Day 10: Into the Southwest
Trip Start Sep 08, 2005
15Trip End Sep 25, 2005
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Today we completed the Santa Fe Trail, and, gluttons for punishment as we are, decided to continue on into Albuquerque and made it to Winkie's sister's house. We are now officially out of the prairie and in the desert. The drive today took us through three very different ecosystems: prairie, high mountain range, and desert. In the last part of the prairie we saw today, we skimmed the edge of the Comanche National Grasslands and saw lots and lots of antelope out grazing. It was very interesting to see the prairie gradually change as we climbed up the mountains in southern Colorado, and to see the range environment change into desert on the southern (New Mexico) side of the mountain range.
Unlike our two previous days' driving, we did stop for a good dose of history and local exploration
Winkie had a particular interest in Trinidad. In 1907 her grandmother's brother, and Winkie's godfather, Antonio Boller immigrated to Trinidad with Romano Moltrer, another young man from their small village in South Tyrol, in what was then Austria. (After WWI it became part of Italy.) They arrived at Ellis Island with $30 (and a train ticket?), and made their way west. Uncle Tony probably worked in the coal mines, which at the turn of the century provided ready but dangerous jobs for immigrants from many countries. He and Romano Moltrer were sponsored by Romano's brother, who was married to Katrina (Catterina) Slomp, another village family on Winkie's grandfather's side. She was likely an aunt or cousin. After the war, Tony sponsored his brother-in-law, Winkie's Grandfather, John (Johan, Giovanni) Slomp. John worked for several years and in turn sent for his wife Rosa and daughters Emma (Winkie's mom) and Agnes. Apparently Uncle Tony did well--some years later he bought a vineyard in California's Central Valley and passed his middle age and older years happily pruning his vines, selling his grapes, and supplying Grandfather John with enough to make the family wine supply and Grandma's special wine vinegar.
After Trinidad, we hit the road and shuffled on down I-25, passing Santa Fe, and making it to Albuquerque. We'll be staying there with Winkie's sister, Loretta, for a couple of days, exploring cool places nearby, and then heading westwards for Arizona and California.