We had an action-packed day and a half in
Taos Pueblo, the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States
The main living structures of the
The homes were built side-by-side and layer-upon-layer with no doors, just openings in the roof, as a means of defense. Each family would climb a ladder to their roof, then pull up the ladder and climb down it into their home from a hole in the roof. Today the inhabitants have cut doors into the homes, and use the holes in the roof as skylights. In other ways, they live as their early ancestors did, without electricity or running water. According to our guide, there are 1,500 registered
Most of the intact ground level Taos Pueblo homes are used as shops today. There are about 40 shops, selling baked goods, jewelry, woven goods, tee shirts, pottery, and every type of souvenir that one could imagine, all at exceptionally high prices. We popped in a few, but shopping was not the historical purpose of this place, and it disturbed our sense of stepping back in time, so we didn't fully savor this aspect of the Taos Pueblo experience.
The newest building in the
That reconstructed church was destroyed by US troops in 1847, in retaliation for the killing of a territorial governor, which may have been the work of local townspeople, and not the
In addition to the Catholic faith, they maintain their tribal religious practices, passed down through the generations by family and tribal leaders. Their tribal religious ceremonies are private, with closely protected rituals—understandable, given their history of being oppressed and persecuted for their beliefs.
Mabel Dodge Luhan Home
We chanced upon this wonderful piece of
Mabel Dodge was a wealthy and prominent socialite and art patron from New York, who became enamored with the West in the 1920s, soon fell in love with a Taos Pueblo man--Tony Luhan. She divorced her third husband, married Tony, and took up residence in Taos, where she and Tony hosted the artists and thinkers of the time at lively salons and retreats in their eclectic home. Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Martha Graham, Carl Jung, and D.H Lawrence found inspiration while visiting, and so did we.
Now a historic inn, the home and its lovely grounds are open to visitors. There is a self-guided tour of the public spaces, which are spectacularly eclectic, artfully blending the adobe frontier architecture of the home that originally stood on the site with airy light-filled spaces that Tony and Mabel added later, echoing the Mediterranean influences they brought back to
looking over the outskirts of
Biking the Rio Grande River Gorge West Rim TrailWe stopped in a
So, the next morning we packed up, grabbed lattes, pastries and the Sunday New York Times at The Bean (voted best Taos coffee shop), and headed for the gorge. We didn't see it until we were right upon it, because the gorge is a narrow snaking crack in the earth with such steep sides that the river flowing 650 feet below can only be seen by walking right up to the rim—or across the pedestrian friendly highway bridge that spans it.
Within less than half a mile of beginning our ride we realized that we might be in over our heads on mountain biking. Although the trail was not hilly, it was far from flat. Big rocks interrupted our pedaling progress, grabbing our pedals and twisting our wheels to the side or sending us a little bit air-born. We had to hop off our bikes and walk them several times.
We didn't mind, though, because the only times we were able to actually enjoy the scenery were when we were off the bikes. While riding, our eyes were riveted on the trail ahead—vigilant for rocks that could send us sprawling or rattlesnakes that might be disturbed by our passage.
Fortunately, trail conditions improved, as did our riding skills, as we continued, and we were able to enjoy the sage-covered range stretching for miles in all directions, trailside wildflowers, majestic mountains in the distance, and dizzyingly deep gorge panoramas beside us.
Partway through the ride, we realized that just a few days ago we had walked 750 feet down into
We turned around after cycling for an hour, covering just five miles, according to our odometers. Our return trip took fifty minutes. This was by far the slowest ten miles we have ever ridden. Mountain biking is a very different sport than road biking, and we have a lot to learn.
After we changed out of our biking togs at a highway rest stop conveniently located by the trail head, we walked out on the bridge with our cameras and captured more great gorge views, including pictures of rafters shooting the white water rapids below.
The Enchanted Circle RouteThe
and we stopped for a picnic lunch at a table next to a cold stream rushing so loudly over the rocks that we couldn't hear the passing traffic.
A denuded mountainside heralded our arrival at a Chevron Molybdenum mine. We didn't know what was being mined at first, but Dick drove up to the security gate and chatted up the guard to learn that they still employ 200 people here, even though the mine is not nearly as active as it used to be. Molybdenum is used in steel production.
We climbed past the booming little resort town of
This Mexican style cemetery lies on the south side of
It is similar to many we have seen in our travels through