May 9, 2015
[Caution: I’ve got a little bit of editorial comment in this post. Just a little.]
We wanted to explore the artist community in Taos and visit Santuario De Chimayó along the way. Rather than taking the main highway we opted for the “high road to Taos”.
El Santuario de Chimayo was an ancient healing place in the mountains above what would eventually become Santa Fe. When the Spanish invaded and conquered the area in the early 19th century they capitalized on its sacred nature and put up a church and claimed it for Catholicism.
It is still used for Catholic mass; in fact, they were holding an outdoor mass as we arrived. But there are a number of chapels and other buildings on the grounds so we could meander through other parts of the site.
Now, is it just me? The area where outdoor mass is held has a cover over the area where the priest stands and the elements for communion are prepared. But the congregants have to sit out in whatever kind of weather there is. And the weather that day was cool and breezy with a threat of hail. It seems that this overly elevates the position of the priest. Like I say, I’m not Catholic, but I am Christian and that sort of distinction is downplayed in our church. I guess I’m just sour because the Spanish came and enslaved the native people who seemed to have a good life there.
Nevertheless, it is still considered a holy place and you can purchase containers to scoop up some holy dirt or holy water for healing. I’m not downplaying or saying it isn’t valuable – I think it is wonderful. There are a number of areas on the grounds where people post messages or light candles for those who are ill or suffer in other ways. That is the role of Christ – to comfort those who need it.
We then headed up the high road toward Taos. The drive was incredibly scenic. We’d drive over ridges that were 8,500 feet above sea level then meander down valleys that were a mere 7,500 feet above sea level. Along the way passed through many little villages and each, it seemed, had its own church. Here is one called Las Trampas. You can see it is closed for repairs.
The age of the structures intrigues me. In southwest suburb of Portland, where we live, a building over 50 years old is a structure of interest. Now, of course there are buildings where the pioneers settled at the end of the Oregon trail, but overall it is a very young communtiy. But, Las Trampas was established in 1751 – 50 years or more before Lewis and Clark got to the Pacific Ocean. I know, I know; readers in Asia and Europe will say even the 18th century settlements are new.
As we continued our journey north we passed by many art gallerys. We stopped to take a picture of one’s sign featuring a crow, thinking of my buddy Kara who loves crows. I wasn’t able to get a picture of the crows soaring on the updrafts of the Acoma Sky City mesa but this would be nice.
See that weather building in the background? Yeah, so did we. It was definitely getting colder and the clouds were lowering. The temp was in the low 40s and upper 30s. The nice thing about car travel is you can take so much more with you than you can on an airplane. We were prepared with primaloft jackets and rain shells.
As we got closer to Taos, it started to spit a combination of hail and snow. We stopped for lunch, but stayed in the car for a minute to let a hail burst pass by. It did and we headed into lunch at Bellas Mexican Grill. Scrumptious. This was to be our big meal of the day; Carla ordered chile rellenos and I ordered pork enchiladas. We then shared the dishes so we each had and enchilada and a relleno.
After lunch we wondered through the shops around the town plaza. I really like the configuration of a central plaza with shops, and usually a church, surrounding it. But we didn’t stay long because the snow was coming down.
Since we were up here and not likely to return for quite a while, if at all, we headed out to the Taos pueblo. But by the time we got there the grounds were muddy, snow was coming down and it was getting late. So I grabbed one picture and we headed back down the hill; this time by the main highway.
If you look closely at the photo above you can see the snow flakes.
After getting back to the El Rey hotel we had a bite of guacamole and chips and some fruit. We also took some time to plan our next step. One of our daughters-in-law was in Oklahoma Ciity late in the week and was caught in the terrible weather there – tornados and big thunderstorms. The conference she attended was interrupted so the participants could gather in the center of the building for safety when a tornado threatened. Thankfully, a tornado did not strike her and she was able to get back home.
Amarillo was also afflicted by the plains’ spring weather. So we developed a plan. The forecast for Amarillo the next day looked good so we figured it was safe to go there. But before we head out each day, we are watching weather forecasts along our route (isn’t the internet wonderful?). If things look risky, we’ll stay put for a few days.