Tag Archives: Taos NM

Palm Springs, CA to Clarkston, MI, Day 8-9 May 13-14

May 13

Today is to be a quieter day. After breakfast at the Bent St Café and Deli, we get in the car and go to the Taos Pueblo. This is the site of the “Red Elk” tribe (or so we were told by our guide (Louis)). The central place of gathering is the church, which we found out was located and built in its current location in 1850. Our guide (Louis) then led us to the cemetery, where the original church had been located. In 1847, after Governor Bent had been assassinated, the US cavalry came to the Pueblo seeking those who did the assassination.  Finding the only people there to be hiding in the church behind blockaded walls, they used their cannon to try to break the blockage.   When that failed, they used the cannon to lob shells over the walls and into the building inside.  The Indian men, women and children having been warned of the soldiers approach, had for the most part taken off to the mountains nearby and were hiding amongst the rocks.  Those who couldn’t make it that far had hidden in the church (old folks and young children), so they were the ones that were killed by the bombardment. The only thing left now on the site is the bell tower with the original bell as provided by the Spaniards and the cemetery with its many headstones.  I have no pictures, as the Pueblo doesn’t allow cameras on site.

Louis takes us to a central area near the river that divides the Pueblo camp. On each side of the river there is a main building, having been built between 1000 AD and 1400 AD. These buildings are five stories high, looking like reddish brown stacked sugar cubes.  There are quite a few cubes across the front, each with a door and a ladder, as well as the occasional window.  The cubic rooms built one on top of another but offset.  Louis tells us that the doors originally were in the roofs, as that way at the hint of any danger, the families would climb to the roof pulling the ladder up after them. The men would then use the ladder to lower the families into the rooms and establish such defensive positions as they could.  This was mainly to preserve themselves from raiding parties of other Indians (Utes, Navajo, Arapaho, Cherokee, Comanche, etc.).

These blockhouses are the characteristic pueblo buildings familiar from many pictures and drawings. We soon finish the tour and find our way over to one of the houses that is indicated as open for visitors. This, not too surprisingly, houses a shop with a variety of indian-related wares for sale. We buy a piece of very pretty pottery to take with us to Michigan, and eventually back to PS.

From the pueblo, we continue on to the Millicent Rogers Museum. This is a building on the northern outskirts of Taos, where Millicent Rogers retreated after her break-up with Clark Gable. Now, before I got to this museum, I didn’t have a clue as to who this person was or why she would have a museum named after her.  I find out she was the granddaughter of one of the group of men who formed Standard Oil in the late 1800s (Henry Huttleston Rogers), and because of that, she did not lack money. She was married three times, and had three sons, one by her first husband, and two by her second husband.  She had no children with her third husband.  Clark Gable (not a husband, but rumored along with several others to be a lover) introduced her to Taos, and she never really left there. She lived from 1902 until 1953. The museum houses several excellent exhibits reflecting her varied interests.  She was a fashion icon, and there are exhibits containing some of her large collection of silver and turquoise jewelry.  She designed a lot of it herself, and her wearing of it did a lot to bring such art to national and international attention.  There are several exhibits related to her enduring interest in Native American Civil Rights. Exhibits in several rooms tell the story of Indian blankets and pottery. Then there is a room devoted to three Native American artists whose work depicted the pueblo life they knew.  There are rooms displaying maps of what is now New Mexico, woodwork, leatherwork, weaving, and more modern artisan work. The work is displayed with a lot of information on where it came from, and how it was created, making the museum educational as well as beautiful to view.

After that, we go in search of lunch, heading toward the Guadalajara Grill, a local spot known for good Mexican food (as recommended by Steve Bundy). The food is indeed good, and we enjoy it. After that, however, we go back to the room and enjoy a quiet afternoon and evening.

Tomorrow, its on to Kansas!

May 14

Well, today is a driving day. We get out of Taos by about 8:00 am, and finally get breakfast in a small restaurant in Eagle Nest, about 45 minutes into the drive. May 2015-9291 May 2015-9301 May 2015-9308 This place is higher up in the mountains, and from the signs was more heavily populated during the skiing season.  We’re driving across higher elevations, and it is spring, so there are many areas where the trees are getting their summer leaves and needles.  May 2015-9331 May 2015-9343The colors are surprisingly varied, as I usually associate this time of year with dark greens.

We keep going, and finally get to Dodge City, Kansas around 4:00 pm. Gwen finds the Boot Hill Museum and Front Street and is interested in seeing it today before it closes, so we quickly make our way there. It turns out to be exactly as advertised: the original cemetery location, and the high street of the old Dodge City recreated just as it was depicted in pictures of the town in the 1870s.

We go to the cemetery first, and learn about the people buried there.  May 2015-9374 May 2015-9377According to the signs, the first person buried there (in September 1872) was Jack Reynolds, shot six times by a track layer.  The last person buried there is Alice Chambers, buried May 5, 1878 (cause of death not mentioned).  May 2015-9360Also on display in the building on the site is the office of the last U.S. Marshall of Dodge City, Kenneth Ramon House, who died in September 1998.  Gwen found a picture of James Arness, Marshall Dillon of “Gunsmoke” fame.

Down from Boot Hill is Front Street, constructed to replicate the pictures of the town in the 1870’s.

May 2015-9391 May 2015-9395Inside each store front are exhibits related to the original store that stood there, and in some (like the saloon, which starts off the street), related products are for sale. So we walk down through the stores and learn as much as we can in the short time we have. May 2015-9413 May 2015-9418Toward the other end of the street, there is a church, a house of the period, and then a blacksmith shop. The most interesting is the house – with history of a family named Hardesty who lived there. In early 1900s, the Hardesty daughter married Fred Harvey who owned and ran the Dodge City hotel and restaurant in the train station. May 2015-9420 May 2015-9422 May 2015-9424The house is full of period furniture, including two pianos and an organ.

We discover that the grassy area in front of “Front Street” is to be the site of a free concert tonight given by a band based around a singer named Sarah Dunn. While we were first walking on the boardwalk that lined Front Street, we were greeted by a very friendly puppy who desperately wanted to be petted. May 2015-9426 May 2015-9430He was shortly joined by a young woman who apologized for the dog’s interest. It turns out that woman is the singer Sarah, only we don’t find this out until we see the band rehearsing as we are leaving. She is very good, both singing and playing the violin with a group of five other musicians. We decide not to stay for the country music concert, though it probably would have been fun!

Tomorrow we leave early to get to Ft Larned, and ultimately to Independence, Missouri.

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Palm Springs, CA to Clarkston, MI, Day 7 May 12

We start out this morning with breakfast at the Bent St Café and Deli, noting that this is not a town of early risers. The deli is located in a mall area with a dozen or so small business shops, all closed. We find the café will not open until 8:00, and as we are there ten minutes before, we wander around until they open. The other shops open at 9:00, or 10:00, or …, but that is OK, as we are complete alone as far as customers are concerned even as we left the café and head back to the hotel (at 8:45). Good food, though! We say goodbye to the waitress and chef, who at that point are talking, clearly just waiting for the day to really begin.

Steve Bundy is a local photographer who conducts tours for the likes of us who are interested both in the best spots to take pictures and a day’s worth of instruction in the complexities of photography, as well as willing to pay for the privilege of his inside information. We arranged the tour before we left, and today is it! We are to meet him at 10:30, and then spend the entire day at the better spots. That’s next!

May 2015-8612Steve is to do the driving, so we agree to meet him at our hotel’s parking lot.  He shows up in a black four-door pickup truck with lots of enthusiasm.  After a short get-to-know-you period, we start off on our adventure.  The first stop is the Taos Morada, an adobe house built in the early 1800s by and for the Hermanos Penitantentes, and was used for religious study of ancient Catholic lay practices.  May 2015-8636The site is now under the ownership of the Catholic Archdioceses of Santa Fe.  The grounds are open to the public, but the building itself is private. We will be visiting another such structure later on.

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Nearby is a cemetery used by a similar group.  May 2015-8675I’m immediately struck by the attention paid to these graves, with much ornamentation maintained.

May 2015-8752Next we head to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, where we discover a herd of bighorn sheep just off the road on the far side of the bridge.  May 2015-8695Stopping there, Steve gets out his camera to get some shots.  I count 10 sheep in the picture at right.May 2015-8707 May 2015-8724He’s retired from his day-job, he tells us, but enjoys photography originally as a hobby.  He also enjoys meeting new people, so it makes sense for  to do these tours as a way to pay for his hobby.  It is more than a hobby for him, though, as he sells his photographs online.  He gets notification while we are traveling around that the third of three pictures he offered to the state of New Mexico has been accepted for purchase and display.

May 2015-8813Our next stop is the Greater World Earthship Subdivision, a bit further out from Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.  May 2015-8815 May 2015-8846This is a community dedicated to living as sustainably as possible.  According to their documentation their goals include:

“- Produce our own energy
– Harvest our own water
– Contain and treat our own sewage
– Manufacture our own bio-diesel fuel
– Grow much of our own food
– Our buildings heat and cool themselves
– Made utilizing discarded materials of modern society”

We came away from that with a greater appreciation for how mud, old tires and bottles amongst a wide variety of other discarded articles as well as recent technologies can be used and reused to assist in enabling sustainable housing in a desert environment.

May 2015-8907 May 2015-8915We next go down to the Rio Grande River itself to get a closer look.  We stop at a number of places, at various levels to see views high and low of the river and some of the colorful plants that are to be found around it.May 2015-8889May 2015-8958 May 2015-8968

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Heading out in another direction, May 2015-9004 May 2015-9015 May 2015-9010Steve takes us along one of the backroads where just to the side of the road is a hill full of rocks with petroglyphs inscribed.  We don’t have to get out of the truck to take pictures of these drawings, it is just “point and shoot”.

May 2015-9031Driving up into the hills, we comes to a junction where two roads come together into a “Y”.  In the patch of ground between the upper arms is a small church.  Just as I am taking a picture, the local Sheriff’s car comes by.  He doesn’t stop, however, so I guess he doesn’t object to our taking pictures!

The next stop is Plaza Blanca.  May 2015-9045This is a river bed with a spectacular set of white limestone canyons near Abiquiu NM.  Georgia O’Keeffe made the place famous with a series of paintings called “White Place”.  May 2015-9050 May 2015-9058 May 2015-9064She lived for many years at the Ghost Ranch nearby and eventually bought and renovated an old hacienda in Abiquiu.

The limestone has been shaped into spectacular formations, reminding me very much of our recent visit to Monuments and Arches parks in Utah.  Like the formations there, many of these have names, but I only found out about this after we got back. One bank has vertical columns along it, while the opposite bank has more of a sloping side.  Where we enter the canyon, there is a middle section where the water, when it is running, runs around both sides of it.

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The spiral rock formation, Steve tells me, is maintained by unknown hands, as he has seen it as it appears here most of the time, but occasionally he sees it disrupted.

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Steve and I walk completely around the central limestone formation getting pictures in every direction.

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After Plaza Blanca, we stopped at Bode’s General Store, one of the significant landmarks in Abiquiu.  It was significant to us because they have restrooms there.

On our way back we visit another native american-maintained religious adobe buildings.  May 2015-9156 May 2015-9162 May 2015-9166

The next stop is the Santo Tomas El Apostol Church.  May 2015-9179 May 2015-9181On the side of that nicely maintained mission building is a beautiful example of how an adobe structure that is not in maintenance mode crumbles.  I hadn’t appreciated how much maintenance these buildings required until I saw this place.

May 2015-9199It is getting on in the day, but we are heading back up in altitude.  This view overlooks the Rio Grande again.  Steve tells us that he occasionally sees kayaks making their way around the bends here.

Next stop is the Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center, a much larger complex than I anticipated.  As indicated above, Georgia O’Keeffe lived there for awhile.  We drive in and tour around for awhile.  May 2015-9215 May 2015-9245 May 2015-9272The views, like some of the other places we visited are magnificent, but the clouds limit the photographic possibilities.

May 2015-9282The last stop is the San Francisco de Asis church in Taos.  Quite beautiful, but the sun has truly set, so the picture gives me the opportunity to see how Ansel Adams would have tried to capture it!

Well that was quite an adventure! Steve took us to a number of spots, and I learned so much. He is someone who believes in Aperture priority as the best way to control how to get the picture you want. So, along with the marvelous sights he has shown us, he has helped me understand how to structure how I take pictures to do much more effectively what I want to do.

May 2015-9259Amazing stuff. He also was able to help me see pictures in what I was looking at, finding the interesting things to focus on (in groups of three, preferably), and then getting them into a framed pattern.

While this was great fun for me, I’m afraid Gwen got rather bored.  She was a good sport though, and she enjoyed the variety of scenic views.

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Palm Springs, CA to Clarkston, MI, Day 5-6 May 10, 11

This morning it was up early, as we wanted to see the rest of Arches before we started out on our next segment eventually taking us to Taos, NM. The sun yesterday had been mostly bright with some clouds in the sky, but today it was very much a cloudy day, at least at 7:00 as we started out. We travel our way up to the Sand Arch parking lot (the one above Wolfe Ranch), and walk to May 2015-8403the huge sandstone slabs standing vertically side by side with little space between. May 2015-8408There is enough to enable easy passage, and the Sand Arch is only a third of a mile inside, so Gwen accompanies me. Actually, she leads me in, navigating the sandy ground without a problem. May 2015-8419She is happy to be inside the area without anyone else (indeed there were no other people there while we are) until I show up. May 2015-8405 I have been noticing the juniper “driftwood” pieces that provide very interesting sculptural counterpoint to the smooth lines of the rocky spires that project into the skies from the sandy ground wherever we stop. So I get a number of pictures, and am able to get May 2015-8422Gwen’s picture from a distance as she climbs around near the Sand Arch.

We get back in the car and keep going to Devil’s Garden, enjoying the various rock formations there as well.

May 2015-8446 May 2015-8451 May 2015-8454 May 2015-8490That was the end of the trail, however, so we head back out. I take some more pictures where I think the light contrasts with the light from yesterday, but in general, we make our way out fairly quickly.


After a rather disappointing breakfast at Denny’s, we clear out of the hotel and head toward Farmington, NM, about half way to Taos. Along the way, Courtney, Sandy and Kyle and Suzie call to wish Gwen a Happy Mother’s Day, and in general catch us up on their happenings. We thoroughly enjoy the conversations.

We get to Farmington, and the first order of business is to get the laundry done. Oh, happy day! Gwen gets that done in a reasonable amount of time, putting us on fresh footing for the rest of the trip. Our trek out afterwards is to find food, as we hadn’t had any lunch, and it was getting toward 5:30 pm. After some false starts, we ended up at the St Clair Winery and Bistro, which turned out to be quite a find. We are relatively early, but it is Mother’s Day, so the crowd quickly catches up. We share a very nice rib eye with sautéed mushrooms and onions, along with some very nicely done vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes with onion bits mixed in. In the process of introducing us to the winery, Lisa, the waitress brought a couple of white and a couple of red samples for us to try.  They are all good enough that we end up ordering six bottles to go.  We will join their wine club after we get back to MI. After dinner, we go back to the hotel and have a quiet night in so I can catch up with my log and try to work out the picture workflow.

Monday, May 11

Today, we get up and take our time getting out of Farmington. There is no need to rush as we don’t want to get to the Historic Taos Inn before check-in time (nominally at 3:00 pm). We leave about 9:30, and while we don’t set any land speed records, we get here about 1:30 pm. Along the way there are few things to distract; the scenery is greener than the deserts of Palm Springs area, but not so varied as we were used to seeing in Utah (with the sandstone buttes, towers and ridges all over the place). We pass three times into the Carson National Forest, and out twice, or is it the other way around? I do remember the first “National Forest” sign we called each other’s attention to was a “leaving” sign. We get well above the snow line while in the Carson forest, crossing over the higher elevations of our trip there. The snow is not near the road, nor are the temperatures below 40, but there are many obvious patches of snow below our elevation while we are doing our crossing. As we come into the area of Taos, one thing we do notice are a group of homes, spaced out from each other, and standing a couple of hundred yards off the road. They are each surrounded by their own version of a junk yard, usually with quite a few older cars/trucks, as well as trash cans, wood (broken), metal (rusted), and some kind of covering over all or part of the central area.  The houses themselves are some sort of trailer or portable living accommodation (sometimes more than one). There are quite a few of these dwellings spotted along the road. The land in the immediate vicinity has lots of green, but is basically scrub brush.

After checking in, we eat our late lunch in the hotel’s restaurant (named after Doc Martin, who started up his practice in the building where the restaurant is located in the late 1800s). His wife, after his death in the 1920s, turned this lot into a hotel for visitors, and through several revisions and some new owners recently, it remains a staple of the town.

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Kit Carson’s House

After lunch, we walk to the Kit Carson Museum, just around the corner. This was Kit Carson’s house in Taos. Taos is the place where Kit and his third wife Josefa lived, and were buried after they died in 1868. Josefa died as a result of complications from giving birth to their sixth child. Kit died a month later, finally succumbing to an aneurysm with which he had been suffering for several years. He was 59 years old, and she was 40. The museum is well-presented, bringing out his early days as a trapper, hunter and “mountain man” of no small reputation as the result of his navigating James C. Fremont on his adventures in the western US.  Fremont was generous in his praises, assuring for Kit a place in history. His place in lore was secured by the authors of books about mountain men in the old west who claimed for him credit for deeds of daring do in dozens of stories. These claims made the stories more exciting but the reality didn’t match. Between the two, however, Kit Carson was the most well-known mountain man around. He was not proud of this reputation, and in fact did what he could to discourage it.

The other part of his life emphasized by the museum was his family life. He married early to a young Indian woman. She died of complications following the birth of their second child. He married twice more.


The museum gives us both a better understanding of the man and the life he led. We walk next to an old house not far away where Governor Charles Bent was killed by a group of unhappy Indians and Mexicans.   May 2015-8608He had been appointed as territory Governor in September of 1846. In January of 1847, he was awoken with his family in the house because the Indians and Mexicans were upset about now being governed by the US rather than the Spanish. Bent went out front to talk to them to try to calm them down and to give time for his family to leave. He was not successful.  He was wounded by both arrows and bullets, and was finally killed by being scalped alive. As a result of this gruesome episode, the military came in and killed a number of people including hanging those believed to be responsible. The museum included a number of artifacts of the period, including rifles, tools and other implements. There were a number of newspaper articles about the episode as well.

We walk back to the hotel, and have been resting ourselves since. Tomorrow, Steve Bundy meets us out back to take us out on our day around Taos.

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