Return to Taos…

It was a bright beautiful day as we cruised into Santa Fe. The mountains above town were mottled with yellow groves of Aspen trees. We skirted the edge of town to Caja Del Rio Rd and to the El Camino Real trail. There was free camping with long range views of the mountains. You would never even notice the landfill next door (really it didn’t smell!).  Although it was Balloon Fiesta week just down the road in Albuquerque, there were only a handful of campers in the park.

We met Cate’s folks for lunch before heading to downtown Santa Fe. Frankie Rae, as usual, commanded the attention of what seemed like every passer by. It wasnt long before all the hubris started to wear on us and we retreated back to the campsite for some peace and quiet. Cate eventually returned to tour the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and take in some other sites in Santa Fe while Franks and I headed up into the mountains above town.

The next day we left Maggie at camp and Frankie with Parke while we went to visit the one and only  Meow Wolf. Meow Wolf is a huge multi-artist, hands on, art installation housed under one roof. The underlying theme consists of traveling to alternate realities from a common family home. Some realities are radically different than our own, while others are just eerily “off”. It is a feast for the senses and many times I found myself in awe at the power of the human imagination.

https://youtu.be/cQVp4-LwypQ
The parents took us to dinner before we retired for the evening, excited about the next day’s trip to Taos.
Cate and I had visited Taos eight years previous to ski at the notoriously steep Taos Ski Valley, and it has remained one of our favorite destinations.  We took the “low road to Taos” along the Rio Grande, cruised the main drag past the galleries and restaurants, and continued on to Arroyo Secco where one of Cate’s art buyers was kind enough to offer our choice of 2 vacation rentals saved for us. The house we stayed at, Casa Miguel was absolutely gorgeous. Southwestern styled inside and out, cowskin rugs, adobe, exposed beams, exquisitely furnished, and featured a hot tub in the back yard that looked out on the Sangre de Cristo mountain range where snow was gently falling. What excited our camper-trash selves the most however, was having a full size bed, and a shower for 3 days and nights, thanks Andy!

Speaking of Andy, while he had bought art from Cate, we never had the privilege of meeting him in person. He made quite an entrance standing in the garage as the door rose up to reveal first his sneakers, then his huge grin and warm welcome! Introductions were made, and later we had the great pleasure having dinner with him at Aceq

The following day, we made a trip to the ski valley to see the snow, Cate interviewed Hotel Luna Mystica, a vintage trailer campground, we dropped by the Rio Grande,  did some shopping and dining, and toured the Taos Pueblo. the Pueblo is perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America, going back over 1000 years.

We also visited the Loretto Chapel, where legend has it, a carpenter mysteriously appeared out of the desert and built this spiral staircase with no center support, no nails, with unknown wood, and them vanished back into the land without payment of any kind!

 A fine time was had by all. Cate’s folks departed early to catch the plane back to the Northeast, we explored a bit more and reconnected with an old friend at the superb Taos Mesa Brewing the next morning before heading back to the same camping spot in Santa Fe to meet the second round of parents.

Over the next two days, Cate entertained some visitors that follow our blog, I did some solo exploring of downtown Santa Fe, and went to the Friday night glow at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. The fiesta claims to be the most photographed event in the world. The night glow was fabulous, and as luck would have it, it was the Unusual Shape Glow, that had been cancelled earlier in the fiesta due to high winds! Throngs of people watched as balloons were inflated all around, and among them. Occasional blasts of flame flared up into the growing balloons shaped like bumblebees, stagecoaches, Darth Vader , Yoda, Vincent Van Gogh’s head,  and many more. Much too soon the balloons began to deflate, the crowds boarded the seemingly endless line of school busses to be shuttled back to their park and rides. While I waited on Cate to swing by and pick me up, the parachutists glided through the night sky releasing fireworks as they went, and the laser light show was in full effect.

Morning came early for our last day in Albuquerque/ Santa Fe. In order to make the mass ascension, we needed to be be in town and situated as the dawn patrol did their thing. The winds were calculated to blow the balloons directly over the spot that we had chosen, but unfortunately there were no winds. We could see hundreds of balloons floating low on the horizon, but that is where they stayed.  Frankie entertained many balloon watcher’s children while we waited to see which direction they would take, brewed another cup of coffee and waited some more. It was a spectacular ascension, but did not translate into photographs. You win some, you lose some. But it was sure a lot of fun!

We attempted to chase the balloons, but morning was turning into afternoon and we had places to be, so we had one last meal with the fam, and rolled put towards our second chance at Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley!

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