Yesterday we cleared out of Guymon and started on the road to Taos, New Mexico. The landscape was mostly flat high prairie, though we started seeing more and more ‘topography’ as we progressed. I was keen to go through mesa country, but apparently that occupies parts of north Texas, and doesn’t extend all the way to the Oklahoma panhandle :-/ We only saw one or two mountains that one might consider ‘mesas’:
Soon after we crossed into New Mexico, we visited Clayton Lake State Park. On the road there we saw a number of antelope grazing by the side of the road, but unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures of them. At the park, situated in the middle of the high desert, they actually do have a lake - with fish. And on the spillway on the far side of the lake, they have dinosaur tracks – from 100 million years ago. Here’s one from a carnosaur:
Note the pointy bits at the front (made by claws). This print is maybe 26 inches long. On the same spillway, we encountered a remarkably cool and collected desert rabbit:
When we’d had enough of the rabbit and the dinosaur tracks, we got back in the car and hit the road again. In Springer, New Mexico, we had a nice lunch at the Brown Hotel & Café:
From there we drove west through Cimarron Canyon, which was spectacular, but I was on the phone most of the way through, and only got a few pictures:
This one doesn’t do the place justice, but what the hey. The landscape from here on was mountainous, and we had definitely left the plains behind. A short drive later, we arrived in Taos.
Taos is a picturesque little town mostly built out of adobe. It boasts a large population of artists and other spiritual types, and that shows as soon as you drive through town. In Ireland, every other place is a pub, and in Madrid, every other place is a ham shop; in Taos, every other place is an art gallery.
First thing this morning, we drove up to Taos Pueblo, which is billed as the oldest continually-occupied community in the United States. People have lived there over 1,000 years. We took a very informative guided tour, and then spent a couple of hours walking around, looking in the various shops they have there, and buying a few things.
The newest building they have (other than ones that have been repaired/rebuilt) is the main church - a Catholic church called after St. Jerome, built in 1850:
The folks that live in the pueblo are called the Tiwa, which means ‘red willow’ in the local tongue. Most of the tribe lives on tribal lands adjacent to the pueblo, but some do live in the pueblo itself. There, they do not allow utilities like electricity, phone, etc., preferring to maintain traditional ways of life.
As the buildings stand now, there are doors and windows, but originally the occupants would go in and out through openings in the ceilings, accessed by roof ladders. You can still see some of the ladders sticking up:
Later this afternoon, we drove out to see Earthships, a community of dwellings made to be as environmentally benign and self-sufficient as possible. They use innovative techniques to get the most use out of all the water they have, and generate their own electricity from solar panels and windmills. Some of Amy’s college classmates helped build these almost twenty years ago.
We found the main building we visited (the visitor’s center) to be very comfortable and well-lit. The aesthetic might take some getting used to – it’s sort of a combination of Antoni Gaudí and Tatooine architecture:
I’m not crazy about the bottle-and-aluminum-can style, but I could get into an earth-sheltered home, and I like adobe as a material. Get rid of the bottles and cans, make it look a little more conventional, move it to within walking distance of town, and I could definitely go for an Earthship house.
From there, we went back across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and took a few pictures from atop it:
The boys thought that was pretty awesome.
Tonight we had a great dinner of regional cuisine, at a place called Orlando’s. The title of this post is my answer to the common question you get at restaurants around here, “Red or green?” – meaning chile sauce.
Tomorrow, we visit one or two more places around Taos, then travel north through the Sangre de Cristo range to Fort Garland, Colorado, to visit Amy’s aunt and uncle.