"Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly."
- Langston Hughes
Day 152 - Tuesday, November 21, 1995 - - The walkers moved base camp to the metropolitan sprawl of Albuquerque. Specifically, our new camp will be north of the city, in the burgeoning satellite community of Rio Rancho, the fastest-growing city in New Mexico.
|Looking down on the city of Albuquerque, and Rio Rancho New Mexico from Sandia Crest, a dramatically high mountain ridge to the city's east. Photo by Robert Jason Cross, courtesy of flickr.com
Rio Rancho was originally part of the Alameda Land Grant, which was founded by the Spanish in 1710. By the early twentieth century, much of the land grant had been sold to land investment companies. Those companies brought on the blitzkrieg development that characterized the city in 1995.
At the very edge of the growing suburb, just a few blocks from where the new housing construction pauses and the desert remains, Jorge and Sandra Castro have opened their modest ranch house to us. The walkers have packed into Sandra and Jorge's small back yard, pitching their tents side by side, and overrunning the single bathroom in the house.
Despite the overwhelming nature of having 30 house guests, Jorge and Sandra are adapting graciously.
Einar Sunde, who has been one of us since Quartz Mountain, Oklahoma, told me how the walk unfolded on the road as it approached Albuquerque yesterday.
He said that on Monday, he joined with Michael and Three Rivers, to form one band of walkers. Joe assigned them a five-mile stretch of road to walk along I-40 through a canyon near Clines Corner, New Mexico.
"It was an amazing walk, just beautiful," Einar said. "As we walked throug the canyon, right there on the edge of the interstate highway, it was warm and sunny, the sky was beautifullly, impossibly blue, and the air was sweetly scented with pinon. We saw cholla cactus, red soil, juniper on red rocky hills…
"It was absolutely lovely," he said. "We coud look north to the Sangre de Chisto Mountains, maybe 50 miles away, and see snow on top.
Einar commented that in walking along the side of the interstate highway, that the Sunbow pilgrims generally got accustomed to the traffic. "The highway shoulders were wide," he said, "so we could walk pretty far off the highway. But in most places the highway is built on a raised bed and then the shoulders slope off to the side for drainage. So if you are walking on the shoulder, or just off the shoulder, you are walking on a slope with one leg and lower than the other, and your pelvis tilted. Your left leg is always higher than your right leg, and that builds up stress and aggravation for your pelvis and hips, and ultimately your back, as the day goes on. The soreness of that tilted walking was an issue for a lot of us."
"A redtail hawk came to us while we were walking through the canyon," Einar said. "It landed on a telephone pole just ahead of us. We felt blessed. But when got to the pole where the hawk was perched, he flew off and went ahead of us about three more poles down the line, and then landed again. When we got to that pole he flew ahead again. Then that repeated. It happened over and over, all through the day. The hawk flew ahead of us and then perched and watched until we came close."
"Finally, when we got to our marker at the end of our day's walk," Einar said, "the hawk flew away to the north. We were so happy and uplifted. We felt as though Creator was with us, as if we were being blessed."
An old postcard image of Route 66 through Tijeras Canyon, the passageway from high desert plains of the eastern New Mexico to the Rio Grande Valley, and Albuquerque. A modern two-lane highway was built through the canyon in 1925, then it was paved as a part of historic U.S. Route 66 in the 1930s. In the 1960s Route 66 was supersceded by the construction of I-40.
Since prehistoric times Tijeras Canyon has been a natural route for travel between the plains of eastern New Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley.