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Old 10-21-2011, 12:03 PM   #225
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The weather looks good for Mancos SP—highs in the lower 60's and lows just above freezing. It may be colder at the Park, because those are Mancos temps and I think Mancos is about 700' lower than the Park. We have weeks and weeks of dry weather here and then we may get weeks of wet weather—usually many more dry weeks than wet ones. Traveling at this time of year means watching weather and especially weather at the passes. The passes may be snowy and the valleys dry. We seem to be in midst of dry weeks and I hope they last until we get back, then it can snow for months (except when we go to Denver in several weeks, no trailer, it will be hibernating by then).

I think the Park is high enough to get above the piñon/juniper forest and into the ponderosa/lodgepole forest. I hope so, because that feels better to me. And right now, after cutting up dead piñon for 5 afternoons in the past week, I'd really rather not be amongst them for several days.

Roger, you are right about Colorado State Parks' fees—they try to get you every which way. But this will be cheaper than the few private CG's that are still open around there. It is also should be prettier. Barb got a one day pass as a door prize somewhere, so we will save $7 because of that. Colorado's parks are usually as expensive as nearby campgrounds if you choose sites with hookups. Without hookups, you trade beauty for hookups and save a little. The parks that have some hookups are as expensive as private places and have no wifi or sewer hookups. They do charge extra for showers at parks where they have them. And, parks in Colorado are not usually somewhere where a one night stop on a trip somewhere else makes any sense, so private CG's are better for that. If we stay 3 nights, it will cost $62 or $20.67/night. If we get a late start, we might stop somewhere along the way, and stay 2 nights. The parks are run like a private business and therefore expensive. We are in a low tax state and thus we have declining infrastructure including lowly rated schools and expensive parks.

I believe Barb and I went to Mesa Verde 24 years ago. We stayed in a tent and I remember rain, she remembers cold. Either way, we spent a 2 the evenings in the SUV keeping dry and/or warm. It got dark early, so it must have been in the fall. This was one of the issues of tenting in the fall—many hours of darkness and if you don't have a campfire, what to do. Now with LED's for light, you can read; then it meant a lot of batteries to read.

Now a lot of NP is closed—visitor center (it's new, but I guess there's no money to staff it) and some ruins. The museum is still open and that is probably more interesting to us than the visitor center. If I had to pay to get in the Park, I'd be annoyed because I doubt they lower the price when they close things. It'll still be cool to visit. There is a Ute park next to it and I have to check that out today via internet.

We start packing today. I added air to the tires this morning as it is getting colder. I have been running 68 lbs. in the Michelin LR E tires for more than 20,000 miles and I see that they are wearing slightly more on the outside of the tread, so I increased pressure to 72 lbs. A tire tread guage is a very good investment—it helps me know how the tires are wearing and determine proper air pressure and which tires to rotate to where.

I had something on the truck hitch assembly welded yesterday—when I was backing up a steep hill with the hitch still in the receiver I dig the hitch into the hillside. This was better than backing over the side of a big drop off. Later I discovered a slight bulge in one of the tubes that connects the receiver to the frame. Lewster looked at it in Albuquerque and we agreed it probably didn't compromise the system, but it was best to have it spot welded. My 81 year old friend, Ken, who still cuts firewood with a saw with a 42" bar and has been welding forever, did the job. I have an 18" bar, longer than a lot of people use, and I know how heavy that can be—I can't imagine how heavy his saw is.

Now to look up stuff for the trip and then, let the packing begin. One of the things to look up is whether there is a bakery or store in Taos that has good whole wheat or multigrain bagettes with hard crust. This is important.

Gene
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Old 10-21-2011, 12:11 PM   #226
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After a look at that, well, holding it out at arms length a while ought to be analogous to a 42" bar. (Far, far worse were we to believe Wall Street).

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Old 10-21-2011, 08:07 PM   #227
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I learned today:

1. Mesa Verde charges $10 off season, $15 during the summer. Considering how much is closed, it should be lower.

2. The Ute Mountain Tribal Park sounds interesting, but you have to have a guide and that can get expensive. The whole day trip is $60 each, half was, I think, $35. the half day trip does not include cliff dwellings. You have to make reservations, though you have to call to find out details. And since it starts fairly early, we would be too far to get there easily. Maybe another time.

3. Taos Valley RV Park is around $45/night. They have the usual 10% discounts. A couple of other places have slightly better reviews on RV Park Reviews and charge $30-34. I'm thinking of the one called Sierra Village because it is 5 miles east and in the trees. The others have no trees.

4. I found two bakeries in Taos that appear to have baguettes.

5. Later this coming week it is getting much colder—low 20's at night. By then we will be in Taos. Slight chance of showers—hope it stays slight and showers, not snow.

Trailer is hitched, all tires have more air, water tank full, started some packing, fridge is getting cold, tomorrow is more packing. 33˚ predicted tonight so we turned on the ceramic heater full blast. I have a temp sensor in the trailer and I can read it in the house, so in the morning I can check to see if it getting too cold.

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Old 10-26-2011, 01:03 PM   #228
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We are in Taos. The trip here was easy and through beautiful country. From Mancos we drove on US 160 to Pagosa Springs, the on US 84 to NM to Tierra Amarilla, then US 64 to Taos. Very little traffic and many golden trees. South of Pagosa the mountains reminded me of the Appalachians until we got more into NM and sage, piñón and juniper. Roads in NM are much more bumpy and less maintained. We saw a little snow on the passes between Tierra Amarilla (yellow land) and Tres Piedras (3 rocks), but nothing sticking.

We are supposed to get 1 to 3" of snow tonight and it is now 50˚. We are at Taos' most expensive RV park, Taos Valley south of downtown. Monte Bello on the west side of Taos looked very uninviting amongst light industrial sites and no trees, and Sierra Village on the east side has no cell service, so we bit the bullet. It is a nice park, though only some young trees. There are two other Airstreams here and only a few other RV's plus a very large tent. I assume it was waiting for Khaddafi, but as we know, he didn't make it.

We went to dinner last night to El Meze. The food is very good and imaginative. They say it is New Mexican with a Moorish influence as Spanish food was influenced by the centuries' long occupation of Spain ending in 1492. It was good to get away from the usual beans, rice, tacos, etc. We love Mexican food, but you can have too much of it.

We may go to a museum today, look for some good baguettes and hang out and wait for snow. This evening I can download photos from Mesa Verde.

This is what I wrote while we were at Mancos SP:


We left for Mancos and Mesa Verde on Sunday. We contemplated taking the Million Dollar Highway, US 550, from Ouray to Durango, but three passes and the traffic of Durango decided the thought. It is a beautiful drive, but slow, and we wanted to get to the state park by mid-afternoon. So we took our usual route from Ridgway to the Dallas Divide to Lizardhead Pass to Dolores to Cortez to Mancos. Two passes and no traffic. This is also a beautiful drive with trees of all colors depending on the altitude. There’s a little snow on the mountains, more coming soon.

Mancos State Park has two campgrounds and the west one looked like it had some spaces overlooking a lake and each space on the map looked pretty far from another. After taking a long, narrow winding road around the lake (which was very, very low) on which we hoped not to meet anyone, we found the sites to be very unlevel and hard to get into. So we went to the main campground. This also has narrow winding roads, but we found a pull through (one of two) that was fairly level and wider than most. There are only two other people here. We are surrounded by ponderosa pines and it is quiet. This campground reminds me of an old Forest Service one. Most spaces are way off level and hard to get into too or pretty short. Colorado does not fund parks very well, but charges as if they do.

We planned on spending three nights here, but a coming storm changed our minds. We have been monitoring the weather radio and it looks like a storm followed by a cold front is coming late Tuesday and we should be in Taos by then.

On Monday we went to Mesa Verde NP. A lot of it is closed, but we have seen many of the sites back in 1987. The new Visitor Center is also closed, but it looked nice as we drove by. From the entrance, the Visitor Center is 15 miles and the museum 5 more. The road follows the top of a ridge with great views of the valleys on each side. There were a series of fires here from 1999 to 2003 and we passed through many burns. We’ve been to the museum before and many others in the area, so it didn’t take long. Then we went to Spruce Tree House by going down a very steep trail about 300’ into a canyon. This is one of large number of cliff dwellings built mostly in the 13th Century and then abandoned. It was a building boom followed by a bust—sound familiar? It appears the Anasazi moved east to the pueblos of the Rio Grande Valley and are now called Ancestral Pueblans.

The trail up was much steeper than it seemed 24 years ago. We then drove around to see more sites, mainly cliff dwellings nestled in the canyon walls. The Anasazi must have been powerful rock climbers from these defensively oriented dwellings. Previously they had lived on the top of the mesas. About the time they abandoned this area, the Navajo and Apaches were migrating south, probably from northern Canada, and their appearance plus a decades long drought may have influenced the Anasazi to first move into the cliff dwellings and eventually east. This was a highly developed society and the arrival of nomads from the north who may have been aggressive fighters may have sped the move. A highly developed society dependent on always limited water, could start crumbling when crops failed and water became even more scarce. Nomads can be more flexible. Both the Navajo and Apache colonized the area and remain there, although the next migration (us) was bad for them.

We have explored Anasazi ruins all over the Four Corners area for many years and it is always interesting. In late October there are no crowds and the weather is often pleasant so the things that are still open are worth seeing. A few cliff dwellings are open, but all but Spruce Tree require $3 each to see them, and we already had seen them. The Park Service finds ways not to honor the Senior Pass because they are underfunded.

Tuesday we drive to Pagosa Springs and then turn southeast to Chama and then on to Taos. By Wednesday there may be snow and daytime temps in the 40’s and maybe 20˚ at night, but warming by the time we go home on Friday. High clouds before the storm are coming in and we may see some light rain on Tuesday.

Barb’s many times great-grandfather emigrated from Germany in the 1850’s, joined the army and was sent to Taos. After the Civil War he opened a butcher shop down the street from Kit Carson’s house having bought the land from Carson’s wife. The building is still there with a courtyard behind it named after her family. He married into a Spanish family and there are more descendants than I can count but I don’t think any live in Taos. To supply his shop, he bought a ranch east of the mountains near Wagon Mound—it is a small town on I-25. A narrow dirt road goes to the ranch. Barb’s father drove the school bus when he was still in high school and I think it was more a truck with benches than a bus. From being raised in this remote country he moved to the big city of Pueblo, became a businessman and succeeded, sending two children to college. His youngest sister became a dentist and many of the family have done well as they merged into Anglo society. The one time I visited this remote ranch it didn’t look like the movies—a rugged abode building with few rooms and few outbuildings and some cows. Few people in the family have any interest in ranching though one brother of Barb’s father does have a large spread near Bluewater, NM.

Barb used to visit Taos when she was a kid and tells me stories from that time. We never go to any of the tourist sites, but maybe we will this time. One of her fondest memories of her childhood is riding the coin operated horse in front of the general store on the plaza. Now it is a store with tourist trinkets and there is still a coin operated horse outside, but probably not the same one. Back in those days the Taos Indians would be sitting on the sidewalks around the plaza, but they have re-discovered their heritage and you see few of them in town anymore as they stay at the Taos Pueblo.

Gene
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Old 10-26-2011, 02:30 PM   #229
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Hi Gene. I enjoyed reading the details of your visit to Mesa Verde. We were there 2 summers ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It should be on everyones hit list and I look forward to anothter trip out that way. We also stayed in one of the pull through sites in Mancos SP. We were there in early July but it was not crowded at all. I like that uphill grade to get there too. Our previous trip out that way was one of the summers that MV was burning. We could see the smoke from Canyonlands, Utah and changed our plan. We were tenting it at that time. We went around the other way and found the smoke coming up the valleys around Telluride and Ouray on our way to Durango. As you drove through Chama, NM did you take the train ride ??
That was one of the highlights of our trip the other year. We drove through Taos but didn't camp there. We stopped for a walkabout and had lunch north of town at the suspension bridge. There is a parking lot down the road from the Kit Carson house that was large enough for me to get my trailer in and turn it around. We stayed a few nights outside of Chama on our way to Mancos SP. I enjoy visiting that area and will do so again but next summer we're planning to see the northern plains of Wyoming, Montana and maybe visit a friend at Craig, Co.

Keep up your writing skills, they make for great reading.
See ya on the road sometime.
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Old 10-26-2011, 02:50 PM   #230
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Hey, Gene, where's El Meze?

It's possible that I won't make it down that way until Saturday. (I've been tasked with fixing a friend's heater before cold weather arrives.) How long are you and Barb planning to stay in Taos?

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Old 10-26-2011, 08:20 PM   #231
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Roger, maybe we stayed in the same pull through at Mancos. We didn't take the train ride at Chama, but we have driven the highway that roughly follows the railroad.

Lynn, El Meze is north of the junction near the Plaza, and about a 1/4 mile north of Cid's on the same side of the road. We are leaving Saturday morning. Lend your friend a coat and come to Taos Friday and we can have lunch down the block at Guadalajara.

Today it was raining a lot, but we went into town, first looking for a whole wheat or multigrain baguette. A good baguette makes me happy. Remember how Ben Franklin bought some cheese and bread when he arrived in Philadelphia because he was hungry? I'll bet it was a multigrain baguette. We went to 2 bakeries. The first one had only white flour baguettes and the second didn't have any baguettes—the guy there said "whole wheat? What an interesting idea." Later we found a whole wheat one at Cid's. Cid's is a health food supermarket, sort of like Whole Foods in scope, but smaller.

We went to the Martinez Hacienda. It was started in 1804 and grew to a fairly large complex about 2 miles southwest of the Plaza. Martinez was a trader who send caravans to Mexico to get manufactured goods in exchange for the less sophisticated products of NM. It consists of 2 linked buildings each around a courtyard ("placita" or small plaza). One contained the well. By the standards of 1804, this was luxury, but furniture was sparse, floors compacted dirt, candles provided light, small, inefficient fireplaces provided heat. It showed something of how people lived here 200 years ago and how small they were—all the doorways required bending to get through. A fair amount has been restored, not always period appropriate, but still worth seeing. We forgot the camera, so you'll have to imagine it.

Out almost 4 hours, we returned to the trailer with my baguette and ate lunch and rested for the task of disconnecting the water hose as temps are to go down to 27˚ tonight. They are predicting less snow for tonight—less than 1/2". I hope for more because it makes for better photos. Now to download Mesa Verde photos.

Gene
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Old 10-26-2011, 08:58 PM   #232
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Back to Mesa Verde.

1. Spruce Tree House is below and behind the museum. It is reached by a very steep trail.

2, 3. Views of the ruin up close.

4. The interior of one of the 3 kivas. They were apparently used for religious, ceremonial and community events.

Gene
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Old 10-26-2011, 09:45 PM   #233
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More photos:

1. View of the museum. All the park buildings in this area are built with native rock as were the cliff dwellings.

2. View of Navajo Canyon, one of many which are similar and many of them have cliff dwellings. Exploring this area, it would be easy to get lost, because to an untrained eye, it all looks the same.

3. The rock here is made of many layers which erode at different rates. Some of the dwellings are build part way up the side between layers at a place where a rock layer has eroded into the wall. This leaves little room for kivas or a plaza where people worked together in the sun. Other dwellings are at or close to the valley floor—such as Spruce Tree. This gives a lot more room for more building, kivas dug down into the soil and a plaza for work. This one is close to the valley floor.

4. Many close to or at the valley floor are built in large alcoves created by erosion. This is one and in front a lot of rock has fallen over the centuries, but the dwelling has been protected because it is deep in the alcove.

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Old 10-26-2011, 10:18 PM   #234
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These photos are of dwellings part way up the walls of the canyons. All of these seem like a series of small villages with the most people with smaller groups or families scattered about the area. The dwellings close to the valley floor are the villages.

There were many people in various areas with much empty land between. There was a system of roads connecting various well populated areas like Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon with much trade between them and also with groups many hundreds of miles away. They lived in these villages and suburbs and mostly went out to the fields to cultivate crops. Their villages were all in one extended building rather than individual houses. Contemporary US and Canada are different in that people live on farms rather than in a village..

Gene
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:17 PM   #235
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Gene,

Thanks for posting the photos, they look great!

I'm taking the wife, my Japanese mother in law and brother in law to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas during early December, but I wish that I had the time to visit New Mexico. Maybe next year in the Fall, planning a big cross country trip then.

Happy Airstreaming,
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:45 PM   #236
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Rion,

1982
You know about going to the Grand Canyon and it was closed. Well we went and it was.
North Rim

DW wouldn't let me off the hook, it takes some time to drive around that big hole, the stupid grin didn't help any.

South Rim

Bob
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Old 10-27-2011, 08:19 PM   #237
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Bob's right—the North Rim closes in the winter because it snows a lot more there than the South Rim. The good thing is the South Rim is a lot quieter in the winter than other times and you can drive your vehicle rather than take buses. I think the North Rim may be closed by now, or soon—check the park website.

Back to Taos: it snowed about an inch, not sticking to the roads and by the time we got outside today, most had melted. We went to the Taos Pueblo, a few miles out of town. It costs $10 each (no senior discount) and $6 for each camera. I didn't bring the camera in.

There are actually two large buildings up to 3 stories with a lot of smaller buildings in the area where people live. I believe few people actually live in the 2 pueblo buildings. There are some small shops around. The pueblos don't have electricity, but they do have propane for lights and maybe heat. Prices for jewelry and other tourist trinkets are very high and it doesn't seem, as a result, they sell much. There is also a fairly new small and well kept adobe church and an older one in ruins. The buildings are made of adobe brick and covered with a mud plaster.

The 2 pueblos look much like the cliff dwellings we saw a few days ago, except instead of being made of rock, they used adobe. They are separated by a river and a large area used for ceremonies. Barb was last here when she was 12, just a few years ago, and it was during a ceremony. She said it was a lot more exciting during the ceremony. The buildings date back many centuries.

This was kind of interesting, but not really worth $10 each.

Then we drove downtown and went to Wengert Patio. It is almost across Kit Carson Road from the Carson House and Museum. In the 1860's Carlos Wengert (he was Karl when he came to the US in the 1850's from Germany, then became Carl, and finally Carlos in Taos) bought the Patio property from Josefa Carson, Kit's wife. She was a Jaramillo, a prominent Taos family. Now the building we think was Carlos' butcher shop has been extensively remodeled and was a jewelry store recently, but is now empty. Behind it is a placita (courtyard) where the well was, but there is a small building there now. An art gallery is on one side and a bookstore on the other. No one in the art gallery knew any of this.

Then we went across the street to the Carson house. The original house was 4 rooms with a stable. The stable has been made a gift shop for the museum. The woman in the shop also knew nothing about the history of Wengert Patio except that the land had originally been owned by the Jaramillos. The Carson house is more or less the same as it was except for newer windows. It had a number of Carson artifacts. Carson is a controversial figure and was subject of many myths during his lifetime. Dime Novels portrayed him as a ruthless Indian fighter who killed many Indians and was a guide for the US Army. The truth is not quite so barbaric. He had 2 Indian wives before Josefa—one died and the other, I don't know. He had 2 children with the first, an Arapaho, adopted one or more Indian children when married to Josefa. She died 10 days after giving birth to their last child at age 40, and Carson died a month later in his late 50's.

We walked around the Plaza area until Grahams opened. This is another fine dining restaurant with some unusual food treatments. It is very popular and since we arrived at 5, we got a table right away. We went New Mexican and the food was very good and a bit different from the usual Mexican fare.

Taos is a place we avoid during the tourist season. The main intersection (Kit Carson Rd. and Paseo del Pueblo—US 64) is crowded and there are long waits to get through the traffic lights. We know the way around all this, but sometimes you want to go into the center of town and can't avoid it. Parking is much easier off season too. There are numerous galleries and shoppes, lots of restaurants. Trip Advisor says there are 58 of them, or about about one for every 75 residents.

I'll post photos later.

Gene
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Old 10-27-2011, 09:53 PM   #238
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Gene, pick up a copy of Mabel Dodge Lujan's Edge of Taos Desert: An Escape to Reality. Through about the first half of the book, she describes the Taos of her time, early 20th century. Among other things, you then discover that about half of the street names in town are indeed named after well-known Taosenos. (The second half of the book was, in my opinion, less interesting. It's about her growing love of Tony Lujan, whom she married.)

The bookstore up in the ped zone of the plaza, Moby Dickens, probably has a copy. Don't go in if you don't like the smell of cats, though.


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