Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ghost Ranch

The Outback

After leaving Ojo Calliente New Mexico, we enter the landscape of vast vistas, table-topped mesas, tall cliffs, the Rio Chama bordered by cottonwood trees, mountains in the distance and more beauty around every bend in the winding road. We headed through Abiquiu to Ghost Ranch.

Dinosaurs once walked on Ghost Ranch. Millions of years later Navajos and other tribes roamed the valley. The Spaniards settled here and then came the cattle rustlers, the wranglers and the dudes. Arthur Pack, one of the country’s first environmentalists, bought the Ranch and sold a little piece of it to Georgia O’Keeffe.

 Scientists took time here away from the stresses of building the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos. Famous guests have included Charles Lindbergh, Ansel Adams and John Wayne.

  Numerous movies were filmed on Ghost Ranch such as Cowboys and Aliens, City Slickers, Wyatt Earp, and many more. This is the cabin in City Slickers.
When the cattle rustlers were hiding their stolen goods in the box canyon alongside Kitchen Mesa, they discouraged their neighbors from looking around by spreading the rumor that the land was haunted by evil spirits. “Rancho de los Brujos” it was called, “Ranch of the Witches,” which evolved into Ghost Ranch. The turn-off to Ghost Ranch was marked by an animal skull long before Arthur Pack bought the ranch in 1936.

Ghost Ranch was donated to the Presbyterian Church in 1955 and offers lodging and retreats but is also open to visitors to the museum and hiking trails.

The day after we checked out the museums, we headed out for an early morning four mile hike to Chimney Rock.

The landscape of Ghost Ranch—made famous by painter Georgia O’Keeffe—encompasses 21,000 acres of towering rock walls, vivid colors and vast skies.

Pendernal Mountain in the background that Georgia O"keefe often painted.

The higher we climbed, the more impressive were the views.

The trail to here.

What would a retreat be without  a labyrinth?

Abiquiu Lake

This Corp of Engineers Campground was a great location. We had made a reservation for 2 nights with electric hookups but waned to stay longer. It was warm enough for us to want air conditioning. I spoke with the camp host that said we could take the walkup site #14. The lady in this site had left early because of the watermain break. We jumped at the offer and added another 3 nights and went to the Corp of Engineer office to fill our 5 gallon jug with water.
The trails along the lake were smartly marked with snake markers.

There isn't a whole lot in the very small town of Abiquiu other than a Dollar General, the Abiqui Inn with some great meals next to the George O'Keefe Welcome Center and Bodes gas station. Everything that we needed.
We tried Bodes for the WIFI and found a great little diner with the cutest ladies serving up some tasty meals and treats.

On our last night at the lake, our new friends from Colorado joined us for an evening by the fire. Every night gave us a beautiful sunset. I am not sure why we didn't stay longer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Sanctuario de Chimayo

 Tucked into the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the village of Chimayó may seem far off the beaten track as we drove along the tree line winding road.
Known as the “Lourdes of America,” el Santuario de Chimayó, 40 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Even so, it is unknown to most Americans.
 Each Holy Week, Chimayó, a tiny town of 3,000, swells to more than 40,000 as the annual pilgrimage fills the high desert roads of Northern New Mexico with the faithful. Many of the pilgrims walk hundreds of miles to visit the site. To read more about the miracles click here.
It was a short drive from Ojo Calliente to the mission.

 The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970
 The Three Cultures Monument, depicts the meeting of a Native American, a white cowboy, and a Hispanic vaquero under a benevolent figure of the Virgin Mary.

Calls for prayers for the ill and troubled are posted

 The Santuario is known for its healing dirt. The tradition of the healing dirt continues to this day.

Off to the side of the altar is a doorway leading to a small prayer room with a wall of cast off crutches, and an entrance to el pocito, or “the little well,” of healing dirt.

 Some pilgrims take vials of the sand with them as a remembrance. Fortunately, there is plenty of soil available to satisfy the ongoing demand. The Church replaces the dirt in the pocito from the nearby hillsides, there are 5 gallon buckets in the back of the church to bring more dirt when needed. We left our share for someone else.

Chimayó is also famous for high-quality weaving, red chili, horse and sheep raising, and fruit orchards.

The Santo Niño Chapel is just a short walk from el Santuario honoring children with many baby shoes hanging on the walls.
The story of the Santo Niño begins in Spain during the time of the Moors, Spain's Muslim conquerors. In Atocha, outside Madrid, many Christian men had been imprisoned. The jail did not feed the prisoners, and the caliph ordered that only children could visit and bring food to them. The women prayed to Our Lady for help. Soon word spread that a small boy was visiting and feeding the prisoners. His basket was never empty of bread, and his water gourd was always full. He was considered a manifestation of Jesus as the Holy Child, the Santo Niño.

Don Bernardo Abeyta statue was builder of Sancuario de Chimayo.

Walkway along the river.

Ortega's Weaving

Not far from the Santuario is Orteg's weaving where we made a quick stop.
In the early 1700's, Gabriel Ortega was among a group of settlers who came to the Northern Rio Grande Valley to settle in what is now Chimayo, New Mexico. In those days Chimayo and the surrounding area were the last frontier of New Spain. Life was difficult which meant Gabriel Ortega needed to be self-sufficient. One of the skills needed to survive was weaving, with which they made clothes, blankets, rugs and even mattresses.

In the early 1900's, Nicacio and Virginia, who were also from a weaving families, opened a general store in Chimayo. Nicacio had a loom in his store and sold his weavings along with those of his sons, relatives and friends. The demand kept growing as more people discovered Santa Fe and New Mexico.

Everything on dispaly was very nice quality.

Black Mesa Winery

It was a sightseeing day and we also stopped at the winery.

Most of the grapes had been harvested except the Montepulciano grapes. I tasted a grape while walking though the vines and thought they tasted better than the wine.

Behind the winery is a trail that winds between over 300 petroglyphs.

Labyrinth along the trail. We are near Santa Fe. A labyrinth is a given.

Driving through the area, we saw so many apples trees. This area is known as the apple orchard area. The winery put out a call for apples from the surrounding area for their hard cider "Bit Me" which we purchased. It must have gotten its bite from the harsh sunny conditions of the area. We also found a white wine we both liked very much.

One of America's best diners

The winding highway meandered alongside the murky river to Embudo, NM.  We smelled the hazy smoke plumes coming from Sugar’s BBQ & Burgers.
It was recognized as one of America’s ten best drive-ins by Gourmet magazine. We chose the brisket burrito in which tender brisket, green chile and shredded cheddar cheese piled high on a fresh tortilla. They were so large that we had the second half the next day. I know, not exactly heart healthy but very tasty.

A fitting end to a great morning. Lunch under a tree as the breezes cooled us as we enjoyed the changing of the fall colors.

I hope I haven't bored you with my little history. We just find learning about the past makes our adventures even more memorable.

Cuenca, Ecuador

An Expat Destination The morning after returning to Quito we boarded an hour-long flight to Cuenca. Driving up the winding roads would have ...