'State of Enchantment' is the slogan that appears on the number plates of New Mexican cars. It s apt, as this place has cast a spell on me.I am not sure I can really explain why. But let me try.
The country side is beautiful. The red soil sets off the green of the bushes and shrubs, there not being much grass in places of greater aridity. There are extensive plains with hills, mesas and mountains in the middle and far distance, giving the place an atmosphere of loneliness, or perhaps better, solitude. I feel the space, which is challenging: if the bike breaks down, the RACV is not anywhere near; yet the peace it brings to my soul is very deep.
Santa Fe is charming in the historic section, and even in the suburbs the town fathers have made the effort to extend the Spanish/Mexican style of construction to all buildings. Perhaps the prevalence of Hispanics also affects me, bringing their exotic language, culture and dark complexions into the mix?
Who knows, but this is a place I want to visit again with Liz.
Last night John and I had dinner at a decent, Spanish style, restaurant. The menu was not extensive but the variety was good; and the wine list showed vintages! We ordered seafood paella to share and washed it down with a very acceptable bottle of Albariño, and enjoyed the repartee with our waitress. As we were waiting for our taxi, we spent those fifteen minutes watching some locals practicing their Argentinian Tango. They were very accomplished and it was a pleasure watching. El Mēsom every Tuesday evening, should you ever be there.
Today's ride was the High Road to Taos. There was a rather decent rain band over the route, but we reckoned that by the time we got to that point it would have moved to the east, which is what happened. Our morning coffee stop was at Alicia's Cafe. Regrettably her establishment is closing next week. We wish her and her family well for the future. The high road passes through a number of villages, some of which are clinging to the side of the mountain, 8,500 ft up! There were many pine trees and it is very pretty, with some great bends. A pity that a) the roads were wet b) I was two-up!
Taos (say Tah-oss) has a remarkable old adobe church which is very popular with artists for some reason. It is also dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. Popular guy in these parts.Warning: the road around the church and in the parking lot s DEEPLY potholed. The Old Town reminded me a lot of Santa Be, but that is not surprising, both being designed around a central plaza. As an aside, the northern outskirts of Santa Fe reminded me of Pretoria!!
On the outskirts of Taos is a pueblo which has been inhabited continuously for a thousand years. We did not stop there but it is a UNESCO site and should be interesting.
What we were really aiming for was the Rio Grande Bridge over the gorge. We raced the rain and got there in very overcast and windy weather, but it was worth it. It is rugged. It is deep. It is deeper than deep. It is awesome and spectacular and leaning over the guard rail of the bridge to take photos is quite an experience.
The weather looked ominous and as we were already at 7,500 feet and about 16 C, I thought getting wet was not wise. I therefore put in the liner of my jacket and was warm and dry, the latter principally being due to out great fortune in the road missing storms either side of us. We noticed at one point along the road that there were drifts of hail. How fortunate were we to have missed that?
The road towards Pagosa Springs Colorado was terrific: in quite good condition, with sweeping bends, lovely undulations and decent ascents and descents. We peaked at over 10,500 feet and had the roads not been were would have made slightly quicker time.
I was a little sad crossing the state line into Colorado. New Mexico is a state to be savored at length.