road trip to taos

Dennis & I ended August & celebrated his 51st birthday with a road trip to Taos. We haven't been on a trip like this in over 4 years... when our dog Bear died in 2004, we had just bought our New Mexico mountain property near Cloudcroft & started taking camping trips there with our other dog Roux until she died at the beginning of this year. Now, our "new" dogs, Roger & Moka, are young, healthy, & perfectly able to stand the trauma of being left with the pet sitter for a few days, so we packed up, hopped into Dennis' Corvette, & jetted up to Taos. I couldn't believe we were actually going some place together where I could sleep in a regular bed, have a shower every day & not have to cook a single meal!

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House was a fabulous place to stay, & served the best breakfasts I can remember ever eating during a vacation. It's quirky, it's beautiful, it's historic, it's got character... & it's a little bit shabby here & there, kind of like an old fashioned grandmother's house. Thinking about the interesting conversations that must have taken place between Mabel & some of the house's renowned guests-- Ansel Adams, D. H. Lawrence, Mary Austin, Willa Cather, & Georgia O'Keeffe --had me daydreaming about what some of the old giant cottonwood trees around the house must have heard & seen. Still an artist's retreat, there are no televisions, no phones, & no obnoxious people talking on their cell phones. If you want a generic, sterile, homogenized place to stay, this may not be the place for you. We LOVED it!

We spent our time in & around the Taos area... driving through the beautiful high desert country visiting many different places:

The Tierra Wools weaving cooperative is in the tiny community of Los Ojos on the other side of the Tusas Mountains. The rugs, wools, & looms were a feast for a weaver's eyes & soul. Dennis was in heaven driving his Vette the way it was meant to be driven on the twisting roads... he said he knew he reached optimum speeds when he saw me grabbing the door handle. I think not being able to see the speedometer from where I was sitting was a good thing.

The Earthship Headquarters-- getting to see the inside of a "model Earthship" & watching a sugar coated video about how "easy & fun" it is to build one yourself by just collecting old cans, bottles, & tires. Interesting, but the video forgot to mention that swinging a sledgehammer to pack those tires full of dirt might just kill you if you're over 45, not to mention the effort it would take to hand plaster the entire structure. Oh, yes, & we were able to experience firsthand just how hungry mosquitoes in isolated areas can get if water is left standing in unused tires when we went outside. Still, we were very intrigued by the structure & it was great to be able to experience the interior of one & see the wild & strange looking community of Earthships scattered around the area.

Seeing the views from the Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge, or at least Dennis did. I was so struck by panic & fear when I caught a glimpse of the abyss through the open railing when we were partly across the bridge that I almost crushed Dennis' hand, broke out into a jello-legged, hyperventilating, stomach churning sweat, & couldn't look. When cars drove past the bridge trembled, & I grabbed the rail, knowing I'd never be able to walk back to the car. Luckily, some other tourists came right up next to me & started talking about a group photo... in dire fear that they would ask me to take the photo (Dennis had left me clinging to the rail to go across to take pictures of the other side), which meant I would have to let go of the rail & LOOK, I was able to pry my hand loose to run over & latch on to Dennis, who kindly took me back to the car.

We drove through the tiny Arroyo Seco community & up the switchbacking curves into Taos Ski Valley on Taos Mountain, then back down for lunch in Arroyo Seco. We spent only a little time looking around Taos since most everything there is more or less "tourist trap" type merchandise, with the exception of Weaving Southwest where I bought some nice chunks of natural indigo for dyeing & La Lana Wools where I bought walnuts for dyeing & some beautiful roving for my friend Stacey who is learning to spin. There was a very disappointing "Art Fair" in the park on the weekend, but in walking to it from Mabel's House we discovered the old tiny Taos cemetery where we were able to see graves & read headstones of Kit Carson, some of his cavalry buddies, & Mabel herself. In the evenings we enjoyed delicious meals, good microbrew beer, & smoky mescal at Eske's Brew Pub & the Adobe Bar, accompanied by the vibes of good local musicians.

We made a journey down to Santa Fe to have lunch with Kathy Perkins & Bengt Erickson, & to visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum where a fabulous exhibit of both her & Ansel Adam's works were on display. Dennis said I had found my "mecca", but he was just as absorbed as I in the pleasure of viewing these two artists' works. It was quite an experience to look at O'Keeffe's paintings in person & up close, so close in fact that I was thrilled to be able to discern her brush strokes & notice that she had used different techniques for the effects she created in each work.

Finally, the time came when we had to leave the wonderful Taos climate to journey back home to the desert heat. It has still been breaking 100 here, but I feel & see that fall is on its way. Mornings have been cooler & the light is changing. No longer thin, searing, & white-hot, morning & afternoon light now have a rarefied, golden quality... evidence of the change in the Earth's tilt as it makes its way to the end of another year's journey around the sun.

Below is a slide show of images for you to enjoy of our journey to one of the most beautiful places in the west... to see photo captions, just left click with your mouse on the photo.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.