"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Taos, NM

Taos was 20 miles up the road and had a Walmart for us to stock up. The town is an old village with plenty of gift shops, art galleries restaurants and more traffic than a person could imagine. Our first trip into town was on a holiday weekend which made the traffic understandable. The next trip was a Monday morning and things hadn't changed. We found a great coffee shop
across the street from the laundry mat and grabbed the last treat which happened to be a chocolate croissant. I usually don't eat croissants but that one could have changed my thoughts on that.

Taos Pueblo UNESCO site

 
There is a UNESCO World Heritage site on  the Taos Pueblo that we needed to check out. For $16 per person you can get a guided tour with a person that lives on the reservation. Even though it was still morning, the sun was heating up. Rather than listen to the stories for 1 1/2 hours in the sun, we did a quick look around and headed into town. I decided to read about the Pueblo online.


Earthships

An Earthship is a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tires.
 
The Earthship  concept began to take shape in the 1970s. The architect wanted to create a home that would do three things: first, it would utilize sustainable architecture, and material indigenous to the local area or recycled materials wherever possible; second, the homes would rely on natural energy sources and be independent from the “grid”; thirdly, it would be feasible for a person with no specialized construction skills to build. Eventually, the vision was transformed into the common U-shaped earth-filled tire homes seen today.



A person can pay $8 for a quick once around the visitor's center or purchase a guided 1 hour tour. We were good with a drive around the area. If you are interested, there are a few available for sale $250,000 or use AirB&B.

 

High Gorge Bridge


One of America’s highest and most famous bridges, the route 64 crossing of the Rio Grande near Taos, New Mexico.



There are several platforms that bend out from the roadway that allow pedestrians to stand several feet out into space - away from the comfort of the main railing and sidewalk - adding to the unease of being so high above the ground. The popularity of the span has also made it a regional suicide magnet with approximately 3 jumpers a year.  The sheer cliffs of the gorge make it an all day affair for the local fire and rescue teams to retrieve the bodies.

A little more Sierra Hermosa RV Park



Each evening was a show as the sunset. The light and changing color was entertainment for us as we sat by the fire. Sierra Hermosa RV Park was a great little place.


The red sky was reflecting on the mountain causing this.



Red River Canyon


We enjoyed our next trip to Red River which is slow 13 miles "up" the road which makes for a very nice 13 miles back down. Fortunately, it was a cool morning and the road was pleasantly shaded as we rode up between the steep canyon walls. There aren't a lot of people in Red River this time of year, known as the mud season. The time between summer and winter skiing.




The tarantulas are out in full force in the fall. 
 
We could have stayed longer but it is time to head down the road once again.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

More Questa

Fall

It feels like fall here in New Mexico's mountains. The RV Park has emptied out and very few people on the trails.
 
Questa has been a great stopping off point. The town looks like it has seen its better days on the surface. The Molybdenum Mine closed down. Many people walked away from their homes to build a new life. You have to take a closer look to find the businesses. Once you walk inside, there are some great places and people. The contractors that are reclaiming the mine make up for some of the lost business. Chevron has purchased a large portion of the land overlooking the town. Hopefully, they plan to make an open space. 

Pescado Trail

 
One of the less-traveled paths in the Rio Grande del Norte is the Pescado Trail that connects the Red River Fish Hatchery with the Wild Rivers Visitor Center. This trail gains about 800 feet the first mile and is considered a moderate trail.
We started at the Red River Fish Hatchery. I prefer uphill first and it is a short 3 miles up the road.
\Once we arrived at the rim, it was a nice easy walk with great views. We continued on to make our hike a little longer stopping at the visitors center for a snack.


I walked right over to the edge and looked down after taking this picture. What is wrong with me?


 
The elk came out into the field behind us in the morning and evening a few times. One night, we could hear the elk bugling. It is September. Later, the bobcat started snarling as he walked along the pond next to us. No, we didn't try to see him. I google the sound to see if we were right. I thought about playing the sound next to the window and see what he would do. That just seemed wrong.
We found two groups of bighorn along the Arroyo Hondo River that were nice enough to pose for us on the way to Taos.

St Anthony Church 

 

  It took five years and the devotion and effort of the people to repair a divide in the community and resurrect St. Anthony’s Church. In 2008, the 170-year old walls of St. Anthony’s Church in Questa collapsed. This created a divide in the community, those who felt it wasn’t worth saving and those who felt it was worth saving.
Demolishing the church was not an option for a group of volunteers who began the project to save the Church. After the restoration started, it became apparent, to all of the people of Questa, that the importance of keeping the structure was about more than adobe bricks. It began to attract more and more volunteers, lessening the divide and re-connecting the community.
 





 
Funky homes on our drive in the national forest.
The caboose house
Our morning view


We found some roasted Hatch green chile!
The people we meet along the way make each experience even more special. The neighbors came to enjoy Taos's music festival. They planned to return half way through the day to check on their dog. We offered to dog sit Cassie so they would not have to drive the 40 mile round trip. He marched out with the keys and said thanks. They were so happy. Six month old Cassie reminded us why we don't have a dog. She has more energy than grandkids. We did enjoy spending the afternoon with her.
 
We also met Gregory, a photographer, who has some amazing pictures. Every time we saw him, his camera was in his hands and a story to tell. Check out his pictures at God's Country Gallery .


The two weeks flew by. We need to return to northern New Mexico in the future to visit Ville Vidal, Chama and the Bisti Wilderness Area which are still on the "list".
 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Questa, New Mexico

Hidden part of Enchanted Circle

 
Mike booked an RV campground in Questa, New Mexico between Red River and Taos that was very affordable and would be a great base for sightseeing for two weeks. As far as I could see, it was in the middle of nowhere. I kept thinking that I could endure a place for two weeks if we needed to but why? We will keep the fact that he was right or just lucky between us.

We passed through a quiet Red River in the middle of the week as summer is winding down. The temperatures were in the 70s in the day and 40s at night. Perfect weather!

Wild Rivers

The Rio Grande del Norte National  was a designated proclamation by President Obama in 2013 and a well kept secret. Questa is the gateway to the Wild Rivers section. We weren't sure what to expect but if it was crowds, they weren't here.

The RĂ­­o Grande del Norte National Monument is comprised of rugged, wide open plains at an average elevation of 7,000 feet, dotted by volcanic cones, and cut by steep canyons with rivers tucked away in their depths.  The Ri­o Grande carves an 800 foot deep gorge through layers of volcanic basalt flows and ash.  Among the volcanic cones in the Monument, Ute Mountain is the highest, reaching to 10,093 feet.
 
All of the hiking trails are down to the rivers and back up.

Going down
 

One mile down and one up.
We found plenty of wild life.


 
 

The USFS campgrounds sat along the rim of the canyon. Probably, not a good choice for sleep walkers. For a price of $7 a night ($3.50) with senior pass, a sleep walker could bungee himself in.

The Red River and Rio Grande merge at La Junta Point

 The bike ride through the park was great as long as we got an early start before the afternoon storms would kick in. Our biggest hazard was not motor vehicles. We only saw 2 cars. It was the bighorn sheep herd that ran out of the bushes or the afternoon lightening. We managed to avoid a run in with both.

Lunch at Tias in Cerro was recommended by the park host. Who are we to argue?
Our New Mexico comida was A+.

Columbine Trail

The trailhead is located at the Columbine Campground and can be made as difficult as a person could want by going over the mountain to Taos Ski area.

 "Take a llama to lunch hike" only $125 per person and$75 per child under 12 including a gourmet lunch. Seems like a deal? The kids leading their llamas looked very proud heading out on their hike as we met them on our way back.

The forest service had four bridges for us to cross Columbine Creek in the first 2 miles..


Fall is in the air.

Looks like we are going to have to work for it with no more bridges as we traveled farther up the gorge.
 
We were here for two weeks and have more to come.