Monday February 24, 2014 Roadway Inn Suite 202 Espanola, NM 6 PM MST
Long, tiring day today but simply beautiful. The motel in which we are staying was, until recently, a Comfort Inn but has been downgraded to a Roadway. It is smaller than the current Comfort Inns and the Suite is also smaller. No newspaper and when the girl told us yesterday that there would be coffee and toast in the breakfast room this morning that is what was on offer—though there were also some good danish. Cannot really complain, small is nice. Only three rooms were taken last night, the motel is on a quiet street and I have the window open, almost unheard of in any these days. The room is quite homey and clean and we are really using the living room space, which we don’t usually get to do. We are staying here several days in order to travel out and about and return to a central area. The price is unheard of—$48 plus tax!!
Today we began by stopping at a bank so Bill could get some nickels for his nickel searching hobby and then we decided to get a bite to eat to augment the skimpy coffee and toast continental breakfast! LOL As we started down main road we came to a four car crash—did not look good. These drivers are crazy and they are not courteous. As a matter of fact the road narrowed just before the accident and we needed to merge right—not a soul would let us in—yet the traffic stopped and none of them got anywhere farther than we. Rush, rush to nowhere—going to be late—well, those people in those four cars will be very late.
Soon, however, we kicked the dust of Espanola from our tires and headed north through the Rio Grande River Gorge to Taos. The scenery is spectacular, the river sparkling and rushing and the little towns tucked into niches and crannies of the terrain. Bud had assured me that there were no drop-offs or switchbacks to frighten me and he did not lie. Sometimes on a curve when it looked like the edge of the world I was a bit apprehensive but once into the curve it was easy to see that the road did go on and the drop was not great.
Our first stop was the visitors’ center where I gathered all kinds of books and brochures not just on Taos but also Santa Fe and Los Alamos ( the aspens ). The altitude tires me out since we haven’t really acclimated yet so we decided to drive out to the Pueblo but not walk around it—I think I’d like to come back another year and do it. The drive out to the base of Taos Peak was wonderful---across this high mountain plain on which Taos is situated. Actually, geologic websites say that two very different formations come together here abruptly and delineated by high almost vertical cliffs. Guess that says it all.
Taos itself was a surprise—I expected the tourist vibe of Stowe or Sedona but there is such a large year round indigenous population that feeling is that of a very old, small, Spanish/Native town. There are lots of art galleries and shops and restaurants for sure but they are very subdued and the town is beautiful. We decided to tour the home of Kit Carson, his third wife and their six children. She was 14 and he 33 when they met. He waited until she was 15 to marry her and in the next 23 years or so they had seven children. His wife died of complications after the birth of the last child and he followed several days later. The house and its furnishings were sold and the children dispersed to friends and family to be raised. As often happens the house fell into disrepair and was rescued by the local Masons who continue to operate it as a small museum.
We then took a spin around the central plaza to see the statue of Fray Mendoza, prominent family’s son who became an influential priest--- arguing with the French bishop in order to keep the Hispanic customs of New Mexican Catholicism intact. Lastly, we visited San Francisco de Asis, the apse or rear section of which will look very familiar to Ansel Adams and Georgia OKeeffe aficionados, since both of them used it over and over in their works.
Speaking of Georgia—her two homes are due west of Taos. Ghost Ranch is not open to the public and Abiquiu may as well not be. In winter tours are by appointment only and cost $100 per person. In season, tours are by reservation only –are offered only a few days a week and at few times on those days and run either $35 or $45 per person. You meet the bus at the Inn in town and are taken to the home. No food or drink except water—that’s fine. No cameras, no note-taking, no taping. No back packs or purses. There are other restrictions that escape me right now but the bottom line is: no Kathy and Bill Pond, either.
Having walked around the Church, which was locked, we headed back to Espanola through the gorge once more. Stopped at Chili’s for early dinner and back to our room—Bill to watch the Syracuse game, me to peruse the tour books and read The American Heiress which I’ve almost finished!
Tomorrow Los Alamos for sure and who knows what else. For now, I’m going to get comfy and plan—lol Nighty-night all. KandB