Friday, March 26, 2010

2010 FMCA Motorhome Rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 22 - 25 2010

Driving along US Highway 491 with its red rock mountains that shoot up to the sky and on our way to Farmington, NM to join a caravan of other Safari motorhomes, my mind conjured haunting images of the Native American Indians surviving and living a rich life in the early days of the Americas before our forefathers tried to civilize them. I found myself visualizing them riding through the desert on their bareback horses, painted faces, and colorful feathers collected from birds of prey to signify their status as a warrior. How could our forefathers understand a culture that was so deeply embedded in this rich land of the Americas, The First People? I visualized their haunting appreciation for this great land, and devotion to their tribes and culture.

As we drove past a few of the reservations, mainly Apache and Navajo, I could see their community of Tribes huddled together in their adobe homes and the Sweat Lodges centered in their communities along the desert and mountainsides. I found this lifestyle mystical and appealing.
These lodges are round shaped and accommodate approximately twenty tribe members at a time. The stones are hot and special oils that have mystical powers are poured over them. During this time, which lasts about 15 minutes, they are in deep spiritual prayer, which also includes drumming, and offerings to the spirit world; all this for the benefit of their tribe. Some common past and present practices and key elements associated with Sweat Lodges include:
  • Orientation – The door usually faces the fire. The cardinal directions usually have distinct symbolism in Native American cultures. The lodge may be oriented within its environment for a specific purpose. Placement and orientation of the lodge within its environment often facilitates the ceremony's connection with the spirit world.
  • Construction – The lodge is generally built with great care and with respect to the environment and to the materials being used. Many traditions construct the lodge in complete silence, some have a drum playing while they build, other traditions have the builders fast during construction.
  • Clothing – In Native American lodges participants usually wear a simple garment such as shorts or loose dresses.
  • Offerings – Various types of plant medicines are often used to make prayers, give thanks or make other offerings. Prayer ties are sometimes made.
  • Support – In many traditions, one or more persons will remain outside the sweat lodge to protect the ceremony, and assist the participants. Sometimes they will tend the fire and place the hot stones, though usually this is done by a designated firekeeper. In another instance, a person that sits in the lodge, next to the door, is charged with protecting the ceremony, and maintaining lodge etiquette.
  • Darkness - Many traditions consider it important that sweats be done in complete darkness.
One of many Sweat Lodges in New Mexico.

Some reservations will allow the public to view their way of life for a fee that helps support their community, but for the most part the public is not allowed to view them so as not to interfere with their communal living and religion. They also have their own set of rules within their tribe whereby their community is commanded to obey according to their religious beliefs. Law enforcement is not allowed to enter their tribes and dictate laws that we are obligated to obey. However, once they leave their reservation and enter the regular community, they are also obligated to obey those same laws. Our motorhome group had a law enforcement officer talk to us about New Mexico laws, we got the scoop from the horses mouth.
One of the interesting things about New Mexico is the state’s commitment to keeping their landscape and cities in partnership with the land. Their bridges, homes, shopping malls, churches; all of their standing structures, have a very distinct adobe look with colors of the desert. Landscapes include the many desert flowers and plants. In the bigger towns, you might see mansions on the hillside but the colors blend into the mountainside where they are stationed.
Adobe style structure sitting quietly in the snow.
Arriving at our Farmington, New Mexico pre-rally caravan we prepared ourselves for a five-day stay at the Sun Ray Park and Casino. We were able to meet and mingle with all the members of our caravan during this week. We also went to the Tom Bolack Museum where we not only learned about the his life as a hunter but were able to zoom into his travels to distant parts of the world collecting interesting, extinct, and exotic animals located in the six rooms he has filled to capacity in his museum. One time he was almost killed by a 13 foot Polar Bear in Alaska. After shooting it from a helicopter and jumping out of his helicopter to make sure it was dead, the animal rose up and could have killed Tom Bolack but his helicopter pilot saved his life by shooting it dead with his shot gun.
Our 1998 Safari Serengeti getting ready to line up with the 14 coach caravan (we were number 8).

Coaches enjoying their space at pre-rally in Farmington.

Trip to the Tom Bolack Museum in Farmington.
Entrance to Museum. Double door is hand carved.

30 Foot Python skin that Tom Bolack caught in Africa.Exotic Goats.

Cat Walk.

Butterfly collection.

Alligator caught along the Nile River. The necklaces in his mouth are off the necks of women he ate while washing their clothes.

30 Foot Polar bear he caught in Alaska.

Elephant ear Tom Bolack had made into a table.

Exotic fishes he caught and had replicated.

Family dog that was stuffed.

Collection of exotic birds.

Elephant feet made into spittoons.
Traveling with our Safari Caravan from Farmington to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and knowing that it had snowed the night before on the trail we would be using, I felt as if we were following a Wagon Train to the New World. We traveled US Highway 550 and soaked in the beautiful snow lined roads and splatters on the mountains. Reaching the Continental Divide at 7300 feet was breathtaking and worth the trek in itself.
Police Escorting our caravan out of Farmington, NM.
(Click on the pic to see the patrol car at the front of the caravan)

Continental Divide at 7300 Feet with clouds threatening another storm.

Arriving at our destination at the Fiesta Air Balloon Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was awe struck by the shape of the museum building situated in the park where we would be dry camping. Going along with the air balloon theme, the museum building was shaped like an Air Balloon with an adobe look. We settled ourselves for a fun filled 4 days, March 22 – 25, 2010, at the Family Motor Coach Association Rally that was held at the Albuquerque Expo. The weather was astounding. We experienced all the weather gammets during each day of our visit to the FMCA Rally, including wind, sun, rain, hail, snow; needlesstosay we dressed warm all five days. Chuck and I previewed some of the new million dollar motorhomes at the Rally and was amazed at the 2010 Monaco Dynasty with two slides together; had to take a picture of it below.
Museum shaped like a balloon.

Scooter sitting in the snow at the FMCA Rally on the Expo grounds.
(Here I go again, dreaming about my scooter Lucy at home in California)

Seminars, Vendor Booth, and New Motorhomes Exhibit Locations

Vintage Coach

Tear Drop Coach specially designed for Motorcycle, Golf Cart, etc.
We sat by the campfire with our Caravan every night, enjoying our new-found friends. They came from different parts of the country including Canada, Florida, California, Texas, South Dakota, and New Mexico.

The last day of the Rally we drove over to a restaurant that serves Hatch-Chili Burgers, and enjoyed some yummy burgers. This was a treat because New Mexico is famous for their Hatch-Chili that isn’t found anywhere else in the US. The chili is chopped up and fried and is included in your hamburger. We also enjoyed what they call a “Balloon Glow” in the evening that was located at the Fiesta Balloon Park where we were staying. We walked over with a Canadian couple that we met and watched the show together.

Hatch-Chili being fried on the grill for our chili burgers.

Last Day of Expo we attended the Balloon Glow at park where we stayed
Our adventure hasn’t ended, it’s just beginning. Watch out U.S.A. and Canada, the Newman’s are coming.
Live, love, laugh!
Elva Miranda-Newman

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