Tag Archive | Albuquerque

SW National Parks Trip: Rattlesnakes in Albuquerque!

After spending the morning at the Palace of the Governor’s and the New Mexico History Museum, Jon and I got back on the road and headed to Albuquerque. We wanted to check out the old town area. It took a little less than an hour to get there, and one argument about where there would be a gas station (note for readers: it is not in the historic downtown…). We arrived in time for a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant – Jon had a vegetable burrito and I had a delicious taco salad. Yum! The temperature in Albuquerque was much warmer than it was in Santa Fe, so I could actually take my jacket off – and not wear a hat! What a huge improvement!

We spent a little time wandering around old town Albuquerque, poking into shops and galleries. We saw the Iglesia de San Felipe de Neri, a Catholic parish church that was founded in 1706. San Felipe de Neri is the oldest church in Albuquerque, and has been continuously operated since its founding by Franciscan Friars. The original church was finished in 1719 a short distance away, but collapsed after a heavy rainfall in 1792; the current adobe church was built in 1793. The adobe walls are 5 feet thick! The towers on the church were added in 1861.

San Felipe de Neri Church in Albuquerque

San Felipe de Neri Church in Albuquerque

You can visit for free, but they do request donations to help in the upkeep of the church. The interior is beautiful, with an intricately decorated sanctuary.

The Sanctuary at San Felipe de Neri

The Sanctuary at San Felipe de Neri

After we visited San Felipe, we went to the other side of the plaza and found the Rattlesnake Museum. I came across it when we were researching the trip and Jon told me there was absolutely no way he was going into a building with live snakes. It looked cheesy, but I thought it sounded fascinating! Of course, I put it on the things of potential things to do and resolved that I would somehow convince Jon to go. Or just let him sit outside.

When we were standing outside, he told me he would go in with me! The Rattlesnake Museum is a small privately operated museum that is clearly run by a man with a love for these hard-to-love creatures. The museum has quite a collection of snake memorabilia. They have posters, snakebite kits, toys and games featuring snakes, jewelry, clothing, and snake advertising. In addition to rattlesnakes, the museum also contains other kinds of snakes; King snakes and Corn snakes, tarantulas, lizards and a Gila Monster. Gila Monsters are one of only two types of venomous lizards in the world!

Mollie the Gila Monster

Mollie the Gila Monster

But obviously, the rattlesnakes are the real stars here. The museum has more species of rattlesnakes than the Bronx Zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo, the National Zoo, the Denver Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, and the San Diego Zoo combined – 34 varieties of rattlesnakes in all. Some of the snakes are very unusual, including an amelanistic rattlesnake (more commonly known as an albino), a melanistic rattlesnake (the opposite of albino – having too much pigment) and snakes with unusual color patterns.

An Albino Snake!

An Albino Snake!

I was fascinated walking through, and loved seeing all the snakes – thankfully tucked away behind glass.  I learned quite a bit too, including the fact that rattlesnakes live in all but four U.S. states: Maine, Delaware, Alaska, and Hawaii.  And did you know that rattlesnakes are born alive?  They have litters anywhere between 4 and 25 after the female carries her eggs inside her body and gives birth to live snakes after the eggs hatch.  And Jon, with his fear of snakes?  He enjoyed himself too! And to prove that we conquered our fears, we each got a Certificate of Bravery. What fun!

A Melanistic Rattlesnake

A Melanistic Rattlesnake

How about you?  Would you dare to visit the Rattlesnake Museum?

Back from our Adventure in the Southwest!

So, did you miss me?

Jon and I arrived home early this week from our action packed road trip through the Southwest!  We took two planes, set foot in 6 states, stayed in 9 hotels, and put just over 2,300 miles on the rental car.  We visited six National Parks – Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon.  We visited one National Monument – Petroglyph, and one National Historical Park – Chaco Culture.

We saw lots of rocks – in all different shapes and sizes and textures, and hiked through all kinds of spectacular country.  We saw amazing stars and the heavens through a telescope.  We saw lots of wildlife, and lots of people, and enjoyed every second of it.  We visited several new cities, sampled lots of beer, a little wine and had some great food.  And we wrapped it all up with a family wedding – where we got to spend lots of time and celebrate new beginnings with family.

Stay tuned for my posts about the trip – I can’t wait to share it all with you!

I would have put a few more places on here, but Google Maps limits you to 10...

I would have put a few more places on here, but Google Maps limits you to 10…

 

A Vacation is Coming!

Jon and I are in the process of planning our next vacation.  We are combining a family wedding with a road trip around the southwest to visit several of our nation’s National Parks.  We are departing from Long Beach, California, on a big loop and visiting:

  • Zion National Park
  • Cedar City, UT
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Moab, Utah
  • Cortez, CO
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Four Corners Monument
  • Farmington, NM
  • Chaco Culture National Historic Park
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Williams, NM
  • Grand Canyon National Park

Then after this action-packed itinerary, we are returning to the Los Angeles area for the wedding and the flight home.  Here’s the visual version.

I would have put a few more places on here, but Google Maps limits you to 10...

I would have put a few more places on here, but Google Maps limits you to 10…

I would love your suggestions for the best things to do in these parks and towns/cities.  The itinerary already includes quite a bit of driving, so if it is very far off the route, I’m sad to say we probably won’t make it there.  And we only have a day or two in each place, so as much as I would love to hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, that won’t be happening on this trip (plus the hostel at the bottom was already full, and we won’t be lugging camping gear on the plane).  As my mother pointed out, we could spend a whole week in each place, but until we get to retire, that won’t be happening…

I would love to hear from people who have been to these places – what are the best things to do, and what is worth skipping?  Museums, restaurants, scenic viewpoints, places in the parks to see?  Thanks everybody for your suggestions!