Thursday, August 11:
Click HERE to see pictures from today
|Ginger and Tinny at Music in the Plaza|
We are on the move again today, so we shower, pack up the tent trailer, eat a quick breakfast, and by 8:20 we are pulling out of the campground headed south!
Through Buena Vista and on down Hwy 285 toward Poncha Springs and Alamosa. On our right the first part of the trip are the rest of the Collegiate Mts – Yale and Princeton. Then more peaks on our right. Eventually around Poncha Springs the Sangre de Christo Mts rise up to our left (east) and we follow them clear down to Taos! Near Alamosa, Mt. Blanco Peak at 14,000 towers over the flat land around it. We pass Great Sand Dunes National Monument, but don’t drive the 10 miles in and out to see it. We can see the white of the dunes against the base of the mountains.
At Alamosa, we veer off the main highway and head east to Fort Garland, where a scenic road is marked on the map which will take us down into New Mexico and a northern entrance into Taos. Well, we can’t say much about the scenic part – it ran along the western edge of the Sangre de Christo Mts, but other than that was flat and fairly sagebrush lined. This is a tough land – few trees, little water, and high elevation.
We pass into New Mexico around 11, stopping just past the town of Quesna to pull over and grab a bite to eat. A typical tail gate down lunch of cheese and fruit.
Occasionally we can see a riff in the landscape to the west that marks the Rio Grande gorge. Supposedly there is a giant bridge nearer to Taos that we shall explore over the gorge. That is on the OTHER route into town from the west, however.
We drive right through the middle of Taos on its narrow streets (similar to Santa Fe) looking for the Visitor Center. We find it only a mile or two from Tinny’s house and at that point said lets just unload the trailer there! I couldn’t get the directions off my laptop in time, so we are glad we both read through them last night and we find Valle Lindo without any problem and Tinny’s house as well. I should have checked my emails before going to bed last night, as Tinny had written again about where to park the trailer, etc and the haying situation (her back field was being cut and baled and we couldn’t block the access by parking in the driveway!) We put the tent trailer in a spot out front and then took off for downtown and the Plaza.
|Typical Taos Plaza buildings.|
We find a free parking area and walk about 2 blocks to the plaza, stopping enroute at Kit Carson’s museum and gift shop to purchase a couple of Christmas ornaments. Then on down to the city plaza, so typical of these Spanish origin towns, to have the central part of the city and its surrounding businesses. Taos Plaza is marked with OLD cottonwood trees, grass, steps, a band shelter, and rimmed with a variety of small shops and businesses. We manage to poke our way through about half of them when Tinny returns my call. In the meantime we had found some t-shirts to purchase, a pin, and the ornaments.
We drive back out to Tinny’s and enjoy a wonderful dinner of crepes with vegetable stuffing, cheese, egg, chopped ham, etc. REALLY good! Tinny has a wonderful garden so the veggies were all fresh! She also has 10 chickens, so the eggs were fresh too! (Which made them very hard to peel.)
|Tinny's house in Rancho de Taos|
After dinner we quickly open the tent trailer long enough to grab some clothes for the next couple days, and then pile into Tinny’s car to drive down to the Plaza for the Live Music. A couple different groups playing, the first a singer with a country bend, and the second a group called Nosotros out of Santa Fe. They were really fun and good. Had a trumpet and sax in addition to the usual percussion, bass, and guitar. Very lively music and it was great fun to watch the people, young & old, local and tourist, all dancing out on the plaza bricks to the sound of the music. Rick ended up purchasing a $10 CD from the group.
Back to the house to help catch the chickens and put them in their house for the night. (Note: Another FIRST for me – I have never held a chicken in my arms before! ) An hour of visiting and we are ready to call it a day. Rick and I have a full day planned exploring Taos area tomorrow!
Friday, August 12:
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Up in time to say goodbye to Tinny as she takes off for school, and by 9:15 Rick and I are headed into Taos for a day of exploration!
|St. Francis de Asis Church|
Our first stop is the San Francis de Asis Catholic Church, a historic building on the south end of Taos in what is known as Rancho de Taos (This is actually the address for Tinny as well). It is an adobe church, with the actual mud and straw adobe coating reapplied EVERY year. They say in the sunlight at dusk, the straw seems to glow like gold. An entry courtyard with a couple of statues – one of St. Francis de Assisi. Inside are the typical ornament Stations of the Cross, with mirrored crosses behind each candle. The front and side apse of the church are ornately decorated with paintings. We also visit the little gift shop next door and pick up a couple of small items.
|Wheeler Peak from ski area|
Then we drive through Taos to north of town where the road up to the Taos Ski Area heads up the narrow canyon 18 miles. Once again Rick is driving on curvy mountain road! A few jagged rock outcroppings to the north side, with a creek on our right. The ski area has a medieval flair to it, with many Middle Age type drawings and paintings on the sides of buildings. We find the lift area, purchase tickets, and ride Lift #1 to the midway point of the mountain. Guess we didn’t read the literature very well, as we thought we would be going clear to the top. Alas, alas. Then when we tried to hike around some from there, we found the hiking was limited by the Forest Service in an attempt to re-vegetate some of the hillsides. We spent about 45 minutes on top, where we did get a good view of Wheeler Peak, at 13,100 something, the highest point in New Mexico. This is an expert ski area with A LOT of black diamond runs, some where the skiers must HIKE to the top of the ridge before skiing down. Glad Tinny gave us a map of the area, because we used it to orient the peaks we could see in the distance.
|Ginger at Rio Grande Bridge|
The ski area is located in the center of what is known as the Enchanted Circle, an 85 mile route around these mountains and home of at least one other downhill ski area and a cross country ski area. Supposedly a BEAUTIFUL drive. We drove down yesterday on one side of the circle when arriving in Taos.
Dropped back down off the mountain after having a brief lunch on the tailgate (very brief cheese and carrots and grapes!) and drove out the 7 miles to the Rio Grande Steel Bridge over the river, 600 feet below the bridge. We saw Big Horn Sheep on the rocks of the canyon to the south of the bridge. They posed very nicely for the telephoto lens on the camera! This bridge has been in the news of late due to two recent suicides.
|Big horn sheep|
Back into Taos to return to our shopping at the Plaza and some of the other “alley way” shops as well. We picked up some gifts for the Swanson girls and a couple other small items AND enjoyed a little ice cream treat, allowing as how we hadn’t had much lunch. (Good thing because we didn’t get around to dinner until after 8pm!!)
Stopped at Albertsons for dinner fixings and gassed up the truck to be ready to pull out first thing in the morning. Enjoyed some quiet conversation with Tinny until 6:30 when we realized we had better get started on some dinner! Teriyaki marinade was made, chicken set to “soak”, vegetables picked from the garden, chicken skewered, and barbecue turned on under the willow tree out in the middle of dog/chicken pen. Very pleasant out under the willow, despite a very warm day (it reached 94 or so today in Taos). By the time we got everything cooked, the chicken back into their pen for the night and watered, watched the full moon rise over the hills, it was nearly 8:30! Took all the food back up to the house to find Rick had done up all the dishes and set the table – all ready with wine poured and the candle burning! What a guy!
|Tinny getting dinner ready!|
Grilled teriyaki chicken, zucchini, squash, peppers, corn on the cob, tomatoes, and mushrooms! Wow! What a meal with whole wheat breads and a bottle of wine. We sat and talked until 10, then moved to the couches and talked another 45 minutes. This has been a wonderful chance to really get to know Tinny. She is a worker – has done so much on this place on her own with the help of the kids. We wish her the very best. 4
Into bed without writing or downloading pictures of anything! Will have to take care of that on Saturday at Randy’s! G’night.