Monday, November 14, 2011

The Final Stage of the New Mexico Road Trip

Please feel free to enlarge any photo by clicking on it.

Throughout the trip to New Mexico I had been searching for a ring for my baby finger on my right hand. Why? Because I had bought one during my trip to Arizona and unfortunately lost it. It was a cheap little ring but had meaning for me. My new mission was to find something similar. In every town I searched and searched for my new ring, Karen swears she was having nightmares about jewelry stores. I had great faith that I would find a ring in Sante Fe and I was not disappointed.

I found and bought this ring first. It looked similar to the one I lost.

Then I saw this ring and new it was the one, much more expensive than the old one but it spoke to me. All of the stones in it are native to New Mexico. I loved the little patch of orange.

From Sante Fe we headed to Taos. Taos has been an artists' haven ever since the Taos Society of Artists was formed in 1914. Later, art patron Mabel Dodge Lujan brought noted artists and authors like D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O'Keeffe, Nicolai Fechin, and Ansel Adams. The town is a treasure trove of old homes, museums, interesting shops, and art galleries. A few other famous residents were/are Lynn Anderson, Kit Carson, Dennis Hopper, Thomas "Doc" Martin and Julia Roberts.

We also visited the Taos Pueblo but we were not allowed to take any photos. They are considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the USA. The Native people who still occupy this beautiful village have a detailed oral history which is not divulged due to religious privacy. Archaeologists say that ancestors of the Taos Indians lived in this valley long before Columbus discovered America and hundreds of years before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. Ancient ruins in the Taos Valley indicate the people lived here nearly 1000 years ago. The main part of the present buildings were most likely constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D. They appeared much as they do today when the first Spanish explorers arrived in Northern New Mexico in 1540 and believed that the Pueblo was one of the fabled golden cities of Cibola.

The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway has a taste of everything that's New Mexico. It links the oldest continuously occupied residence in New Mexico, Taos Pueblo, with Angel Fire, which was incorporated in 1986. The movie industry discovered this area long ago, producing such films as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Easy Rider”. The road runs through Bobcat Pass, at 9820 feet, and descends into the high alpine Moreno Valley. The Valley is bounded by some of the most spectacular peaks in New Mexico: Agua Fria at the south end, Baldy on the north, and Wheeler on the northwest. Wheeler Peak, at 13,162 feet, is the highest point in New Mexico.

On the Enchanted Circle Trail headed towards Eagles Nest.

These birds were near a place called Eagles Nest along the trail. We sat here for a long time trying to capture photo's of these lovely birds.

View from the ridge coming out of the Enchanted Circle Trail.

Sign on the way back to Taos. That was one helluva bullet hole!

Back of sign.

An old homestead on the way back to Taos.

This is where we stayed in Taos, the Taos Inn is an historic inn. It is made up of several adobe houses dating from the 19th century, one of which was a home of Thomas "Doc" Martin. After Doc's death, his widow Helen Martin converted the houses into a hotel, which opened on June 7, 1936 as Hotel Martin. The name was changed to "Taos Inn" by subsequent owners. While we were at the Inn we enjoyed a great dinner and a fantastic night of new musical artists trying out their material on the audience. I also discovered Sante Fe Pale Ale...oh my that was a nice beer! Unfortunately I cannot get it here...must find a way!

The door is the original hand-carved wood door.

The main shopping square with Wheeler Peak in the background, at 13,161 feet, it is the highest peak in New Mexico.

A path leading to some shops.

An old cart in the shopping square. Love the duck!

Me, walking through downtown Taos.

Shadow of a tree on the side of an old Pueblo building.

Colourful mural on the top of a Taos building.

Outside Kit Carson home. Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson was born in 1809 and was an American frontiersman and Indian fighter. Carson left home in rural present-day Missouri at age 16 and became a mountain man and trapper in the West. Carson explored the west to California, and north through the Rocky Mountains. He lived among and married into the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes. He is vilified for his conquest of the Navajo and their forced transfer to Bosque Redondo where many of them were slaughtered. Breveted a general, he is probably the only American to reach such a high military rank without being able to read or write, although he could sign his name.

Windows at Kit Carson's old house.

The bullet hole was in a shop next to the hat shop. I really liked the pattern it made in the glass. Plus I have to admit I was fascinated by all the bullet holes throughout the State.

Loved this old hat shop called Horse Feathers. Enlarge the photo and read what the sign says.

While I was taking the shot of the hat shop above I heard a voice behind me asking me to come and take photo's of their room. I turned around and there was a woman sitting in an SUV smiling at me. For those of you thinking it, it is not what you think. She owned a room at a local Inn called the El Rincon and she wanted me to take some photo's of her room and email them to her. I wanted to see what the room looked like so I went, yes that is the truth! It was fascinating because she worked for a local advertising company who did the tourism brochures for Taos. She told me some of the history of Taos. She said that a lot of couples who move there end up breaking up. She also said that the local people believe that the mountain has to accept you. I must admit it was a very enchanting city.

Lots of decorative features in the room.

The building was an old Pueblo style building.

There was decorative painting throughout the room.

Taos graffiti.

Some of the decorative building features around Taos.

Taos at dusk.

The Rio Grande is not a typical river that has carved out its own valley. Rather, the valley appeared first and the river followed. This 'rift valley' is a separation in the earth's crust caused by faulting and other earth movements when the North American and Pacific plates scraped against each other some twenty-nine million years ago.

The Rio Grande is among the longest twenty-five rivers in the world and the fourth or fifth longest in North America. It starts near the Continental Divide in the San Juan Mountains, runs 470 miles through New Mexico to the border of Texas and the Mexican province of Chihuahua, and empties in to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Rio Grande Gorge reaches a depth of 800 feet just south of the Gorge Bridge. This shot was taken at the north-west side of the bridge.

The stunning view after we left the Rio Grande Gorge.

This shot was taken as we were travelling in the north of New Mexico just before the Colorado border. Absolutely stunning views!

Thank you for the wonderful welcome to Colorado! I love Colorado, such a beautiful State. This was my second time here and unfortunately did not get a chance to explore more.

Not sure why they don't snowplow between those hours but I would not want to be on that road at night in blowing snow!

A beautiful old barn in the fields of Nebraska. I would like to explore this State more sometime in the future. As we were driving we saw thousands of Sandhill Cranes migrating back up north. It was such a beautiful site especially as they were taking off and landing. Unfortunately we were on the highway and there was no place to pull over.

As we were driving through Nebraska the sky was mostly clear except for this little tiny cloud formation.

This is the name of a gas/rest/travel station chain throughout Iowa. Love the name...what can I say!

Madison County, Iowa – The birthplace of John Wayne and Madison County originally boasted 19 covered bridges, but just six remain today. The bridges were covered by order of the County Board of Supervisors to help preserve the large flooring timbers, which were more expensive to replace than the lumber used to cover the bridge sides and roof. Usually, the bridges were named for the resident who lived closest. The bridge above is the Hogback Bridge. The Roseman Covered Bridge was built in 1883. In Robert James Waller's novel, The Bridges of Madison County, and the movie of the same name, Roseman is the bridge Robert Kincaid seeks when he stops at Francesca Johnson's home for directions; it is also where Francesca leaves her note inviting him to dinner.

This is the sunset we saw as we were leaving Madison County.

That is the end of the photo's for this trip, the weather started turning nasty, rainy and foggy.

Thank you for viewing the New Mexico road trip photo's and for reading the stories. I hope you enjoyed it!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Going North on the New Mexico Road Trip!

Feel free to click on any image to enlarge it.

From Truth or Consequences we headed north toward Socorro. Along the way we saw lots of wide open space and the Rio Grande for the first time. No photo's of the Rio Grande yet because to be honest I was underwhelmed. It looked more like a stream at this point, not like the mighty river it should be. Socorro is famous as the site of a well-publicized UFO incident. A local policeman named Lonnie Zamora was chasing a speeder when he saw the UFO. Project Blue Book, the US Air Force's official study of the UFO mystery, also sent investigators to Socorro. They interviewed Zamora and also checked the supposed landing site. Project Blue Book's supervisor, Captain Hector Quintanilla, later wrote that the Socorro case was the best documented and most puzzling one in their files. "There is no doubt that Lonnie Zamora saw an object which left quite an impression on him. There is no question about Zamora's reliability." Quintanilla ruled out hoax and thought maybe Zamora had seen some secret U.S. craft, though a thorough search disclosed no such craft that could account for the object. The actress Jodie Foster stayed in Socorro while filming the movie Contact at the Very Large Array fifty miles west of the city. Damn...I just missed her!

The San Lorenzo Canyon is in between Socorro and Albuquerque. Some of the geological features you can find on a hike in San Lorenzo Canyon are arches, shelter caves, and interesting rock formations. The area has remnants of old ranches and homesteads; springs and tiny creeks also are hidden in the canyon bottoms and washes. It is a little hard to find but well worth it. Hiking boots are a must and so is a lot of water because it is hot there. At the entrance there is a sign warning that high riding vehicles should be used in the canyon. I would follow this warning...just saying.

I know this looks like a tiny little rock and some sand, but the photo does not show the true tale and if I had been thinking I would have documented this better. But at the time I was a little worried and upset. I drive a low riding Honda Civic, not a good vehicle for this terrain. The sand became very soft so I got out of the car to see where we could park it without too much trouble. Unfortunately, when the car was being backed up it went up and on to this tiny rock. The car was stuck and would not go back or forward. Here we are in the middle of nowhere, it's hot, no one else is around and the closest town is an hour away. Oh what to do! So we searched around for a whole bunch of flat rocks and put them under the front tires. Then rocked and pushed and the car came carefully move car to more solid land!! Luckily no snakes, bobcats or other critters were around to witness this.

Heading from San Lorenzo Canyon up to Albuquerque.

We travelled east toward Mountainair and headed to the Abo at Salinas Missions National Monument. The Missions are said to date back to the 1300s. It was a major trading station during its time. Puebloans inhabited this remote frontier area of central New Mexico. Early in the 17th century Spanish Franciscans found the area ripe for their missionary efforts. However, by the late 1670s the entire Salinas District, as the Spanish had named it, was depopulated of both Indian and Spaniard. What remains today are austere yet beautiful reminders of this earliest contact between Pueblo Indians and Spanish Colonials.

Remains of the old mission church.

On to Albuquerque, it is the largest city in the state of New Mexico. The Sandia Peak Tramway is located adjacent to Albuquerque. It stretches from the northeast edge of the city to the crestline of the Sandia Mountains and has the world's third longest single span. The tramway ascends the steep western side of the highest portion of the Sandia Mountains, passing close to dramatic cliffs and pinnacles, from a base elevation of 6,559 feet (1,999 m) to a top elevation of 10,378 feet (3,163 m). A trip up the mountain takes fifteen minutes to ascend 3,819 ft (1,164 m).

The sun shining on the rock and the shadow of our tram as we climb.

Standing on the top platform watching another tram come up.

Sunset over Albuquerque, I shot this from the tram as we were coming back down.

From Sante Fe we headed past Los Alamos and on to Bandelier. The radio telescope located in Los Alamos is one of ten dishes composing the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). There is also a laboratory in Los Alamos that was home to the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II.

Bandalier National Monument is a 33,677 acres National Monument preserving the homes of the Ancestral Peublo People. The park's elevations range from about 10,000 feet to 5,000 feet at the Rio Grande. Much of the area was covered with volcanic ash from an eruption of the Valles Caldera volcano 1.14 million years ago. The tuff overlies shales and sandstones deposited during the Permian period and limestone of Pennsylvanian age. The volcanic outflow varied in hardness; the firmer materials would be used by the Ancestral Pueblo People as bricks, while the softer material was carved into homes.

A view through the trees of the cliffs and dwellings.

Patterns in the rock.

A large bat cave in the side of the cliff. This photo does not show the immense size of the cave.

Living area of the Ancestral Pueblo People.

Love this sign...and no I did not climb the ladder.

Valles Caldera (or Jemez Caldera), is a 12 mi (19 km) wide volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption. Within its caldera, Valle Grande (local pronunciation: vai.ei grande) is the largest valle (grass valley) and the only one with a paved road. Valles Caldera is one of the smaller volcanoes in the supervolcano class. The caldera and surrounding volcanic structures are the most thoroughly studied caldera complex in the United States.

The red rocks along the Jemez Trail.

Just one of the many churches to be found through New Mexico, this one is near Sante Fe.

Church doors.