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Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument sign in front of the visitor center and headquarters in Mountainair

Lake Estancia

In my desire to know more about the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in central New Mexico my search led me to the salinas playas of the Estancia Basin. The basin at the end of the last Ice Age held a large lake. The playas reveal the story of Lake Estancia to scientists and an understanding of why the Salinas Pueblos settled in the area.

“The Estancia Basin during the last Ice Age did contain a perennial lake for several thousand years,” Dr. Bruce D. Allen a geologist from New Mexico Tech told me in an interview in 2018. “It was like between fifteen to twenty thousand years ago.”


Aerial of saline playas in the Estancia Basin once filled with Lake Estancia during the end of last Ice Age. Photo courtesy of Dr. Bruce D. Allen

Lake Estancia, according to Dr. Allen, filled the Estancia Basin of central New Mexico. The lake covered the landscape from south of Willard, north to Moriarity. The basin is bordered by a ridge with Pedernal Peak sitting at its highest point to the east. “ You can see shorelines,” Dr. Allen says, “on the eastern side of the lake basin.” To the west, the Manzano Mountains border the western side of the basin, the Sandia Mountains to the northwest. Jumana and Chupadera Mesa flank the southwest of the basin. The Rattlesnake Hills closes of the southeast part of the basin. At times the lake was several hundred feet deep. Humans possibly fished the lake and hunted in the area.

Saline Playas


Saline playas along U.S. Highway 60 east of Willard, New Mexico

The climate continued warming. The last of the ice receded, and the lake evaporated. The dry bed of Lake Estancia has been blown by the winds digging deeper into the lake bed. The dune-like striated ridges left by the carving wind reveal the long history of the ancient lake. Driving on US 60 east of Willard on the Salt Mission Trail the playas can be seen along the highway. The two-lane road passes through the southern section of the playas. A rest stop with a historical marker allows parking to get out and see this interesting geological feature. Standing at the lake beds one can imagine the people of a bygone time who came here to collect salt. A salt of such high quality that it was harvested for centuries by the local people. “Ninety-nine percent pure,” Dr. Allen ads.

Natives built villages along the southwestern edge of the Estancia Basin close to the playas. They used salt in their diet. The mineral was also used as a valuable trade commodity. From the east came the nomadic tribes of the plains. They brought buffalo products and flint to trade with the people of the villages. The people of the Rio Grande villages to the west traded agricultural products like corn, squash, and cotton. There may have also been a lucrative slave trade between the people of the area. Survival depended on what the environment offered and these salt harvesters scratched out a living for several centuries before all was to change.

European Invasion

From the European continent came the invaders, across the Atlantic and through Mexico. They desired riches and souls to expand their conquest. In the 16th and 17th centuries, on horseback carrying medieval armor and weapons, the invaders marched into the land of these villages. The natives knew nothing about this creature that the riders rode and perhaps thought that these “dog riders” were supernatural. The foreigners imposed a harsh Catholic religion on people who worshiped for centuries divine nature and its four seasons. Colonists came to settle new lands and exploit what wealth the area had. The Europeans were “saving” the natives’ souls, and forcing them to be subjects of the Spanish king, all in the quest of fabled lands and cities. For the natives and the Europeans, this cross-cultural encounter would forever alter the fate of these people who were now denizens of land named “Nuevo México”, New Mexico.

The Spanish named the people of these villages “pueblos”, Spanish for “town”. They also named this area of the Estancia Basin Las Salinas because of the saline playas. The Catholic priests used native labor to build large mission churches within the villages. And yes, for the precious salt, native labor mined the salt that was mostly transported to Chihuahua, Mexico to be used in the silver mines.

The villagers erected the large mission churches, but changes were again in the wind for the Salinas Pueblos. By the late 1600s, the people of Salinas, both European and Pueblo abandoned the region. Drought, famine, disease, and raids from nomadic tribes forced the Salinas people to move to the Río Grande among the Pueblos living along the river. Within a few years, the Pueblo people would unite and revolt against the invaders, expelling them from New Mexico, if only temporarily. The revolt is known as the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and is still celebrated today amongst the Pueblos.


Quarai



Gran Quivira



Abó

The Monument

Over one hundred years the federal government has recognized the historic value of the Pueblos and their massive Catholic temples. “In 1909 Gran Quivira was established as a national monument,” says Chief Ranger Norma Pineda at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. “In 1980, former state monuments Abó and Quarai were combined with Gran Quivira to become Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.”

The monument comprises four sites: A headquarters/visitor center in Mountainair ( http://discovermountainairnm.com/) just west of the saline playas, and the resource sites of Abó, Quarai, and Gran Quivira. The playas are not part of the monument, and they are, for the most part, on private land.

The main visitor center headquartered in Mountainair offers information on the monument and the three remote sites. The visitor center has a gift shop, a museum, and a short film about the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. The monument offers events throughout the year. Rangers give interpretive tours and talk about the monument. Having been designated an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, the dark sky events thrill visitors with a look at the cosmos without light pollution. Astronomical societies bring out their telescopes for the public to see celestial sights — astrophotographers delight!

As Ranger Marc LeFrancois put it: “We’re regarded by many as New Mexico’s best-kept secret, but we don’t want to be a secret. We want everyone to come out!”

The Milky Way hangs over the ruins of Nuestra Señora de La Purisima Conception de Cuarac in Quarai.

The three monument resource sites are located in three different locations outside of Mountainair (http://discovermountainairnm.com/). Mountainair is a good place to gas up, pick up supplies, and maybe grab something to eat. There are a few eateries around town as well as a local grocer. See the map below to locate various points of interest courtesy of the Department of Interior. The map was apparently produced in 1983 when highway 337 was south highway 14 from Tijeras through Chilili to highway 55. Highway 55 continues to Mountainair and on to Gran Quivira.

From here the journey led me to the three monument sites: Gran Quivira, Quarai, and Abó.

Map of the southern Estancia Basin in central New New Mexico. Courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior

Sources:

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

National Park Service

Dr. Bruce D. Allen

Wikipedia

Gran Quivira

Ruins at Gran Quivira

The monument site of Gran Quivira sits on a mesa about twenty-six miles south of Mountainair on New Mexico State Road 55. It’s about a thirty-minute drive. Gran Quivira has ample parking and a visitor center. Services like gas stations or food marts are unavailable in the area. The closest town is Mountainair.

The native circular ceremonial chamber and the Christian rectangular ceremonial chamber at Gran Quivira

The largest site of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, the blue grey limestone ruins of Gran Quivira was once a large community with multiple pueblos and kivas. The inhabitants of these multi-storied pueblos numbered in the thousands. They built circular kivas, mostly underground, and used the structure for spiritual ceremonies and political meetings. Here a large structure from 1200-1600 AD has been fully excavated for visitors to see. The Spanish most likely first visited the pueblo in 1583 with the arrival of the Don Antonio de Espejo expedition, but the expedition did not stay and returned to Mexico. Then in 1598, Don Juan de Oñate and his colonizers were the first European invaders to settle what would become New Mexico. Oñate called the pueblo Las Jumanas and soon in 1629 construction of a mission began. By 1659 the construction of the large church San Buenaventura began.

Drought, disease, famine and raids from nomadic tribes caused the abandonment of the pueblo by 1672.

Setting up telescope for dark sky event at Gran Quivira

Rangers at Gran Quivira offer tours of the site, or you can take a self guided tour. The monument has various activities for people to enjoy the ruins. One favorite event happens in the evening when the dark sky drapes its star filled cloak over the ruins. As an International Dark Sky Park designated by the International Dark Sky Association (https://www.darksky.org/) the monument partners with astrological societies to bring out telescopes to gaze at the cosmos. With the popularity of astrophotography, the monument presents a unique opportunity to capture the Milky Way over ancient ruins.

The Perseid Meteor Shower dark sky event in August at Gran Quvira

(source: Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, National Park Service, Wikipedia International Dark Sky Association)

Quarai

The ruins of Quarai

In New Mexico, on highway 55, eight miles north of Mountainair, near the small village of Punta de Agua, are the ancient ruins of Quarai. The site contains the ruins of a native pueblo, a seventeenth-century Catholic church, and structures built in the 1800s when the Lucero family briefly reoccupied the site.

Unlike Gran Quivira’s limestone rock, Quarai was constructed of local red sandstone. Gran Quivira sits atop a mesa, and Quarai is nestled in a small lush valley.

Wildflowers bloom at Quarai after summer monsoon rains.

Quarai was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and in 1980 became part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. Based on archeological findings, it appears the natives moved into the area around 1300. When the Spanish arrived in the seventeenth century, the natives had built a large pueblo. The Catholic missionaries with native labor began building the mission church La Purisma Concepcion de Quarai in 1627.

A curious item riddles archeologists: the construction of a square kiva within the mission’s Convento. The natives used kivas for ceremonial purposes. The Catholic authorities frowned upon the native religious practices, and it seems a little odd to put such a chamber within the mission complex.

Perhaps the missionaries allowed certain native rituals to take place here! We may never know.

Like Gran Quivira, the people of Quarai abandoned the area in the late seventeenth century because of drought, famine, disease, and raids from nomadic tribes. The survivors too left to live with people of the Río Grande.

In the 1800s, the Lucero family reoccupied Quarai and built structures on the property using stones from the ruins. The family soon abandoned the site after continuous Apache raids.

Quarai has a visitor center, a small museum, and a gift shop. There are restroom facilities too. Rangers offer interpretive tours, or you can take a self-guided walk.

As part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, now an International Dark Sky Park (https://www.darksky.org/), enjoy evening events to gaze at the dark sky. The Albuquerque Astronomical Society brought their telescopes one evening where I met a gentleman Mr. Martin Hilario who had a telescope connected to a video monitor. In the monitor, Mr. Hilario showed me several cosmic phenomena: the red-colored nebula on the constellation Orion’s belt, spiral galaxies destined for a collision when one will overtake the other, and the winged Butterfly Nebula.

Quarai at night lit by the moon.

Abó

The ruins of Mission San Gregorio de Abó

Like the many pueblos of the Salinas area, Abó succumbed to drought, famine, disease, and raids from nomadic tribes. The inhabitants abandoned the village in the late seventeenth century and moved to the Río Grande. The pueblo fell to ruins and remained abandoned until the late 19th century.

Located nine miles west of Mountainair off U.S. highway 60, Abó once thrived along the busy trading route between the plains to the east and the Río Grande to the west. The pueblo dates back to the 1300s.

The kiva within the walls of the mission

When the Europeans arrived they began efforts to convert the natives to the Catholic faith and to be subjects of the Spanish king. For the most part, the natives worked with the newcomers. With native labor, the Christian temple of San Gregorio de Abó was constructed of the local red sandstone that the village was made of. Here too, like Quarai, a kiva was incorporated within the convento walls.

The pueblo remained abandoned for over one hundred years. In 1869 the site was finally reoccupied. The Sisneros family moved in and was able to settle there for generations until this day. The family eventually turned the ruins over to the state. The site became part of a state monument and in 1980 the National Park Service brought Abó in as part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. 

One thing that stood out to me was the gravesite of Federico Sisneros (1894-1988). When his father owned the land and ruins, he told his son Federico to care for the old mission. Later when the property became a state monument, Federico served as caretaker. Then he became the nation’s “oldest park ranger” when Abó became part of the Salinas Missions National Monument. His final wish, according to the plaque at the gravesite, “was to be buried here, beneath this juniper tree, near his beloved Mission San Gregorio de Abó”.

Federico Sisneros gravesite near the old mission

Abó has a small parking lot and visitor center. Like Quarai and Gran Quivira, rangers offer interpretive tours or self-guided walks. Abó also puts on dark sky events. A ranger-guided hike to nearby petroglyphs along a canyon wall makes this site unique.

Before the pandemic closed things down, the Friends of Salinas gave the public a very special holiday gift. In early December 2019 volunteers placed thousands of luminarias or farolitos on the walls of the ruins. These little lanterns are made of paper bags filled with sand and a candle placed inside the bag. These New Mexican traditional lights represent the lighting of the way for the Christ Child. The little lanterns light the ruins with their soft glow. A mass led by a local priest was held in the old mission preceded the lighting of the lanterns. The Friends of Salinas offered refreshments of biscochitos, tamales, coffee, and hot chocolate. And kids took swings at two piñatas filled with goodies, all for free!

Luminarias or farolitos on the walls of ruins

The Milky Way hangs over the ruins of Mission San Gregorio de Abó.

Source: Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

National Park Service

Wikipedia

  • Writer's pictureestradaepc

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

A road trip in northern New Mexico to get out of the house makes for a nice weekend.


Sandstone cliffs and snow capped peaks of northern New Mexico

The day started by throwing us an obstacle. Leaving Albuquerque on I-25 north we

encountered a stand of New Mexico State Police who had closed the interstate at Tramway Boulevard. We were unaware of the reason for the closure - we suspected a vehicle crash. Nonetheless, we followed the line of traffic to the off-ramp and headed onto NM State Highway 333 through Sandia Pueblo and onto Bernalillo where we hoped to get back onto 1-25. The detour through this old historic route known as El Camino Real, the Royal Road, would delay us about thirty minutes. The Royal Road, for centuries connected Mexico City with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Maybe the delay was heed to slow down. Our destination, Chama, a village near the Colorado border, would still be there.


We reconnected with I-25 at Bernalillo. We, meaning my life-long partner Cheryl and a couple of canines. The trip north would take us through the Río Grande Valley past Santa Ana Pueblo, the village of Algodones, the San Felipe, Santo Domingo, and Cochiti Pueblo Reservations, and up the escarpment known as La Bajada, Spanish for the descent. Here marked the separation between the provinces of Río Abajo, Lower River, and Río Arriba, Upper River. We ascended to the top of La Bajada escarpment, and we could see Santa Fe at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. We exited I-25 and took NM Highway 599, a bypass around Santa Fe, for our continued journey north.


The end of 599 connects with US Highway 285, and we left Santa Fe behind us. We continued north past the Santa Fe Opera, Tesuque Village, and Pueblo, through Cuyamunge, Pojoaque, and Nambe Pueblos and on to Española where we crossed the Río Grande to enter the Río Chama watershed. Here the Spanish set up their first European colony at the confluence of the Río Chama and the Río Grande near the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh. The Spanish would eventually move their colony to where Santa Fe now sits - the oldest and highest in the elevation state capital in the United States.


The Río Chama meanders south towards Abiquiu.

We crossed the Río Grande and connected with US Highway 84 north through Hernandez where the famous Ansel Adams took his well-known photograph of a full moon over this village. US 84 winds through the small villages along the Río Chama. The winding road

eventually leads to Abiquiu, once the home of the legendary artist Georgia O'Keeffe. The village and the surrounding area remain as enchanting today as it was in her days. Quaint houses and farms, cottonwood trees, Río Chama, piñon and juniper studded hillsides, and the geological formations from eras long gone, keep this a special place.


We continued north on 84 and drove up the red rock cliffs where we can see the Río Chama meandering out of a narrow canyon. At the top of the cliffs, we could see the Jémez Mountains, a dormant volcano, to the south. In the distant north, striated cliff formations near Ghost Ranch rise above the horizon in colors of red, orange, and yellow. As we drive toward the cliffs, Abiquiu Reservoir glimmers in the late morning sunlight. The Río Chama feeds the reservoir.


Across the rolling desert plain, US 84 took us north past Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center. The center, slowly reopening during the pandemic, offers visitors retreats, workshops, and adventures. For more information visit their website:https://www.ghostranch.org/


Echo Amphitheater

A few miles further north where the majestic cliffs surround the valley, an amazing formation named Echo Amphitheater made for a nice roadside break. The stop, operated by the US Forest Service, has limited services (restrooms are closed due to the pandemic), but a short hike up the trail to the Echo Amphitheater is worth it. The huge concave formation allows sound to bounce off the large sandstone rock face making for a good place to have a concert. On the day we were there, Native Americans were beating a ceremonial drum. The sound could be heard throughout the canyon.


In 1966, Hispanic activist Reies Tijerina organized La Alianza and took over the site, in protest of the federal government taking land from the locals and restricting access to public lands for their livestock. Eventually, Governor David Cargo sent the National Guard which soon disbanded the group, making several arrests. The following year, La Alianza made a failed attempt to perform a citizen's arrest of a local district attorney for violating their civil rights. There was a shootout at the Tierra Amarilla county courthouse and Tijerina eventually went to prison in 1970.


Looking south to the Jémez Mountains from Echo Amphitheater

US 84 moves north into the highlands of north-central New Mexico. This route is part of the Old Spanish Trail that went from Santa Fe to Los Angeles, California. In 1776 two priests traveled this way to find a route to Monterey, California. Unfortunately, they only made it to Utah, realizing that California was much further than they thought. Eventually, a route to Los Angeles formed that meandered into Colorado, across to Utah south to where Las Vegas, Nevada now sits, across the Mojave Desert to Los Angeles. There were many reasons for why this trailed meandered in such a way, but that's another story.


Chama, New Mexico

We finally reached Chama. This small village offers several restaurants and lodges, incredible scenery, and if you like to get into the backcountry, Chama is a good place to start. Hunters flock here in the fall, and autumn colors attract those looking to see the changes of the season. During the winter, snowmobilers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers take advantage of the snowy terrain. But a great thing to do here is taking a ride on the Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railroad. The coal-fired steam locomotives pull passenger cars on a narrow-gauge track between Chama and Antonito, Colorado. The train rides through the pristine San Juan Mountains. In the past, we have taken this incredible trip in October when the aspens and cottonwood trees take on their golden cloaks. What a memorable experience!


The Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railroad heading to Colorado!

For this journey, we visited some land we are interested in. The dogs needed a break and a place that they could get some running done. Clouds began moving overhead, and a short shower cooled the air. As a photographer, I started clicking the shutter. The dogs were given water, and we headed to find a place for lunch.


In the COVID world, we thought it best to get something to go. At the Boxcar, we picked up a couple of grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, with some fries. The sandwiches were good with a healthy cut of ham, place between two slices of cheddar cheese on hearty wheat bread. We ate in the car as it began to sprinkle. Then it was time to head back south. Despite a detoured beginning, the trip fell away pleasingly well. Overhead the thunderheads began to bring down the rain as we headed south. But the road trip was not finished. We headed south to visit with my son who lives outside of Santa Fe.



Santa Fe


Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Back southward we trekked through scattered thundershowers. US Highway 84 is a good two-lane road. A few rough places you have to watch out for, but for the most part, it is well maintained. Winter is a different story. We will have to explore that time. In Española, we connect to the four-lane US Highway 285. Approaching Santa Fe, we did not take NM Highway 599 but continued into the state capital. 285 turns into St. Francis Drive across the city connecting with I-25. Santa Fe, "The City Different", was founded in 1610. It continues as the capital since the days Spain reigned over the region. It has become a major player in the world of art and culture. Again the story of Santa Fe is for another time.


We made it through the heavily congested St. Francis Drive to get onto I-25 north and to where my son dwells in a house on a large ranch southeast of Santa Fe in Santa Fe County.

Onto a dirt road, off the beaten path, we ramble for a few miles. We come upon a gate. Cheryl gets out and opens it, allowing me to drive onto the ranch. When we get to the house Zeke, my son has some cold beers waiting and some chicken on the grill. The dogs are in heaven as they romp around the grounds with Zeke's dog.


Cheryl baked some Brussels sprouts and made a salad. We sit down to a good meal. The rain came off and on as does the scattered thunderstorms do in these parts. The ranch sits in a heavy piñon and juniper forest in the mesas that finger out southeast of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The mesas reach out into the plains of eastern New Mexico.



Sangre de Cristo Mountains from south of Santa Fe

Away from the city, this is a perfect location to get some photographs of the New Mexico dark sky, providing the clouds clear up for a while. The Galactic Center of the Milky Way is expected to rise above the southeastern horizon around 11 pm (2300 hrs). It will rise in the southeastern sky and move westward across the sky. Jupiter and Saturn will follow behind, and so will the moon. Ah, but the moon will leave the eastern horizon around 2 am (0200 hrs), and so I have a window of a few hours to capture the images of the Milky Way and the planets before the moon lights up the sky, making it too bright to get good images. So the sky is monitored. Since I am still learning about astrophotography I am always testing.

At around 11 the rain has stopped, but the clouds still cover the sky. Off in the distance to the east, I could see the radiant light from lightning probably in the eastern plains. I lock the camera on the tripod and adjust camera settings for exposure, ISO, and f-stop. The camera is also set to interval so that it will also record a time-lapse. I leave the camera on the deck of the house and patiently wait for a clearing of the sky. The clouds started to break up and I started the time-lapse. Stars gleamed in and out as the clouds moved across the sky.


The time-lapse was discontinued. I look at the images through the camera. To look at these images, I will need to put them through the computer and process them. So it would have to wait until I returned to Albuquerque.


The Milky Way with Jupiter and Saturn in the lower left

The next morning we had a breakfast of sausage and egg burritos. My daughter Rhea and her wife Adrienne joined us. After breakfast, we walked around the ranch. The morning carried fresh air following a night of rain. Wildflowers bloomed in the high desert clay.

Indian Paintbrush

In this new Covid world, you got to find ways to get out safely and breathe! As we returned to Albuquerque it will be a little easier to stay confined!.
















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  • Writer's pictureestradaepc

Updated: Aug 9, 2023



An early morning walk along the harbor in North End Boston delivers dawn that paints the light feathery clouds in crimsons and violets. The downtown skyline facing east reflects the morning colors on their glass and concrete structures. At 0645 the sun breaks the horizon. Soon the golden glow washes away the crimson and violet. The sun climbs as a new morning breaks. Vessels move in and out of the bay, breaking the golden sheen of a calm Atlantic. Boats docked within the harbor dance to the undulating current moving swells to and from the shore. Aircraft continually approach and depart Boston Logan International Airport just across the harbor. Despite all the activity, tranquility dominates the morning's mood.






Visiting Boston in October invigorates the soul. Rich in history, the autumnal hues, exquisite cuisine, minimal tourism, and the frenzy of an oncoming World Series Championship make Boston in October one exciting place!


Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park

The walk back to the North End neighborhood passes through Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park along Atlantic Avenue. The white marble statue of Columbus stands in the middle of the park. The trees wear their seasonal colors of gold and red. A gust sends the leaves falling to the ground.



Salem Street in North End

Staying in North End places you in the midst of historical settings. North End dates back to colonial times and occupies a peninsula along the bay. Paul Revere lived here. The Old North Church on Salem Street still stands here. This church is where lanterns were placed in the church's steeple signaling that British troops were on the march, prompting Paul Revere's famous ride to warn the American colonists. Red brick buildings line the narrow streets and though the North End has had it's turbulent history from colonial times to the mass immigrations in the 1800's to the organized crime in the twentieth century, the neighborhood is now peaceful and has become a tourist destination. Italians, the last large group of immigrants that moved into North End, give the neighborhood an Italian flavor. Ristorantes, cafes, pizzerias, bakeries, and small markets inhabit the storefronts along the old narrow streets.


Charter Street

Apartments and condos also make up most of the living space in the North End neighborhood. A nice place to stay is La Gemma. This Airbnb truly is a gem. A little hard to locate at the intersection of Salem Street and Charter Street because tucked among the red brick buildings is the narrow Goodridge Alley. The alley leads into a small courtyard where the cool autumn nights have not kept the flowers in the beds from showing their bright blossoms. Statues of the Virgin Mary, the Christ Child and Joseph decorate the small courtyard - more evidence of Italian influence.


Goodridge Alley led into a courtyard

A door leads into the building and up a short flight of stairs. The condo opens to a small living room with a comfortable sofa, a chair, a wood stove and a TV mounted on the wall. The modern kitchen contains all the necessary appliances and utensils for preparing meals. Sunlight enters through the large windows filling the kitchen and dining area with natural light. A wall in the kitchen painted black allows guests to scribe their messages in colored chalk. A spiral staircase leads to the lower floor where two bedrooms and a full bath are located. The condo is nicely decorated and there are wood floors throughout. The place definitely offers all the conveniences of home.

The host of this little gem left reading materials, eating recommendations, info on places of interest, and transportation maps.


La Gemma, the Gem with all the conveniences of home

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will get you where you want to go whether by boat, bus, or train. The train or "T" as it is called makes it easy and inexpensive to ride. The Haymarket station is close to the North End neighborhood. An attendant at the station offered help in purchasing a twenty buck CharlieCard for a week of indefinite metro train rides.


Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay

It was easy getting to Back Bay for shopping on Newbury Street where boutiques, shops and restaurants fill the brownstone buildings.

And before heading back to the "T", a quick visit to Copley Square where a cool breeze blows the autumn leaves across the park. People, traffic, and pigeons busy the square. On one end the square Trinity Church attracts visitors to its magnificent ornate architecture. The modern John Hancock glass skyscraper reflects the sky in the background. On the other end of the square sits the Boston Public Library. According to the library's website, Boston Public Library “was the first large free municipal library in the United States.” Besides books this library contains marvelous marble walls, sculptures, ornate columns, and a series of fine murals.


The Boston Public Library at Copley Square

When in Boston during October: beware not of ghoulish haunts but Red Sox fever. On the first game of the 2018 World Series, the Red Sox hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers at the famous Fenway Park. Red Sox fans donning their Red Sox apparel filled the trains, busses, and streets. The city exploded with excitement. Meeting family at Blaze Pizza near Fenway Park proved challenging navigating through the enthusiastic crowds. From the stadium, the crowd roared. Something good for the home team. Somehow it seemed the fans knew that their Red Sox would end up the 2018 World Series Champions! By the way, the pizza at Blaze Pizza is good.


The trouble with a place like Boston is there is never enough time to see everything. But the stay in North End truly gives the first time visitor a good look at this historic city.
















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