August 27, 2016: Decades ago we drove through New Mexico, but other than a quick romp through White Sands, we didn’t get out and see anything. We recently had the opportunity to see a little more of this beautiful state.
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We traveled back to Texas at the end of July, stopping for a night along the way at Hawthorn Bluff Campground, on Oologah Lake in northeastern Oklahoma. It’s a really pretty lake-side campground run by the Army Corp of Engineers.
In Texas we spent time with family and friends. We also had a beer at Karbach Brewing. We really liked this spot – if you’re in Houston you should check it out.
Laura also heard some live music with a very dear friend (and a few 1000 other people):
After Texas, we had plans to meet friends in Denver. Instead of taking the most direct route, we decided to head further west and spend a few days in New Mexico on the way.
On the drive, we saw this RV towing a vehicle nearly as long as our own.
Maybe we can get one of these big guys to tow us around.
New Mexico has vistas that go on forever.
We made our first New Mexico stop in Santa Fe.
This area has a lot of adobe architecture, and in the historic center of Santa Fe, it’s almost requisite. It’s charming.
Santa Fe may be a US state capital now, but it first spent 211 years as a Spanish colonial city, founded in 1610. A part of Mexico for a brief 27 years, (1821 – 1848), the city has been a US possession for the last 168 years. Despite 17 decades of US influence, in some ways the city still retains the feel of a Spanish colony.
We visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis:
It has a surviving chapel that was constructed in the mid-1600s:
That statue of Mary at the center of the altar is even older. A guy working at the church told us that it came to Santa Fe via somewhere in Mexico, but was sculpted in Spain, probably in the late 1400s. That lady gets around.
We camped in the Black Canyon Campground in the Santa Fe National Forest. It was quite nice, and pretty remote, though fewer than 10 miles out of the city.
There was a trailhead right at the edge of the campground with a nice hiking loop through the forest.
Bandelier National Monument
From Santa Fe we headed to the Bandelier National Monument. The drive had lots of good views.
During the summer, you can’t drive into the Bandelier site unless you get there really early or really late. Doing neither, we stopped at this nice visitor center near Los Alamos.
From there we took a shuttle to the actual site.
Ancestral Pueblo people lived at the Bandelier site from about 1150-1550 AD. They dug out or enlarged caves in the surrounding cliffs, and built structures in front of them. [click photos to enlarge]
But they also built complex structures on the ground:
These visitors were a big hit with our tour group:
The site also features lots of interesting petroglyphs:
This is just a rock, but your brain really wants it to be something manmade:
From Bandelier, we headed north towards Taos. Again, we encountered great scenery along the way. New Mexico is a beautiful place.
Next stop, Taos. I think it’s fair to say that Taos did not move us, but maybe it was just the end of a long day. We checked out Eske’s Brew Pub and Eatery. We had green chile stew, which was delicious. Their beers didn’t make a strong impression, but we thought their sampler tray was pretty cute:
Just outside of Taos we camped at Taos Monte Bello RV Park. It wasn’t the fanciest campground we’ve ever had:
Talk about no privacy, there’s nothing between you and the neighbors:
But it did have its advantages:
It was a pretty good night.
The next morning we checked out the nearby Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Yes, that’s the same Rio Grande that forms the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.
It’s the 7th highest bridge in the U.S. and 82nd highest in the world. Some would call it beautiful:
And we think they’d be right. Although it could use a coat of paint.
Sadly, lots of people don’t find positive inspiration here.
As we were getting back in our car to leave, we noticed some movement a few yards ahead of the car.
Most of the people in the area were completely oblivious to the presence of these bighorn sheep. We’ve never seen rams with horns this large before.
As we drove out of New Mexico we passed a collection of unusual architecture:
And of course, found a bit more amazing scenery:
New Mexico has a lot to offer, certainly a lot more than we saw. Perhaps we’ll make it back sometime.
Next stop, Colorado. Thanks for stopping by!
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