Thursday, May 25, 2017

Santa Fe, New Mexico

We had a good four days in Santa Fe and are now making the run across the panhandle of Texas via I-40, enroute to Muskogee, OK to see dear friends from when we managed Three Forks Harbor on the Arkansas River there from 2008 to the end of 2010.  It's a long, long run with nothing but prairie grass, a few mesas, wind turbines (about 60 miles worth), and one large town, Amarillo, TX.  We found a Mom-and-Pop RV park and diesel fuel at the same spot in Alanreed, TX, population 28, literally.  According to the owners of the park - "more dogs than people here."  We have driven all day, it's 99 degrees outside, the wind is blowing 21 mph, we just got hooked up, and the power just went out everywhere, not just here at the RV park.  It's too late to find anywhere else to go, and we are thankful to have a generator so we can stay cool, cook dinner and heat water with propane, and know that the power company is working on the problem down the road from here.  And, back to the last 4 days.

We are seeing more windmills than ever, I assume running pumps to supply water to cattle.

Enroute to Santa Fe, there was a huge volcanic eruption in the past and the lava flows are very clear.

Another letter on the mountains.  Can't remember the name of the town, so we decided it is probably for "McManus."

The green along the Rio Grande and any other water is very distinct compared to everything else, rocks and dirt.  This area is approaching Albuquerque.

Santa Fe has preserved it's original charm in the historic district, most everything is adobe architecture, they have a plaza (another car show/music the day we were there), local vendors sell their goods throughout the town, narrow streets, and the Santa Fe River runs through town ("river" is a stretch for sure).  Art galleries are everywhere.

Rhonda and I are not into "art" as in paintings and drawings, especially the contemporary stuff, so that eliminated much of the Santa Fe downtown for us.  The main attraction is the "Loretto Chapel Miraculous Stairway," built in 1873.  Here's the story:

The architect of the chapel died suddenly and it was only after much of the chapel was constructed that the builders realized it was lacking any type of stairway to the choir loft. Due to the chapel's small size, a standard staircase would have been too large. Historians have also noted that earlier churches of the period had ladders rather than stairs to the choir loft, but the Sisters did not feel comfortable with that prospect because of the long habits that they wore.

The Sisters of Loretto relate the story as follows: Needing a way to get up to the choir loft, the nuns prayed for St. Joseph's intercession for nine straight days. On the day after their novena ended a shabby-looking stranger appeared at their door. He told the nuns he would build them a staircase but that he needed total privacy and locked himself in the chapel for three months. He used a small number of primitive tools including a square, a saw and some warm water and constructed a spiral staircase entirely of non-native wood. The identity of the carpenter is not known for as soon as the staircase was finally finished he was gone. Many witnesses, upon seeing the staircase, feel it was constructed by St. Joseph himself, as a miraculous occurrence.

The resulting staircase is an impressive work of carpentry. It ascends twenty feet, making two complete revolutions up to the choir loft without the use of nails or apparent center support. It has been surmised that the central spiral of the staircase is narrow enough to serve as a central beam. Nonetheless there was no attachment unto any wall or pole in the original stairway, although in 1887—10 years after it was built—a railing was added and the outer spiral was fastened to an adjacent pillar.  Instead of metal nails, the staircase was constructed using dowels or wooden pegs.  There is one picture in the church showing the entire stairway full of people, so it was clearly very sturdy.

Motorcycle stuff.  The #4 motorcycle ride in the area is a 365-mile circuitous route around Santa Fe and Albuquerque.  I rode about 260 miles of that, 50 to 60 degrees outside.

Another volcanic eruption in this area, except this one collapsed afterwards and resulted in a very fertile valley.  This is only half of the valley.

Part of the route is through Los Alamos and there are strict procedures in place for travelers through the national laboratory area there. Rhonda had sent me a text earlier not to get stopped by the police, since I had left without my driver's license and seem to be developing a history with the law in TX and NM. Of course, ID checks were in progress and the texted picture she had sent of my license did not cut it! No ID, no drive through the laboratory area.  The guard provided me with alternate instructions and got me back on my way to scenic Highway 4, through the Jemez Springs area. I pronounced it Jehmehz  and was quickly corrected - "Yamis."  At least I again avoided a ticket.  My favorite stop along the "Yamis" trail below.                            

At "Yamis" Springs there is a natural hot sulphur spring along the highway.  These 2 young ladies let me take their picture.  One was walking with a cane and I think was there for any possible medicinal effects of the springs. 

They told me I could walk about a mile and there were large pools of the same springs.  I took the picture, got back on my bike and moved on to the highlight of the ride in Madrid - "Maggie's Main Street Diner" from the movie, "Wild Hogs."  It was only about 14 miles from our RV park so I called Rhonda to meet me there for dinner. "Maggie's" was built for the movie, was never really a diner, and is now a gift shop with lots of movie memorabilia available.

Note the parking lot was almost empty when we first got there but just as we were leaving, about 20 bikers riding from California to Chicago pulled up for souvenirs and photos.  It was a gaggle but it worked out. Rhonda told them she was leaving in the big truck so they would have plenty of room.

We had dinner at "The Hollar" which was outstanding or I was starving, probably both.  And that brings up a very common thing in the Santa Fe area - everyone has a dog, in many cases multiple dogs.  Apparently they are very special.  They sit at the table if they want......

..........have their own menu......

.........and use the bathroom about anywhere they please.  No picture, you're welcome.

So, the "Wild Hogs" thing was cool - that's a favorite motorcycle movie for many bikers.  Back at the RV, Rhonda discovered a rabbit hanging around the RV.  Seems to be a lot of those in the area.

Not to be outdone by dogs and rabbits, we had noticed some disturbing signs in the RV the last couple of days. A miniature animal of some sort was leaving very small droppings on the floor in the kitchen area of our RV.  We suspicioned a mouse, so we put out two of the tented traps that use a sticky surface to catch mice.  Within minutes a little grey mouse was jumping on the tents and moving them around having a great time while Rhonda watched. (I had gone to bed.) Finally, Rhonda untented the traps and put them in a corner and went to bed. About 1:30 she heard movement, got up, and saw our little guy stuck to the trap. She made me get up, and we tried to decide how to dispose of this live mouse. I finally scooped it up, trap and all, with the dustpan and tossed it outside. This morning the trap was there but no mouse. I sure hope it decided to visit someone else and not come back to us. No picture, you're welcome again!

And not to be outdone by all of the art in the Santa Fe area, our RV park has its own contemporary "artist."  There are probably about about 20 or 30 of these "creative designs" throughout the park and IMHO "art" is a stretch for these.  You decide, here are three examples

A very popular area north of Santa Fe is the town of Taos (pronounced like house with a T), kind of a yuppie snow skiing area of New Mexico.  We overheard one young lady telling another that, "Taos is a great place to live if you can figure out a way to make a living here."  We toured the town, got a milkshake, and headed for the landscape scenery.  We have crossed the Rio Grande several times on this trip and previously posted the picture of an almost-dried-up river along the border.  Taos is almost in Colorado and the river is running wide open up there.  The Rio Grande Gorge west of Taos is a popular scenic spot.

We found a dirt road that takes you right down through the gorge above so you can get up close and personal, The river is running pretty fast.

Also out on the west side of town are "Earthship Houses" billed as energy efficient, water efficient, everything efficient. You only get to go in the "office house" unless you book a tour weeks in advance. They are very "different" and Rhonda said the inside of the office smelled like the reptile house at a zoo, probably from the used water being recycled to grow the food in the hallway along the windows. You decide for yourself but there is an entire development with these houses.

But the real beauty of Taos is the scenery, especially the snow-capped mountains.

And speaking of snow and all things cool - the power is back on and all is well again.  Shower time, sleep, friends in Muskogee tomorrow and for the Memorial Day weekend.  We hope you enjoy yours as well and especially appreciate and honor those who gave their lives while serving this great country.

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