Interlude: Taos

As soon as Sean and I knew we weren’t going to be having company for Thanksgiving, I knew I wanted to extend my time in the west by working remotely in Taos for the second half of the week after my birthday. I even knew where I wanted to stay. Sean flew home from Albuquerque on Tuesday, November 16. I spent November 17-20 [2021] up on the Taos Plateau.

Wednesday, November 17, I woke up in the little casita in Santa Fe. I took a call while I finished gathering my things and getting everything in order for checkout.

It was only about an hour and a half from Santa Fe to Taos. And since I couldn’t check in until 4pm, I had several midday hours to kill. So I hung out in the coffee shop attached to Collected Works Bookstore, had lunch, took a Zoom meeting.

Before heading north, I went back to Overland and bought Sean the leather jacket he’d tried on. It would be one of his Christmas presents. I had wanted to get him the cute little jacket he’d liked from Standard & Strange, but it was closed on Wednesdays. Oh well.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from the landscape driving from Santa Fe to Taos, but it was far more fun, far more dramatic than I’d expected. For a good chunk, the highway runs through the Rio Grande Gorge. Then it exits above the gorge onto the Taos Plateau.

I nearly drove off the road. I was not expecting a dramatic gash in the earth and a high desert landscape ringed by mountains. As soon as I could I pulled over and snapped a quick, shitty photo with my phone.

I continued through town and on past the turn for Taos Pueblo. Then I continued on out across the plateau toward Arroyo Hondo before turning off and down a long, straight road with the occasional house.

My AirBnB had been designed specifically as a small, eco-friendly vacation rental with spectacular views. It was even featured in Dwell Magazine. I had originally found it when I was looking at going to New Mexico in 2020.

I was so excited by the place and the views that I shot a quick video and sent it to Sean.

Lobo Peak

Then I was startled by the not-quite-full moon suddenly appearing over the Sangre de Cristos.

Lobo Peak

Everything was magical.

But I was also starving. So I looked at the restaurant recommendations in the welcome packet, found a place I could go pick up a green chile cheeseburger and duck fat fries, and I called in my order.

Back at the little house, I happily ate my dinner, had a mezcal, turned on the Lord Huron album Sean had been playing in the car, and sat watching the moon move across the floor.

That first night, I did have to talk myself out of being nervous about being there all alone. But (after checking) I realized that the picture windows were oriented so that folks up at the road couldn’t see in.

Pueblo Peak

Next morning, Thursday, November 18, I was up early for meetings beginning at 7am. They were capped by my delivering a webinar on collaboration communications for River Network in the early afternoon.

Done with work by mid-afternoon, I decided to be a little silly and drive all the way back to Santa Fe to get the cute jacket for Sean. It ended up being his birthday present a couple weeks later. Truly, it was fun driving back and forth through the gorge again.

I had another quiet evening, cooking up some pasta, reading, and relaxing. Then bed.

That night was a solar eclipse, but it was cloudy so I didn’t stay up for it. When I woke up sometime before dawn the eclipse was over, but the moon hadn’t yet set.

When I got up properly after sleeping in a bit on Friday, November 19, it was moody and misty over the Sangre de Cristos.

I sat curled up on the sofa working on my laptop and positioned to just look at the mountains out the windows. I sent the photo above to Sean that morning, and—for Christmas—he had it turned into a 500-piece puzzle to remember my trip.

Common Raven

All morning, Black-Billed Magpies and Common Ravens carried on in the piñons and junipers all around the little house.

I only had morning meetings that day, so I went into town for lunch and to walk around and explore Taos.

I went into a shop called Taos Rockers to get a piece of obsidian for Sean. Chatting with the nice folks there, they recommended that I check out the Harwood Museum of Art. “Enjoy your walkabout,” they called as I left.

Affiliated with the University of New Mexico, the Harwood is a splendid little museum in a historic building.

Gene Kloss, Acoma, 1934.

Unsurprisingly, their collections celebrate the Taos and Santa Fe Modernists from the twentieth century.

Andrew Dasburg, Llano Qeumado II, 1974, lithograph.

Florence M. Pierce, Untitled (Sandblasted Rock), 1960.

And they also feature Hispanic art traditions of New Mexico in their collection.

I saw that they had an exhibition opening in 2022 called New Beginnings: An American Story of Romantics and Modernists in the West. On the spot, I decided to come back in 2022 to see it.

Pueblo Peak (Taos Mountain)

After the museum, I drove out of town up through Arroyo Seco and into the mountains, mostly protected by Carson National Forest.

I drove the winding road all the way up to Taos Ski Valley before coming back down.

Next stop: the Rio Grande Gorge and the famous bridge across it on Highway 64.

Lobo Peak, Wheeler Peak, and Pueblo Peak (Taos Mountain)

Rio Grande

Pueblo Peak (Taos Mountain)

And then one more stop for photos: a trailhead south out of town with a nice view of the gorge, the mountains, and the sunset.

Lobo Peak, Wheeler Peak, and Pueblo Peak (Taos Mountain)

Ute Mountain

On my way back to the little house I stopped by Overland to pick up a homecoming surprise, a sheepskin rug for the living room. Something soft for Elsa to lie on.

I sat on the floor checking out rugs and chatting with clerk Kim, swapping stories and commiserating over love of the West. Her pup helped me pick out the softest option.

Back at the house, I made my dinner, relaxed, and tried out the steam shower.

I turned on some music. I was really digging Long Lost by Lord Huron, which I’d only heard for the first time a week earlier when Sean played it. That final evening in Taos, I had it on repeat.

Next morning, Saturday, November 20, I was up early. It was time to get ready to go.

Again the Ravens were on the move up from the arroyo and out over the plateau.

By 7:45, I was ready to head out. Time to start the long journey home.

1 thought on “Interlude: Taos

  1. Pingback: Chaco Culture National Historical Park: Pueblo Bonito | As They Are: Exploring the National Parks

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