02.09.2015 - 03.09.2015
Thinking about my past two days in Taos and the surrounding Northern New Mexico area, I can think of no better metaphor than the beautiful outlook point at the Wild Rivers Visitors Center, where you can view the meeting spot of the Rio Grande River (which famously extends to my native Texas) and the Red River, which is the namesake of a nearby ski town.
How I Got Here
My whirlwind adventure began at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning with a shuttle to the Dallas Love Field Airport, in order to catch a 7:40 a.m. flight to Albuquerque, followed by another shuttle to Santa Fe where I rented a car to drive northward towards Taos and Red River. (I've had similarly scheduled travel days in the past, including my recent trip to New Orleans, so don't worry, I know what I am doing, thanks to a little caffeine and lots of adrenaline/excitement.)
Big City Girl, Mountain Driving
Being a native of big 'ole Dallas, which is flatter than a pancake, I initially worried a little bit about mountain driving. I've done it before, and I knew I could do it. For me, doing advanced research on various routes and driving conditions always helps me feel more prepared and at ease before I go on a big driving trip. Thus, I ended up taking the "river road" (NM 68) to get to Taos, which had its moments of switchbacks and elevation changes, but I did fine and it was not scary, even for a nervous driver like myself. One quick tip: I quickly figured out that if a car behind you wants to go faster, you have two options: #1) find a safe spot to briefly pullover to the side of the road until the traffic passes (and there are a good number of these spots, even scenic ones!), or #2) if you are in a spot where you cannot easily/safely pullover, just keep going and the car behind you will pass when they are ready.
Texans in Taos
Meeting up with my Uncle Joe, also a native Texan, who recently moved to Red River, he very kindly showed me around his new hometown and surrounding area. Starting at the Taos Pueblo, we took a guided tour (which I highly recommend, by the way), which was led by a young man who had spent part of his childhood living inside the pueblo. We learned about the structural upkeep, how they govern themselves and other day-to-day customs of their lifestyle.
After the tour of the Taos Pueblo and exploring the premises, Uncle Joe and I did a couple scenic drives, including part of the Enchanted Circle and the Taos Upper Valley. The next day, we went back into Taos, visiting the Millicent Rogers Museum, Kit Carson Home & Museum, and shopping near the Taos Plaza, followed by a delicious lunch at a locally-raved restaurant called Orlando's.
And of course, I can't forget to mention the lovely town of Red River. Yes, a lot of people come to Northern New Mexico to visit Santa Fe and Taos, but there's much more to see and do outside of these two towns. A very small mountain town with a twang, Red River has friendly people, good food and activities in both summer and winter. (I think I remember seeing a zip line near the ski lift, which of course I made a mental note for next time.) My uncle and I had a great dinner at local restaurant called Texas Reds Steakhouse. I also can't forget seeing a deer cross while we were driving near my uncle's neighborhood. Clearly, I'm not in Dallas anymore.
What animals do you see at Wild Rivers?
Speaking of animal sightings...remembering back to the Wild Rivers Visitors Center, there was a white board where visitors could write what kinds of animals they spotted in the area. If you read closely on the top left portion of the board, one person wrote..."bear". Yikes!
What's next on my agenda after hanging out in Red River and Taos? Driving down the "river road", the next leg of my current journey is a solo adventure in Santa Fe. More updates to come!