Sunday, September 30, 2012

Santa Fe, New Mexico

September 28, 2012:

We drove to Santa Fe, New Mexico on September 24th and set up at the Campos de los Santa Fe, (Santa Fe Camp).  It is within the Santa Fe city limits, not very scenic, but clean, fairly quiet and very convenient to the downtown attractions and everything else.  In fact you can get on the downtown shuttle bus a block away and ride all day for $2.00.  
Santa Fe is as beautiful as advertised, everything is built in the adobe pueblo style with lots of spanish/mexican/native indian embellishments.  Santa Fe has been under the control of Native Indians, then Spain, then Mexico and now the US since 1600.  The history is pretty brutal not a happy story !  Santa Fe is the second oldest settlement in the United States, of course we don't count the various native indian cultures who have lived here for thousands of years. 

We  explored the downtown area and the "Plaza" with the native Indians selling their wares on the sidewalk of the Palace of the Governors. The Palace of the Governors was built by the Spainish in the early 1600's and it is now turned it into a great museum tracing the entire history of the town.  Downtown Santa Fe is wall to wall silver and turquoise jewelry and art, it is everywhere !  We are pretty cheap so our purchases were minimal, but much temptation !  

Lots of tourist attraction such as the San Miguel Mission (oldest church in US), and behind it is a house thought to be the oldest house in America.  Then the historic Saint Francis Cathedral, the Loretto Chapel and the State Capital of New Mexico. 

We didn't go to any of the trendy restaurants downtown, as we got hung up on the "Cowgirl BBQ" the first night, the food and atmosphere were just right. I also went there to hear live music one night and had a good time talking to a guy who back in the 1970's jumped freight trains for a couple of years. 

I also went to the 2nd street Brewery another night to hear a band that does these shows they call "Dylan and the Dead".  They were mostly doing Grateful Dead songs as 90% of the people there would qualify as Deadheads.  The band was amazing, I think they may be better than the real Grateful Dead !  They played one song that went on for about 1/2 hour.  I never really liked the Grateful Dead sound before, now (too late) I think get it ?  

My favorite thing was the ride we took on the Turquoise Highway to the towns of Cerrollos and Madrid.  We stopped at this old trading post in Cerrollos that was incredible, like a scene from an old western.  As we were there a film crew person came in to talk to the owner about taking his sign down for the movie scene they were going to shoot there.  We then went around the corner near the railroad tracks and saw all the movie trucks and cameras getting set up.  The Trading Post owner told us that Jennifer Anniston was in town for the movie and they had to chase the paparazzi away.  We then drove another 10 miles or so to town of Madrid.  It was also an old mining town, brought back to life by the hippies in the 1960's, now loaded with shops selling art and jewelry items.  They had a really original looking old tavern there, The Mine Shaft Tavern, a long rustic wooden bar with paintings on the wall behind, original looking old wood flooring, real log ceiling beams.  Guy on one side of us wearing a drover coat, a guy on the other side with cowboy boots with spurs.  We had a conversation at the bar with a local shop owner who told us that we could boondock there easily, hang out for a few days without any problems, we were very tempted, maybe another time.

Another highlight was a ride I took up into the mountain north of Santa Fe towards the Santa Fe ski Basin.  The Aspen tree leaves were all turned a golden yellow color in contrast to the green of the fir trees on the mountain sides, it was almost raining and still beautiful ! 

My Favorite moment was : At a gas station, as I was putting fuel in the truck this young dude yells over to me ; Cool truck man, Wow, you got six wheels !

Next stop Albuquerqu, NM

Twinkles has a new ride

Interesting paintings across from St. Francis Cathedral

Santaurio de Guadalupe

New Mexico Rail Runner Train set

Mural on Guadalupe Street

The Cowgirl BBQ, a favorite place in Santa Fe

St. Francis Cathedral 

Typical Santa Fe architecture

Painting inside New Mexico State Capital

San Miguel Mission

Interior of the San Miguel Mission

Mural in Santa Fe hiding electrical transformers

House in Cerrillos

Casa Grande Trading Post in Cerrillos

Old mission church in Madrid

Painting behind bar at the Mine Shaft Tavern in Madrid

Hank Williams at the Mine Shaft Tavern ?

View behind the bar at the Mine haft Tavern

View from the road to Santa Fe ski Basin

Beautiful Aspen tree leaves

Lady of Guadalupe Statue

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Baton Pass, New Mexico

September 24, 2012:

We arrived at Cedar Rail Campground on the afternoon of September 22nd, it is located on the summit of Raton Pass, 7,800 + feet , just over the border in New Mexico.  It was a little exciting getting to the campground, due to road construction the normal exit at the top of the pass was closed, so we had to go all the way down the other side to the next exit, turn around and go all the way back up the top of the Pass for the exit into the campground. This campground has a truly remarkable view, we had one of those 100 mile views out of our rear window. 

I ran 65 + all the way from Colorado Springs to Raton and averaged almost 12 MPG, highest ever towing.  I have noticed that I get better fuel mileage when going up and down hills than on level ground, it seems to gain more going downhill than it loses going uphill.  

The Cedar Rail Campground is a really nice site and they were extra friendly.  The only complaint is that they told us to listen for the bulging elk in the morning and we were kind of excited about that; all we heard was the eighteen wheelers going up and down the highway. 

After setting up, I explored downtown Raton, New Mexico while Twinkles quilted: she does not share my enthusiasm for old derelict run down poor towns with rich histories.  Raton definitely qualifies as that, it has a 1st street with an intact row of vintage buildings (bars, stores and bordellos) from the early 1900's across the street from the classic mission style train depot (Amtrak still stops there, actually saw the train pull in).  Raton came to life with the advent of the railroad line over the Raton Pass and with the mining and ranching industry.  Then you go uphill to 2nd street and you find the more modern area with a beautiful old Opera House and move theater and lots of other historical buildings.  As usual, many buildings are vacant, for sale, not looking too prosperous.

On Sunday, Twinkles joined me to explore the town of Trinidad, Colorado on the other side of the Raton Pass.  It is very similar to Raton, NM, got it's start with the railroad, mining and cattle ranching too.  It has a somewhat more prosperous looking downtown, one of the most fantastic ornate Bank buildings anywhere !  We stopped at a nice cafe with outside seating for breakfast that was really good.  Then we found Rt. 12 west, old Santa Fee trail, (Highway of legends), for a ride out into the country for 20 or so miles.  It was mostly old closed mines, old adobe buildings, poor houses and small towns.  The further we traveled, the prettier it became as we came closer to the Spainish Peaks mountain area.

Next stop Santa Fee, New Mexico

Raton, NM Train Depot

Palace Hotel sign in Raton, NM

Santa Fee Cafe in Raton, NM

The El Raton theater in Raton, NM

Marchiondo's store in Raton, NM

Swastika building in Raton, old indian symbol

Last coal steam locomotive in Trinidad

Mining monument in Trinidad

Sign on Trinidad restaurant

Strange detail on Trinidad Bank

Trinidad streets are paved with bricks

Sidewalk art in Trinidad

1st National Bank of Trinidad 

The sign for Cokedale Mine, slag pile in background

Interesting Caterpillar

Heading down the road in Colorado towards the Spanish Peaks

That's the Cedar Rail Campground from the highway

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Colorado Springs continued

September 21, 2012:

We took a break from touring to catch up on domestic stuff, laundry and then food shopping at a local store, "King Sooper".  We have been in a serious Wallmart rut lately, it was real nice to go somewhere else.  Wallmart is so convenient, they have everything, they seem to be everywhere and the prices are good, but I consider them an evil empire of sorts, no one can compete against them, they kill most of the small independent stores, but that's the way the free enterprise system works.  The homogenization of America is becoming more and more evident as we travel around.  

While Twinkles was doing the laundry, (I want to help, but she won't let me near it), I completed the fabrication of a carrier for the RV Sewer hose out of a 5 x 5 square vinyl fence post section that I bolted under the RV, from one of those other evil empire stores, Home Depot.

Next stop was to Manitou Springs to the Cliff Dweller's Museum, which was way better than expected.  It is a beautiful place, the cliff dwellings are very well preserved and restored to be very authentic.  They also have an excellent museum and a huge gift shop. We then went to downtown Manitou Springs for a beer which is how most of our jaunts end.

On the night of September 20th, we heard noises like artillery fire outside in the distance, which was a bit concerning, sounded like we were under attack.  We are very close to the Fort Carson Army base here and they must have a firing range or something nearby ? It was weird to hear it so close. 

On Sept 21st, we went to Pueblo, Colorado for the18th annual Chile and Frijoles Festival.  This festival is now one of the biggest Chile festivals in the country and it was great !  It was held in the downtown historic district of Pueblo, which is a very vibrant, successful downtown revitalization project.  I was last there about 6 years ago and I thought the downtown area was great then, it seems even better now. They have the most incredible old restored Train station and they have built a beautiful new river walk area. 

On September 22nd, we go back on the road, just over the border to Raton, New Mexico.  We are staying a couple of days at the Cedar Rail Campground perched on the 7,800 foot crest of the Raton Pass.  Lots of Elk, bear, mountain lions and other creatures up there we are told.

Manitou cliff dwellings

Manitou cliff dwellings

Kiva ceremonial chamber

Great downtown Pueblo mural

Downtown Pueblo fountain

Great Musso Chile Farm logo

Indian quilt statue at Pueblo River walk

Lots of Chile Peppers for sale

Banquet room at the Pueblo Union Depot

Front view of the Pueblo Union Depot

All kinds of Peppers

Roasting the Chile peppers

More Chile Peppers !

Lots of fire !