The New Mexico Mountains

Trip Start May 01, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Friday, June 27, 2008

FINALLY....we got out of Oklahoma! We had suspected we would want to get through it fast and nothing could be closer to the truth. We were so glad to see the New Mexico state sign (even though it was shot to hell with bullet holes!?!) we just about jumped up and down. Since we had been climbing about 1000ft a mile in Oklahoma, we were already pretty high up - we thought. This was where the "real" mountains apparently started! The change in scenery from OK to NM cannot even be is absolutely stunningly beautiful....too pretty to even describe.

We were headed for what's called "The Enchanted Circle" along Scenic Route 64 and got a chance to take in Capulin Volcano National Monument, not long after we entered the state. Unfortunately, we weren't able to drive up to the rim of the volcano since we were hitched with the Eagle....even though the Beast could have done it as it proved when we later crossed "Bobcat Pass" at 9800ft (about 3000m) doing a whopping 25 mph at 2 mpg! The Enchanted Circle encompasses Mt. Wheeler at 13,100ft (4500m) the highest mountain in NM, and the Taos ski valley.

This time we decided to check into a commercial campground (at a rather steep $29/night) rather than the normal state or national parks ($7-14/night) mostly so we could do some of our funky laundry (this being the first wash since we left-ewww) and also since it was directly in the town of Red River at 8500ft...we wanted to eat out and check out the town since it's a very "alpine-esk" ski resort town. The campground was directly between a river and a small lake that were apparently very well stocked with fish. Our encounters with wildlife continued as we were sitting on out picnic table and heard a roar from what was definitely a Bear (for sure) on the other side of the river. We guess that's why they had huge signs posted all over telling us not to leave ANY food or trash out or "feed" the Bears! hmmm.

We got moving early the next morning so we could get out first "restaurant" breakfast since we started the trip (really amazing that we lasted that long for anyone who really knows us) but the cereal and bananas were getting kinda old. We went to a small place called Shotgun Willy's and had the biggest, greasiest breakfast we could get...YUMMY!   We also checked out the very cool town which was kind of Wild West meets St. Moritz.

We continued on the Enchanted Circle around to the town of Taos. Taos is a picture perfect town with Tan Adobe architecture, that is mandatory even for new buildings. The town itself has roots in the 1600 when the Spanish laid out the main plaza, while they were hunting for gold in the New World.

The Rio Grande Gorge is just a few miles from Taos and is crossed by a late 1800's steel arch bridge. As you drive across what looks like a flat plateau the ground suddenly falls away 650ft straight down to the Rio Grande below. It is so narrow the sun rarely reaches the river.

We continued along Route 64 to Chama and the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway, a tribute to Toby's Father  we stopped for plenty of pictures. In true Brent and Toby fashion we missed the last train run, so we decided to follow the tracks which are paralleled by route 17 into Colorado. The Cumbress pass tops out at over 10,000ft and is a stunningly beautiful drive. 

After 8 hours of stomping around the mountains we had dinner out at Timbers Lodge and went to bed without hearing the bears! 
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