New Mexico was amazing. So beautiful and open. All that space…amazing!!!!! Desert and canyons and mountains Oh My!!!
I was there with my family (parents, 2 sisters and my sister’s husband) for a week-4 days in Santa Fe and 3 days in Taos. I’m an incredibly outdoorsy person so I was looking forward to this trip like no other. Also, my senior year of college I took a seminar called Ecology and Geology of the Southwest and have since been itching to get to the Southwest. On both of these levels, New Mexico did not disappoint. It has such a unique environment-it’s a high desert (7000 ft elevation-HIGH!!) so it has a lot more vegetation than, say, Arizona or Nevada, but is still quite barren compared to any place I’ve been and have spent significant time outdoors (Ohio, New York, Connecticut, Ontario). Also, the Rockies end just north of Santa Fe which is pretty fascinating, but they were in full force in Taos. And the Rio Grande flows all through New Mexico, ending up in Texas and forming the border between Texas and Mexico. In New Mexico, it is deep in a gorge, like a canyon and is almost hidden in the plains unless you’re up close. Really really cool.
Oh, and the sun was brighter and the sky was bluer than any other place I’ve ever been. Let’s move on to the pics!
Our first full day we spent in Bandolier National Monument about an hour west of Santa Fe. This is a beautiful park where you are surrounded by different rock formations, trees you don’t see in the east (Ponderosa and Pinyon Pines) and old Native American ruins. The rocks are actually very soft (well, in rock terms) and made from volcanic ash that transformed the region billions of years ago. Very poreous up-close. And yes-the sky really was this blue.
You can kind of see in the pic below the location of a where a Native American long house was-the holes on the side of the ridge and the stones on the ground to the right of the path. I don’t remember the number but huge number of people used to live there.
There were also cave dwellings that Native Americans lived in scattered throughout the park. This one was the biggest (HUGE!) and we had to climb 4 scary log ladders to get there. Totally worth it though. This is me with my dad-the birthday boy (side note-the trip was for his birthday, but his birthday was back in April. April Fools Day to be exact. We used to have a lot of fun with that when we were kids.)
Oo-forgot I put this in. A MUCH better pic of the long house.
On the second day (I guess technically the third, but this was the second full day), I went with my Dad and younger sister Maggie to Los Alamos, where the Atomic Bomb was developed in the 40s (pretty cool museum there) and tested and to this amazing overlook. Here you can see all the different geological structures we encountered-mesas, plains, canyons, mountains (high mountains-with snow). And the colors!!! oh the colors. You don’t get that in New York. We were there for about 30 minutes and I told my Dad that I could probably have just sat there all day.
Same overlook, just turning to the right-the Rio Grande. The gorge was a lot more dramatic by Taos.
Me being squinty with my sister (brightest sun EVER!). The three of us raved about it so much that night that we convinced the other three (mom, other sister and her hub) to go back. To bad a huge crazy storm hit when the got there the next day.
I realized I took no pics of the actual town of Santa Fe so I snapped this the morning we left to go to Taos. Santa Fe was such a neat town-very laid back and relaxed. And talk about sticking to a motif!! Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING!) was adobe.
We took a non-highway route from Santa Fe to Taos in order to catch as much scenary as possible. Here is a pic I took during one of the many (too many??-Geez Mom we do NOT need to see another church) times we stopped. Abrubtly. I was riding with my older sister (Meredith) and her husband (Bob) and my Dad, Mom and Maggie were in front and my Dad kept pulling over quickly without any notice or blinker which led to lots of swearing from my sister and lots of almost accidents.
Me and my three sis’s during a stop in Chimayo, the Chimayo River about 6 inches from our backs, but you can’t see. I was trying to snap a pic of us with the horse with the cow behind us but you can’t see him. 😦 My head looks a lot bigger than theirs-it’s not really.
This is during our first full day in Taos (Friday). As a present for my Dad, my sisters and I wanted to do something special for just the four of us. After lots of back and forth emails (horseback riding, white water rafting-which got a quick no from Maggie) we decided to go on a hot air balloon ride. Albuquerque is the center of the universe for hot air balloons and they were incredibly popular all over New Mexico. The morning of it, they picked us up at 5:15 when the sun wasn’t close to being up and it was 30 degrees. Temps really go up and down in New Mexico in the high altitude. After a 30 minutes drive we got to our launch site. This is a view of the plains and mountains from the launch site-you can see the sun just coming over the mountains.
Come closer sun-I’m so cold!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Although watching the sun crawl across the plain was pretty gosh-darn cool.
The balloons being set up. There were two balloons going up that day. The other one was prettier but that’s okay. The set up was really fun to watch. And took quite a while.
And we’re up!! And right back down. Right from the launch site we went right down into the Rio Grande Gorge. It was not to wide down there. And at one point we were about 6 inches from the water. It was so beautiful down there though.
Me in the balloon coming out of the gorge (we would go in and out, up and down).
After that we went up over the plains to find a landing site. I like this pic because you can see the other balloon with their shadow and our shadow. It was just so beautiful. And so peaceful. I barely said a word the entire time, just in awe over this amazing and majestic landscape.
Me and Mag. A little warmer now but still cold. Although the flame kept the top of our heads warm!! (you can see other people in this pic-there were about 10 people, kinda smushed, in the balloon).
After about an hour and a half in the air we landed (this is right before we landed) on a field of sagebrush. When basket full of lots of people smashed the sage, this wonderful scent was released into the air. Yum!
This might be my favorite pic from the entire trip. Our driver(?-can you call him a driver?) Ed took a pic right before we went out of the balloon of the 4 of us. We look so happy! Cause we were!! That was such a fun adventure and I’m glad I got to share it with my Dad and sisters. I highly suggest taking a balloon ride if you’re given the opportunity. You won’t regert it! And it’s not scary AT ALL and I’m kinda afraid of heights.
After we landed, were met by the chase vehicles, packed up the balloon we drove to the bottom of the gorge and had champagne. And served my 19 year old sister with no questions asked!! It was quite a blast. As two glasses of champagne on a completely empty stomach..woooo!
That afternoon we visted the Taos Pueblo which is just outside of Taos, which is fully inhabited and has been so for a VERY long time. My mind is blanking on more history about it, so you can google it. It was very interesting to see and chat with the tribe members who lived there. The building you see in the pic was over 600 years old and still going strong! A fascinating part of our trip.
The last full day of the trip (Saturday) I did 2 hikes. The first was with my sisters, Bob, and my Dad up into the Rockies. Once again, I just love being outdoors so doing this was totally my cup of tea. And it offered sweeping view of the mountains and the valley and plains. Maggie and I had a blast on this one-lots of singing and riddles and me yelling at her that her riddles didn’t make sense. Maggie-they didn’t!!!! Kinda.
The second hike was that afternoon about an hour away from Taos into the Rio Grande Gorge with my parents. The others decided to rest-there was NO WAY I was going to stay inside. I had to spend the entire next day inside on a plane. So, although my quads were pretty shot from a long downhill earlier in the day, I went with them. And it was worth it! Totally different that the earlier hike. Tons of cool rock formations from top to bottom. At the bottom was a roaring Rio Grande, although we were on a strict time limit and had no time to stop and enjoy the scenary.
My mom had a tough time with the really intense uphill-even I had a hard time with it. It was STEEP! But she did GREAT!!! And made it to the top with barely enough time to drive fast back to Taos for a quick shower to make our dinner reservations. I sure was smelly before I got into that shower! Overall an awesome last day. And a restaurant that evening with Vegetarian Tempeh Enchiladas to boot!!!
The morning we left. 😦 This is the view of the Rockies from the backyard of the B&B in Taos. Can’t beat it.
All in all, an amazing and truely memorable trip. Thanks Mom & Dad and Happy (Belated) Birthday Dad!!