Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Making our way to Santa Fe

One thing we appreciated about our stop in Williams, besides the Grand Canyon, was the weather. It was the first place we'd been where it looked and felt like Autumn. There was a crispness in the air, the leaves had turned to beautiful fall colors and we finally turned off our air conditioners for the first time in months. Williams was blessedly quiet.

Next on the travel agenda was an overnight stay at Red Rock Park in Gallup on the way to Santa Fe, NM for a week-long stay. As we headed over the border into New Mexico, changes were immediately apparent. In addition to the colors of the season and landscape, there's also New Mexico's love of billboards. My gosh, mile after mile of billboards. But given that I-40 is relentlessly monotonous, I suppose they provide a modicum of contrast and help keep drivers awake. Barely.

We wheeled in to Red Rock Park easy enough and were pleasantly surprised. The photos on their Website made it look like a big concrete block surrounded by huge boulders but it was actually quite a pretty campsite with lots of Fall colors. Of course, in October, there wasn't much activity. In fact, there were no rigs near ours, just a few off in some of the smaller distant sites. Hookups consisted of water and 30 amps, exactly what we needed for an overnight stay.

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Church Rock was just a hop away                A spectacular sunset on our one and only night at Red Rock

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Sccopy and Toadie all tucked in for the night at Red Rock        Starry night at our campsite

The next day, we made ready for our trip to Santa Fe. We had been there before together, like, a hundred years ago. We stayed at KOA in one of their kamping kabins, which lacked outdoor seating. Our mode of transport at the time was a GMC Suburban, so we pulled out the leather seat from the back row and put it on the deck as a makeshift sofa. We have fond memories of that trip, hanging out on our porch, and we were really looking forward to another visit.

We booked a week at Santa Fe Skies, a nice campground about 12 miles outside Santa Fe. After checking in, Steven went to unhook Toadie Hopper and realized her battery was completely dead! There is a switch that turns off a fuse to some of the electrical components while towing that was left on so the battery was completely drained. Luckily, the owner had jumper cables and a truck to get us back up and running.

Initially, we weren't all that impressed with our site because it was in between a minor cliff (okay I'm exaggerating, it was more like a steep decline) and a thoroughfare that we thought would be busy with cars and trucks and golf carts. That turned out not to be the case, thankfully. And, on the plus side, we had a spectacular view of the countryside and mountains, as well as a huge concrete slab that served as an awesome patio. It didn't take long for our site to grow on us.

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We grew accustomed to our oddly-positioned campsite at Santa Fe Skies

Santa Fe was the last significant stop of our epic fulltiming journey in 2014 before we settled in for a couple of months in Texas. We were happy to take it easy and catch up on some housekeeping and spend just a couple of days sightseeing.

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Colorful characters (okay, black and white) and interesting abodes in Santa Fe

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We love that adobe style of architecture on every street in Santa Fe

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Awesome grafitti art all around the downtown area. Each one telling an elaborate story

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Steven tries our induction burner on some bacon    And another state on our map…

The highlight for us was a day trip to Taos, travelling what's called "The High Road". It's basically a scenic route that winds its way past many pueblos and churches. We got up and out early and decided to make a highway beeline to Taos to see the balloon festival and then meander our way back to Santa Fe via the High Road.

We had a heck of a time trying to find the balloon festival when we got to Taos. We had mapped the address but our GPS was taking us around in circles. We saw no trace of balloons and were beginning to wonder had we gotten the date wrong. We finally stumbled upon a huge field with dust blowing everywhere and a paltry number of balloons being fired up. We soon found out that the event was essentially canceled because of high winds. A few brave balloonists were relocating to a nearby school to launch so we headed over there and enjoyed the few that made it into the sky.

Dust everywhere as the balloons tried to launch in vain during high winds

A few brave balloonists found an alternative launching venue

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We couldn’t resist a selfie             Airborne at last! It was worth the wait

At the beginning of the High Road was the Taos Pueblo, described as the only living Native American community designated both as a World Heritage Site and a national historic monument. The people have been living there independent of any modern conveniences (such as electricity) for thousands of years. It was like stepping back in time. Hell, it was like stepping onto another planet. The adobes were beautiful, as was the church. Steven was in his element photographing every square inch of the place.

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Taos Pueblo was such a peaceful and fascinating experience

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Siesta time at Taos Pueblo                                        Graveyard and remains of the original church

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St. Jerome Chapel at Taos Pueblo                            St. Francis of Assisi Church near Taos

For the rest of the day, we stopped at various churches and went in and out of major weather systems. It was quite dramatic and very memorable. In the early afternoon, we stopped by the roadside at a spot with a breathtaking view and busted out our beautiful gourmet picnic. We certainly felt as though we were miles away from civilization, and yet, a fair number of cars came by and turned down the dirt road we had used as a pullout. We finally figured out it was the road to a public dump site and folks were dropping off their trash. We laughed about picnicing at the town dump, but nonetheless we enjoyed the view and the nosh!

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The High Road was a fiest for our eyes. So many Fall colors!

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More gorgeous scenery!                                           We stopped here for lunch…talk about out in the Boonies!

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Our handy dandy picnic cooler and our spread for lunch! 

All in all, this was a fun stay and it was hard to believe that it was time to start thinking about being with family and friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Live Oak Ranch, where we would winter over was a long distance from Santa Fe so we planned on staying for one night in Amarillo, Texas. We packed up our stuff, said goodbye to New Mexico, and took the road to the Lone Star State. Destination: Live Oak Ranch in Mulberry Canyon, Merkel, Texas.


  1. nice recap of your stay in Sante Fe and as always the pictures are never a disappointment.
    as for the picnic spot?..the scenery was lovely and I am sure the food was yummy!!!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Sue. We always appreciate your comments

  2. Great pics. A nice travelog to one of my favorite places.

  3. While driving home from Oklahoma to Sacramento we passed by Williams, Red Rock and all the billboards. I actually wrote a fun blog post about it : http://rnrontheroad.blogspot.com/2015/01/bulletin-boards-and-brown-signs.html
    Safe travels!

  4. We love Santa Fe and Taos -- although we've been many times, we never tire of the culture, architecture, landscape, and food. Your photo of the church at Taos pueblo is stunning!

  5. That Red Rock campground looks pretty sweet! Don't you just love being able to see all those stars in the desert sky? The churches are awesome, but that picture at the dusty balloon site is so great - really different :-) Even though months have passed I enjoy "following" those first few months on the road - you're sure making it look easy!!