Rio Grande River Gorge

On Saturday morning we drove back to Taos, once again taking the high road.  We couldn’t resist stopping to take a few more pictures…..

DSC00544

The scenery is SO open and gorgeous and the sky is SO, SO, SO blue!!!

DSC00546

Our first stop was at the Rio Grande Gorge State Park.  It was interesting to drive up to it and not see any sign of the gorge until you are right on it.  The first clue were the vendors surrounding the park entrance…..

DSC00566

…especially loved this bus…..

DSC00568

We walked behind these vehicles and found the entrance to the park area where we could walk along the edge of the gorge.  Since we were still a little tired from yesterday’s walk, we didn’t walk far, but enjoyed the views….

DSC00559

However, the very best views were those from the bridge across the gorge….

DSC00570

It is amazing to realize that such a small river could cause so much erosion to create such a huge crevice in the ground.

DSC00576

We returned to Taos, going to pick up the painting that we had seen a few days before.  We asked the artist where he would suggest that we eat and he sent us to “Graham’s Grille” where Michael enjoyed an open-face Gyro…..

DSC00585

…while I scarfed down a wonderful barbeque pork sandwich….

DSC00586

We drove slowly back to Santa Fe and started packing up for the trip back to Abilene…..

Advertisements

Atalaya Mountain….

On Friday morning, Michael and I donned our hiking boots, drove 2 miles and headed up Atalaya Mountain.

The trails were well marked as we left from the parking lot at St. John’s College.

DSC00409

We first hiked thru a small Arroyo (a steep-sided gully cut by running water in an arid or semiarid region).  As we hiked, we talked about how we would NOT want to be in the area when it was raining.  There were many dry stream beds that I am sure would quickly fill with water and make it uncomfortable, if not dangerous, to hike.

As usual, I was drawn to the colors of the flowers in the area, but there were not too many specimens to choose from.   I loved these small red flowers….

DSC00417

Michael, on the other hand, was drawn to various types of cacti and succulents….

DSC00430

This little guy was trying really hard to blend into the background……

DSC00519

There was evidence that a fire had been thru the area at some time as many of the trees were in the process of re-budding, however, this tree was obviously burned too far to regenerate…..DSC00436

We kept stopping to take photos, enjoying the every widening view….

DSC00437DSC00445

 

DSC00460As we moved higher up the mountain, the trees turned from Junipers to Pines, making the scenery change.

At one point on the hike, we had to make a decision about whether to take the harder “steeper” route or to take the “easier” route.  DSC00530

We met a man coming down from the steeper way and he assured us that it was doable, so we decided to take steeper up and easier down.  The trail was not that bad, but we did stop often for breath and water breaks!!

When we reached the top of the mountain, we enjoyed the views and took a few photos……

DSC00468DSC00480

…….including one of me to send to my Physical Therapist to say “my knees are doing GREAT!!!!!”……DSC00477

On the way back down, I stopped to photograph this cactus.  Would love to see it when the blossom has opened…..

DSC00491

Some of the areas were extremely rocky…..DSC00498

….but there would be veins of pink rocks and even a few really big ones…..

DSC00497

Michael had been having cell phone coverage issues in Santa Fe but found that he had a great signal at the top of the mountain, so we stopped so that he could return a few calls…..DSC00499

While I was standing there waiting for him, I started to notice the VERY dead tree that we were standing under…..

DSC00503

The silhouette was interesting, but the really cool part was the bark…..

DSC00509

I loved the shapes in the bark and also all of the woodpecker holes!!!  Michael commented that it would make a cool quilt…..interesting!!

Some of the views were different on the way back down.  We loved this one with the smaller mesas in front of the other mountains…..

DSC00516

The hike down was great and we arrived back at the B&B tired and dirty, but with lots of fun memories.  In total we had hike 7.5 miles and had climbed about 2,200 feet in elevation, starting at 7,000 and topping out at 9,200!!

After we had rested for a while, we went out to dinner at the Coyote Café, another restaurant recommended by Gayle.

We loved the décor of the building, especially the light fixtures…

 Food-12

Actually, they were not light FIXTURES as the light came down from the spots in the ceiling, but the lights accentuated the sculptures, making it look like birds flying thru the restaurant.

Our meal was excellent, including Stuffed Zucchini blossoms…..

Food-11

Michael and I split the Filet Mignon main course…..Food-13

….and a very tasty side order of onion rings…..Food-14

While Michael enjoyed a post-prandial Port, I (at the waiter’s suggestion) had the chocolate mousse.   It was wonderful!!!

Food-17

We returned to the B&B and fell happily into bed!!!

Walking down Canyon Road

On Thursday morning we enjoyed our breakfast and started on a walk down Canyon Road.  The idea was to walk for exercise, but once again, we started looking in shops and galleries and, before we knew it, the walking part had dwindled down to a snails pace!!!

We enjoyed the fact that many of the galleries had examples of their art for all to enjoy…..

DSC00376

Even the fences are artistic……DSC00377

And, to my great pleasure, there are sunflowers everywhere….DSC00379

DSC00387

We loved this yard art, but at $3,600 we thought that we should leave it here.  I am wondering if I could build something similar to it…….

 

DSC00382

We especially enjoyed walking around the Sherwoods Spirit of America Gallery.  All of the authenticated artifacts were displayed in the manner of a museum, but ALL were for sale, from the $140 flint striker to the $125,000 Indian Princess dress.  We spent a long time drooling…..

We then stopped at the Wiford Gallery and enjoyed the wind sculptures made by Lyman Whitaker.  It was so serene watching them slowly turn in the breeze….

DSC00385

We also walked into the gallery of James Roybal and his wife, McCreery Jordan, where we found this……

santa-fe-hollyhocks

We both fell in love with it and decided that it would look great with the painting that we found yesterday in Taos, so it ended up coming home with us!!!!

We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and then had dinner at a tapas restaurant called La Boca.  We  enjoyed a series of plates including…..

…. Mediterranean salad~ mixed greens, figs, apricots, olives, and feta cheese with sherry honey vinaigrette

Food-8

….carrot-garbanzo hummus~ with cumin, mint, lemon, and grilled house-made yogurt flatbread

Food-1

….patatas bravas: fried local fingerling potatoes w/spicy sherry vinegar sauce & roasted garlic aioli

Food-2

….gambas fritas~ fried shrimp with avocado, and pimentón agri-dulce

Food-3

….pincho de pollo~ harissa chicken skewer with avocado, cucumber, and tomato salad

Food-4

….local flat-iron steak~ with smoked sea salt caramel, or cabrales butter

Food-7

….pots de crème ~ chocolate-espresso ganache-custard w/ lengua de gato cookies

Food-5

We had a wonderful time enjoying the food and talking to the couple at the table next to us who were visiting from Denver.

 

After we returned to the B&B, I walked around and took a few photos of the gardens…..

DSC00390DSC00394

DSC00398

…and then joined Michael on the porch for a recap of the wonderful day…..

DSC00393

The High Road to Taos

Each of our mornings here have begun in the same way.   First we drink our tea and coffee sitting on our front porch…….

DSC00239

Then we move to the courtyard for a wonderful breakfast with a hot entrée, toast and gorgeous and tasty fruit……DSC00241

This morning we had decided that we would drive to Taos to spend the day.  When we told our Innkeeper, Gayle, about it, she said that we needed to take the “high road” up to Taos and then drive the “low road” back home again.  She warned us that the high road would take about two hours to make the trip.  Little did she know that we would stop umpteen times to take photos and visit small galleries and shops along the way.  Total travel time…..over FOUR hours!!!!

BUT, we had a lot of fun!!!   The scenery changed as we drove, starting out with low hills…..

DSC00247

…and emerging into beautiful mountains.  This range is part of the Pecos Wilderness area and was where were planning to backpack….until the forest was closed because of fires and flash floods!!!!DSC00281

Our first stop of the morning was in the town of Chimayo, which is highly known for its tapestries and weavings.  Needless to say, we had to have a look. 

We went into one gallery (Ortega’s Weaving Shop)  and ended up buying a few woven blankets……DSC00547 but really enjoyed watching the man weave in the back room.   Notice how his feet get into the act as well.  You could get a REALLY good aerobic workout doing this…..

We then drove a bit further down the road and arrived at the Santuario de Chimayo’, which has been a pilgrimage site for many years.  The church is quaint……

DSC00271

…and the courtyard was really peaceful and filled with statues and icons…..DSC00262

 

DSC00265

DSC00276

The fence surrounding the property was covered with crosses of all types and sizes, but I especially liked this piece of wood that was shaped like a cross…..DSC00280

A little further down the road we saw a sign for Ojo Sarco pottery gallery and of course we had to check it out.  We followed a long, mostly dirt, road to arrive at the gallery.  It held some gorgeous work…..

DSC00291

….some of which found its way into our car!!!

We finally made it into Taos and stopped for lunch at the Dragonfly Café.   They served interesting, organic dishes and we loved sitting outside in the courtyard and watching the people walking around.  We are noticing a definite trend in the visitors to this area.  Most tourists are our age or older and all seem to be dressed in a type of uniform, including hats, long sleeve shirts, and capris or long skirts for women, or khakis and sandals for the men.

Next on the agenda was to visit the Taos Pueblo. These homes are estimated to be approximately 1,000 years old and sit in the middle of a 95,000 acre Indian reservation site.

The houses were all made from Adobe which is a mixture of mud and straw.  You could see the straw bits sticking up thru the mud…..

DSC00295

Many of the houses had small outdoor ovens and all had the requisite turquoise accents……

DSC00302

Most of the houses were built on several levels with ladders connecting them…….

DSC00304

There were two sets of structures, with the Red Willow Creek running peacefully between them…..

DSC00314

Can you believe how blue the sky is?????DSC00323

This is probably our favorite photo because we both loved the different levels of the pueblo and also the shadows thrown by the lowering sun…..

DSC00329

Many of the structures were filled with shops run by native Artisans.  We enjoyed talking with them and learning about their crafts.

As we were leaving the reservation, we came upon a favorite site….a Prairie Dog town.  This brought back wonderful memories of feeding carrot chunks to the Prairie Dogs outside of Lubbock.  They are SO cute……

DSC00337

We returned to the Plaza area of Taos and walked thru several shops.  When we came to the Baumann galleries, we enjoyed watching Stephen paint for a while…DSC00343

….and then saw this wonderful painting……

photo

Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out exactly where it would go in our house, so we reluctantly left it hanging on the wall!!!   More to come on that subject…..

On the drive back to Santa Fe, we took the “Low road” which ran along the Rio Grande River.   It was amazing how different the scenery was!!!  The mountain side of the road was craggy, rocky and very interesting to look at……DSC00348

DSC00350

We found a bridge over the river that we wanted to cross, but, unfortunately it was impassable…..

DSC00351

The scenery as we were driving back into Santa Fe was so beautiful……

DSC00372

A little further West

On Tuesday morning we packed up again and started our drive to Santa Fe.  The landscape was much as we had seen yesterday, but there were pockets that were green, letting us know that there had been SOME rain in the last few weeks…… DSC00133

We stopped NUMEROUS times to take photos of the landscape, flora and fauna, including red ants……

DSC00135

Dung beetles……DSC00136

Prickly Pear Cactus……DSC00157

Mesquite bushes festooned with beans…..DSC00158And Cholla cactus….. DSC00164

….those thorns mean business!!!!DSC00175

We had to take great care in crossing the road so that we didn’t get hit by a car…..not!!!DSC00177

As the morning wore on, we started seeing glimpses of the gorgeous mountains rising up to meet us…..DSC00206

We arrived in Santa Fe a couple of hours before we could check in, so found a local restaurant, Tomasita’s, for some New Mexico style Mexican food…..

It was different in that it had lots of green chiles rather than red ones and my meal included Hominy too……

Food-1

Food-2

The most amazing thing were the Sopapillas and honey that we had for dessert.  They were magnificent!!!!

Food-3

Now that’s a BIG bite…..photo

We moved to our Bed and Breakfast (Don Gaspar Inn) and were very happy to find cozy and comfortable living areas……

DSC00208

DSC00209

Next on tap was a walk to the Plaza area of Santa Fe to do some shopping.  We really liked these berry bearing trees along the road…..

DSC00211

….and found some of the road art to be interesting.  This piece was on the corner of the State Capitol compound…..

DSC00212‘We didn’t end up doing much shopping as the prices were obviously inflated for the tourists, but we did enjoy seeing this church….the Cathedral Bascillica of St. Francis of Assisi…..

DSC00221DSC00223

The lines of the architecture were so clean and simple, very unlike the Cathedrals that we have visited overseas in the last few years……DSC00230

I especially noticed this simplicity with the artwork……

DSC00235

 

We returned to the B&B and crashed on the couch, as if we had been sight-seeing and walking for hours…..our travel genes have obviously not kicked in yet!!!!

Road Trip – heading West

On Monday morning, we left Abilene, heading North West to the city of Lubbock where Michael and I had attended university at Texas Tech.  It was great fun to pass the towns that we remembered so well….Big Spring, Snyder, Post and  Sweetwater (home of the Annual Rattlesnake Roundup).

We enjoyed passing gorgeous, green cotton fields and stately wind farms…..

DSC00048

We reminisced as we drove, remembering trips that we had taken and people that we had know during our 6 years in Lubbock.

We were reminded of the topography of the area, starting out with flat, flat grasslands and gorgeous blue skies…..

DSC00129

and moving into the Llano Estacado region with Mesas popping out of the ground like giant mole hills…..

DSC00065

We enjoyed seeing fields of pump jacks and the smell of freshly pumped oil…..

DSC00069

We arrived in Lubbock around 11:00 and headed out to find some of the places that were important to us when we lived there.  Unfortunately, our Church was no longer there, our duplex had been torn down for a retirement center to be built and I was unable to recognize the building where I had worked.   Oh well, you cant fight progress!!!

We continued on to the Texas Tech University campus, actually being allowed to drive onto the campus….something that we weren’t allowed to do when we were students!!

We had forgotten how pretty the campus was, with a Spanish feel to the architecture….

DSC00090

DSC00101

We visited the Biology building where Michael received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Baker.  We enjoyed a few minutes visiting with him in the same office that we first met him in…. 38 years ago!!!

DSC00082 We also visited the Business Administration building where I received my Bachelor’s Degree…..

DSC00096

….although it is now the Mass Communications Building.

We enjoyed taking photos of ourselves at the football stadium…..GO RAIDERS!!……

DSC00075

….and the Will Rogers statue……

DSC00109DSC00111

We left the University and started the most fun part of the day…..a visit with some old friends over a two hour lunch.   We first met Bill and Gayle when we were all students at TTU and had re-connected over the last few years over Facebook.  They currently live in Denver but were visiting in Lubbock with family.   It was as if we had never been apart and we happily enjoyed our food and TONS of fun stories about our lives. 

DSC00089

It was definitely the highlight of our day!!

After lunch we got out the GPS to put in the address for our hotel in Clovis, New Mexico.  The only problem was that we had both forgotten to book a hotel!!!  Fortunately we were able to use our phone to find a hotel and headed on the last hour and a half of our trip.

We enjoyed passing thru the towns of Tahoka, Anton, Littlefield, Levelland, Muleshoe (one friend used to pronounce it Mul-es-hoe rather than Mule-shoe), Progress, Farwell and Bovina.

One of the things that surprised us were the freight trains….we NEVER see them at home.  Before the day was over, we had seen over 10 different trains criss-crossing the countryside…..

DSC00128

I am VERY happy with this photograph, especially as we were driving at 75 miles per hour at the time!!!

We arrived in Clovis, checked into our hotel, took a spin around the city and then retired to the hotel for an enjoyable night of relaxing and video watching.