Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks

I call it Kasha KaWowee! and John calls it Costco Kablewy.

We changed our schedule so that we could get to Colorado earlier which meant that we only had two days in the Albuqueque area. Since we both have lived in New Mexico we have spent plenty of time in the area so it wasn’t that big of a deal for us to cut this part of the trip short. But, there was one place that I definitely wanted to go to while we were there.

When I told our fellow RV friends, Brenda and Wally (our38ftlife.com) that we were going to be in the area, Brenda said that we had to hike at Kasha-Katuwe. We had never heard of it so I immediately googled it and agreed that this was something we had to see!

The geological formations at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument are extraordinary. They aren’t like the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park or any other rock formations we have ever seen. The formations are cone shaped and occurred when there were volcanic eruptions 6-7 million years ago. The eruptions left ash, pumice and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. The explosions from the Jemez volcanic area sprayed pyroclasts and created a pyroclastic flow. The most interesting part of these unusual hoodoos are the boulder caps on the top that protect the soft pumice and tuff underneath. Some of the tents have lost their caps and have started to disintegrate. The tent rock formation are fairly similar in shape to each other but vary in height up to nearly 100 feet.

Surveyors have recorded many archaeological sites indicating human occupation for 4,000 years. During the 14th and 15th centuries, ancestral pueblos were established and their descendants, the Pueblo de Cochiti still inhabit the surrounding area. Also, there is a 1540 record from Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado where he mentioned the Pueblo de Cochiti in his diary.

The area is supposedly known for its bird watching. We don’t recall seeing any birds but that’s likely because we were so interested in the rock formations that we weren’t looking for birds. The only wildlife we saw were a few chipmunks and ground squirrels.

There are a couple hikes that you can do but Brenda said that we had to take the hike to the top so we did. Both parts of the trail begin at the designated parking area for the monument. The Cave Loop Trail is really easy, it’s about 1 1/4 miles long but the best part was the more difficult Canyon Trail that is 1 1/2 miles one way into a narrow canyon (sort of like a slot canyon) and an elevation gain around 650 feet which brings you to the top of the mesa. At the top you will have amazing views of the Rio Grande Valley as well as the Sangre de Cristo, Sandia and Jemez Mountains.

Panoramic view from the top

The trails are well maintained but the guide warns that if it storms it is prone to flash floods and lightning may strike the ridges. As a matter of fact, just a week ago (early August) the trail had to be closed because of a storm. When we got to the top of the mesa, the clouds started rolling in so we started our trek back down. We were about a 1/2 mile from the parking lot when it started to rain, it was a bit cold but we were back to the truck quickly so it wasn’t too bad.

The Bureau of Land Management manages the Monument. There is no drinking water available so make sure to bring your own but there are restroom facilities. The entrance fee is only $5, we used our National Parks pass so it didn’t cost us anything. The hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the rangers begin closing procedures at 3:30 p.m. When we were headed down we passed the rangers climbing to the top to start clearing people. I’m sure they were all soaked by the time they got down.

Below is a slide show of the photos from the hike.

This was a great outing and we are so glad we went. This hike is the first one added to our list of favorite hikes for our Summer 2019 trip. There will be a page on our blog where we will keep a list of our favorite hikes.

Cruising Down Memory Lane in Clovis, NM

John and I met in a photography class Clovis, NM in the 1989, where we were attending Eastern New Mexico University. We were both married at the time and were just casual acquaintances. A couple years later I was out with a girlfriend and John was on a date and we met again at one of the two local bars. We were both separated at the time and as we say “the rest is history”. Since we were already going to be in New Mexico for our 2019 Summer Trip we decided to go to Clovis and see how it had changed. When we lived there we thought it was a rather depressing and boring place to live and 30 years later that feeling has increased. It doesn’t help that the Air Force Base is much smaller now because that means there are many empty homes and stores.

This is the first house I ever owned (with my ex-husband).
Heather had a swing on the tree in the front.
This is the quadraplex that John owned when we met again in 1991.
We lived in the large 3 bedroom on the left end until we moved to Colorado.
This was my favorite place to take Heather. It used to have a small amusement park and zoo. The zoo is still there but it was closed when we were there. It looks pretty run down now.

I wish we had a picture from 1991.
Below is almost 30 years later at Kelley’s Bar & Grill where it all began.

In the Slideshow below:
Twin Cronnies Drive-Inn that hasn’t changed a bit, a typical 50s style drive-in restaurant.
Hotel Clovis – opened in 1931, it’s the only “high-rise” in the whole town.
Downtown Clovis – this was on a Saturday, you can see how empty it is. Very depressing!
Lyceum Theater – a mission style theater opened in 1921, it’s a performing arts venue now.
State Theater – is an art deco style theater that opened in 1936, it’s currently for sale.

The best part and the main reason we went to Clovis was to visit the Norman and Vi Petty Rock & Roll Museum and the Norman Petty Recording Studios.

Did you know that Clovis, NM has a rich musical history and is home to an iconic recording studio (that you can tour for free) as well as a great Rock & Roll Museum (only $6 entry fee) that honors the legacy of Norman Petty and his wife Vi? The museum wasn’t here 30 years ago (it opened in 2008) but the recording studio has been here since the 1950s. Neither John or I toured it when we lived here so we had to make sure to tour it this time. I bet I drove by the recording studio on 7th St. a hundred times and I never paid attention to it.

I called a couple weeks in advance to schedule a tour of the studio and it wasn’t for a couple days so we decided to go to the museum first. The museum is in the basement of the Chamber of Commerce and what a great little museum it is!

They have a 20 minute video that takes you through the history of music in Clovis and the “Clovis Sound”. There is so much memorabilia, instruments and other interesting artifacts that you could spend hours there. Below is a slideshow of some of the highlights for me.

A great article about Buddy Holly and Norman Petty.

When I called to schedule our tour, I spoke to Kenneth Broad (he’s the executor of the studios) and said he was going to be out of town but there was someone else who would be able to give us our tour. We were thrilled to arrive and find out that our tour guide was David Bigham, one of the singers in Buddy Holly’s backup group, The Roses. Below is David Bigham now and in the photos of The Roses he’s the one on the right. It was so much fun and very interesting to hear his stories.

Norman Petty’s label Nor-Va-Jak is the birthplace of “the Clovis Sound” that was created back in the 50s and continues to influence Rock & Roll to this day.

Petty’s Dad owned this service station and tried to get Norman interested in the business, but he wasn’t. I’m so glad he followed his passion!

The first really big hit from Petty’s studio was by Buddy Holly who was from nearby Lubbock, Texas (the big city compared to Clovis, NM) . “That’ll be the Day” was recorded by Buddy Holly and the Crickets in 1957 and was certified gold (more than one million sold) and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and in 2005 it was added to the National Recording Registry, a list of sound recordings that “are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States”.

Original contract between Buddy Holly and Norman Petty for five years from 1958 to 1963. Unfortunately, Buddy Died in 1959.

Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll” was recorded by Petty. Buddy Knox from Happy, Texas and his band performed with Roy Orbison on a radio show and Orbison suggested that they record with Norman Petty. “Party Doll” was written by Buddy Knox and Jimmy Bowen and went to number one on the U.S. Top 100 Chart in 1957. If you’ve ever seen the 1973 move, “American Grafitti”, you will hear the song featured there.

Everyone who worked with Petty said he was a genius when it came to sound and engineering. He came up with all kinds of interesting sounds. For example on Buddy Holly’s song “Peggy Sue” the drummer played the drums in one room and the sound was sent to a speaker in the attic of the building next door, then they mixed a measure of the “live” drum with a measure of the attic recording to create an echo effect.

“True Love Ways” is a very special song for John and me. He played Buddy Holly’s version when he proposed to me. Vi Petty recorded it first but it became famous with Buddy Holly.

Buddy Holly brought a portion of the melody to Norman Petty. Norman finished the rest of the melody and wrote all the words and taught the song to Vi Petty, his wife. She sang it for Buddy Holly when he came back to the studio. He told her she ought to record it. She did and Norman had it pressed on their label.

Below is a slideshow of the recording studio.

We finished the tour in the apartment in the back where the artists would hangout, eat, play music and collaborate. I’m bummed because I didn’t take many pictures of it but I was just taking in the whole place listening to Mr. Bigham’s stories.

Look at the cool glass block window and the original broadcloth curtains.
I wish the lighting was better.
I wish I could have slipped this lamp into my backpack.

We don’t recommend Clovis as a destination but if you happen to be driving on Interstate 40 through New Mexico, take a detour to the South. It’s a good place for a quick layover for grocery shopping or other errands and it’s totally worth the detour to visit the museum and take a tour of the recording studio.