Jemez Springs, Los Alamos, and Santa Fe

After a day off in the big city it was time to hit the road again.  This time my destination was Santa Fe via the scenic route.  Several people told me I had to go to Jemez Springs, which just happens to be on Hwy. 4, a road I was told I had to ride, so that’s what I did.

Getting out of ABQ without using the interstate was a long, hot affair, driving north on Unser Blvd. (I looked for but didn’t see the Al Unser Jr. Treatment Center or the Bobby Unser Anger Management Clinic – I don’t expect many to get the jokes) and it took almost a 1/2 hour to finally reach Hwy. 550 and the road north.

Hwy 4 lived up to its billing, a great winding road up a river canyon with lots of trees, cliffs on both sides, and small farms lining the road.  I passed the Zia and Jemez pueblos and museums and found myself in Jemez Springs.  This area is known for its hot springs (ojos caliente) although in talking to some locals there are also cold springs (ojos fria) and warm springs (ojos calentito).  There, now you know a few words in Spanish!

Jemez Springs is also known for artists and galleries, and a few nice restaurants.  I wandered through a few galleries and in one (a very high-end, fine arts gallery) I found a wonderful print, so I bought it and am having it mailed to me at home.  The others were a bit kitschy so no purchases, but some iced coffee and a pecan tart temped me.  This is where I talked to the ‘locals’, they had moved there about 10 years ago but also have a home in Spain.  And a 911 Turbo in the garage.  And they’re lesbians.  So maybe not so local!  They said if I wanted into the area I better do it quickly because it’s changing fast and all these rich people are moving in and building big houses.  That made them laugh ’cause they just described themselves!

This whole area of New Mexico is volcanic and there are lots of unique features.  One is the Soda Dam, a giant deposit of minerals brought to the surface by heated water over millions of years and which created a dam in the Jemez River.  One description called it a giant hard water deposit.

Soda dam - and this is only half of it!

Following this was many more miles of twisty, up and down road, passing by the Valles Caldera, a 7-mile wide collapsed volcano that is now a conservation area that supports a wide variety of animals.  The road also wound through the Los Alamos National Laboratories, where all sorts of cool things have and are being done.  I backtracked into the town of Los Alamos and went through the Bradbury Museum of Science, which naturally features a lot about the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb.

Then it was a blast down some 4-lane roads to Santa Fe and the Silver Saddle Motel where I’ll be for at least 2 nights.  This place gets very high reviews and I can see why – it’s definitely shabby chic but very well kept up.

The Silver Saddle Motel

Tomorrow is downtown Santa Fe, a Native art show, rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, and all that.

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