Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 5, 9/10/13 - Chama to Taos

Adventure time!  We pulled out of Chama about 8 AM with a full tank of gas after a good breakfast at Fina's Cafe.  We had high hopes for photography and treasure hunting, but you know what they say about best-laid plans.  The day's journey started uneventfully enough, driving on US-84 thru some very scenic country with some very scenic clouds to stop for a few pictures at Echo Amphitheater - yes, there's definitely an echo at Echo Amphitheater, a natural formation in the cliffs.

Sandra just had to go see a monastery, so we turned off on the unpaved road for the 13 mile trek to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, a Benedictine monastery.  The goal was to see what it looked like and to buy some wine.  Well, let's just say those goals weren't met.  The road follows the Chama river, and we stopped a couple of times for photography and to take a closer look at the river.  By the 10 mile point a drizzle started.  As we reached the monastery parking lot, at least 300 yards from the visitor center/gift shop, the rain increased.  Bill decided that discretion and all that, it was better to head back to the main road rather than get caught in a wash.  Strike one.

We headed south toward Abiquiu, planning to stop at the paleontology museum.  Rain got harder.  We skipped it and headed for the dam, where we planned to take a ride on a little road that ran parallel to the river and to look for drainages into the Chama there.  The rain let up.  We headed down the face of the dam past the power plant (warm water halts, water high, heavy loads), then left the pavement to a gravel road.   The road turned to dirt with occasional rocks.  The rain started up, heavier now.  The road dead-ended.  Bill got some pre-winter practice with controlled skids as the dirt turned to slick clay mud.  We, at last, got back to the good part of the road, climbed the dam, and headed for Abiquiu for a break.  Strike 2.

Well, we still had the Rio Grande Gorge at Orrillo Verde - we hoped - via NM-554 & 111.  First, a stop for lunch in Ojo Caliente, at the Mesa Vista cafe - their green sauce was hot.  The rain got harder.  After lunch, with the wipers going full blast, we drove thru the Ojo Caliente Resort & Spa, then headed north on US-285 to NM-567.  We were told not to go down into the gorge, but the rain stopped - it didn't look like it had rained there at all, so down we went.  Saw all kinds of "blazes" but none looked appropriate, so we crossed the river on a steel bridge and headed toward Taos via NM 570 & 68.  A drizzle started.

Got to Taos, found our motel (Sun God Lodge).  The room is nicely decorated with RC Gorman prints, ceramic light fixtures, and even a katsina doll.  Furniture is mission style (duh) and tile work is very nice.  I expect we'll have some pictures of it to share.  Since we were early, thanks to the rain, we headed for the Plaza & took a walk around poking our noses into the shops.  It rained harder.  Sandra bought an on-sale T-shirt at her favorite T-shirt shop, we ate at El Taoseno (a local favorite where we had to split a giant burrito - green), bought some RC (cola, not Gorman) coffee & milk at an Albertsons, then called it a night.  And so will I, as we dream of our trip to the John Dunn Bridge and the Enchanted Circle (weather permitting).

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