Dan and I got up this morning and, after a stop at Krispy Kreme, we headed down to the Quarai ruins, north of Mountainair. This was Dan's first time to see Quarai, although I had been there before (and even blogged about it, as some of you might remember).
Today's weather was wonderful, with warm temperatures and clear blue skies. The drive down was nice. This is what the countryside looks like for most of this drive, once you leave I-40.
On the way, I was telling Dan that one thing I liked about going to the ruins was that it's off the radar for tourists, so it's usually quite deserted, but I didn't think about it being a holiday. When we got there, there were lots of cars and a bus already parked near the visitor's center. As we walked up to the Mission, we heard what we thought was a public speaker, of some sort, inside the ruins. As we got closer, we discovered that there was a Catholic mass being conducted inside.
Not wanting to disturb them, we left the ruins and walked the path that leads to a beautiful, shady picnic area.
I'm not sure what was growing along that path, but something was giving off a wonderful, sweet aroma. It might have been these pretty blossoms that we kept seeing. (Some sort of wild rose?)
When we got to the picnic area we sat down and ate the lunch that we'd brought. Our picnic table was under some huge, old trees, and looked out to this sunny meadow. The shade and a light breeze made the temperature pleasantly comfortable.
About the time we were finished with our lunch, the mass let out and the people came streaming over to the picnic area, with their box lunches. We decided to trade places with them, so we gave up our picnic table and headed back to the ruins.
As we neared the ruins, we met one of the Franciscan Friars who was with the group. Dan stopped and talked with him briefly. We learned his name was Friar Pio. He told us about "Saint" Pio, from whom he took his name. He agreed to stand in front of the Mission and have his picture taken. And after our short visit, he gave us a blessing as we parted ways.
Quarai's red rock, the blue sky and the surrounding greens are startlingly beautiful. Its history is interesting. I'm not sure when this mission was built, but it was abandoned in 1675, due to famine and raids from hostile Apache Indians. There's something humbling about touching these rock walls, that were built with the hands of people who lived some 300 years ago. The walls are very high, and when we stood inside, we felt small. Sadly, the folding chairs from the Catholic mass were still set up, so it limited the pictures I was able to take when we went inside. This first one, though, was taken from inside the walls. The sun was nearly overhead, so the walls were flooded with light.
These are a few exterior views, from different angles.
In this shot, looking up the wall on the outside of the ruins, I serendipitously caught a jet contrail streaking across the corner. I didn't see it at the time, but when I downloaded the pictures I thought the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern was fun.