Colorado Traveling Ducks at Fort Union, New Mexico

Another road trip.  Everybody is happy about road trips.   Our moms just decided to get in the car and drive, preferably south.   It is winter here in Colorado.  Let’s take a quick trip looking for warmer weather.  We are an unusual group this trip.   I, Zeb the Duck, Soapy Smith Duck, my mom, Soapy’s mom and Soapy’s dog Chloe.

Chloe. Soapy Smith Duck’s dog

Chloe is part Pit Bull, part Labrador, and probably has some Dalmatian.   Under her white fur, some black spots are on her skin.   This is Chloe’s first long road trip.   This will be her first time in a motel, first time in an elevator, and many more firsts.   Heading south from Denver on I-25, we enter New Mexico, and about 100 miles further this rest area caught our attention.

Fort Union National Monument

We are near Fort Union and this rest area is part of Fort Union National Monument.   The rest area has all the normal things, rest rooms, information maps and vending machines, but there is more.

Nice picnic area

Isn’t this a nice picnic area?  We liked the overhead cover.   Gives protection from snow, rain and the intense New Mexico sun.  Maybe we will stop here for a picnic on another trip.  We liked this wagon wheel.  Part of old American history.

Wagon wheel. Maybe from Santa Fe Trail travelers?

Santa Fe trail was here

The Santa Fe trail passed through here.   Can you imagine traveling across the desert and over mountains in a covered wagon?   It was still chilly and windy here, so we did not go Fort Union this time.   But mom and I have been here before, so I want to show you more about Fort Union.   I, Zeb the Duck, was very young and this was one of the first trips in my blogging career.   Mom, I, Zeb the Duck, and my Alaska uncle visited here in 2013.

Fort Union, NM with my Alaska uncle

The park rangers told us there were 3 separate forts built on this location.    The first was to protect the Santa Fe Trail, the second to establish a Federal presence in the territory, and the third Fort Union was a Union response to the Confederate invasion.   Those interested in our Civil War should visit here.

Ruins of Fort Union. Two previous forts were closer to mountains.

Also history of Santa Fe Trail.

Santa Fe Trail goes to Fort Union, NM

Ruts from wagons on the Santa Fe Trail are visible in the hard, dry ground.   The third Fort Union is the one most visited.

Adobe remains of officers quarters

This fort was a large supply facility for the southwest.   At one time about 5,000 soldiers lived here.   We were warned to stay on the paved walkway and to watch for rattlesnakes.   It was a sunny day.   Pleasant for us, but rattlesnakes also like sunshine.   We stayed on the path, read the signs, and did not see any snakes.   About those supplies:  In 1868, 44 tons of bacon were brought to Fort Union in 22 wagons.   That’s a lot of bacon.   Many other supplies were also delivered here.

Waiting for supplies

Fort Union had the premier hospital in the region with 6 wards and 36 beds.   You could get treatment and care for 50 cents per day!  Fort Union was abandoned in 1891.   Fort Union is easy to visit, just a rather short drive from I-25.  It is interesting.

Visit Fort Union National Monument

If you visit, watch the film at the Visitor’s Center, and don’t miss the gift shop.   More about our new road trip next time.

Fort Union National Monument

I, Zeb the Duck, visited an old fort.  I went with mom and my Alaska uncle.  Located in New Mexico, Fort Union is well marked and a fascinating place.

Fort Union, NM with my Alaska uncle

Fort Union, NM with my Alaska uncle

The park rangers told us there were 3 separate forts built on this location.  The adobe ruins of the last fort and the accompanying information signs showed the officers areas, the supply areas, the animal areas and so much more.

The first Fort Union was to protect the Santa Fe Trail.  The second was to establish a Federal presence in the territory.  The third Fort Union was a Union response to the Confederate invasion.  Everyone that is interested in Civil War history should visit Fort Union.

Ruins of Fort Union.  Two previous forts were closer to mountains.

Ruins of Fort Union. Two previous forts were closer to mountains.

The Santa Fe Trail went to Fort Union.

Santa Fe Trail goes to Fort Union, NM

Santa Fe Trail goes to Fort Union, NM

We saw the ruts from the wagon traffic.  This third fort was a large supply facility for the southwest.  At one time about 5,000 soldiers lived here.

We saw the adobe ruins as we followed the trail and read the informational signs.

Adobe remains of officers quarters

Adobe remains of officers quarters

We were warned to stay on the paved walkway and to watch for rattlesnakes.  It was a sunny day.  Guess that is good for us but the snakes also like the sunshine.  We did watch but did not see any snakes.

The National Park Service tells us some amazing facts.  As I said, Fort Union provided supplies to many establishments in the southwest.  In 1868, 44 tons of bacon was brought to Fort Union in 22 wagons.  That’s a lot of bacon!

Waiting for supplies

Waiting for supplies

Also, Fort Union had the premier hospital in the region with 6 wards and 36 beds.  You could get treatment and care for 50 cents per day!

Fort Union is located in Watrous, New Mexico, on I-25.  The National Monument is about 20 miles north of Las Vegas, New Mexico and about 100 miles south of the Colorado state line.  The exit is well marked and Fort Union is easy to find.  Visit it and you will have a couple enjoyable hours.  The area has so much vacant land that I could imagine living here 150 years ago.

Visit Fort Union National Monument

Visit Fort Union National Monument

When you visit Fort Union National Monument I hope you watch the film at the Visitors Center.  And don’t miss the gift shop.   For more information visit www.nps.gov

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is really a cool town.  First we went to La Fonda Hotel.  My humans stayed there before we ducks were part of the family.  The dining room has window with small window panes.  The individual panes are hand painted with scenes or items from the southwest.

painted windows at La Fonda

Painted windows at La Fonda

I liked them.  La Fonda is the only hotel on the plaza.  The food was good, too.

We walked to Loretto Chapel.

Loretto Chapel is famous in Santa Fe

Loretto Chapel is famous in Santa Fe

This is a beautiful, old Catholic church, and they have a miracle staircase.  When the church was built, the choir area was in a loft.  In many churches the choir members were all men, so no staircase was built.  The men climbed a ladder.  But this church had a women’s choir.  They could not find a carpenter that could build a staircase for them.  Not enough room.  One day a carpenter came to the door and offered to build the staircase.  He used only a hammer, saw and carpenter square.  There are no supports for the staircase, but it works perfectly.

The Miracle Staircase

The Miracle Staircase

When they tried to pay the man, he had disappeared and left no trace of himself.  Wow!  The stairs are beautiful.  So is the chapel.

Loretto Chapel is beautiful

Loretto Chapel is beautiful

Mom paid $3.00 to see this.  I’m glad we went.  You must see this.

Near Loretto Chapel is the Cathedral Basilica to St Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis of Assisi

Cathedral Basilica to St. Francis of Assisi

This old cathedral is the most decorated and elaborate cathedral in Santa Fe.  Go inside, it is magnificent!

Then we walked to Santa Fe Plaza.  People feed the pigeons here.

So many pigeons eating in the plaza

So many pigeons eating in the plaza

Lots of pigeons!  This plaza marks the end of the Santa Fe Trail.  On one side of the plaza is the Palace of the Governors.  On the sidewalk by the Palace, I saw so much silver!  Many Native Americans bring artwork there to sell.

So many pretty things

So many pretty things

I saw so much silver, much with turquoise, so much jewelry and all beautiful.  I saw some moccasins, and Native American pottery.  So many beautiful things.

Most buildings are made with adobe.  I like adobe and have never seen so much of it.  Santa Fe has many art galleries and art stores.  Also several beautiful leather shops.  So many items relating to the southwest.  They reflect the Native American Indian crafts and the crafts of Mexico.  We even saw ristas of red chilis.

Ristas of red chills

Ristas of red chills

When you visit Santa Fe you will love it.  The adobe, the art galleries, the southwest food and the people were so nice.  If you love history, you will be in heaven.  This is just a little of what we saw and did in Santa Fe.  There are entire books written about Santa Fe activities.  Go soon and often!

Las Vegas, New Mexico

Las Vegas, New Mexico is a quiet, historical town.  Not the gambling mecca of Las Vegas, Nevada.  We stayed here, in New Mexico.  I learned more about New Mexico towns and the Mexican influence.

This train engine, built in 1902, was used by the Santa Fe Railroad Company for 51 years.

Love trains

Love trains

It was then given to the city of Las Vegas.  In 1956 it was placed here and the sign says it is on one of the shortest railroads.  I like trains.

The Veterans Park had trees, lots of grass and benches.  This monument is dedicated to all who served, preserving our freedoms.

To the heroes

To the heroes

I, Zeb the duck, like honoring our heroes.

The Mexican heritage of Las Vegas is reflected in the old town plaza.  This is a large plaza, with trees, grass and benches.  We walked to the center of the plaza and the gazebo was very nice.

Gazebos are great

Gazebos are great

Near the gazebo was a plaque about the Santa Fe Trail.  The trail came through Las Vegas.  I saw other sculptures.  This one is by Margarito R. Mondragon and dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrow Parish and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

Sculpture in Las Vegas, NM

Sculpture in Las Vegas, NM

New Mexico Highlands University has been in Las Vegas since 1893.  In 1993 the Centennial Alumni Tower was built.  This tower honors all those that have come through the university in the first 100 years.

New Mexico Highlands Unviersity

New Mexico Highlands University Centennial Alumni Tower

Across from the tower I enjoyed two old churches.  The Methodist Church and St. Paul’s Peace Episcopal – Lutheran Church offer peace and continuity to the city.  For more information on Las Vegas, New Mexico, visit http://www.LasVegasNewMexico.com

While in Las Vegas, we stayed at the #1 Super 8 motel in the World.

WOW!  Best in the World

WOW! Best in the World

This motel was very clean and had colored towels instead of the standard white and lots of food.  The staff treated us like very important and valued friends.  After checking in, we enjoyed the complimentary soup (3 different kinds) and fresh vegetable salad.  Very nice for us after traveling all day.  Breakfast was hot Belgium waffles (in a crock pot so we did not make a mess making them), two hot cereals, cold cereal, sliced fruit, juice, tea and coffee.  The men in the breakfast area offered warm cinnamon rolls (I love these) and eggs either boiled or poached.  These hosts were better than most waiters.  They brought our beverages, cleaned the tables and cooked.  They brought things before we even knew we wanted them.  WOW!  These guys are great.  When you are in Las Vegas stay at this Super 8 Motel.  You will be happy.

Cimarron, New Mexico with Zeb the Duck

Every famous person from the Old West must have taken the Santa Fe Trail to Cimarron, New Mexico.  I believe they all stayed at the St. James Hotel.

St James Hotel, Cimarron, New Mexico

St James Hotel, Cimarron, New Mexico

Wow!  That place is like a living museum of the late 1800s.

Cimarron is on the road between Taos and Raton, New Mexico.  This was once the home of the Anasazi, Jicarilla Apache and Ute Indians.  In the mid to late 1800s the area was the hub of the mining and ranching empire.  Today Cimarron is a quiet, law-abiding town and even is near the Philmont Scout Ranch, for the Boy Scouts of America.

At the center of Cimarron is the St. James Hotel.  Mom and my uncle took forever looking at old photos and reading the history that occurred at the St. James.  Hotel guests included Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, Black Jack Ketchum, Billy the Kid and mom’s favorite from her much younger days, Annie Oakley.  Also author Zane Grey began writing “Fighting Caravans” here (in room 22) and Lew Wallace, former New Mexico Governor wrote part of his novel “Ben Hur” during visits to this area.

St. James Hotel is old and famous

St. James Hotel is old and famous

Made me wish I could read.

The hotel is still a real hotel with a restaurant and bar.  Some believe that ghosts of former guests are still in residence.  This haunted hotel has been featured on major television shows, including the Biography channel and A & E Biography channel.  I did not see any ghosts, but they sure could be there.  The place felt friendly to this duck.

We went to the bar for a drink and to relax.

Drink for Alaska uncle, drink for mom but where is my drink?

Drink for Alaska uncle, drink for mom.  Maybe water for me?

There have been many gunfights at the St. James Hotel.  The old wall panels are now on the ceiling, still full of bullet holes.  Ducks didn’t shoot guns inside restaurants.  Just people did that.  Was an exciting place, but glad we were way too late for any shooting in the bar.  When in the area, stop at the St. James for a meal or a drink and you will get a feel of the Old West.  I liked it a lot.