Road Report #10 – New Mexico: Santa Fe to Las Cruces

Thursday, November 2nd,  Roo and I took one last stroll around Santa Fe, NM, checking out Canyon Road in further detail.  Dang it! Why hadn’t I spent more time perusing the galleries on Canyon Road?? The galleries looked really interesting but it was early morning and nothing was open so Roo and I just had to peak in windows and over walls to see what we were missing.

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Canyon Road, Santa Fe

From Santa Fe, I headed northwest to Abiquiu where I had booked a tour of Georgia O’Keefe’s home and studio.  What a fantastic experience!   The house is still decorated as it was when she passed away in 1986.   The simple austerity of her home was beautiful.  There is little clutter and what is out on display are generally things found in nature.  Apparently if coming to Ms. O’Keefe’s for a dinner party your best best was to bring an antler or bone or rock as a hostess gift rather than a bottle of wine.

After the O’Keefe tour, I went to check out the Plaza Blanca, the White Place, a unique geological formation that became a subject of Ms. O’Keefe’s paintings.  Scenes in the Star War movies were also supposedly shot here.  Other worldly!

I returned to the Ojo Caliente Hot Springs Resort to spend the night, one of the few repeat visits so far on the trip and well worth it.  I enjoyed another night of floating on my back in the pool, stargazing, and another wonderful meal at the restaurant.  I started off the camping night with the furnace nicely humming and keeping the van warm.

Friday, November 3rd, I awoke to a chilly van and the furnace flashing a fault warning again.  DAMN IT!  Looked like I was in for chilly camping for awhile.

Roo and I packed up and headed from Ojo Caliente to Taos.   We hit Taos, drove through town and found some excellent coffee and grub at The Coffee Apothecary.  I swung back and headed back into Taos to park and poke around.

I visited the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House.  I wasn’t there to see the art really… that was a bonus.  I was there to see the house that had been bought and remodeled, blending Russian design motifs with the traditional adobe structure, by the artist Nicolai Fechin in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Fechin carved much of the exposed wood surfaces and furniture himself.

After checking out the museum, I started meandering north to check out some of the smaller towns around Taos.  I sign for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument caught my eye and I drove over to check it out.  Whoa!  Incredible views of where the Red River and Rio Grande River meet.  Unfortunately this is one of many national monuments under threat of losing national monument status under the current administration.  Disheartening for sure.

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The Rio Grande at the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

I drove around to the various viewpoints in the park, walked Roo around a bit and then we started making our way back to Taos to find our airbnb for the evening.  It was a nice little casita tucked down a side street, with a fenced in backyard where Roo could sniff around.  It was a very quiet and chill spot, the only disruption coming from the magpies flying through at sunset.  What a ruckus!

Saturday, November 4th,  I headed out early and found great coffee and breakfast at The Coffee Spot.  Then I headed to the Taos Pueblo, an ancient Taos Indian pueblo that has been inhabited for over a 1000 years and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   Currently about 150 people live there today in similar conditions as their ancestors.  Access into the pueblo is restricted.  You can’t just go walk around where ever the hell you feel like.  This is where people live. It was really cool seeing the architecture and historic buildings and imaging life in a village like that but I didn’t linger long.  I felt sort of like an intruder.

From the Pueblo I headed back into Taos to walk Roo while poking around the downtown plaza area.  I found super cute winding, narrow alleys with cobble stone streets with art and crafts everywhere.

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This statue/sculpture in Taos freaked me out the longer I looked at it.

From Taos I started making my way back south via scenic backroads to Santa Fe to catch the full exhibit at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.   I stopped again in Chimayo but this time for lunch at the Rancho De Chimayo Restaurant.  It’s in a historic building and they serve up some excellent food.  SO GOOD! Very much worth a stop.

Late afternoon I arrived in Santa Fe and went straight to the Georgia O’Keefe museum.  It was SO worth it to have hung around northern New Mexico for a few extra days so that I could catch the full exhibit before moving on.

After the museum, I spent a quiet evening at a sweet little casita north of Santa Fe, out in the farm land on the edge of town.

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My airbnb casita on the edge of Santa Fe.

Sunday, November 5th, I started heading south out of Santa Fe, choosing a scenic route along route 14.  We drove through the adorably cute and artsy town of Madrid… must return to check that out further on the return trip.   I stopped for a quick hike with Roo in the Cibola National Forest near Sandia Park, NM.  And then back on the road and I took another quick diversion to check out Manzano State Park.  The park was a waste of time and I didn’t linger but the drive was quite scenic.

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Along the road to Manzano State Park.

Then on to Quarai Mission Ruins, one of three missions that are part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.   WOW! Freaking spectacular!

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Then to the Abo Mission Ruins… equally amazing.

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Roo and I hiked all around the ruins at both locations, enjoying the gorgeous fall day.

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I had kind of dilly dallied a bit at the ruins and the sun was starting to get low as I headed towards San Antonio, NM, my intended overnight stop.

I ended up rolling into San Antonio, NM after the sun had gone down for the day, hunting for our airbnb.  We found the funky little trailer rental and settled in for the evening.

Monday, November 6th, I was up at the crack of dawn, awoken by a honking that seemed to be getting slowly closer and closer to the trailer.  It turned out to be a peacock making it’s way down the street towards the trailer that was disrupting the morning peace.

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Our funky airbnb in San Antonio, NM.

I got the van packed up and headed out to check out the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge.   First, I geeked out over plants in the Desert Arboretum near the visitor center.

Then I headed over to the wildlife viewing area and I saw migrating snow geese and sandhill cranes (amongst other birds).  Seeing the snow geese on their southern migration was a special treat as I had seen snow geese earlier in the year in the Skagit Farmland in northwest Washington as they migrated north.

The sandhill cranes were surprisingly large and made quite a racket with their chatter but they were shy and hard to get close enough to to get decent photos but the below video at least gives you a taste of the sound they make.

After bird watching, Roo and I did a great loop trail hike up through a slot canyon and to a ridge with a 360 degree of the refuge and surrounding mountains and plains.

Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge ended up being a great stop.  I didn’t realize that a wildlife refuge might actually incorporate in agriculture activities in an attempt to provide habitat and food and it was a fascinating blend of farmland and wilderness.

From the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge I continued making my south, headed for the town of Truth and Consequence, NM to grab a late lunch.  The town has hot springs and on a whim I decided to see if I could get in a soak.  I secured a private hot spring pool at Riverbend Hot Springs and it was pretty dang sweet! Well worth the stop.

From Truth or Consequences, NM I continued my drive down the highway as the sun was setting.   I tried not to drive off the highway as I watched the sky and mountains turns shades of pinks and purples.

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I rolled into Las Cruces, NM in the dark where I had secured an airbnb rental  for two days.  Time to get a load of laundry down and take a breather.  The airbnb was awesome.  It was a converted shipping container, something I had been wanting to see up close.

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Tuesday, November 7th, I awoke to a lovely view of the sunrise over the distant mountains.

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The airbnb rental was out on the edge of town and I could do morning hikes with Roo out into the desert straight from the rental.  It was awesome!  We poked around that day, I caught up on chores and did my best to stay in one place as much as possible.

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Hiking out in the desert from our airbnb in Las Cruces, NM.

Tuesday, November 7th, we started off the day with a visit from a cute little kitty checking out Greta.  Turns out the damn cat actually broke that windshield wiper, which I wouldn’t realize until I hit rain a few days later.   Doh!

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I headed to Dripping Springs Natural Area just outside of Las Cruces for a hike, based on recommendations from the airbnb hosts and I was completely caught off by guard by the amazing scenery. Roo and I hiked up to check out the waterfall which was just a trickle at this time of year.

 

Wednesday, November 8th,  we woke to find it rainy.  What?! I hadn’t seen rain in days.  It was kinda of neat to experience the desert after a rain.  It’s so fragrant with the scent of juniper and sage.

I enjoyed a last hike in the desert, packed up the van and started to head south.  I crossed over the New Mexico/Texas border and a roadside sign read “Thank you visiting New Mexico – the land of enchantment.”   I hadn’t known that was the state motto but it was fitting.  I had indeed found New Mexico enchanting and I’ll definitely be coming back for further exploration of New Mexico in 2018.

 

 

 

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