Santa Fe, Taos, and the Enchanted Circle Drive
We arrived in Santa Fe April 1st to a blanket of snow. It was cold, but beautiful. The Santa Fe Skies RV Park has great views in all directions. We spent nearly two months in Santa Fe and look forward to returning again. It's one of our favorite RV parks in the US with family hospitality and a great walking trail.
The downside of Santa Fe is the small airport. On the other hand, we heard that jets are on the way, so it may get much better soon.
Although we'd visited the area once before, there were lots of places to visit. This time we explored a local park and took trips north and northwest.
The pictures below were taken in two directions from our campsite.

Local Exploration
There are many great parks and hiking opportunities within an hour of Santa Fe. The Santa Fe National Forest and Pecos Wilderness are a good place to start. We decided to stay close to home and took a hike just north of Santa Fe in the watershed area off Hyde Park road.
One of the advantages to traveling is seeing different wildlife. Being used to midwestern squirrels, the Abert's squirrel looks a bit odd. It looks like it's having a bad hair day. We also enjoyed identifying different types of trees on the loop trail.

Trip to Taos
Often called the Enchanted Circle Drive, we headed north out of Santa Fe toward the "high road" to Taos. This mountain road led us through many small villages that gave us an interesting "small town" flavor. We were amazing how much the small towns reminded us of so many other places we've visited from Idaho to Kentucky. Of course, these small towns had old adobe homes, cows wandering the streets, and tumbleweed unique to the Southwest. However, they also had prefab houses and run down trailer parks, closed gas stations, and beautiful old churches like any small town in America.
Our first stop was Chimayo, a small weaving town. Early in the nineteenth century, Santa Fe residents requested that Spain send over experienced weavers to teach their craft to settlers in the area. Two skilled weavers, brothers, made the trip and settled in Chimayo. The village has been know for weaving ever since. Our first stop was at Ortega's Weaving Shop to look at their excellent wool products; blankets, rugs, clothing, and more. The Ortega family has been weaving here for eight generations. Next door we also shopped in the gift shop with great books and artwork. Annette purchased some 'antler' earrings; Larry picked out a quail woodcarving for his dad.
Chimayo is also famous for its church, the Santuario de Chimayo, built by Don Bernardo Abeyta from 1813 to 1816. Legend has it that Abeyata was ill when a vision led him to the site of the church, where he was immediately cured. Filled with gratitude, he built the small sanctuary. Pilgrims still collect small samples of sacred earth from a hole in the floor in a back room, believing that the dirt has curative powers.
Up the road we found the small town of Truchas where Robert Redford's film called the Milagro Beanfield Wars was filmed. It was particularly interesting because Larry had just been reading the book.
Following route 76/518 from Chimayo, past Cordova to Truchas -- once a Spanish outpost high on the mesa below Truchas Peak (13,102). Truchas was founded by the Spanish in the 1700s, More recently, the hamlet was the setting for Robert Redford's filming of The Milagro Beanfield War. On the Southwest edge of town we passed an adobe building with a cross; our guidebooks pointed out that this is the meeting place for the Brotherhood of the Penitents, a secret religious society famous for self-flagellation rites.
Continuing on toward Taos, the winding road enters the Carson National Forest. About eight miles on, we stopped in another small Spanish town on the mountain slopes, Las Trampas. When you think of "history" in the US, you often think of the Northeast. Actually some of the oldest structures in the US are in the southwest including Native American pueblos and Spanish constructed missions and churches.
We visited the Church of San Jose de Gracia, completed in 1776. It was dedicated to the twelve Apostles; legend has it that only twelve men were allowed to work building it. First defended against Apache raids, the Church is one of the finest surviving 18th century sanctuaries. We were awed by the paintings, the worn floor boards, and the history surrounding this almost 250 year old church. The church is kept open with donations and is still used as the local church.

Across the parking lot we visited a small shop featuring woodcarvings by a local family; some nice walking sticks and bird and animal carvings fashioned by a local man (Manual) and his son.
As we headed to Taos we discussed what we thought we'd find. We were surprised to find a very quaint small, southwest town. In many respects we enjoyed it more than Santa Fe. The shops were more inviting. Although expensive galleries were found throughout, we felt comfortable wandering and felt no pressure to buy.
We continued on the Enchanted Circle Drive from Taos through Eagle Nest and Questa, then back to Taos. We enjoyed the great views and stopped in the Red River area for some exploration.
Shopping the "full-timer" Way
During our first year of full-timing in the motorhome, we've invented a fun shopping game. Since we enjoy looking, but don't have anywhere to store purchases. We pretend that we're buying. On this trip we "spent" nearly $15,000 pretend dollars. We found a $4000 dark brown buffalo leather love seat, a matching contemporary metal sofa table, and an original painting by a local artist. We discussed how nice they'd look in a mountain retreat made of adobe and log. One of the first things we learned on the road was how nice it is not to be bound by material things. Most of the fun in shopping is the anticipation of buying, not the buying and using itself.

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 7/01.
Updated 5/02.
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