The High Road from Taos to Santa Fe

Knowing that Greg wouldn’t be available until 8:00 PM, we decided to take the High Road from Taos to Santa Fé based on recommendations I read on the internet. There were some beautiful sights just outside of Taos, including golden Aspen Groves.

Our first major stop was the Picuris Pueblo, supposedly known for its “beautiful arts, crafts, and pottery.” Unfortunately upon arrival we learned that they Gallery/Gift Shop/Restaurant were closed for the season. It turned out that there was still a $5.00 fee to enter the reservation and another $15.00 fee to take photographs. I kind of assumed that if they were charging another 15 dollars that there must be some great shots to be taken.

The church was beautiful, though not as striking as the church we had seen at the Taos Pueblo the day before.

The church was the highlight of our visit, and I found the almost childlike simplicity of the altar

and this display

truly beautiful.

I found the 400 year old kiva less impressive.

Unfortunately, I left feeling that I had been ripped off with the photography surcharge, and a little exploration on the internet revealed that I wasn’t alone in the feeling that way. Though there might be a few special holidays when it would be worthwhile to visit, our visit didn’t turn out to be so.

We had an equally unhappy experience at the Nambe Pueblo where I had intended to visit their waterfall, the second highest in New Mexico. The sign at the entrance said the park was open, but after driving ten miles down the road we found the gates locked and a sign warning that trespassers would be prosecuted.

It wasn’t a complete waste of time, though, as I pulled over and took some shots of the striking landscape.

In retrospect, if I were to make the trip again I would have researched the artist tour and focused more on visiting studios hidden off the road. We only managed to visit two of them but were quite impressed by both, even if I didn’t take any pictures At both places I was seriously tempted to spend a lot more money than I could afford. The first place had beautiful pottery and watercolors. The second was a weaving store; as much as I admired one coat, I couldn’t justify the $600 price tag though the handwork more than justified the price.

Taos Pueblo

After last year’s trip to Mesa Verde I was eager to further explore America’s Southwest Indians, particularly the Pueblo Indians this year. I hoped to extend our explorations to New Mexico and Arizona. After Leslie’s classmate’s invitation to visit in Santa Fé, I searched the internet for nearby places to visit. The most obvious was the Taos Pueblo, “one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.”

I’ll have to admit, though, that the pueblo wasn’t quite what I was expecting. In retrospect, I’m not sure what I was expecting, certainly something closer to what I saw in Mesa Verde last year. I thought “pueblo” described a particular kind of architecture, not that it was simply a synonym for “village.”

The Catholic Church that stands at the entrance of the Pueblo was the first indication that this was not going to be Mesa Verde.

As it turned out, Catholic Churches stood out everywhere I went in New Mexico, but especially in the small Pueblos.

It was only from a distance that Taos Pueblo reminded me of the Mesa Verde ruins,

but the brightly painted doors (and parked cars, of course) didn’t quite seem to fit in.

The other part of the village, across Red Willow Creek, looked even more traditional, at least from this angle.

Much of the village looked like a Western trading post, like this café which served a delicious green chili and fried bread.

Perhaps the most interest site to me was this church what was destroyed by the U.S. Army after braves killed Governor Charles Bent in a Taoist revolt during the Mexican-American War in 1847.

Apparently the warriors were under the illusion that they would receive sanctuary there. American troops bombarded the church killing or capturing those inside. Our tour of the village began with a visit to the destroyed church.

The Rio Grande and the Millicent Rogers Museum

We spent our first afternoon in Taos eating and shopping; I was too busy spending money to take pictures. Early the next morning we set out to visit the “famous” bridge over the Rio Grande.

This was supposed to be a good place to get shots of Bighorn Sheep, but we certainly didn’t see any despite returning later in the day. Worst of all, the shadows were so deep that it was impossible to get a good shot of the canyon even using HDR.

It probably didn’t help that just peering over the edge of the bridge made me feel queasy.

The highlight of the stop for me was a glimpse of these Mountain Chickadees, a first I think.

We spent the rest of the morning visiting the Millicent Rogers Museum. They had me hooked with this statue in front of the museum.

I was pleased to learn that I could take pictures anywhere in the museum, but I quickly learned that there was so much glare from the lighting that it was impossible to get a decent shot of any of the framed art work, as well as the delightful display of rugs.

Luckily, it was easier to get good shots of the statues. I loved this one combining modern and ancient motifs in particular.

Works of art as splendid as this always make me wonder if I didn’t make a mistake choosing a low-paying career like teaching.

The golden trees on the road back to Taos reminded me that

beauty doesn’t have to be purchased; it’s present for all who are able to see.

Broomfield Soccer

We timed our trip to Broomfield so we could see all three grandkids’ soccer games since that is one of their favorite activities. We got to see two of the three kids play on Saturday. Zoe’s game came first. Zoe plays fast and aggressively,

often getting to a ball other teammates can’t get to.

Unfortunately, Grandpa failed to capture her only goal of the game.

Logan is a freshman playing on varsity for his high school team, so he had less of a chance to show his skills. Despite the sunshine, it was brutal on the sidelines with wind gusts up to 40 mph. Grandpa was relieved that he did get a chance to play at the end of the game.

As it turned out, we also got a chance to see his last game of the year in Colorado Springs on our way back from Santa Fé. The weather for this game was delightful and we got another chance to see Logan show his skills against some older competition.

We didn’t get to see one of Sydney’s games until our second weekend. Sydney plays defender and it was nice to see her show some aggression.

Most of all, it was good to see all three kids enjoying the game.

A Stop-over at Bear River Bird Migratory Refuge

I find it nearly impossible to drive past the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge without stopping since I discovered it a few years ago, but I didn’t really have high expectations. The last time I drove through it in October I got a lot more mosquito bites than photographs. We stopped at a campground about 50 miles north of the refuge and planned on driving through early in the morning.

Leslie captured this shot of a hawk watching us watching it just outside the refuge.

I was a little surprised to see large flocks of Avocets in non-breeding colors as we approached the refuge since I thought they would have left by now.

Though it was the striking orange breeding colors that first attracted me to American Avocets and brought me to Bear River, seeing them in non-breeding colors made me look at them in different ways.

I was also surprised to see Clark Grebe’s with young this late in the season.

I wondered how long it would be before the young were ready to fly to their wintering grounds.

Although there weren’t nearly as many grebes as there were at the beginning of summer, there were still quite a few adults around so perhaps the young grebes have plenty of time to mature before they need to leave.

Though we have American Pipits in the Puget Sound, this is the first time I know that I’ve actually gotten a shot of one.

Bear River was a good way to start the last stretch of our trip to Broomfield.

A Quick Stop-over at Malheur

It’s a serious drive from our house to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah, so we’ve made it a habit in recent years to stop at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on the way. I didn’t have any great expectations about finding birds, but I knew from experience I would see birds and animals I probably wouldn’t see around home.

I was shocked to see how far the lake had receded since we were there at the beginning of summer. Yellowlegs were taking advantage of the concentrated fish.

I didn’t recognize them at first because I’ve never seen so many of Yellowlegs together before.

We got an early start the next morning, heading South on our way to Elko, Nevada. This coyote glanced at us, and immediately went back to hunting in the recently cut hay fields.

A little further down the road, Leslie spotted this deer peering at us through the unusually tall grass.

A small flock of Red-Shafted/Yellow-Shafted intergrade Flickers escorted us through the refuge for several miles, giving me a chance to finally capture a decent shot before it, too, flew off up the road.

Though I would have been disappointed if I’d driven all the way to Malheur to bird and seen so few birds, it offered a welcome refuge from endless miles of nothing.

The Trip That Almost Wasn’t

We’ve long planned to visit Tyson and his family in Colorado, but things kept pushing it back. First, it was my desire to finish my backyard project, or at least finish the main part of it. After we finished that project, we decided that it would not be wise to travel with so many fires burning in the West, especially with my COPD.

As it turned out, we ended up visiting nearly the same time we have visited the last two or three years because the kids have a 4 day weekend. We made a brief stopovers at Malheur National Refuge and Bear River Migratory en route to Broomfield. Often we manage to catch all the kids in at least one soccer game during this visit. We did manage to catch Logan’s and Zoe’s games, but Sydney’s game was on the same time as the other kids’ games; so we decided to spend two weekends there, not our usual one. We took the kids out for breakfast and a trip to the craft store Sunday while their parents ran a half marathon.

Although we weren’t sure where we would go midweek, I figured we would continue our exploration of Southwest Indian artifacts and artwork. Coincidentally, Leslie got an email from her friend Greg telling her that he had recently moved to Santa Fé and invited us to visit him. I suspect he didn’t expect us days later, but that’s precisely what we did. We spent two days in Taos exploring shops and visiting the Taos Pueblo before spending the day following the High Route from Santa Fé to Denver. Greg took us on a delightful tour of Santa Fé, the kind of tour tourists could never put together on their own. On the long drive back we stopped to see Logan’s last soccer game of the year.

Back in Broomfield we got to see Sydney’s soccer game on Saturday and fit in a nice hike just above Boulder in an area I’ve gotten to hike several times before. It was nice to get some serious exercise after so much time sitting and driving.

Originally we had planned to go over Donner Pass and back through Santa Rose, but the horrendous fires there convinced us we should put that trip off for a while. Instead, we decided to continue our National Park binge by visiting Arches NP, Island in the Sky NP, and Capitol Reef NP. For good measure we even managed to visit Goblin Valley Utah State Park, a park I’d heard about two years before. It was an awesome trip back, even if I didn’t see as many birds as I’d hoped to see. Instead I focused on scenics and have thousands of photos to process from my trip. Hopefully you’ll be seeing some of them in the next few day after we manage to pick up the mail, restock the pantry, put away all the items we took on the trip, and catch the Husky/UCLA game tomorrow.