Friday, October 30, 2020

Checking Out Maybes in Santa Fe

 October 5-7, 2020
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Prior to our departure from Tombstone last week we were given a mission. An important mission to locate a piece of property in a remote area west of Taos.

My BFF inherited this quarter acre years ago but has yet to find her way there. They got close once, but were unsuccessful. Since then she's gotten the GPS coordinates and has now tasked us with tracking it down. Not knowing the state of the roads/access it's believed having the Jeep may be necessary!

So Monday we're off on what will be 100 mile drive to see if maybe we can find it.

We take Hwy 84 through small settlements, mostly one or two buildings along the road with several farms dispersed in the distance. As expected there is plenty to enjoy along the way.

It is very dry yet wildflowers flourish in some areas.

Autumn-colored vines catch my eye on this now closed cafe.

For a couple miles we're surrounded by these unique formations.
We lose Internet and our GPS for awhile, finding both again just before our turn east on Hwy 64. Having checked out the area on Google Earth, I know there are possible dirt roads that lead to our destination. Before long we're directed to make a right. A gate crosses the dirt road. Redirection takes us to another option where Bill opens the gate to let me pass, closing it behind us. 

Initially this road is looking passable for motorhomes (the ultimate goal is to see if the property could be an option for boondocking). When we find a large cleared space we're even more optimistic. 

This would work!

On the other side of the entrance road is this communication building. My mother called them "flying saucer repair stations" and they always give me a big smile when we come across one.
Unfortunately the GPS recalculates and directs us to continue down the road another two miles where we will then turn right. And the "good" road is no more. Deep ruts tell a story of a route that is likely impassable during and after any precipitation. To further confirm this is not a place for a motorhome, the road dead-ends at a shooting range with no right turn.

Not RV friendly :-(
Back to Hwy 64 and a couple more misses before we find what seems to be the "way in". A few rugged structures and trailers that most likely will never exit the area are scattered about, and several dirt roads of different widths and conditions crisscross around us. But alas we find what we're looking for!

Getting a closer look at this place we're glad the gate is locked.

We never really "need" the Jeep but I'm glad we have it.

"You have arrived at your destination."

They are small and there are very few of them, but Bill wants our friends to know they have a tree on their property!

The shrub is so thick that walking on the roads is much easier.

So we successfully complete our mission and while the location is peaceful with huge views all around, the goal of finding a place for boondocking in our motorhomes is a bust. 

We continue into Taos, checking out the interesting Earthship homes along Hwy 64. It's surprisingly busy in town with lots of road construction, and we just continue through without stopping. 

The "dots" are bottles. All seem to have at least a few in their walls.

All solar and wind powered.

Quirky is the norm.

Hwy 68 offers long views of the Rio Grande gorge. We crossed the bridge over it on Hwy 64 but there were a lot of people so we didn't stop to look (it's spectacular from the vehicle!). The highway drops down and we're hoping that maybe there will be water in the Rio Grande. Yes! And the prettiest scenery we've seen so far. All the roadside stops are open - parking lots and pit toilets. A couple people have stopped to fish, but mostly we have the space to ourselves just to enjoy the water.

We try to imagine the travel challenge this deep gorge presented to early tribes and pioneers.

Aspen glow along the hill above the river.

And along the water's edge.

So refreshing after all the dry terrain.

Green sampler.
One of my favorite resources for day trips and unusual points of interest is I especially love finding scenic drives. We've done most of those listed in the Santa Fe area with the exception of the nine mile route (NM-475) from downtown to Ski Santa Fe. Tuesday we head out to give it a look. Knowing that we're headed to a ski area it's not surprising that we start climbing quickly after leaving a beautiful residential area of high-dollar properties. 

The smoke continues to dull our skies and I'm not sure if we'll be able to appreciate the "scenic" of this drive. Maybe there will something else to enjoy besides the long views.


You know how when you first see pretty trees or flowers or rocks, and you start taking photos and then start noting places to stop on your way back to be sure you capture those glimpses you missed on the way up? The first few miles are just like that. Clusters of yellow aspen and cottonwood are beautiful along the road.

And then we come around one corner and the whole mountainside explodes with color! It's such a surprise that I can hardly take it all in. What a glorious sight!!

This is a winding mountain road, lots of wow!s around each turn. In the middle of the amazing fall color is a stop called, not surprisingly, Aspen View. Also not surprising is the number of people here. To see the views. Of Aspens. I hear several people say this is the "peak week". We really scored on this "maybe"!

Getting to walk among these golden beauties is a blessing. No need to stop at those "glimpse" spots on the way back, we've immersed ourselves in fall color!

Turns out we didn't miss those long views at all :-)

In addition to all the San Antonio recommendations we loved from (, Jim also told me about a tasty and unique eatery in Santa Fe. Neither of us have had it before, but maybe we'll like Venezuelan food at Santarepa Cafe. We love it!! With everyone masked and outdoor seating it's another lovely and safe experience. Thanks Jim and Diana for this perfect recommendation! 

Delicious food and warm, personal service.
I've wanted a ristra every time we've been to New Mexico but except for the tiny one I got in Hatch years ago I haven't had the space for a larger one. There are many places in Santa Fe to buy them and maybe I can find one with the tiny chilis I prefer. I find the last one at a small roadside vendor, and a sweet little metal goat for our cactus garden. I'll have to post pics of them next time. 

I did manage to capture this tray of chilis drying in the sun. Don't they just feel like New Mexico?

Our week in Santa Fe went by too fast and now we prepare for something new - returning to our house. It's admittedly a weird difference in our travels.

We'll make a couple stops, have a bit more vehicular drama, and return to Tombstone. In the next post.


  1. Love those aspen colors. Sounds as if you were looking for a needle in a haystack and you found the needle.

    1. That yellow was so vivid!! I'm hoping the cottonwoods in the San Pedro are pretty when we get back (in SoCal now)

  2. We took a tour of the Earthship 'model' home. Pretty interesting off-grid living.
    Awesome pictures of the Aspen, I think you did hit 'peak week'.

    1. I'd love to go back when the model home is open again. We really did luck out with our timing!

  3. You are most welcome on the Santarepa Cafe recommendation, Jodee! The owner is such a sweet lady. 😊. Glad you drove up to Ski Santa Fe! I forgot to tell you about that. We went up when they were skiing. That was the first snow we had seen since 2015!

    1. She really is a sweetie. Can't believe there's a ski resort so close to town!! They're going to need lots of snow this year. It's scary dry.

  4. Aren't those earthship homes cool? I love the bottles incorporated into the adobe. I kind of want to do something with my Bombay Sapphire gin bottles because they're such a beautiful turquoise color, but I don't think adobe will last well in Florida, LOL. Love your gorgeous aspens!

    1. I love that cobalt blue glass!! I'm sure your creative minds will come up with something :-)

  5. So glad you did the drive up to Ski Santa Fe and did get to see all the beautiful aspen colors. Suzanne from Take to the Highway was just there and she hit it at prim time, as well. Hope we can hit it right next year, too. Thanks forsharing your fall photos. We spent only an afternoon in Taos on our motorcyle trip. I'm Pinning all your posts for our future trip. What fun your property seach was. Love just wandering like that. It sure is very different traveling part time. Bitter sweet to have to come back to the house.

    1. Our second trip through Taos and we still haven't spent any time in the cute little town. We'll just have to go back :-))) It's beautiful country to wander through and the "hunt" was super fun.

  6. Thanks for taking us back to that wonderful area. There are so many dirt roads heading off in all directions I'm impressed you finally found what you were looking for! We toured a couple of those earth ships, pretty interesting. I love the bottles in the walls. When we were in Mexico years ago we saw lots of fences with different colored glass bottles incorporated or broken along the tops. Sun makes them sparkle!
    I chickened out on a "road" just past the bridge that drops down the cliff and then hugs the river on the opposite side from the one you photographed. Maybe next time!

    1. Well if you didn't brave it I'm sure I wouldn't, but it does sound interesting :-)That's such a beautiful area along the water. Love the sound of those fences :-))))

  7. What a great mission! And how hard you worked at it to achieve success. Sorry it didn’t turn out to be what you had hoped. I can’t imagine owning property I’ve never seen.
    Earthship homes are a treat. Nothing like that on the east coast that I know of. Fabulous pictures of the Aspen Glow. Lucky lucky you to see it in person. Thanks for sharing.
    I think I won’t make it in New Mexico. I’m not fond of chili’s or things made with them.
    My palate is a wuss.

    1. I have ten acres I'm selling to the national conservancy that I haven't seen since I was eleven with my dad :-) That color blew my mind!! There are other yummy choices but really the chilis are the draw - and some are waaaay too hot for me.

  8. I’d call that a very successful trip! Nice you made it to your friends place. Love their trees! You sure had fantastic color!! Wowee!! So beautiful! The restaurant sounded great too. We’re also looking for a return trip to a few parts of NM we haven’t seen yet.

    1. It was like a great big geocache!! I think that area around Taos has boondocking options, but maybe it's all private land? NM has so much beauty to enjoy, I'm glad we took the time to get back to see more of it.