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Northeastern New Mexico, Near Folsom, NM Along Route 325 April 24, 2018 IMG_0215

We awoke to very very windy 38 degree weather.  It was cloudy and some fog.  In spite of this, and to humor Nancy, we drove up the road to Capulin National Park.  As we drove higher, the fog became more dense.  Capulin Volcano In the Dense Fog Near Intersection of NM Routes 64 and 325, April 24, 2018 - 3Nonetheless, we were here and decided to finish the drive to the top.   Besides there was no place to turn around. Well, you could not see anything through the fog, it was extremely windy and in the low 30s.  We decided we didn’t want to walk on the trail to see the cone of the volcano which was covered with dense fog.  However, we learned it last erupted 60,000 years ago.  The conical form rises over 1,300 feet above the plains, to 8,182 feet above sea level.  There were 4 lava flows spread over an area 15 miles in diameter.  You can still see lava rocks in the area, piled in the fields around the volcano.  It was disappointing we could not see the actual volcano cone and the landscape around it.

Folsom Hotel Built 1888, Folsom, NM April 24, 2018 - 1When we left the park, we saw a sign for Folsom, NM including a prison. Tom loves Johnny Cash and especially the album he recorded at Folsom Prison.  He was intrigued and we drove there. It is mostly abandoned but provided some interesting pictures.  The only thing is that the Folsom Prison where Johnny recorded his album is in Folsom, CA not Folsom NM.

Des Moines Hotel Converted to Freedom School, Des Moines, NM April 24, 2018 IMG_0226From Folsom, we continued east on 64.  We stopped for a few photos in Des Moines, NM, another old, mostly abandoned town.  We contined to Clayton, NM, where we took 412 into Oklahoma.   The road became perfectly straight, amid some oil derricks, cattle, horses and corn.  After the fabulous scenery we have seen since we left last week, it seemed pretty drab and dull.  There were no trees or anything!

It gradually warmed up some but we drove in wind most of the day.  We came down to about 4000 feet altitude and stopped for the night on Rte. 3/412 at a picnic area beside the road.  It is about 45 degrees.  We are looking forward to some warmer weather soon.

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We returned to Taos this morning to get a few souvenirs and take some photos.  We are so fortunate it is another sunny day.  We visited Robert again in the shop to thank him for the suggestion of the high road and tell him about our experiences.  We talked about the Taos Pueblo which is closed to visitors right now because the young boys are going through a sacred eight week ceremony in the Kiva and it is all closed to the public.  The whole Taos Pueblo community is about 1000 members, Robert said, but most live scattered throughout the town.  It would have been fun to hear more from Robert about the local land and culture that he loves so much.  He is very informed on it and so interesting.

Snow Topped Mountains Above New Mexico Route 64 North East New Mexico, April 23, 2017We said our good-byes and headed east on 64 again through curvy, hilly forested lands that were stunning. Shear Rock Towering Above New Mexico Route 64 North East New Mexico, April 23, 2017 - 1We climbed to 8500 feet.  It was not easy driving but Tom said it was worth it. There was very little traffic.

Eagle Nest Lake Along New Mexico Route 64 North East New Mexico, April 23, 2017At Eagles Nest, we saw a large lake and resort area.   After Cimarron, the road straightened out some.  We continued east of Raton to Capulin where we stopped for the night. There is a volcano near here that we would like to visit but it was too late today so we will go there tomorrow on our way to Oklahoma.

As always, we were on the lookout for wildlife.  There were signs for elk crossing, but … no luck.  We did see mule deer, turkey, and pronghorn antelopes, quite near the highway. Fun!

In the morning we drove into Taos.  We were pleasantly surprised to see forsythia, tulips, lilacs and fruit trees blooming.

We started out with breakfast at Michael’s Kitchen, which we learned from Robert, is a favorite of Brian and Diane.  Two Graces Gallory, Taos, NM April 23, 2018 Ranchos de Taos Plaza April 23, 2018 - 2We then drove to Robert and Hollies’ shop, Two Graces, on 68 in Los Ranchos de Taos.  It is located in a very old building that was added onto over the years with the oldest part several hundred years old featuring original treated dirt floors and the original fireplace.  Two Graces Gallory, Taos, NM April 22, 2018 - 2The walls are about 15 inches thick.  Both Robert and Hollie have gallery spaces for their own work and they also sell books, jewelry, local art and various collected objects.  It is a fascinating place.Two Graces Gallory, Taos, NM April 22, 2018 - 1

Two Graces Gallory, Taos, NM April 22, 2018 - 4

The shop is on the plaza of a church, San Francisco de Asis, which was built in 1813-1815.  San Francisco de Asis Church - Ranchos de Taos Plaza April 23, 2018 - 3

San Francisco de Asis Church - Ranchos de Taos Plaza April 23, 2018 - 2San Francisco de Asis from the back.

It has attracted famous artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams, among others.  We were interested to learn that the adobe needs to be reapplied every year. It is a community event with volunteers of all ages helping.  We noticed the straw was starting to show through the surfaces.San Francisco de Asis Church Adobe Wall - Ranchos de Taos Plaza April 23, 2018 - 1

Robert gave us some ideas about places to visit.  We decided to drive the “High Road” this afternoon.  This route took us from Taos, south on 518 through several old small towns, each with their own old interesting churches.  Buffalo Herd In Picuris Pueblo April 22, 2018 IMG_0195We continued on 76 to the Picuris Pueblo, which even had bison grazing in the fields.

Church on High Road, Picuris Pueblo, NM With Adobe being Reapplied, April 22, 2018 - 1Near there the church was being restored and we saw a traditional kiva.

On Robert’s suggestion, we found his artist friends Andrew and Lorrie Garcia.  They were home and graciously showed us their work. Andrew makes beautiful, detailed, intricately carved furniture from ponderosa pine.  Lorrie carves santos and creates entablas using mostly natural materials that she creates from nature.  Her work is colorful, bright and joyful.  They are a very warm, welcoming pair and we were honored to meet them and see their work.

Santuario de Chimayo Church on High Road, Chimao, NM , April 22, 2018 - 5We passed more small towns until we reached Chimayo, where there is a very large church compound. They have a reputation for healing and in fact, off the sanctuary, there is a place where visitors can take some “healing” earth.

We came to 68 and returned to Taos and to the campground east on 64.  It was such a fun, interesting trip.  We have not spent much time in this culture and found it all fascinating.

 

From Bloomfield, New Mexico to Toas, New Mexico April 21, 2018 - 01We drove 191 south to 491 in Utah, taking us to Cortez, CO.  Again the scenery was wonderful for the drive.  We had spent a week in Cortez several years ago, when our vehicle needed to be repaired.  At that time, we had bought a Navajo pot that we really like.  We looked for the same shop, but it was closed. We found a nearby shop and found another pot.  Then we headed south on 491 into New Mexico.  At Shiprock, we turned east on 64.  That corner of New Mexico is pretty stark, industrial and not really pretty. We stopped at Bloomfield, NM for the night.

On the 21st, Saturday, we continued east on 64 all the way to Taos.  This was an absolutely amazing drive.  We were in National Forests with towering pine trees. There were warning signs for elk and deer, but despite looking hard, we didn’t see any.  We did see a red-tailed hawk swoop down in front of us, Tom saw a coyote, and there were little prairie dogs along the side of the highway.   From Bloomfield, New Mexico to Toas, New Mexico April 21, 2018 - 09We climbed to 10, 500 feet where we found new snow on the ground.  From Bloomfield, New Mexico to Toas, New Mexico April 21, 2018 - 04The views were stunning.  We were so glad we took this route.  It was harder driving, but there was almost no traffic and we just took our time and took it all in.  We crossed the Rio Grande gorge and descended into Taos.  We drove through Taos and a few miles east on 64 to our campground.

Brian and Diane have very good friends in Taos, Robert and Hollie Cafazzo, whom we knew when they lived in Massachusetts.  They are artists and have a studio/shop in Taos.  We called them and will meet them tomorrow morning in the shop.  Brian suggested some things for us to do, but said Robert will have good ideas too. They have lived in Taos for quite some time now.  Brian and Diane try to come visit at least once a year.  It is a special place for them.  We can see why already.  We look forward to exploring this area that we have talked about visiting for several years now.

 

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Moab,UT April 19, 2018 - 64 Delicate Arch has an opening 46 feet high and 32 feet wide. 

We set out on Wednesday the 18th to visit Arches National Park.  However, as usual, we took a scenic route taking us on 163 to 191, then on 95 and 24 up to I 70.  The drive was spectacular, crossing the Colorado River and parts of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  It would have been late when we arrived at Arches NP, so we stopped in Green Valley for the night and finished Thursday morning.  When we arrived at Arches NP, there was a long line of cars waiting to get into the park.  We were concerned it would be very crowded, but once we got on the park road, there were lots of places for people to pull over, many lookouts and we did not feel like it was crowded at all.

Arches National Park, Moab,UT April 19, 2018 - 11Arches is a very special park, very well maintained and managed.  The drive through the formations takes you to see many arches and other interesting rock formations of such variety, shade, and shape that you keep feeling like you are seeing something new.    The park lies atop a salt bed which, being less stable, contributes to the variety of formations here.  There are supposed to be over 1000 arches, but you see only a fraction of them.

Balanced Rock. Arches National Park, Moab,UT April 19, 2018 - 52There are other features like Balanced Rock, which is the size of three school buses balanced on a pedestal.

Arches National Park, Moab,UT April 19, 2018 - 09Along the way are many strange rock formations, including petrified dunes, fins and pinnacles and much more.  We really enjoyed this park a lot.  We had been near here in 2010 but didn’t stop for some reason.  I am glad we came back to visit.

BLM Dry Camping Along Utah Route 191 South of Moab Utah April 20, 2018 - 1We spent most of the day in the park, then drove south on 191, through Moab and stopped at a pull-off on BLM land for the night.  We had no power but used the generator and the inverter.  It was VERY dark once the lights were off.

We stopped in Page for a few groceries, then drove south on 98 to AZ 160 to Kayenta, then north on 163 to Monument Valley.  Once again, the ride was stunning, with red rocks and formations and vistas around every turn.

Lake Powell AZ to Monument Valley Tribal Park AZ&UT April 17, 2018 - 29We arrived at Monument Valley later in the afternoon and reluctantly paid the admission to the Navajo Native Park.  However, contrary to the published information , we were not allowed to drive the park road in our RV.  We were very disappointed to learn this.  It was very windy and in the 50s.  Our option was to ride on a jeep tour which would have been $170.  That seemed like a lot since we could see a lot of the formations from the Visitor Center overlooks.  We opted to visit the museum and take photos of what we could see, which was a fair amount.  Quite frankly, we had already seen so many similar formations, it seemed like somewhat of a disappointment.

Merrick Butte, Monument Valley Tribal Park AZ&UT April 17, 2018 - 25The landscape with it’s scenic vistas and towering red rock formations attracted Hollywood film studios and became one of the go-to places to film westerns.  Several Westerns featuring John Wayne were filmed in and around Monument Valley.

Goulding's Camp Park Monument Valley UT April 17, 2018 - 2Across the highway from Monument Valley is Goulding’s RV Park, which was very pricey, but it was about the only act in town.  It is a well maintained park with blooming beds of iris and wonderful views of Monument Valley.  April 17th is Nancy’s birthday.  Tom made a nice dinner and we just enjoyed the evening.View of Monument Valley From Goulding's Camp Park Monument Valley UT April 17, 2018 - 2

The Goulding’s have an interesting story.  Harry Goulding was a sheep herder looking for a new home.  He and his wife Leone, called “Mike”, bought land in Monument Valley and quickly set up a trading post.  Today the Goulding property remains privately own and is surrounded by Navajo owned land.  The Goulding’s traded for Navajo hand crafted items, like rugs and jewelry in exchange for food and other goods like tobacco.Goulding Museum Near Monument Valley UT April 18, 2018 - 2  In the 1930s the depression hit the Navajo very hard. Harry Goulding was instrumental in finding a movie studio to film movies in Monument Valley.

Goulding Museum Near Monument Valley UT April 18, 2018 - 1John Ford soon began filming “Stagecoach” starring John Wayne. Harry’s efforts provided job opportunities for the local Navajo people – and Harry prospered too by hosting movie crews, photographers, artists and tourists.  He built a lodge and rental units on his property.  Nancy visited a museum which is housed in Goulding’s original trading post with their apartment above.

Also featured in the information at Monument Valley was the story of the “Code Talkers” in World War II, using their native Navajo language to send secret information.  The codes were never broken.  Another sad part of the Navajo story is the “Long Walk” where in the 1860s some 8500 young and old Navajo men, women and children  were removed from their land and forcibly relocated to Forts in Utah and Colorado. Three years later, they were freed and returned to their native homelands.  We learned about this and visited one of the sites several years ago on another trip west.

Lake Powell Boat Tour of Antelope and Navajo Canyons April 16, 2018 - 20Good friends of ours visited Page, AZ several years ago and mentioned how much they enjoyed the boat tour they took on Lake Powell. We had visited Page a few years ago but did not take a boat tour.  So this year we decided a boat tour on Lake Powell should be included in our wonderings.  We made reservations for Monday afternoon.

To our surprise all of the campground near Page were full for Sunday night, April 15th, so we stopped early at Crazy Horse Campground in Kanab, UT.  We made good use of the time catching up on odds and ends and relaxing.Crazy Horse Campground, Kanab, UT April 15, 2015 - 1

Monday, the 16th, we enjoyed a lovely drive through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  The views were stunning.  We found the Wahweap Campground, located along Lake Powell and checked in. Wahweay Campground Lake Powell Page AZ April 17, 2018

After an early lunch we found the marina from which our tour boat, Desert Season, would depart at 1:00Lake Powell Boat Tour of Antelope and Navajo Canyons April 16, 2018 - 83We joined over 100 people who took the boat tour. There were several choices of trips but we chose a 2 ½ hour ride taking us to all the major sights.

 

Lake Powell Boat Tour of Antelope and Navajo Canyons April 16, 2018 - 68We were in the original Colorado River bed for part of the time, then went into Navajo Canyon and Antelope Canyon before seeing the Glen Canyon Dam on the way back to the marina.  We saw a LOT OF ROCKS but the formations, colors, shapes and variety was amazing and seemed special when seen from the water.

Lake Powell Boat Tour of Antelope and Navajo Canyons April 16, 2018 - 50We saw more “desert varnish” on the rocks and what looked like native decor but actually the result of natural erosion, rain and wind.

Lake Powell is 186 miles long and was formed when a dam was built  across Glen Canyon on the Colorado River.   Lake Powell Boat Tour of Antelope and Navajo Canyons April 16, 2018 - 19Dam construction started in 1956 during President Eisenhower’s term in office. Construction was completed 7 years later and in 1963 the Lake began filling.   It took 17 years for the water to reach maximum pool depth. The water level is dependent of snow melt and rain.  Currently the pool is low.  Lake Powell provides water for Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico.

The weather was partly sunny and warm.  We were on the top deck and by the end of the trip we were pretty windblown and dusty.

We drove back to the campground about 4:00 and just relaxed. Our campsite overlooks the lake and it was just so blue and inviting against the rocks.  It was a fun day.