Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Mexico Day

DAY FOURTEEN: Springer, NM, where we spent last night, had a certain attraction. We took a long walk in the fading light of late evening and noted that the grocery store, the drug store, the bank, the church, the auto repair shop, were all within easy walking distance. It has a community college. It has some attractive historic buildings and museums, and the surrounding scenery is beautiful. At an altitude of 5600 feet, the climate is mild year-round. Despite these attractions, it appears to be struggling. Some businesses are closed. There is no hospital. But it was fun to imagine living there.

Our room in the Oasis Motel was spartan but spacious and comfortable. It looked like an older motel had been upgraded by new owners.

THE OASIS MOTEL IN 2007 (Thanks to Debora Drower's Flicker page)

We slept well, and in the morning we drove to a large 24-hour truck-stop about 3 miles north, and had our breakfast. The gift shop there seemed to have been built around four classic cars from the 1950s. I couldn’t see any way to get them out, without taking out a wall.

We drove on from there through the Cimarron Canyon to Taos, NM, where we have visited before. Our friends Charlie and Susie were away on a trip this time, so we did not linger in Taos. We learned later from them that they had left town to escape the smog from a large fire in Arizona. We noticed it was pretty hazy, but didn’t know why. From Taos we drove down the high road to Chimayo and stopped at a place we love and have stopped before: El Santuario de Chimayo, NM. It rests on tierra bendita, “holy dirt,” and thus receives 300,000 visitors a year, many seeking healing. It has been called the “Lourdes of America.” The shrine was built in 1816. It is a lovely place to sit quietly.


From there we turned north toward Abiquiu, NM, the home of Georgia O’Keeffe. It was getting late by now, so we didn’t stop to investigate her home, which is open to the public, but went on instead to Ghost Ranch, where she lived and worked for a while in the 1930s. Today, Ghost Ranch is a conference center owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church, USA, and it is a beautiful spot. The rock formations and the red and yellow cliffs are unusual and strikingly beautiful. The Center hosts large groups (350 Friends were holding their Yearly Meeting that week), but also welcomes individuals, and sponsors literally scores of courses on a wide variety of topics. It is a place we might just return to.


A mile north of the Ghost Ranch is the Piedra Lumbre Visitor Center and Paleontological Museum, which was closed by the time we got there. There is a tower there which affords a view of O’Keeffe’s house at Ghost Ranch. Maybe we can take this in the next time. We continued on to Charma, NM, and looked for a restaurant we ate at in 2006 and liked. But despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find it, and concluded it had closed. We saw 5 or 6 other closed restaurants. We ended up at the only open one we could find; food ok, but not great. By now it was late evening but still very light, and cool. It was beautiful. We continued on to Farmington, NM and using a coupon, we found a room at an America’s Best Value Inn at about 10:00pm.

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