Train Stop for Taos

A week ago I had just stepped onto the scene pictured here as the engine of the train zoomed by me. I managed to get this shot while the train was still moving. This is the Lamy (near Santa Fe) stop on the Amtrak train that starts in Los Angeles and ends up in Chicago. It passes through Flagstaff, AZ, and Albuquerque on its way (and other places in between).

The friend I was meeting had started out in Oceanside, CA, traveled north to Los Angeles where he changed onto this train. His ticket cost $90 (one way). If you’re thinking “green” and have the time, trains could be a good thing. And I won’t mention the stories we hear about the strangeness of today’s airline travel.

This photo was taken as we were leaving Lamy. It suggests that the town has seen better days and a much larger population. I believe Wikipedia said there are 100 or so people living there now. I got the impression it was a bustling little place at the turn of the 20th Century.

I drove there from Taos in just under 2 hours. You pass through Santa Fe on St. Francis Drive until you reach the connector to Highway 25 heading to Las Vegas. After a while there is a turn off to the south that leads down to Lamy. But keep your eyes peeled for the small sign. It feels like you are in the middle of nowhere, but once you pass this church you can see the train station ahead. The next time I drive there it won’t be so suspenseful.

After participating in the Taos Christmas crafts fair for the three days after Thanksgiving I drove over for a soak at Ojo Caliente Hot Springs. You pass this road just before going over the bridge that marks the entrance. I had taken photos of this same scene a month ago when the trees were full of yellow leaves, so stopped to see how it had changed. I think I may like this photo even more, as it reveals the strong curving patterns in the branches.  It would also be beautiful with snow.

That Monday was one of those Taos-style “weathery” days with lots of clouds moving around creating pockets of light snow one minute and sunshine the next. It was cold for sure. On the drive back from the hot springs I stopped for this shot of the sugar frosted Taos mountains as I was approaching the West Rim Road. What can I say? It’s a spectacular gift to live in this inspiring landscape.

A cropped version of a recent painting (Two Ravens–Rio Grande).

Monsoon Season Rolls On

This year’s monsoon season has got the natural world smiling. Gardens, fields of alfalfa, weeds–all are growing at a feverish pace. Even the asequias still have a decent flow. Heck, a guy I was talking to who lives over by Penasco said their asequia ditches flooded about 10 days ago, causing a ruckus.

That water from above is loaded with nitrogen which plants slurp up greedily. They much prefer it to the hose. Full of optimism I’ve even planted what amounts to a smaller 2nd garden in the past several weeks and the conditions are great for seedlings. I’ve transplanted out sweet basil I started from seed with no problem lately. Being new to Taos I can only believe what I hear about the long fall season ahead, but I’m planting as though…

Two of my four sisters came to town for a visit recently and that got me out and about in my role of hostess. First place we went was the Sipapu ski area. The sisters may have a winter ski trip sometime, as they have in the past, and I wanted them to see this possibility. Plus, I had heard they had nice hiking trails. This photo comes from a trail up a ways north of the lodge. It followed a creek and we enjoyed the wildflowers.

Then we headed back to the High Road. This was taken just before or after Las Trampas, not sure. If you look closely you can see volcano-shaped Cerro Pedernal in the distance, one of Georgia O’Keefe’s favorite painting subjects. My sisters loved the Las Trampas church and we wandered around there appreciating the age of it and the blend of Spanish and local architecture.

After a stop at the Chimayo church we drove around through Espanola and up 68, then turned up the Rio Grand Gorge at Pilar. This was the highlight of the day. We found a way, walking up the old highway, to gain access to the gorge’s fast-moving water (above). We were all kids again exploring in a wild, natural place. It was late in the day and the skies were threatening rain, which made it all the more exciting. It felt like we were far from ordinary life, immersed in the magic of the river and the willows and the rocks.

Two days later found us at Ojo Caliente hot springs on a rainy afternoon/evening. This was our last night together and we couldn’t have ended the visit on a sweeter note. I hadn’t been to the place for about three years and approved of the huge improvements they have made in the reception area and the locker rooms. Everything feels very easy and pleasant there. The staff is very relaxed and warm. The pools are the same, unaffected by the changes, thankfully. I am looking forward to my next opportunity to visit there. Some friends are coming into town today. This could be my chance!