Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On to Taos!

Last night had a wonderful dinner at a Mexican restaurant not too far from the RV park in Farmington.  There are so many Mexican restaurants in Ne wMexico, it's hard for us to know which is good or not.  I had stopped for fuel and was asking the cashier, who, like me is a gringo, and as she was about to send me down the road, a Mexican man stepped up and pointed me to a place just across the street.  When we went in, we noticed an awful lot of Mexican folks in there, so we figured that was a good sign, and it was really good.  Unlike most of the Mexican restaurants we're used to back home, this place had obviously made their tortillas fresh and used fresh whole beans with the rice.  And they even had a veggie burrito!  Mighty fine.

This morning we headed out for Taos, but first had to stop at the store to get me some new jammies, as the ones I started the trip with were just feeling like I was wearing a tent--so was happy to have to buy a couple sizes smaller!!  Woohoo!!

Then on for a beautiful drive to Taos.  We came over the top of the mountain, and it was so lush and green, with lots of wildflowers, especially broad arrays of blue iris, like when we had crossed the other mountain earlier.  Unfortunately, with our camera we can't get pictures to show the true colors of these, so you'll just have to take my word for it, they were spectacularly beautiful.  And we just love the different shades of green--the dusty green of the sage low to the ground, then the deeper green of the grasses, then the brilliantly bright green of the aspens, and then the deep, rich green of the firs and spruces.  Just gorgeous!  Both of us were reminded of some of the scenery we had seen in the Black Forest in Germany when we looked at these mountains.  And as we got closer to Taos we could see snow caps on the Sangre de Christos Mountains and it's just awesome!

One of the funniest sights we've seen happened on the road just before we started up the mountain--as we were driving along, I began to notice clumps of dark brown all over the road, in both lanes.  At first I wondered if it were mud, but it puzzled me as to how it could have gotten scattered like that.  I got Trisha to look up from her knitting and we both began to realize that it was not mud, but looked a lot like some sort of animal droppings--but it was all over the road, not like when a few horses have been on a road and you see periodic leavings--this was everywhere.  We couldn't figure it out, and then we rounded a bend and what did we see--a massive herd of sheep, covering the whole road and the shoulders--being herded by several cowboys--I mean that's what we thought when we first saw them from a distance, but as we got closer we realized that most of the horseback riders were women.  They were assisted by a number of sheep dogs, who would chase down any stray sheep and get them back to the herd.  We watched this one cowgirl, walking her horse at the back of the herd, shaking a coke can that had rocks or something in it to make it rattle and then toss it toward the back of the herd--this caused them to run on a bit faster for a bit.  We learned that the herd was 1500 strong, and many of them were just babies--some even nursing a little from mama as they trotted along--quite a feat, when you think about it!!  Anyway, finally this one cowgirl--looked to be in her 50's, mounted her horse, came back to my side and said if I would follow really closely we could get through the herd.  So she rode, and along with a couple of the dogs, kept pushing the herd to the left enough for us to slowly make it through on the right edge of the pavement.  After we got through, we saw a couple of pickups with horse trailers who we figured were with them, so we slowed down to ask about it.  A man said they were moving the herd to higher ground about 20 miles away for the summer, which I gather is SOP for raising sheep--not hard to figure out, that they are better off under all that wool some place cooler during the summer heat.  Anyway it was quite a sight!

As you approach Taos on highway 64, there's this 1200 plus foot long bridge spanning a deep gorge, nearly 700 ft deep, that is quite famous.  There are sidewalks where you can walk out to the middle where they have observation balconies on each side, and many folks walk out there to take pictures--we passed on that, as it's just out there over this gorge, and the winds today were quite strong.  It's also quite a scene, with lots of vendors with their tables of jewelry and crafts out there selling to folks who stop to look or walk the bridge.  This is apparently quite the place to be during the day--Taos is an interesting place, as we're just learning.  In addition to the rich Native American history here, it's also a place to which a lot of nascent hippies have come, along with lots of artists.  Dennis Hopper made some of the movie Easy Rider near here, and then moved here himself after making the movie.

Anyway, after we crossed the bridge we still had about 10 miles to town, and all of a sudden we saw some of the most unusual structures appearing on the left side of the highway--some looked like flying saucers, some looked like a cross between the Indian style architecture of the Taj Mahal and something out of a Dr. Seuss book, but they all were apparently houses, many of them built into the earth, so much of the house was covered or partially underground, with only one side exposed toward the sun.  Must be something of a community as there were quite a few of these clustered in the same area.  Hope to learn more about that in the days to come.

We got into Taos about 4:00 and just stopped downtown near the Plaza and found a fresh juice vendor in the little park in the middle of the plaza, got a lemonade and watermelon combo and enjoyed that under the shade as we looked around at the array of galleries, craft shops and all sorts of southwestern pottery and jewelry stores.  So we just walked around, in and out of some shops--in many of them they had so much stuff it was a bit overwhelming, but we love this kind of jewelry, pottery, woodcarvings and other crafts, it was fun to just look.  Did find a thing or two to bring home with us--in this one quilting store, we saw a pattern for a shirt that they had done up with Jimmy Buffet like island fabric, but Trisha noticed some fabric that had reproductions of petroglyphs on it, so we got that and the pattern, and when we get back home where her sewing machine is, she's going to make me a shirt--how 'bout that!  Am I lucky or what!!

Met an interesting old fellow running a parking lot downtown--had spent his career running a business in New York City, then moved to Taos 25 years ago.  Quite an interesting guy, and he gave us some tips on what to see while we're here.  We quickly realized, even before this, from just reading the AAA tour books, that there is way more to see here than we will have time for, so we'll just have to pick and choose and know we won't be able to see or do everything.  As we were driving through town, one that that really caught our eye was a Presbyterian Church--haven't seen too many of those lately--with lovely architecture, a sign advertising a Celtic worship service, and a labyrinth in the front yard!!  For Trisha, especially, this is a triple whammy, so I know we'll be gong back there to see their labyrinth and explore.

By the time we got to the Visitor Center, it was just after 5 and they had closed, so we'll check that out int he morning.  The RV park office was also closed, but I had called to make a reservation this morning so they had our space and info waiting.  It is the neatest little place, not too far from the Plaza downtown, and they have these little A frame coverings for the picnic tables, the sites are level, and not crowded and it's really nice.  We had only made a reservation for one night, figuring we'd wait to see what it looked like before extending, but we'll definitely stay here for the time we're in Taos.  We hope to spend one night at Ghost Ranch while we're here and in Santa Fe--the place that inspired Georgi O'Keefe and Ansel Adams for much of their work.  There's a retreat center there that was, at one time, owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church, and they also have a labyrinth that Trisha has wanted to see for years, so we'll definitely go there to walk that and to see the place, even if we can't get in to spend a night there.

So we'll just have to talk to the folks at the office here and at the visitor center in the morning to plan our time here.  I did the laundry, and fortunately there was no one else in the laundry room so it went much more quickly than at some parks where we've been when the laundry facilities were quite crowded.  Looking forward to the next week or so in this area!

Well, the pictures are taking too long to load, and I'm about to fall asleep, so I'll put up this post now and then get today's pics up in the morning.

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