PHOTO GALLERY INDEX > Time Well Spent
Albuquerque, NM 11/15-16/08 (Day 764-765)
Time Well Spent
Natural Bridges National Monument is a compact, focused park which makes it easy to wrap your head (and your time) around it. Created to showcase just three stellar examples of bridges formed by naturally eroded rock, all of the park’s geological wonders are easily reached via hiking trails off a short scenic drive.
Even with a lovely pit stop to make a sandwich in the Airstream we’re able to walk to all three bridges and enjoy all of the overlooks in just a few hours, then we’re off to Moab where we do something we’ve never done during all of our visits to the area: stop and take a tour of the Hole ‘n The Rock attraction just south of town.
Sure, from the outside it looks like just another cheesy roadside rip-off complete with a lame petting zoo and an overpriced gift shop (which is exactly why we’ve always driven right past it). But this time we stop and pony up the $5 each for a tour of the main attraction, a 5,000 square foot multi-room home with electricity and plumbing (not to mention some very, um, unique décor—more on that later) blasted, carved and coaxed out of sheer rock.
The tour starts in the kitchen, a cheerily painted room that was the first area built in order to serve guests at what was originally a roadhouse restaurant. Apart from the French fryer carved into solid stone and the cabinets that have been rounded to fit into the curved rock walls, the kitchen doesn’t seem that unusual.
Then you enter the home’s other 13 rooms. There’s the bathtub carved out of solid rock and the 65 foot chimney blasted through solid stone. Not to mention huge solid-stone pillars throughout. All told 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone was removed to create the Hole ‘n The Rock as it was expanded into a full-fledged home and art studio.
However, the thing that really makes this place unique is the way the creators, Gladys and Albert Christensen, decorated their cave home.
An avid painter and sculptor Albert’s work is everywhere—much of it focused on his hero Franklin D. Roosevelt. His other passion, taxidermy, is also represented in the form of the sorriest looking re-animations of various dearly departed pets, including the donkey who did most of the heavy lifting during construction of Hole ‘n The Rock and a sort of ethereal floating foal that’s more creepy than cute.
Fittingly, Gladys and Albert are buried in a rocky plot next door to their labor of love.
We can’t be sure that the 15 years it took Albert and Gladys to construct and decorate this boondoggle was time well spent, but we’re glad we stopped by for a little while.
We’re also glad we stopped by the Star Casino in Santa Ana, New Mexico the next day. We’ve made it a habit to stop at casinos and take advantage of any free play they offer new club members. Usually it’s five bucks or so and we can almost always make a few dollars in a few minutes.
When we pull into the Star Casino, however, they’re offering an additional bonus to first-time club members. All we have to do is show our drivers’ licenses, then log onto their web site and use a code to play an online game that determines what our additional bonus is. We play the game later that night in the nearby Albuquerque Central KOA, however, one of the codes they've given us is expired.
When we return to the casino the next morning they tell us they can give us a new online game code to replace the expired one, but we’ll have to use our own computers to redeem free play. No problem! We just go out to our Safari SE in the parking lot and fire up our mobile office. In the end, we get $70 in free play which we quickly parlay into almost $50 of pure profit. Now that’s time well spent!
** This isn't a normal photo gallery with a slideshow because this post originally appeared on our Airstream blog. **