It started snowing while I was distributing the January Signpost.
My son met me at the Placitas Post Office, and we quickly split
the route through Bernalillo and Rio Rancho. Then we left the four-wheel-drive
truck in the village for my wife to drive the final three miles
home after picking up friends at the airport.
County road crews got an early start, so Highway
165 was in such good shape that Barb and friends thought it was
safe to take both cars home. They compounded that mistake by taking
the long way home to avoid the hill on Camino de las Huertas which,
as it turns out, had been plowed and salted. Around 9:00 p.m., they
pulled into the driveway in the truck after driving through pounding
snow and abandoning the sedan in a snowdrift off Camino de la Rosa
It was still snowing the next day when I put
an avalanche shovel and tire chains into a backpack and skied the
mile or so up Las Huertas Creek to the car, which was now half-buried
next to the unplowed gravel road. It took a while to dig out and
chain up, then struggle up the hill to the plowed road. Chains are
horrible things, but if they stay on, they can work miracles. I
felt pretty smug about getting the car all the way into the garage.
After lunch, I skied into the Open Space with
my dogs. The tireless Chesapeake pup was loving it, but my stocky
heeler bitch struggled behind on skinny legs, dragging her barrel
chest through a foot of heavy snow. We ended up dripping onto my
neighbor’s floor next to the woodstove imbibing in holiday
cheer, joking about being snowed in (‘please don’t throw
me in the briar patch’). It has happened before, but it always
melts the next day. Another neighbor, who stubbornly remains off
the grid, ran out of solar power for her batteries and gasoline
for her generator and had to move her refrigerator outside.
The next morning, there was yet another foot
of snow on the truck and it didn’t take long to establish
that it was stuck. We were snowed in at the end of a mile of private
road. The county doesn’t plow private roads. I should have
left the car in the snowbank where it was, but who knew?
We spent the day doing strange things like
cooking, playing board games, and reading in front of the fireplace.
When it was got to be too much, the kids escaped over to the county
road and caught a ride into Albuquerque. A beautiful sunset signaled
the end of the storm.
The snow settled enough on New Year’s
Eve day to get the truck out to the paved road, but the gravel road
to the party was snow-packed and icy. It seemed prudent to skip
the drive and walk to yet another neighbor’s house. Maybe
this is how life will be in the post-automotive age (the way it
used to be.) Travel stories in the local news will always be as
tame as this.
It was New Year’s Day, four days after
the snow started, before we finally left the confines of our neighborhood.
The New Year’s transformation was more dramatic than usual,
with a world covered in white. It felt weird going back to work,
but I did the bookkeeping and finished my paper route before heading
out to ski on the Crest Trail above Placitas. My trusty retriever
broke trail as we made first tracks though the deep powder.
A week later we were getting closer, but still
parked a quarter mile from the house, and we packed in groceries
on foot. There was enough snow to ski up Arroyo del Oso, where the
creek flowed from Tunnel Springs and the village of Placitas. (Have
you tried cross-country ice-skiing?) The creek flowed further downstream
every day—all the way into the Las Huertas Wash and past our
house. I haven’t had so much fun playing on the ice since
I was a kid.
Of course it wasn’t all play—the
parapets around the roof had to be cleared and ice had to be chopped
out of the canales to keep the roof from leaking. When the big meltdown
finally came—two weeks after the storm—I spent the afternoon
in a T-shirt digging channels to keep the water that poured down
from the hills off the driveway. Mud was the problem now. A garbage
truck was stuck up to its axles in our former shortcut out to the
A couple days later, on Martin Luther King
weekend, another storm dumped more snow on the Jemez and temperatures
dropped to minus eleven as we crossed the summit on the way to snowboard
at Pajarito Mountain.
And it’s snowing again right now. Everybody
has stories to tell about the great snowstorm of 2006—not
all good—but for me, this is shaping up to be the best winter
The streets, buildings, and church of Acoma Pueblo
are preserved for posterity.
Acoma Pueblo becomes 28th National Trust Historic Site
Sixty miles west of Albuquerque, atop a sheer-walled, 370-foot
sandstone mesa, Acoma Sky City has remained suspended in time for
two millennia. The oldest continuously inhabited community in North
America, Acoma Sky City has an eye toward the future with the announcement
that it will become the twenty-eighth National Trust Historic Site.
Overlooking a vast desert-and-mountain sweep of northern New Mexico
and dating back to A.D. 1150, Acoma Sky City is a vibrant community
characterized by its adobe houses, plazas, walkways, and the San
Esteban del Rey Mission Church, completed around 1640. The Acoma
people have long welcomed visitors to their community, which was
designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and a Save America's
Treasures Site in 1999. Today, approximately fifteen families live
year-round on the seventy-acre mesa.
The Pueblo of Acoma owns Acoma Sky City, and the tribal council
is responsible for all decisions and operations. By entering into
the agreement with the National Trust, the pueblo will avail itself
of the National Trust’s expertise in preservation, conservation,
and interpretation, as well as national standards, best practices,
and legal advocacy. Furthermore, the agreement allows Acoma Sky
City access to technical services, special grant funds, and cooperative
marketing programs available only to National Trust Historic Sites.
For the National Trust, the addition of Acoma Sky City adds to
an ever expanding group of diverse and cherished pieces of American
heritage. From a massive castle overlooking the Hudson River to
a tenement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, from Frank Lloyd
Wright’s Home and Studio to Philip Johnson’s Glass House,
National Trust Historic Sites are a legacy from the past and a gift
for the future.
"For nearly two millennia, the sovereign nation of the Acoma
Pueblo has been an exemplary steward of Acoma Sky City, and, as
the owners of the mesa, they will continue to preserve this captivating
community," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust.
"Acoma is living history, not a museum, and nowhere else can
you better appreciate the full breadth of the American experience.
We’re delighted to work with the Acoma people to bring even
more attention to this irreplaceable piece of Pueblo Indian heritage."
"The Pueblo of Acoma tribal community is honored to enter
into this important partnership with the National Trust for Historic
Preservation," said Jason Johnson, Pueblo of Acoma governor.
"As our country’s twenty-eighth National Trust Historic
Site, we continue to fulfill our inherent responsibility to preserve
and perpetuate our traditional way of life while implementing practical
and sustainable historic and cultural preservation initiatives centered
on safeguarding the integrity of Acoma culture, language, history,
and arts for future generations. We wholeheartedly embrace this
designation and look forward to attaining the objectives of this
National Trust members will be able to visit Acoma Sky City free
of charge as a benefit of their membership and on occasion will
be invited to special events. Hour-long tours of Acoma Sky City
are offered throughout the year. Guided by Acoma residents, they
provide an introduction to the history and culture of the pueblo,
as well as an exploration of the church, plazas and residential
The mesa-top village is known worldwide for its unique art and
profoundly rich culture. Pottery—hand coiled and tempered
with walls so thin that they ring with the clarity of a bell—have
been revered by art collectors for more than a century. Visitors
can see examples of the pottery at the Sky City Cultural Center
and Haak’u Museum or purchase pottery directly from the artists
along the tour route in the village or from the sizable gift shop
at the Sky City Cultural Center.
For more information about Acoma Sky City, log onto www.skycity.com.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is
a private nonprofit membership organization dedicated to saving
historic places and revitalizing America's communities. Recipient
of the National Humanities Medal, the trust was founded in 1949
and provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to protect
the irreplaceable places that tell America’s story. Staff
at the Washington, D.C., headquarters, six regional offices and
twenty-eight historic sites work with the trust’s 270,000
members and thousands of preservation groups in all fifty states.
For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.