Monday, February 28, 2005

05-07 part 2, Las Vega and Taos New Mexico

North Eastern New Mexico
Week 7 of 52

Las Vegas, NM
Taos, NM

I took a Sunday drive up to Taos NM. This was a 6 hour loop trip. I followed mountain streams that had barely a trickle, that soon changed to a raging stream, and then a river that looked as if it wanted to jump it’s banks. The route took me through a number of valleys and over and around a mountain range, finally to arrive at Taos. Which, I wasn’t sure, but found out, is actually in a valley, or high country surrounded by mountains. The town is soooo adobe style, that having lived in the land of Disney for so long, I kept thinking, gee Disney did a pretty good job. But these are the real thing. The town was opened on Sunday, although a light crowd, as this isn’t the height of their summer season.

I had an uneventful lunch and then toured the Kit Carson Museum. An explorer, buffalo hunter, a soldier in the Army and paid $100 a month to find new routes west. And a member and founder of the Taos Masonic Lodge, which currently owns and operates the museum. I was fortunate enough to have as one of my tour guides an Indian descendant of Carson. She was very proud of her heritage and did everything possible to put Carson in a “positive” light. There being some dispute among the native Indians in the area whether to honor a man who had killed a number of their brethren. Note how the guide in the picture looks much like one of her relatives in the painting.

I went to a Ghost town called Elizabeth, which looked more like a family had been living and existing in and on the “Ghost” town for many years. You know, the old cars off to the side, junk in the yard, etc. It wasn’t officially open, as most everything starts up up here on Memorial Day weekend. So I got to wonder around and take pictures for free. And you know how I like a bargain. I took two of my favorite pictures there.

Now coming down from Taos, I came into the huge valley called Angel Fire, a ski resort area in winter, but what an awesome huge valley surrounded by all those mountains. Truly a valley that appeared to have been hidden for years and just discovered. Green meadows as far as the eye could see, sprinkled with a few houses and farms, surrounded by those majestic mountains. A lake created from the snow runoff.

The next day, down from the mountains, I went into Las Vegas NM to see if I could find a place to e-mail my reports out and check on my finances. The original Carnegie Library had computers but a very slow modem connection. I soon gave up on that. Will try a local restraunt in the next day or so and see if I can get my Roving Reports out. I understand one may have wi-fi service.

In the mean time, I found the hot springs north of town and enjoyed a morning hot tub, out in the great outdoors. Met some charming local gals, many of whom appeared to have played hooky from work. Good for them! The hot springs are owned by the Arm and Hammer World College, but are open to anyone to use at your own risk. Some were too hot for me, but just like the three bears, I found one just right.

The Aspen trees as well as others are just getting their summer leaves and look so fresh in the breeze. I even saw two small black mountain goats on my trip back into Las Vegas. Do you realize I’ve experiences three springs this year.

Then it was off to Town for lunch at Dick’s Bar and Deli. What a surprise to go back into the restraunt which was behind the liquor store to find a modern upscale two story bar, music and restraunt complex. Especially in a town that to some appearances, looks a bit on the tired side, having over 900 historical buildings, many going back to the late 1800’s. And not all in the best of condition. The potential of some of these towns is awesome. Just a lack of industry and money.
I had some camping neighbors over for home made brownies the other night. They were on their maiden voyage with their first 5th wheel camper. We had a great discussion while listening to my eclectic collection of music in the background and the “gas“ fireplace going. I gave them a number of tips on Rv’ing and Ronda kept telling her husband Ron, see, we can do it. We can do it. Ron has one year to go before retiring and is a bit less enthusiastic about being a full timer. Ronda on the other hand is eager to get on the road. That’s quite often the case, one spouse is eager to get out there and the other, is taking their time, wondering about all the “what ifs”.

From my perspective, it’s one great lifestyle. I hope you have a chance to experience some of it one of these days, if your not already out there.

Aside Notes: Charlie’s “Spic and Span Restaurant” has great “free” wi-fi service and the best Mexican food I’ve had so far out west. So I was able to send out those last two reports to you’ll.

Saw a “mule” squirrel. Cute thing. Big squirrel with these big ears and the usual big fluffy tail, very funny looking. And I have a humming bird that comes by my campsite every day.

Visited the Teddy Roosevelt Rough Riders Museum.

It’s in a transition process having been designated a national museum and I believe it has recently been funded by the State. Hidden meaning: It needs a lot of work. An odd chapter in American history. Teddy decided to go after the Spanish in Cuba after he had sent a ship, The Maine, to Cuba as a sign of intimidation. The Spanish having become more of a threat to the US. The Maine accidentally blew up (boiler problems?) and Teddy blamed the Spanish. The cry went out, “Remember the Maine”!

Teddy Went in with his rough riders to do battle and somehow won the battle, minus the horses for the 500 rough rider soldiers. The horses couldn’t adapt from the NM high country weather to Florida’s hot humid weather, and never got to Cuba for the fight. Teddy was the only one on horseback and one other very heavy general who had to be carried on top of a door, like a roman god.

So I guess this is another example of us getting into a war that wasn’t justified. Hmmmmm.

History has some odd twists and turns and being able to talk to the museum curators who study it can be very enlightening.

I have found that taking more than a surface look at many of these towns, one can find some fascinating stories. This town was not on my itinerary, but just happened to fit in, to give me a breather from my road travel to get out west. And I discovered new things along the way.

Sorry about this being so long, but I have time to ramble on and ramble I will…

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