On our first full-day in the El Malpais National Monument, we decided to take it easy and relax but wanted to first take the quick six and a half mile drive and check out the La Ventana Arch. La Ventana (“the window”) is the second largest natural stone arch in New Mexico and the most easily accessible. The trail from the parking area is all of a half mile round trip on a relatively flat, well-maintained gravel path. When compared to the vast majority of trails in the park which cross rugged lava flows and are marked by small piles of rocks (called Cairns) this trail can be walked in flip flops or sandals and getting lost is almost an impossibility to all but the most directionally or observationally-challenged individuals. While we were reading the couple of informative signs at the trail head Willow was delighted to see that our friends from Québec had shown up and brought Rumple with them. I was a bit less enthralled as in tow was the other couple from Québec who had brought their dog (who got along fine with Willow) but also two young children who made far too many loud, squealing, high-pitched kid noises for my taste.
Somewhat amusing was the fact that the new arrivals either didn’t speak English (or chose not to) and since I was the only non-French-speaker in the vicinity my presence was acknowledged and then immediately ignored as they chose to do the “birds of a feather” thing and hold their conversation exclusively in French. A bit surprised and taken aback by the snub we decided to feign indifference and offered our pardons (in English) as we squeezed by them on the trail. As soon as we rounded the next corner wall of trees we put our pace into triple-time and got up to the arch well ahead of them.
The little wooden fence that encircled the turn-around at the official viewing area near the “end” of the trail was in dire need of maintenance and had rotted out and fallen over in several places. This offered a path up towards a closer vista of the arch and so we took that along with the other two dogs that had joined us as they were obviously happier exploring with us than being around the squealing, grabby/grubby little humans. Smart doggies. Is it any wonder that I am single and have never been married or had kids (thrilled about that by the way).
We could hear the noisy approach of the others and so quickly got our pictures in and headed back down the hill.
When we got back to the downed fence the Québécois had still not arrived. We took the opportunity to quickly reassemble its pieces into a standing approximation of a structurally sound barrier so as to hopefully keep the Canadians from heading up the dangerous, unstable and rock-strewn hill. Just doing our part to keep the foreign visitors safe. We’re all about safety and friendly foreign relations doncha know ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. After our little civil engineering project we sent the other two dogs back in the direction of their snail-paced humans and took an alternate route towards our Tacoma so as not to impede their slow progress.
While impressive the arch is not in the same league as some that you can find within the confines of Arches National Park in Utah but is still easily worthy of the 13 mile round trip drive from our campsite or a quick stop as you are driving through the area on Highway 117.