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Thursday, February 27, 2014

High Road to Taos; Low Road to Espanola

Thursday February 27, 2014 Roadway Inn Espanola, New Mexico 8:17 AM MST Suite 202

Good morning, all!  Yes, we are still in Espanola! We planned on staying on Tuesday so that I could take care of March bills and then heading to Santa Fe yesterday. Tuesday, however, turned out to be a traumatic day—at least in the morning. After breakfast I got all the paperwork etc out of my case and set up the desk. I then went to get the checkbook out of my purse and it wasn’t there!!! Didn’t panic at first—just double checked the computer case and emptied the purse which has multitudinous compartments. No dice! Began to panic a little, knowing it couldn’t be anywhere else but went along with Bill and emptied the suitcase—not there. He brought two more bags from the car and I unpacked them—nope. Now, I was crying and panicky. He went back to the car and took everything out of the console, my door pocket, under the seats, checked the map bag and the book bag. Nowhere. By this time at least two hours had passed and I was hysterical. Had no idea when I’d had it last, all our trip money is in that account etc—how would we access it if we moved it. The account was still intact so that was good.

Decided I’d go ahead and pay the bills and then we’d figure something out. By the time I got through that and put everything away, I went into my purse to get out the bank cards so we could figure out how to change the system. I noticed a zipper that I hadn’t seen earlier—opened the compartment and there it was—I’d moved it to give myself more room in the main compartment and totally forgotten about that zipper. I guess it is a safe place, since Bill had gone through the bag also and hadn’t noticed this little pouch. Won’t forget where it is again but by now I was exhausted.

Took a nap and then finished The American Heiress—good book, Gloria! Had spareribs from the Chinese restaurant next door and watched the NCIS shows and Person of Interest and went to bed.

    Yesterday was heavenly and I wanted a beautiful drive. There are two roads to Taos from here—I discovered that on Tuesday also, when I looked over the travel guides I’d picked up in Taos on Monday. It seems the road we took through the Rio Grande Valley is known as the Low Road but there is another that goes through several small old villages. It is called the High Road. I looked at the map—didn’t look too choppy –checked out the topo map on line and it didn’t look too high—googled it and the description didn’t make it sound too steep and the u-tube slide show posted by some guy looked okay. So, I said to Bill, let’s stay one more day and go back up to Taos on the High Road and return on the Low Road. He thought that sounded good and so off we went.

The road actually begins south of here in Pajoaque but we picked it up at Chimayo and began by touring the Sanctuaria de Chimayo, which is quite an elaborate shrine that dates back to around 1811-1816. When I looked at the pictures I discovered that we missed part of the complex but what we saw was beautiful. Something I don’t understand in these Hispanic/Native churches is that pictures are forbidden. I am a Catholic and have taken pictures and been allowed to do so in any church I’ve ever attended, including St Peter’s, Notre Dame, St Patrick’s etc. It is a shame, since there are some lovely primitive art in these churches. I must admit however, that walking into the sanctuary from the vestibule caused me to jump in fright. To the left of the nave was a full sized coffin in which lies a very realistic body of Christ recently taken from the cross.This was the first thing my eyes rested upon. Once I’d reclaimed my breathe I looked to the right where stood another realistic effigy. This of a 6 foot tall Christ, stripped to the waist, hands bound, bloody back and bleeding head bearing the crown of thorns. Between the two, I quickly repented whatever sins I may still have staining my soul. Boy, I’ve never been anywhere with such depictions of the sufferings of Christ. Even the most grotesque crucifixes I’ve seen don’t come close. If you’d like to see more pictures, including one of the interior, and some more history of the shrine this link is pretty good.


After strolling the grounds we went to the parking lot where Bill had left the car and discovered we should have entered there. Since he had left me at the entrance to the Church, I hadn’t gone to the gift shop—so this was an inexpensive visit—though the only things I would have bought would have been post cards for my album, if there’d been interior shots.

Off we went through Cordova, which is apparently known for wood carvers of santos or saints, in the Cordova way. Chimayo, by the way, is filled with weaving shops. Eventually, we came to Truchas, the sight of the filming of The Milagro Beanfield Wars, a movie I haven’t seen. The main road turns to the left but we went into the town—mistake—the road, though a numbered State road peters out to a trail on the edge of the cliff overlooking the plowed fields. We somehow managed to turn around, when a car, going the same way, pulled up next to us and the lady passenger asked with a laugh, if we were lost. We said, no, not really. Then she really laughed and said well, we’re from New Jersey and WE are lost! We laughed, too, waved and we both returned to the main road and headed toward Las Trampas. They soon lost us in their dust and I wondered where they went by the end of their day.

This portion of the road took us through some beautiful pines of the Carson National Forest. In Las Trampas it was a bit demoralizing to see the historical sign in such a remote place had been vandalized almost to the point of illegibility. It brought home with sadness, the reason why Catholic Churches, and probably others, are no longer unlocked when not in use. It was traditional that churches were always open and available to anyone who wanted to stop and rest and or pray—day and night. No longer the case and here, in Las Trampas founded in 1751, San Jose de Gracia was locked tightly. This is another of the churches that both Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe immortalized in their work. The church was founded in 1776----we never think about what was happening in the rest of the continent while in the colonies—our colonies—the British colonies—Revolution and Independence filled the air. Here Spanish governors were subduing the Native peoples as the Catholic priests attempted to convert them to the true faith. Of course, several revolts and attempts at independence had failed in this area, already.

In Chamisal the website I used told us to look for signs to the old plaza and church—no signs and no sign of either so we breezed through. Through high llanas we arrived at Picuris Pueblo. There is supposed to be a buffalo herd here, but they were not in evidence nor were we able to find San Lorenzo de Picaris which had collapsed in 1989 from water damage. Apparently, residents of the Pueblo came together and using the old methods rebuilt the church by hand. We did see the gate to the Picaris cemetery which has inscribed on it “Mi Senor es mi Pastor”  The Lord is my Shepard. Unfortunately, my camera choose to act up and so the image is just a blur.

After passing through Vadito we came to Sipapic and the intersection with SR 518. A hairpin curve had us ascending back into the Carson Forest. At this height of the High Road we encountered the first snow we’ve seen in ages and also the only real drop offs on the road. Being forested they were not as frightening as their height warranted. Also the were relatively few switchbacks and they weren’t tight.

After awhile we descended into Talpa, which had been a Native village from 1100-1300. And then we arrived at Ranchos de Taos,which is considered the end of the High Road, though it traditionally ends at San Francisco di Asis. And so we began our return to Espanola across the Llano Quemado and along the Rio Grande on the Low Road.

In Velarde we made a visit to Black Mesa Winery for tasting and visiting with the warehouse cat, who joins tasters at the bar for awhile. Another couple, from Colorado, were there. He has just retired—four days ago—as a county sheriff so they were taking a small trip to celebrate. Tasted a couple of dry whites and bought one of the rieslings. Also tasted Black Beauty—a chocolate dessert wine—out of this world, And a chocolate sauce made with one of their red wines—good bye Hershey’s!

Back to Espanola where the clouds had a sub-level of dust raised by the quickening wind. This part of the country is going through such a draught—a slight breeze lifts clouds of dust high into the sky. Had a quick dinner of chicken wings and a Dos Equis and back to the room. Uploaded and shared the day’s pictures, streamed another episode of House of Cards and lights out at 10.

Today, we really are leaving, by way of the lower part of the High Road and staying in Santa Fe for a bit. If you’d like a more detailed description of the High Road this is a good link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Road_to_Taos,_New_Mexico

We’ve never been to this part of New Mexico before so it has been fun exploring a new area. It is truly interesting and beautiful. On to the 2nd Spanish capital of the territory—Taos having been the original choice. It I getting late so have to make our reservation, pack up and get on the road. Have a wonderful day—see you tonight. KandB

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