Taos, New Mexico: 1/11 – 1/23/20

We arrived in Taos late Saturday in the dark, something we said we weren’t going to do anymore. We had previously alerted the office manager at Taos Valley RV Park & Campground that we had a new rig that would require a larger site than we originally had reserved. It was after hours, but they left us papers with our site number. Unfortunately, someone didn’t do their job because the site was way too small for our fifth wheel. We walked around in the dark until we found an empty site that was big enough. In the morning, we were lucky to be told that we could stay in our selected site #78.

Our friends, Gail and Charlie Brunner, were arriving today. They rented a condo close to Taos Ski Valley. We agreed that we would meet at the mountain in the morning. I had been told that Taos was known for its back country skiing and double black diamond runs, as evidenced in the trail map below. Kachina Peak, the highest elevation, is located on the top left.

Monday was a sunny but cold, windy day. Hence, we only have one picture that Gail took. Check out the warning sign. Never saw this one skiing before.

The next day, Scott had to go back Amarillo to sign the title for our Coachman Trailer that we traded in. He made the 11-hour, round-trip drive in one day. Meanwhile, I went skiing with Gail and Charlie. It was a beautiful, bluebird day! Kachina Peak was closed and the trails open were fast and hard.

Scott made it back in time to join us for dinner at Guadalajara Grill. As we entered the cafeteria style restaurant, we were hoping that we had made a good choice. You had to order and pay for your food at a counter, and then they bring the food to your choice of table. Never judge a book by its cover. The food was delicious. I ordered the 7-piece Shrimp and Salsa dish. Delish!

On Wednesday, the four of us took off for the slopes. It hadn’t snowed in about a week, but the conditions were still pretty good. We had found a fun, short mogul run that we returned to with Scott. You had to ski across the trees and come out above the moguls.

It was our second run of the day, and Gail had taken the lead. The guys were behind me. By the time I came out of the trees, she was halfway down the mogul run. She was rocking it! I was encouraged by her to give it my all and go for it. As I got to the halfway point, I stopped and looked ahead. Gail was lying on the flat ground, and she was not moving. I quickly skied up to her and knew immediately that she was hurt. The guys were at our sides in a flash, and they quickly got her skis off. She caught an edge stopping and simply fell down. She hit the side of her head and landed hard on her right shoulder. It was only a short distance to get to a First Aid Station. As tough as she is, Gail was able to ski slowly, while Charlie held her poles. She eventually took off her skis and walked where she could. They did an initial examination at the First Aid Station, and prepared her for a sled ride to the base of the mountain. Charlie stayed with her and Scott and I skied a few more runs. It wasn’t as much fun anymore. We soon checked back with them and found out that Gail had fractured her collarbone. Bummer.

The next morning, Scott had to drive up to Durango by Molly to drop off our toys. She would be storing them for us for the remainder of the winter. He would be spending the night. On his way out, he dropped me off at the Brunner’s condo. Gail stayed at the condo while Charlie and I went out skiing. It was cloudy and snowing lightly.

I let him be my private instructor. He was very patient. We went back to the moguls where Gail had gotten hurt.

We had a fun day, but I had reached my saturation point by mid afternoon. Charlie took a few more runs. I waited at the base and took a still photo.

I am not even sure if he is in the above picture. So, I tried a video. He is wearing red pants with a black jacket. Watch closely. He is the second skier at the end with red pants.

After a great day of skiing, we headed back to the condo. Charlie and I made dinner, and he did what he could to make Gail comfortable. She is such a trooper. The next morning it was snowing, windy and cold. We woke up Friday morning to more snow.

Charlie and I headed out to ski. It was colder today, and the visibility was nil when we got off the chair lift on top of the mountain. Charlie took the lead and before I knew it, I could no longer see him. For me, the conditions were too challenging, coupled with little to no visibility. And now I was alone. I made a very quick decision to quit for the day, and I skied down to the base. It wasn’t long before Charlie found me. I encouraged him to keep skiing if he wanted to. I was quite content just hanging out until Scott and Gail arrived. Scott would be back by early afternoon, and he was going to stop at the condo to get Gail and bring her to the mountain. She was beginning to feel well enough to get some fresh air. As you can see, she was prepared for sitting outside on a snowy day.

Gail and Charlie had to leave on Saturday. Since we weren’t into the weekend crowds, Scott and I went for a hike at the Rio Grande River Gorge.

This looks like prayer flags.
Look dead center to see the Rio Grand River.

On Sunday, Scott needed to work on the trailer so I went to yoga. I pulled a muscle in class, which kept me home the following day. Scott ventured out to ski alone on Monday. He reported that Kachina Peak was open but that he didn’t want to go without me.

It was snowing on Tuesday, our last day to ski here. We pretty much had the mountain all to ourselves. It was quite the powder day! The only bummer was that they closed Kachina Peak again. I guess we will not be able to ski that peak this season. We will certainly be back.

On our way back to the RV Park, we stopped for an early dinner at a local restaurant.

It would be here at The Alley Cantina that I would enjoy a new, local Mexican beer! Love the name!

On Wednesday morning, we were on our way to meet Molly in Durango. The most direct route required us to drive over a pass. The view on Highway 64 was breathtaking with clouds that looked like snow in the sky.

About two hours into our five hour ride, we noticed that the blacktop would soon come to an end. Great.

We had to turn around and head back east to go south and then east again. This added an extra two hours to our trip. By the time we arrived in Durango, it was dark. Didn’t we say we weren’t going to do this anymore??? We were able to park our new Fifth Wheel in the driveway at Molly’s friend’s parent’s house. It had snowed prior to our arrival and the driveway’s entrance was quite narrow. It is a pleasure to back in a 38-foot trailer into a narrow space for the first time in the dark. The pictures below were taken the next morning.

That evening, Scott and I went to a speakeasy in Durango where Scott had been with Molly and her friends this past week. From the outside it looks like a barber shop, which is also is.

The bookcase was a hidden door that takes you into the bar.

This is strictly a bar with a number of drink concoctions. Scott examined the menu and we made our choices.

Sue’s drink
Scott’s drink

Tomorrow morning, Molly, Scott and I will be boarding a plane to head back to New Jersey for a weekend family wedding in the Catskills.

Gila National Forest, New Mexico: 4/2 – 4/4/19

On April 2, we left Aguirre Spring Campground and headed west on 70 to 10W to 180W to 61N to 35N to Gila National Forest.  It was amazing to see the desert view suddenly change to tall evergreen trees.

6DACE7C1-BE50-4F17-970E-8E323C897499We found Upper End Campground by Lake Roberts and set up camp.  There were six sites available and only two were taken –  one by the cranky Camp Host and the other by a trailer that left for good the following morning.  It was plenty shaded and a short walk to the lake.

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B882E481-44B7-442D-863D-D04CDD33BA0FThere was a trail leading out of the campground and out to the lake.  Apparently, it contains Trophy Bass.  Not sure what that is.

I think that Scott wished he had a fishing pole?

D8053A47-BCB6-485B-8E6D-0198B78978EEI was happy just hanging out on the dock.  We keep saying that we are going to get ourselves some water toys, i.e. a kayak and a standup paddle board.  It was a wee bit chilly today to swim, but it would have been nice to hang out on the water.

671165F4-2039-4262-AE66-7D28628F169BWe continued on to see just how far the path would take us.

5AE2F650-BFE9-496F-82FD-CC1FC1AA92EEWe saw one man fishing alone across the lake.  Other than that, we didn’t see any other people.  It was quite peaceful and we enjoyed the solitude.  We eventually turned around and Scott put up the hammock so that we could bask in the warmth of the sun.

On the way out the next morning, we stopped to take a look at Lake Roberts from a different vantage point.  On the map below, you can see where the Uper End Campground is located relative to Lake Roberts.

02043EB8-8705-434E-8CEA-3C90E107F32EBelow is a photo of the lake from State Road 35.

8A7C74CA-6D3E-4EA6-9E4B-43CCCAB32411We continued on for about an hour to Gila Cliff Dwellings.

BFC8F8ED-3FBF-4C62-853A-79C48BDC8AB9In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt established Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument as the only place in the National Park Service that interprets and preserves part of the Mogollon Culture history. The Mogollon people called this place their home over 700 years ago.  They were able to survive for a time because they had access to water from the Gila River.  It was so totally cool roaming thru the remains.  Let me take you on our tour.  First, we crossed over the Gila River on a bridge that was built for the purpose of tourism.

 

84708F9C-4777-41D8-9364-0FFC20EC92A7The one-mile trail is unpaved, steep in some places, and uneven.  We were walking in the footsteps of the Mogollon people who called this place home.  There was another couple ahead of us, so we took each other’s picture with the cave opening in the background.  We will soon be walking into those dark cave openings.

198AFD45-09C5-40DE-B118-C29F679AEC94

31A8BF39-09FA-4532-9D54-B50D1113EC2FWe had to climb up a ladder to enter the cavern.  Archaeologists think that occupants may have climbed a ladder up onto the wooden balcony to enter the door.

86380192-358A-4CC4-8F3C-7B12DFC10B93I took a picture of Scott standing just at the top of these stairs.  It wasn’t as dark inside as it appears in this photo.

3E965D34-EC8C-4C6F-B8E0-447E37313C69We walked around and peered over walls to peek into the many separate rooms.  It is believed that the smaller rooms were for storage, the large, open space was likely an enclosed living space, and the fire pit represents a cooking area.

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DF6CAA33-AC08-466C-BEFF-393D3B52D6A2On the way back down, there was evidence of a fire-burned hillside regenerating grasses, flowers and shrubs.

38ABCAC7-A714-4C5A-BB24-DA5AD85AB1F4This was my favorite National Monuments that we have visited so far.  I was amazed at how cool it was inside the cave to protect you from the sun’s heat.  In the cold, wintery months, it provided a warm shelter.

Not far from the monument, we found Gila Hot Springs.

C1CCEDBE-B68E-4383-BC65-53F2C2339BE1It is a family-run goat farm with three separate hot springs to bask in.  We were not able to drive to the hot springs pools as the road was blocked by a work truck.  So, we parked the truck, grabbed our bags, and headed down the dirt road.  We passed a small corral of horses and hundreds of goats!

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E9D0DFF8-20CF-4D15-9C2B-447B23721189When we got to the pools, one was closed off, the second was occupied by four adults, and the third pool had one woman who seemed to be meditating.  We changed into our bathing suits in the makeshift bathroom/changing room and joined the two couples who were regulars at this spa.  Berta and Mick have been living in New Mexico for 30+ years and their dear friends, Rhonda and Rick, were visiting with the intent of moving there.  They were all super friendly, and we enjoyed hanging out and relaxing.  Here is the pool that was initially closed.  It is furnished with overhead sun protection.

E9FB3439-7D5A-4C24-AD5D-9C55207A1F5CWe enjoyed the center pool with our new friends, who took a picture of us together.

6DE88BDA-DFFA-415A-BE89-7D16AEEC4418Across from the pools is the Gila River.  That water was extremely cold.

9631AA96-7BB6-4F1E-9025-1D13A018804AHere are the girls, Rhonda (left) and Berta (right).

973137A6-FE8C-42E8-AA1A-C048883BEF00They left just before us, and we are hopeful that our paths will cross again.  They offered us a ride back to our truck, but we actually enjoyed the walk.  Upon leaving the spa area, we noticed the following sign.

E4C5D317-2381-43F6-9908-D6D285F16077As we passed the goats, a momma and her hungry kid stopped close to the road.  I just had to record what we saw.  So special!

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Just before we arrived back at our campsite, we decided to stop at the Lake Roberts General Store.  We parked the truck and walked up to the front porch.  It was only then that we realized that it was closed for the season.  We are not sure if it is closed for good or just closed for the season.  They need to take down those beer signs!

2E524FB9-69DC-48DB-BC4B-19A8F84B6BEFThe next morning we awoke to a morning temperature outside of 23 degrees and 41 degrees in the trailer.  COLD!!!!!  I never expected the weather in New Mexico to be this chilly.  We left our Lake Roberts Campsite and headed to a KOA in Holbrook.  Our next stop is Arizona.  Goodbye for now to the “Land of Enchantment.”

Texas and New Mexico: 3/30 – 4/1/19

We said goodbye to the Guadalupe Mountain and headed west towards El Paso.  The scenery was barren, flat at times, and unfortunately littered in some places.

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B2388792-B30D-4234-9CA5-7CF67A2D836AThis made my heart sad.  We passed areas where old shacks were dilapidated.  I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures of what I saw.  I am guessing that at one time, people were able to call this area their home, but obviously they had moved on.  As we got closer to Las Cruces and El Paso, I realized that this is where they may have moved on to.

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d5b7f942-9fde-4c94-8ed8-82948486d780.jpegWe found a RV park just outside of El Paso off the main highway in a town called Canutillo.

01DBF18D-4DBE-40C0-985D-A784ECFEC016

8439489D-E5E7-444E-A813-479207C80550

FD913AD8-CA80-4E60-92ED-8A133E92B86BOur neighbor Matt, had a puppy named Crazy.  He was soooooo adorable!  The paws on this ten-week old pit were massive.

E90D5C21-CC0B-485A-9E30-AAC76D3C7AA5We only stayed for one night.  The next day we were back on the road heading north into New Mexico, yet again.

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34C14E79-6F9D-4F06-B395-3347A1508DEFOur next destination was Gila National Forest.  On the way, Scott wanted to stop by Fort Bliss Military Reservation in Oro Grande where he had his desert training back in the early 1980’s.

2CEA9A90-CEDA-4345-B8B7-962FE52722D8We were able to get on to the access road and saw this very welcoming sign.

083C939A-91E9-4D5D-81D6-6642FABF5E99Scott was trying to remember what it looked like 35 years ago when he was last here.  There had obviously been some changes.  The following sign looks weathered and outdated.

5745A0A3-2846-4CDC-BA09-EB6940922832We reached a point where we could no longer gain access and turned around.  Now, we would have to travel the long way to get to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.  It really wasn’t too far out of the way.  Before we knew it, we had arrived at our next campsite.

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5786DDE2-F16F-4B94-B272-CA2B57BCFD4BWhen we woke up the following morning on April 1st, it was 31 degrees outside and 41 degrees inside the trailer.  We are talking COLD!!  We got up and hiked Pine Tree Trail Loop, a 4.2 mile easy trek.

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59433E98-60CF-44BD-B0F4-01EE638F4801We haven’t seen many streams in New Mexico while hiking, instead we will often see a wash, where water will only travel when it is raining.  All of a sudden, I was mesmerized by the sound of running water.

Later that day, we drove to White Sands National Monument.

E15ED858-B73F-4170-A63E-B3CA77E81642We’ve made it a practice to stop in the Visitor’s Center first to watch an introductory movie and get a National Park Service brochure.  This complex was designed in Pueblo Revival style during the Great Depression of 1930’s.

1C35C0E8-CA7D-4973-8555-275818690787The Why of White Sands:  “When the Permian Sea retreated millions of years ago, it left behind deep layers of gypsum.  Mountains rose and carried the gypsum high.  Later, water from melting glaciers dissolved the mineral and returned it to the basin.  Today, rain and snow continue the process.  For thousands of years, wind and sun have separated the water from shallow lakes from the gypsum and formed selenite crystals.  Wind and water break down the crystals making them smaller and smaller until they are sand.  Steady, strong southwest winds keep gypsum sand moving, piling it up and pushing dunes into various shapes and sizes.”  We started on the one-mile loop Dunes Life Nature Trail.

0EF734B9-F82A-4EC4-A679-11E60C67E14A

6C7A6282-24DF-41D9-9598-05AC418FBC2DWe decided to do a little advertising and wrote our blog in the sand.  I wonder how many new followers we will get?

 

A023F6A4-0D9E-4DCE-9BCB-45336611A655Signs of spring?

 

F8F41C35-3FD9-4EC6-A640-345775668C85We got back into the car and drove to the end of Dunes Drive.  As you drive down the sandy road, it almost looks like a snow-covered road.

FF1FC54B-83E9-47D6-AB3F-D49C8D8223CEAlong the way were various hikes, straight out and back, with lengths of 2.3 – 8.0 miles, as well as shaded picnic areas.  But where is the water?

CDA5F56D-48EA-4962-81E5-394DFA1CBB50We left White Sands and headed on 70W back to our campsite.  There were fields of beautiful, yellow flowers which brought such vivid color to the barren landscape.

675736D2-4DA3-4454-BEE7-40A184BB4434Scott needed to get up close and personal.

C111D946-D858-4CE4-886F-54EF2854E318Simply stunning!

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM: 3/25 – 3/28/19

Before we left Texas Monday morning, we had to make an unplanned stop to see Dr. Cerone, my friend Jack’s dentist.  On Friday while I was flossing my teeth, a three-year old crown popped out of my mouth.  It was too late on Friday to get an appointment and there were no weekend hours.  It wasn’t an emergency as I had no pain.  You may think why am I sharing this on my blog.  I am sharing it because life happens on the road, too.  I am not particularly fond of finding a doctor/dentist while traveling around the country.  It helps if someone has been recommended, and in this case Dr. Cerone was.  The office was located in Southlake, Texas.  Southlake is a rich, beautiful area with many mansions lining the country road.  The employees and the dentist were first class.  If I lived in Texas, he would be my new dentist.  I should have taken some pictures of the area, but this was my only photo today.

D597078C-E2E4-4BE6-99D9-E1DBC2A6CE0EWe headed back to Fort Worth to get our trailer and then proceeded northwest on ___. We stopped in Abilene for the night.  The drive to reach our next destination, Carlsbad Caverns, was too far to make today.  Besides, we don’t like setting up in the dark if we don’t have to.  We found a quiet, free spot to park overnight at Seabee Park in Abilene.

076E0249-980B-455F-8A8B-F479E1173A60To the left was the wetlands/marsh inlet section of Lake Fort Phantom Hill.

1EC5F499-B747-416D-A67D-1E1A0EB840C5I wouldn’t do my yoga outside because of all the ant hills.  This is just a small section that I photographed.  They were all over the place!!  I don’t like ants sharing my yoga mat.

f3db9ebf-46c4-4a0c-8501-753fffedbb31-e1554004638972.jpegTuesday, March 26, was a long day of driving in the car.  We headed west and passed Carlsbad Caverns National Park, our destination, so that we could boondock at Chosa Campghrounds which was located outside of the national park and White City, NM.

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3D48C24C-8F19-451C-91ED-E151495BC2B0Scott captured a beautiful sunrise from our parking spot that morning.

D99DE8B9-D59E-41BC-8643-ED3DC9D24A1BShortly after, we drove the truck 30 minutes to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  There was a group of seven young people just ahead of us so we got a rare non-selfie shot of us at this landmark.

BD7B1874-F216-41E2-9351-B82F8118A688When we got to the Visitor’s Center, we were only able to get on one guided tour to the King’s Palace that began at 1:15 p.m.  All the other guided tours were booked way in advance, so we took what we could get.  Scott caught me busy in the museum.

3CFF73A1-E7B7-4EE5-B8CB-60640B9393BCAs you walk away from the Visitor’s Center and down the path to enter the Bat Cave, there are beautiful cacti surrounding the walkway.

We started on a self-guided tour of the Big Room, an 800 foot descent from the top of the Bat Cave.  Here is Scott walking ahead of me so that I could provide some depth perception.  He is standing in the amphitheater where you can watch the bats fly out at nighttime.  The dark hole behind him dead center is this species entrance/exit.

6AC6FBF1-577C-4129-BFE3-F2F70529FB5FThis entrance is closed from to spectators from March to October due to bat migration from Mexico.  Many people come at nighttime to sit and wait for the creatures to come out by the thousands.  It was March 27, and the entrance was still accessible.  Lucky us!  Scott got a closer look of the Bat Cave opening with his camera.

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5DF5E576-A77A-4418-BC73-E672081F15F4Since I was ahead of Scott, I was able to get a shot of him not far from the opening.  The picture is dark, but get ready because caves are DARK.

64BA5D7D-9971-4F44-80DC-978976EB7530About 300 steps further down into the cave, I stopped to take a short video clip of the sounds I could hear.  Listen and see what you think it is.

If you guessed bats, you are wrong.  They are swallows and they stay close to the opening, whereas the bats will go deeper into the cave.  We continued on and saw this sign. Remember the TV show?

FDCC0BB5-AC5A-45AC-B705-4842614D3AB9Many of the formations inside the cave were named based upon what people thought they saw.  Below is the Whale’s Mouth and the Lion’s Tail.

The cave is illuminated with many spotlights that shine on the walls of the cave.  Here are a great shot that Scott took with his camera.  It really captures the essence of raw stalagmites (come up from the floor), stalactites (come down from the ceiling), columns (go from top to bottom) and the draperies (which look exactly like their name).

77C2D57D-3797-434B-BEE9-55F7FC8ADA73At one point, we saw an original replica of a ladder that was once use to climb down and back up the cavern.  No thanks.

43D8EF61-8312-41EB-92EB-FCAB9B46FD36After our self-guided tour, we took the elevator back up to the top and had lunch in the Visitor Center’s restaurant.  Then, we walked around for a while to warm up before the next descent into the chilly, dark cave.  It wasn’t long before we had to meet our tour guide at the bottom of the cave to begin the guided tour of King’s Palace.  Our tour guide, Daniel, suggested that everyone use the restroom before the two hour tour began.  Who would imagine a fully modern bathroom in a cave 800 feet under the ground.

CD99401D-44F3-4F29-BA0B-582048E49244In order to see the King’s Palace, you have to be with a guide.  The entrance way is locked to any self-guided tourists.  Scott didn’t take any pictures during this tour, and mine are quite dark.  All I can tell you is that he had the forty of us sit along a stone bench inside the King’s Quarters and he turned off all the lights.  Amazingly, we were all as quiet as mice for the approximate 60 seconds of darkness.  I could hear the slow drip, drip of water close by.  It was eeiry and cool at the same time.  Daniel is standing before us in the next picture just before he turned the lights out.

 

C6006BE6-B40A-4E34-9D77-51CE226269C9When the tour ending, we could either take the elevator back up 80 stories or take the same path on foot back up through the Big Room.  What would you have chosen?

B5FA7482-2B67-47EF-AEF9-4030D787C2C0When we got back to the top, we saw a few young girls in the museum by a cavern replica telling us that their dad was able to fit through the small opening.  Scott is such a good sport.

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Santa Fe, NM: 3/16 – 3/19/19

We headed south/southeast on Hwy 9 to Hwy 50 and landed at a KOA campsite in Pueblo, CO, for the night.

6FA3D5C0-415C-4968-926C-961CEB409F69We had trouble with the motorized tongue jack our last morning in Breck, and then again when we got to Pueblos.  It jacked down on our arrival, but he couldn’t get it back up the next morning.  Scott had to get the trailer hooked up to the truck tow manually, and we knew that when we got to Santa Fe, he would have to see about replacing it.

Driving down the open road of Hwy 25 South, the view was mostly brown fields housing antelopes, cows, and horses.  I took some pictures but you can’t really make out what I was seeing from the truck window.  Any remnants of snow quickly disappeared while the temperature rose.  We crossed over the border into New Mexico (I missed the Welcome sign), and within a few hours we had made it to our home in Santa Fe for the next two nights.

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F45093FA-47C3-4643-981E-B997AA855279Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, I just HAD TO HAVE corn beef and cabbage. We found a pub, Second Street Brewery, that had the food AND entertainment.

 

The only problem was that they did NOT serve Irish Soda Bread.  I made Scott stop at Whole Foods on the way home so that I could purchase a loaf.  To close out our evening, we enjoyed my favorite St. Patrick’s Day beverage, a Green Goddess, while we finished off the Irish Soda Bread.  Yes, we ate the whole thing.

5CE2CE35-CDD6-4EBF-A48D-C20D971E8243The following day, we both agreed that we needed to move our bodies.  It had been quite some time since we had been on a hike together, and we needed to detox our bodies from yesterday’s festivities.  Scott had to work on the truck first to replace the tongue jack, so I did laundry and started this blog.  By early afternoon, we took off on an eight-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 1,821’ adjacent to St. John’s College.

98E93C74-17D7-4019-89CD-113EF6897508St. John’s Santa Fe campus is located at the foot of Monte Sol, on the eastern edge of Santa Fe, at 7,300’.   It is known for its distinctive curriculum centered on reading and discussing the Great Books of Western Civilization. I didn’t realize that St. John’s has no religious affiliation, yet it is called St. John’s.  We began at St. John’s College Trailhead (see bottom of map) and continued on the Atalaya Trail to the peak.

0F95E46C-5E2D-4420-A28B-C70871911688

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1EA22CA6-C7F6-4F5B-96D9-8791BAC3DF93About an hour into the hike, we came across this option.

600783B0-1540-4515-AD6B-865E2461F484We chose the Steeper Route and soon needed to don our micro spikes.  Close to the summit, we stopped to take in the view of the Capital City of Santa Fe.

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024277A4-6BC7-4316-A1E9-87A6B3694AD0Scott soon identified the “peak” at 9,121’, and I asked him to pose for me.

2DA2C731-CDA3-442B-8A49-E44049707751On the way back down, we decided to take the Easier Route to see what we had missed.

3B1C09B6-6F13-4028-AD3D-73A2122E42B7As we neared the end of the our four-hour hike, I wondered if the running water was just from the melting snow.

5D73200E-0B8A-4BFB-AE2D-BB0C1DC303C3Our plan was to leave Santa Fe early the following day.  Check out time was 12:00 noon. We got the trailer ready to go and left with just the truck to head into the historical part of town.  I really wanted to see St. Francis of Assisi Church. We had to wait over an hour since it didn’t open up to the public until 9:30 a.m.  It was only 8:30.  Someone was impatient.

B4EEF9FD-F433-48BF-AF89-610DEFAC0625So, we walked around a little bit and I took some more pictures.  Here is the Santa Fe Inn and Spa at Loretto.  Too bad that we didn’t go in for a massage.  Don’t you love the adobe structure?

3A553E5B-CD5F-4E2B-8481-BED331B163CANext to the Spa was the Loretto Chapel with the Miraculous Stairway.

CCCEA47F-A415-4D5F-ADC0-65B578E9315DOn the tree in the background are rosary beads hung on the branches.  Here is a closer look.

036FFC17-A76A-482D-971C-BA259C1A3F07We still had some time to kill, so we stopped for a coffee at a local coffee shop.  It was pretty chilly this morning.

F5CC7A7A-6B29-4AC0-AEF5-94C02F3EE1BEYes, I got the special, Mexican Mocha…sweet!!

7E581644-6CB3-4446-A09A-73E7FE332C4BIt was almost 9:30 so we headed back to the church.  On the way we passed a parking garage.  Yes, a beautiful parking garage.  I thought it was an apartment.  Go figure.

B6A7B3D1-68D6-4276-8748-14934C19B7BFThe church was right around the corner from this parking garage.  Below you can see the side view of The Cathedral Basillica of St. Francis of Assisi as Scott approaches it ahead of me.

 

934CF838-EB84-4702-89D9-EC1B45E1A45EThe front of the church was adorned with a statues…

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…and a labyrinth.  I walked it and counted all 700 stones while we waited earlier this morning.  Sorry, no picture available.  Scott was walking around somewhere while I was deep into counting.

0B8AB6EC-C0AF-4D08-9832-E67B791D5393Inside the church were beautiful columns, stained glass windows, and a very simple yet elegant altar.

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4BECBAD9-ED7B-4EB5-9710-1E252A4BA6EE

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91DD746A-8AD0-4575-AE7F-154D942FB109The church was on a quiet street, and behind the church to the right was a Stations of the Cross Prayer Garden.

 

Here are photos from two of the stations.  It was quite moving for me.  They were a little scary looking but obviously it took a long time for someone to carve these figures with such detail.

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DC49919F-4787-4ED8-8F45-D46879358E6FScott caught me deep in thought as I stared at the statue.

13FFB14B-58A0-4C0D-923C-980E3148DC54We returned to the RV park and hooked up the trailer.  It was time to say goodbye to New Mexico for now.

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Taos, New Mexico: 10/26 – 10/28/18

We left the Grand Canyon after eight fun days and headed towards Taos, New Mexico.   Every time we cross over a state border, I take a picture at the point of entry.  Well, here is what New Mexico’s sign looks like:

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This is what we saw as we crossed the border from Eastern Arizona.

978999D5-00CE-49B2-B4F6-065BF83C7BECI was surprised and saddened by the graffiti.  It was a first for me to see a state welcome sign altered in that way.  It was also a wake up call for me when we passed through Navajo Nation.  We drove miles past open land with small basic communities.  Every now and then there would be a hand painted sign for “Handmade Jewelry For Sale Up Ahead”, but some stands seem deserted and only a few had one or two parked cars in their lot.  I have a new perspective on our nation’s history, and I have lots of questions about how things progressed so many years ago.

Another landmark we passed is called “Ship Rock” which looked like an isolated boat that was shipwrecked on wide-open land.  Zoom in for a clearer view.

8AE95EFB-2031-46EB-B03D-E4C234D3BD83When we were done driving for the day, we spent one night off the highway on BLM land in Farmington, NM, where we saw a most beautiful sunset.

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0C1A18D6-57F7-4CE1-9158-0416848044BAThere was not much else around, so we were up early the next day to continue on.   When we got to Taos, we booked two nights at a very run down Sierra Village Lodge and Campground about a 15-minute drive away from the town center.

FEE48D45-BBC0-4BA1-8324-E92EA79DBF76

0FAC71A5-F2D2-4732-AED2-202704509705

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We drove into town and mused about the Southwestern Pueblo homes and the painted walls.

643000C0-023B-499C-89F8-F0A6544F6A45A79073D7-2205-4DFD-9796-20F5CD5CDF7BTaos is a historic little town filled with art galleries, restaurants, and various small shops.   Town Center was decorated for Halloween.  This was taken just around the corner from Town Center.

74056ED8-8D4C-4B50-B46A-A05DBC422C8BBefore heading back to the trailer, we stopped at Parch’t, a little wine bar that served wine and snacks.

C7EA3D6F-75D2-4D1D-9D9C-7C6463E12589071D0EB4-20A9-4284-A33B-6A11EA980CA3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, Scott dropped me off at Shree Yoga in town for an amazing 90-minute yoga class.  Afterwards, we went to Black Mesa Winery which was a 40-minute ride from town.

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DD4CFCFF-EBD4-4161-B35B-E1951F418888When we left the winery, I realized that it would be our last chance to take a hike in Taos.  We went back to the trailer, changed clothes, and drove to a nearby trailhead that we spotted near our campsite.

87EB81C4-D0E5-47ED-B389-8FC99BC9F52FWe parked in a lot at this trailhead, but crossed the road hike a different trail, Devisadero Loop, a 5.7 mile hike.

B9AE67BB-82DD-4E79-98ED-F4AAAF765B8CIt was around 4:30 p.m. when we started, so we brought our headlamps just in case.   This trail was like rolling hills…up and down and up and down as it traversed the tiny mountain.   Good workout for sure.

4A069C9C-8EA6-4AE7-81CC-5836BD12669D

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763E390F-0220-4ADC-A46F-3F2252B81FE2As we approached the peak, we heard music.  The violinist can be seen in the next picture.

33BAB569-6913-4119-92D9-F98D573320D6Time to head down for approximately 2.5 miles, and dusk was quickly approaching. I  don’t always enjoy being in the woods at night, but the sunset  was simply spectacular. My pictures don’t do it justice.

3FD2A31B-7E4D-4517-B547-980C9E24DDEDC304CABE-CBCA-4D08-B9F0-730B374738C725DBFB04-2CC6-4957-AD34-B92DA399C0D2

Below is Scott’s sunset picture.

73020ED3-33DA-4BDC-A187-258A964BF2BEWe must say goodbye to New Mexico and start our return to Estes Park, Colorado.  There are many other places I wanted to see, but it will have to wait until next spring.  Our adventure will hit the pause button for about five weeks. Scott will be staying with his dad, and I will be traveling to New Jersey to visit with my mom.  We are both looking forward to December 11th when we will reunite and continue our adventure.  Stay tuned for more.  Goodbye Colorado.  See you again soon.

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