Welcome to New Mexico! Did you know that’s how Taos was pronounced? I thought it was “TAYOS”. I stand corrected. Let me welcome you to “Taos that rhymes with house”, Frittata Followers. I’ve just experienced 5 full days of Taosonian hospitality and I’m excited to share it with you.
Quick side note- if you receive FrittataBlog in your email and read from your phone, be sure to actually click on the post title and let it take you to the blog. Otherwise you miss the fun videos. 😊
The drive in from Great Bend, Kansas was EPIC.
I am sorry that I don’t have pictures to share but it was not the kind of drive that can be captured by a photo. I’ll do my best to give you a visual with words because this drive was one of the parts of this trip I’ll never forget.
The Vast Expanse of the Great Plains
I left before sunrise. The first 200 miles were on a single-lane road across a massive expanse of uninterrupted Kansas scrubland. I was heading due West, so as the sun started to rise behind me my rearview and side mirrors lit up in an almost neon magenta.
To drive for that many miles without passing through a town and without seeing civilization is somewhat unnerving. The sheer distance that you can see in each direction (because the land is so flat) reminds you how tiny you actually are and I felt so exposed. I was so grateful that I’d filled the tank the night before even though it was only half empty. If I had not, I would have run out of gas before I reached a town.
Glory to God
I thanked God about a thousand times that I had the car checked out before I left Florida and I prayed ten thousand times more that I wouldn’t get a flat. It was humbling and I felt totally vulnerable. I oscillated between being terrified of being out there alone and being totally exhilarated that I was really doing this.
No Man’s Land
When I finally arrived in a town, I filled up again even though I was just below half. I was listening to my HearHere app and learned that I was in an area literally known as “No Man’s Land”.
Down the road a-ways, I suddenly popped up over the tiniest of hills. It was just enough that I couldn’t see beyond it as I was approaching it. And BAM! There they were. The snow-capped Rocky freaking Mountains. I laughed and cried at the same time with gratitude that I was actually making progress and for the change of scenery.
In about 20 more miles, it started snowing.
If you check out a map of the route from Great Bend, Kansas to Taos, you’ll see that the fastest route cuts more directly south and actually cuts across Texas before getting into New Mexico.
I chose not to take this route because I found out the day before I left that there are wildfires burning to the east of Taos and I was afraid I’d run into road blocks. I took the safer route, only about 30 minutes longer, and cut through the Rocky’s instead.
The Downhill Slope
Once through the Rocky Mountain pass, the weather warmed up and the skies were nothing but blue. I cruised through another 70 miles or so of flat Colorado scrubland with the occasional sighting of wild horses running alongside.
When I arrived at my hotel in Taos after the 8 hour drive, I was shaking. It took me a good 30 minutes to realize I had made it.
Rub It Out
I stayed at El Monte Sagrado, a really unique property with a well- known spa. It was rustic in a way but is also probably the nicest accommodation available in Taos.
I immediately scheduled a massage. They had availability about 2 hours later so I went into town, ate some tacos and found this place:
And I got one of these $11 milkshakes:
I got the massage that my piriformis desperately needed and then I grabbed my binoculars and went to meet the locals.
That boy was so beautiful! I took like a thousand pictures of him.. Got his wife too. Then I found this big boy.
That is the biggest dove I’ve ever seen. Seriously. I love his blue 80’s eyeshadow.
The main activity in this area is hiking. Situated at the foot of Carson National Forest, there are trails for every ability level. Unfortunately the entire forest was closed to the public even though the fires were quite a distance away.
It’s sad because my understanding is the fires started as controlled burns that got out of control. Now many sacred Native American areas are gone and the town is struggling without summer tourist income.
If you were planning a trip this way, don’t skip it. The air was clean and if you read on I’ll share plenty of things to do.
The Enchanted Circle
Next up is a drive of Taos’s Enchanted Circle. This is an incredible scenic drive that takes you through foothills and mountains, tiny ski towns and arroyos.
I only had words for the drive in from Kansas, but for this drive I have nothing but pictures.
I stopped to take some pictures and realized there were some THINGS moving on the dirt all around me.
I also got this killer shot of a rare swallow – meet Mr. Violet-Green Swallow:
Heed The Warnings
The views were spectacular. I must have stopped twenty times trying to capture it all for you.
And then I came across these warning signs:
Do you think I found them??
Of course I did!
Little Big Horn Sheep! Yes, the goal is to get the ones that have the double wrapped horns but these cuties made my day. I pulled over and walked right up to them.
Back on the road.
The Wise Man
I was hoping to see some elk on that drive but did not. When I got back to the hotel, I was talking with an old native American man that has lived in Taos his whole life. He said, “go to the Gorge. Hike out a ways. Find elk.”
Ok, but what’s a gorge?
Oh. That’s a gorge. The Rio Grande gorge as it turns out. It was impossible to get pictures to do it justice so this selfie is the best I could do.
That’s A Big Ditch
The Rio Grande gorge is a huge ditch, for lack of a better word, where the Rio Grande river runs through a tectonic chasm for about 50 miles from southern Colorado through Northern New Mexico. The gorge is 800 ft deep. You can either walk along a trail at the rim or you can boldly walk right out onto the bridge itself.
But Where Are The Elk?
I hiked about a mile along the gorge. No elk.
It was about 6pm and the sun was still high overhead. What if I just drive the Enchanted Circle one more time, maybe in reverse?
Yes folks, the sun was going down but as I rounded a tight bend way up high in the mountain, I met this young fellow.
Look at how he just easily hops that barbed wire fence! I was ecstatic. And then a few miles up the road I found the ladies:
The Enchanted Circle delivered!
The next day, on a tip from the valet at the hotel, I decided to check out Arroyo Seco which is a small village just north of Taos. I read that they have a place known for its ice cream, so…
No Ordinary Moments
So I’m eating my ice cream cone and walking through the village toward my car. A truck rolls up next to me, window rolls down and someone yells, “Hey Jenny!”
It was John. John is the nice guy from the hotel that helped me when I couldn’t figure out how to work the remote control in my room yesterday. He is a Buddhist who also works at the organic café where I’d just had lunch. I guess he recognize the pigtails.
Anyhoo, he pulled over and we chatted. And he gave me another site to go see.
There are no ordinary moments folks because this is what happened next:
Remember that gorge from yesterday? Now I’m in it.
I hiked about half a mile and enjoyed a real hot spring right next to the Rio Grande. Well, I enjoyed it from the knee down because it was hot as you-know-what so I moved directly into the cool river instead.
With plenty of daylight left, I decided to check out one more site that the hotel valet had told me about.
This one took a bit of a drive…but I found myself on a flat plateau practically in the clouds.
At an elevation of 7000 ft, you get a better view of that Rio Grande gorge. And for some reason, I had it all to myself.
The Unicorn Express
It’s time to give a round of applause to the Unicorn Express. Despite us having a rocky start to our relationship, this buggy has been my reliable wingman since I left Louisiana.
I’ll eventually find a way to map all the miles we’ve driven, but what can’t be captured are all the times I’ve slammed on the brakes and made a u-turn to get a photo of some bird, the miles on dirt and gravel roads, the amount of mud in the wheel wells from the Loop Road in the Everglades to the amount of sun-baked bird poop on the windshield and roof.
Did I mention that I got caught with the windows down and sunroof open in a sandstorm in Kansas? That left a fine layer of silt that I will likely never be rid of completely.
With a few thousand miles yet to go, I’m grateful for how far we’ve come unscathed.
Back to our journey…
Enchanted Once More
After today’s epic adventures, I found myself on the north side of the Enchanted Circle. Let’s see if the enchantment is still alive.
I nearly caused a massive wreck, but I pulled over when I saw them. I was headed toward Red River which is gearing up for a big Memorial Day weekend biker rally. The bikes were just flying by as if they see herds of big horns everyday.
Not me. I hung out with them until they were ready to move on. Once we were alone, they seemed as curious about me as I was of them.
Red River Reward
Red River happens to be the home of Red River Brewing…so I stopped to celebrate and to take time to be grateful for all of the natural wonders of this place.
My Kind of Camping
Being on the road for this long makes one a bit sick of eating out.
Yes, I just said that.
Look, I love a good taco as much as the next girl but one can only eat so many tacos. And meat. This part of the U.S. is a bit lacking in poke or sushi spots. I was craving one of my own home cooked meals. So I made it happen.
I passed a store on my way into Taos claiming to have the best organic food around. Stopped there. Then I hit a local hardware store and bought a hotplate for $13.99.
Voila! Once Upon A Frittata camp-style!
Click the images above for the full recipes or a link to Caraway Cookware.
Bird Of The Day..Or Two
No post would be complete without a “bird of the day” or two. Neither are great pictures, but they are good enough for positive IDs!
Here’s what they actually look like:
Frittata Cross Country is back on the road tomorrow for a short hop. Until then, here are a few feathered friends I met in the House of Taos: