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Exploring Taos

[Taos, NM, Sep 2/3, 2018]

After two days exploring around Taos, we finally had time to stay in town. After a great breakfast at our B&B, we headed out to visit two of its major sights.

Our first stop was the Rio Grande Gorge bridge, just north of town. The bridge is roughly 600 ft (182 m) above the river and it is a quarter-mile long (388 m). It was built in 1965 and made the Northwestern part of the state much more accessible. Unfortunately, the bridge is also often the site of suicide attempts. We saw plaques with a suicide hotline phone number at the viewpoints. Additional measures such as netting and higher fences have been discussed to address the problem.

Those who are willing to hike to the bottom can find petroglyphs in the area.

The bridge spans the Rio Grande Gorge, which begins 50 miles North in Colorado and ends in Taos. The gorge is deepest just south of Taos at 800 ft (240 m). The gorge and its surrounding area became a national monument in 2013.

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Our second stop was Taos Pueblo, a Native-American village that has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years. The pueblo became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. It is open to visitors, who can go into some of the dwellings and ceremonial buildings. The dwellings are made of adobe and are multi-tiered in places. There is a reservation attached to the pueblo and 4500 people live there.

The dwellings that are open to visitors are clearly marked with signs. The first dwelling we visited consisted of four rooms, which were adorned with dreamcatchers, bows and arrows, soaps and other items available for purchase. It was surprisingly cool in there, given how hot it was outside! There was also a picture of President Obama, who in 2010 signed an act that resolved a 40-year water dispute in Taos valley.

We tried Indian fry bread in the next dwelling, and we saw many more dwellings offering the same deeper in the pueblo. Other dwellings sold pottery, crafts and jewelry. I am not sure what to call the Native Americans who operated the dwellings – the term shop keeper comes to mind, but that doesn’t sound right. At any rate, they were all extremely friendly and were happy to talk to us about the items they were selling – how they are made, what they signify, etc.

A church, San Geronimo de Taos, can also be found in the pueblo. It was one of many missions the Spanish established to instruct and convert the natives into their religion and culture. How resilient the Taos people must have been to preserve their pueblo and as much of their traditions as they could! After seeing the church and being reminded of what it meant historically, I appreciated the friendliness of the people of Taos pueblo even more.

As we were driving around town trying to find an ATM, we stumbled upon a place someone had recommended to us – Michael’s Kitchen. Apparently, they have the best sopapillas in town. Sopapillas are deep fried dough very similar to Indian fry bread and Bulgarian mekitzi. We skipped the super long line since there were a couple of free seats at the counter. This is where I discovered another New Mexican specialty – pinon coffee. “Pinon” is Spanish for pine nut, and the pine nut tree is all over New Mexico. Because of this, you will see pine nuts as street food everywhere, and apparently they are being added to coffee too. It was so good, I purchased some grounds to take home with me.

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After spending a few hours outside in the hot sun, I was ready for some rest and relaxation, while B had chocolate on his mind. He walked to the main plaza to check out a chocolate shop we had seen the day before on our walk to dinner, while I stayed behind to work on my blog.

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As I was sitting there enjoying the courtyard at our B&B, it started to rain, then it started to hail. B had to run home to get out of it!

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The courtyard at our B & B

For dinner, we went to The Love Apple, where we didn’t appreciate either the food or the service. It wasn’t even in the same league as Geronimo’s in Santa Fe, but given the friendly service and great food at Lambert’s the night before, we had high expectations. Its location in a converted adobe home was promising.

However, things deteriorated quickly from there. I am not going to go into the details but I’ll just say that the lack of flavor in the food, the attitude of the staff and the fact that it’s cash/check only was too much to handle.

To try and salvage the night, we went for drinks at a place in the plaza. We saw an awesome sunset from their second-floor balcony!

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The next day was Labor Day, and we had a flight to catch in Albuquerque. We did have time to stop by the San Francisco de Asis mission on our way out of town. It was built between 1772 and 1816 and it’s one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial mission architecture. Apparently, it’s the most photographed church in the US.

Last but not least, we stopped by the Rio Grande Gorge visitor center, which we had already passed a couple of times but never during business hours. I got another stamp for my national parks passport and with that, our trip to Taos was complete!

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