Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Santa Fe, Day 2, part 1. -- nov 23rd, 2013

Settled in before the fire; heavy snow beginning to fall.  Think we made a good decision to do all our mt. driving today as snow is supposed to continue into the afternoon tomorrow. Josh is off with a gang of neighbors to sample the local karaoke bar.  I cheerfully endured the anthropological experiment of watching Saturday night pay per view fights with them: quite a display of the masculine psyche, but despite testosterone in full parade, I actually kind of enjoyed myself.  There was a certain sweetness under all the bluster.  But I'm past my days of slogging to a bar in the snow when I'm already several scotches down/up.

The evening was the cap of a long and interesting day, doing a lot of things I don't think I would have done by myself.  Kind of fun to be joggled into new patterns.

Woke up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM to abt an inch and a half of lite powdery snow.  Had been tired out enough the night before to go to sleep by abt 10:30 so with the 2 hour time shift, it wasn't that early.....     The streets of this quiet backwater neighborhood were pristine, no sounds of the city, just that chill silence that you only hear when snow muffles everything. 

 Josh couldn't wait to get out in it and decided to walk his postcards up to the post office. I envied him the solitary ramble through the mysteriously deserted streets but was also happy to be left alone to shower and putter.  We got to the Flying Star for an early breakfast of pancakes all round, and decided to go straight to Taos Pueblo, and then take it from there. 

  The further north we got, the more snow we saw in the distance: great long, low-lying bars drifting down into valleys and curling around hills, leaving everything encrusted.  The jimez chain of mts was looming blue and white, and when we hit the Rio Grand gorge, it was a dramatic black slash across the whole panorama.  

We stopped before Taos at the beautiful Ranchos de Taos Church which Georgia painted and Ansel Adams photographed. I felt a brief wave of sadness as we pulled into the parking lot where I remember calling Mona and hearing the news of her dad's death. 
 Another layer of memory floated by as I thought of the hilarity of theWoolf trip; the "Spiritual Awakenings" gift shop seems to have disappeared. Every time I go, it seems like there's a different mood.  This time with Josh I noticed all kinds of architectural details I'd never really seen before: the marks of hand-carving on the vigas, corbels, and ceiling and the patterns of carving on the door.

  The surface of the church was different too, the smooth layer of mud had worn away, leaving a rough hide of straw that made the huge buttresses seem like the sides of monumental beasts. 

 Standing by the sides, looking up towards the sky, there was a sudden pause of complete silence; then a flock of pigeons turned and circled over us, the sound of their wings clear in the cold air.  I don't know if I've ever heard that before.

The last couple of days my senses seem to be tuned to a slighter higher frequency or sensitivity.  I can smell the slightest trace odors; Josh was eating an orange in the kitchen, and I could smell it in the living room. The snow muffles so much extraneous noise that I hear all sorts of other sounds.  And at the O'Keeffe museum some of the colors seem to go right through me or swirl in and stay.

Next stop was Taos Pueblo: bitterly cold and windy and consequently almost deserted. everything run down, dun-colored, yet image after image frames itself as a potential picture: a kind of soft stark beauty. 

The multi-story north and south houses are not nearly as monumental as I'd expected. Everything was smaller and more primitive but still, that charm was there. sweet dogs roaming around, heads down -- not sure if in trained submissiveness or against the piercing wind.  

Walked the pueblo with a friendly informed guide, young girl who answered all our questions. Particularly impressed with ruins of old church, now made into a cemetery; 

horos -- outdoor ovens in parabolic mounds with beautiful beaten metal circular doors; 

loved little bridge over village stream, lined with red willow (after which Taos is named).  

Stopped at a small gift shop where we had a very successful shop, buying lots of cool gifts. The proprietor told us how she burns sage and recites a prayer every or ing, how she always prays for her customers to receive the same blessings as she asks for. 

 Josh rather astonished me (and her, I think) by asking if she would sing the prayer for us.  Turned into one of the more magical moments of the trip.

Next drove to back to Taos to explore the town a bit. Parked and strolled the plaza but weren't impressed by the cluttered shops full of tourist wares.  Saw inferior versions of what we'd just bought on the pueblo for twice as much as what we'd paid.  Did enjoy a quick peak into the LaFonda where very helpful guy at desk helped us determine route for rest of day and recommended lunch at Orlando's which seem a propitious name. We stopped in at the brightly painted -- combos of magenta, turquoise, and orange -- little local place and had enchiladas and fajitas.

Then we were off on our intrepid voyage north and west across the immensely high Rio Grand Bridge, for miles through the snowy mountains and Carson forest, and down to the Chama River Valley to turn south on the road to Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu and back finally to Santa Fe -- we figure Josh drove about 250 miles!

Our glimpse of the black gorge slashing through the plateau had made us eager to see they gorge up close, so we set off west from Taos to this gigantic suspension bridge stretching some 800+ feet above the gorge, which is like a miniature Grand Canyon but all in formidable black basalt; it looks the gates of hell. 

A tiny rush of tumbling river cutting thru at the very bottom. 

 It was bitter cold with a harsh wind and the walkways on either side of the bridge had not been shoveled or salted.  My reason told me the railings were high and sturdy enough that I could not fall over but the primitive reptile brain shrieked in terror.  

Never thought of myself as afraid of heights but could only manage to walk curbside, a safe 2feet or so from the edge.  Had to look at pictures Josh took from the middle to get the full effect.

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