Day 13: New Mexico to Texas

Per usual, I am a ‘state behind’ in blogging, but taking the back roads from Taos to Archer City, TX filled our trip with unexpected delights, and even thrills. From Taos, we drove through the infamous Cimarron (which apparently doesn’t ‘open up’ for the season until May 1). In a little town called Roy, it appeared that their claim to frame was where the young Bob Wills grew up, and apparently wrote San Antonio Rose, as revealed by this mural painted on the side of a building.


To our luck, we learned that we had happened to be on La Frontera del Llano for our route, and stopped in the beautiful little town of Mosquero, in which nearly all of their buildings had incredible murals.


An artist from Tucumcari had been hired to work with high school students in the town and their legacy were these beautiful and humorous murals. South of town was a historic church on the Gallegos Ranch.

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Crossing the state line into Texas, we were surprised to see on the horizon, not shining towers, but 35 miles of wind turbines instead of the oil rigs we would have expected.


35+ miles of wind turbines through a bug splashed windshield

Due to our dawdling through these scenic towns, we had a long day’s drive (over 10 hours) – but had to stop for Texas barbecue in the town of Childress – Top Notch Barbecue, with a big plate of barbecued brisket, pulled pork, baked potato salad, cole slaw, and Texas toast! This tasty delay put us about 1/2 an hour behind a thunderstorm ahead of us, and so we followed that storm, but never ran into it, nor did we run into a train that we did beat across the tracks before reaching our destination, The Spur Hotel, Archer City. Woo hoo!!! Next post – all about Archer City, where Larry McMurtry grew up.


Days 10-13: Taos & Rio Grande Valley

Nearly a week later, we have been neglectful of our blog – but will describe our travels by region. We took the High Road to Taos, and of course, had to photograph that iconic Rancho de Taos church, the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church.


We arrived at Richard & June’s beautiful adobe abode in El Prado, facing the Sangre de Cristos last Monday, having a casita all to ourselves. Richard & June are friends from San Luis Valley days, who have since moved to the Taos area, by way of Texas. So much fun getting caught up, and recalling fun times together, and we now have more memories together, with Maggie feeling like she’s known them for years too.



June’s wonderful cooking (I still use her recipe for salpicon) and her and Richard’s great stories of growing up in Pennsylvania and Louisiana, and further adventures past kept us laughing and staying up late. The entire south side of our casita had floor-to-ceiling views of that northern New Mexican landscape I love so much and the intense light from the full moon beaming in.


IMG_4169.JPGSunset from our casita

We took a guided tour of the Taos Pueblo our first  full day; it had been many years since I had been there, and Maggie had never been there. The Taos Indians have lived there continuously for over  1,000 years, and consider the Anasazi’s – the Ancient Ones – to be their ancestors, the very same people who built the Chaco Culture.


June squeezes into our road trip-packed car!

Our second full day, Maggie and I treated ourselves to the multi-mineral pools of Ojo Caliente (arsenic, lithia, soda, and iron, and a clay mud bath!) We hiked above the hot springs, around the old Posi ruins with the thousands of pot shards remaining. After a few mishaps on using the camera timer, I finally got it right!



I needed 10 seconds, not 2 seconds to get in place!


Our last night in Taos, Mary Hoffman was able to join us, and we had another magnificent New Mexican meal at Lamberts (formerly my beloved Apple Tree Restaurant). More stories and gossip from Adams State – even Maggie could keep track of who was who …

A fond farewell to all three, and Northern New Mexico landscape, people, and food!

Next entry, the push across New Mexico to central Texas, and the treasures we found by taking the back roads.

Days 9-10: Abiquiu to the Chama Valley

After checking into the Abiquiu Inn, we had to catch sunset at the Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and created so many of her masterpieces.

Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch


The iconic Cerro Pedernal from the Ranch


Riding the currents at sunset

The next morning, we drove through Cuba and feasted on our first authentic Northern New Mexican meal, the Fiesta Platter for 2 – tamale, relent, adovada, pinto beans & rice, enchilada, taco & sopapillas! Topped with green chile of course!


Monday morning we followed the Chama River to the Christ in the Desert Monastery, and after walking the beautiful Stations of the Cross, we were just in time to hear the afternoon service of the monks chanting. Perhaps we knew we needed some absolution in advance of our trip to New Orleans?


Days 7-9: Chaco Culture National Historic Park

A highlight of our trip so far – even though it has only been a week – has been the incredible visit to Chaco Culture NHP. The day and a half we spent exploring and hiking around the sites were full of wonder and awe at the incredible legacy of the Chacoans and the intelligent design of their amazing buildings and infrastructure (from 850-1250 AD). We started off on the right foot by going on a guided tour with Ranger G.B. Cornucopia (yes, that is his name… which stands for Great Bear, Gentle Ben, or Gray Beard, depending on when you knew him). GB has been a ranger at Chaco for 30 years! He shared his love and regard for the culture, history, and astronomy of the Chaco people in a warm and humorous way with the best responses – our favorite, that any answer to questions asked about the people was at best, informed speculation.

The night cleared of clouds on Saturday, and they had telescopes set up to view the moon and Jupiter, and (in the morning), the sun.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. The first set is of the largest building, Pueblo Bonita.

The hikes to see the petroglyphs and pictographs were well worth the views along the way as well…


Two of the 3 pictographs are evident, but that the star was actually a supernova viewed in 1054 and the moon was in the crescent phase when that occurred. 

We have both vowed to return again – perhaps on the summer solstice, when the tribes come and dance and feast.

Day 6 – Prescott

We have had a fabulous stay at the Chisholm Trails End B&B, high atop the ‘P-Hill’ overlooking Prescott and a hundred miles to the north and west. Brian and Lettie have taken good care of us in this Frank Lloyd Wright designed home, with an incredible view of the sunset. He has befriended the local javelinas, who come around at sunrise and sunset, and are very cute!




We met up with the organizer for the Prescott Women’s March, Pat Beitel, and two of her ‘Wild Women’ compatriots, Maria Lynam and Ceci Tower, and shared our stories and passions for standing up for our civil liberties and organizing for change locally, but thinking about the state and national political elections also. It has convinced Maggie and me that the Women’s Marches are absolutely a powerful grassroots movement with so much in common, and so much we can learn from each other, and that when we unite, we will be a force to be reckoned with. I am certain that we will all see each other again, and hopefully, at a regional convening of the Western Women’s Marches.

Ceci and Pat encouraged us to check out a wonderful hike on the Constellation Trails north of Prescott, amongst those beautiful red rock formations, preceded by a visit to the Phippen Museum of Western Art. Maybe we worked off the steak and shake from the day before?

Tomorrow, on to Chaco Canyon!

Days 4 & 5 – Death Valley to Tecopa

On our final day in Death Valley, we hiked to the lowest of 9 Darwin Falls and enjoyed the cool waters attracting monarch butterflies.


We ran into our new acquaintances from breakfast at Panamint Springs, Steve and Carlene. Steve’s mentor Robert Stebbins literally wrote the book on the Field Guide to Amphibians & Reptiles, and was so knowledgeable about how Death Valley became a national park.


We checked into the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort and being famished, went out hunting and gathering, and was attracted by the large sign, “Steaks and Beer” – which ended up being the actual name of the restaurant! Our server, Joe, brought us both, the best ribeye steaks that Maggie and I have ever had – seriously (thanks to chef Eric, who said he learned from French chefs who ‘yelled at him’…) – The secret: herb rubbed steaks with balsamic reduction, seared in a cast iron pan, then finished with red wine butter…


In the morning, after a wonderful breakfast at McNeil’s Barbecue, where he sliced up our leftover steak that we could eat later in the car with toast from breakfast, we noticed the very picturesque laundromat and Ford pick-up across the street.

Our last stop before leaving the Tecopa area was to stop at the China Ranch, literally an oasis in the desert, where the current owners have planted date palms. Maggie and I sampled their renowned date shakes, vowing to hike off the additional calories when we got to Prescott…



Day 4, breakfast from Tecopa

A brief recap of our two nights in Death Valley National Park with photos this time.

Maggie and I hiked Eureka Dunes our second day in Death Valley, before the winds whipped up.




At one of the highlights for us in the DVNP, at the Artists’ Palette portion of a beautifully ‘painted canyon (thanks Mike & Jane Cipra for the tip)!


More photos & stories later tonight… On da road again!

Maggie & Terry