A gorge, a circle and where's the snow?

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Thursday, November 1, 2007

We had long wanted to visit Taos, even before this adventure was in the planning stage, so it was with great anticipation that we set out to explore. Each time we visit a new destination we collect a varying amount of maps and leaflets pertaining to the area and then use these in conjunction to some very good guide books that we take everywhere, to plan what we want to see. The local visitor's bureau furnished us with loads of info, so it was almost overload. But it does mean each time we move on, I can throw away all but perhaps a map or two - oh! If only I could be that ruthless at home!
The 'Enchanted Circle' loop road sounded... well...enchanting. So off we went, giving Toad a turn at being the main vehicle, leaving Bree to rest in the sunshine. It's going to sound as if we've been spoilt, which we have in a way, but although pleasant, the route through the Sangre de Christo  mountains and then through the wide open Eagles Nest Valley was just that - pleasant. Having followed the majestic Rockies in all their glory from British Columbia down now to New Mexico, sometimes capped with snow, having been so high it was tricky to breathe, having seen them steam, here they were just pleasant. There were some notable spots on the 85mile loop; the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial stood overlooking the valley, serene, proud and humbling. http://www.angelfirememorial.com/history/index.html
The Eagles Nest Lake was pleasant and as we drove through the Red River valley the scenery was more striking.

 Anyway, we found one hidden gem off the main road - back to those dirt tracks again - it's what Toad was made for Malc assures me!
The DH Lawrence ranch is about 20 miles north of Taos hidden 8600' up in the wooded hills. He had wanted to found an artistic colony on the ranch and invited many prominent writers and painters of the time. The site now belongs to NM University and is used as a conference centre,apparently there are cabins that they hire out. We met a lady there and as so often happens we heard tales that you don't read in the leaflets. Apparently he was penniless and took the ranch because it was offered free, he even 'borrowed' a cow! She had a low opinion of his art works (some of his paintings banned in England are on display in town).

The house itself was surprisingly small, though standing under the pine tree made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe, it was easy to imagine how things perhaps were then. His wife had a memorial built for him in the grounds, but disagreed with two of his friends who wanted to scatter his ashes over the ranch. The story goes that she dumped his ashes into a barrow of wet cement and said "now let's see them steal this!" The cement was used in the alter of the memorial. 


Another 'gem' in the area is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the river has cut a 78 mile long gorge through the volcanic plateau and the bridge spans a spot where the gorge is 650' deep. It's rather unnerving when you have to wait for the structure to stop trembling from the weight of traffic before you can take a photo!

We also ventured up into the Taos Ski area which sadly is still waiting for snow, the opening has been put back since it's not even worth blowing the fake stuff whilst the temperatures are so unseasonably high. The valley is incredibly narrow and judging by the number of chalets and condos up there it must be very busy when it does snow. Though in the late afternoon sunshine, they were deserted and it was hard to imagine how it might be.Toad did what he was built for once again and was covered in dust to prove it!
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