon, the campground host, welcomed us and became our personal host for our three day stay. She made sure Holly had electricity and a place to work while working on Newsletter #2 and #3. We even got invited to dinner on our last night in the campground.

Another gentleman we met, while on the San Juan was Harry, a 80 year old man who has been living in his small pick-up camper for 15 years. He retired from Ford at 65 and drove from California to the East Coast in his camper to visit relatives. He enjoyed his vagabond life so much that he sold his house and just travels to different part of the United States year round, visiting family and friends. He told me his biggest fear is when he can't drive anymore and has to settle down somewhere. I'm not old enough to have that fear yet but when I am I will be able to think back and know how my friend Harry feels. Good fishing Harry.

After 3 days of good fishing and new friendships we did get to Chama. It took us 2 days of very hot riding across Hiway 64. The heat was squelched by the beautiful scenery. Chama offered a campground with shower, laundry, and haircut for George. The sun bleached locks came off and I'm gray again. That's all right, it gets me a senior discount occasionally.

From Chama it was south through Ensenada, Tierra Amarilla, and a night at El Vado Lake where we were invited to a Labor Day picnic at the Ranger's house. The next morning we continued south, into Sandoval County, on a dirt road to Cuba. At Cuba we met a science teacher who was fascinated with our project and travels and asked us to stay the day and talk to 5 classes. Four of the classes were High School and the fifth was a Kindergarten class. The Kindergarten kids paid a lot of attention and asked a lot of questions while the High School Scholars watched and had no questions. I asked why this was, of our host, and he told me when you are in Senior High it isn't cool to ask questions because it might make you look stupid. Being cool was very important at this period of their lives. If the kindergarten kids ever find a need to become cool we are in trouble.

After our busy and educational day in the Cuba School system we started our path across the Jemez Mountains enroute to Los Alamos. This ride I think might be one of the prettiest in the state. It is part dirt and part paved with numerous places to camp and fish. Well worth a weekend exploration if you are in New Mexico. It was along this road that we found out a close friend of Holly's had passed away and she wanted to be with the family as soon as possible . A few challenging phone calls and we had her a plane ticket out of Albuquerque in couple of days. Luckily we had Search and Rescue friends in Los Alamos who were able to give Holly a ride to the airport and give me a place to stay while she was gone. My job, during Holly's absence, was to learn from my friend how to program our homepage on the Internet. I have learned a lot from my friend Ted who is very talented when it comes to anything technical. The Chain Reaction Homepage is at last almost complete.

The Zee Project and what it does

As I think I mentioned before, Zee is similar to TRESCO in Socorro. Their mission statement is to provide effective and comprehensive vocational training, meaningful employment opportunities, and needed independent living skills for developmentally disabled adults. The division that we works with on the art project, are the clients that run the recycle center and the janitorial service. We have developed friendships and a working relationship with the majority of those involved in the programs. Having never been associated with a program of this type we are impressed with what is being done. The supervisors and staff are extremely dedicated. This dedication and newly made friends makes our experience not only rewarding but fun.

We learned something that night

Last Wednesday night, we had the honor of being invited to diner with a group of the clients, that live in the independent living quarters. What we learned that night, about the developmentally disabled, has given us a better understanding of people taking care of people. There were six people that live in this house with varying degrees of disablement, yet the harmony that exists is like family. No one resident could do everything but the group was able to live on a budget, cook a great meal for 8 people, and keep a clean well organized household. Our after diner time was spent learning about everybody's history, doing the dishes, a sign language lesson, and Holly drawing pictures of the crew. That evening we spent the night, camped in their side yard, and fell asleep thinking how great a lesson we had learned.

Alternative Travel

If you want to become part of a community, arrive on a bicycle and ride it around town for a couple of days. When we arrived in Zuni we were asked to talk to several groups so we got to know the pueblo by riding around, lost most of the time, but received lots of help. Now that we have started the art project and have needs for material we find that most people we contact know of us or have seen us and are curious as to what is going on. Their fascination with our projects and methods usually gets us what we are looking for and a visit to the project. The novelty of a "young" man and woman, riding loaded bikes, is a wonderful way to get to know people. If you want an alternative way to travel; try it.

An evening with the guys

by George

We had worked on the art project late and at 7:30 I decided to go back to our camp and get things set up. After putting up the tent I sat at the table to read my paper, listen to the news on the radio, eat a couple of pieces of bread to tide my hunger , and just sit back. As soon as I sat down, three of the neighborhood kids showed up to hang out and ask question. This same scenario happens most evenings but tonight I had my heart set on quiet. After a couple of minutes of trying the silent treatment I told them my quiet time plan which made them ask if they could share my bread, paper, and water. Not really willing to share our diner I suggested they go home and get a drink and a piece of bread. Off they went. Ten minutes later, here they came back toward our camp armed with their own loaf of bread, water jug, and books to read. We ended up sharing quiet time, with all four of us sitting around the table reading, eating bread, drinking water, and listening to my radio. Any time someone would talk someone else would say "shhhhhh". I never realized I was such good entertainment.

Mon, 7 Aug 1995

The ZEE Project Fun Day

``We are enjoying you guys so much that we want to have a, `work on the art project day,' followed by a pot luck dinner.'' This past Sunday (8-6-95) was the Fun Day. Some of the clients (employees) showed up at 11am to get a seat at the sash belt weaving table. This 8 foot, 11 strand, one board loom became one of the most popular work stations. The warp is bailing wire and overhead telephone wire; the weft is multicolored telephone cable. All these materials were found in the land fill. We set it up so 4 people could work on it at once and I think most of the 34 clients have their individual pattern somewhere on the sash belt. As the day went on several people worked on the fancy scarf where they could show creativity they had learned from Holly's examples. The late afternoon brought a lot of merriment, joking and ``look what I made''s. By 7pm the potluck dinner was ready and we had make good progress on the Olla Maiden and boy. The project has been such a success with the clients that they are talking about making weaving part of their therapy. The other positive effect of the art project is the comments we hear so often, ``we never realized what could be done with our disposable trash.'' The Chain Reaction continues.

The sewing lesson

One night at the independent living house the subject of sewing came up. This led to the fact that Mercedes had a new sewing machine, still in the box, and that Holly is a sewer-person extraordinary. This brought joy to Mercedes and Holly, who needed to make a shirt for our talk at the MASA conference. The box was unpacked and the basics of threading, peddle operation, and aligning the material were practiced. The evening, of side splitting laughter, started when Holly held up the material to her arm and started cutting the material to the shape of her arm and body. "Where is the pattern" Mercedes asked. "I don't have one so I just us my body" was Holly's answer. As the evening when on and Mercedes sewed as Holly molded the material to her body, the three spectators watched in amazement. Silas, Mercedes husband who thought that Holly's shirt had 3 sleeves, had everybody laughing so hard that one of the girls legs gave out and she fell to the floor and had to craw to the bathroom, fast. The tailoring continued until the shirt was done and everybody added 10 years to their life from all the laughter. I myself missed a lot of what was so funny but couldn't control being part of the hysteria.

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Skeleton last modified by zephyr on August 7, 1995 16:06:39.