Hmm, I tried writing some stuff last night but kept falling asleep at the computer. Guess it was my longest day.
Going back to day 11, I did a loop out of Taos into central New Mexico for no reason other than Hwy. 64 was supposed to be great. And it was. What made the ride better was that I didn’t have all my bags and gear on the bike so I got to ride naked. Sure makes the bike a lot more fun.
First stop was the Rio Grande gorge just outside Taos. The gorge is 800 feet deep at the bridge:
It was here that I first ran into Mike and Jesse, two other riders who were interested in my bike. We talked for a while then went our separate ways.
Hwy. 64 travels pretty much flat and straight until it crosses Hwy. 285, when it immediately starts climbing and twisting. It gains height rapidly as it crosses a mountain range, hitting about 9,000 feet elevation. It was cold, very cold.
From here it was a long ride south on 84, where I stopped at two interesting places:
I also stopped at Ghost Ranch, most famous as Georgia O’Keefe’s home for many years. These cliffs facing the ranch inspired much of her landscape paintings, as well as all the other artists who stayed there. It’s a truly beautiful place.
Heading back toward Taos I went through the town/pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh. This is a small town with a very big part in the history of the area. It was from Ohkay Owingeh that Popé led the Pueblo Revolt which overthrew the Spanish rule in 1680. The Spanish never really came to grips with the pueblos, which is why many of the tribes still live today in the old ways, speaking their original language, and worshiping the old gods. Very cool history here.
Speaking of history, I retraced some of my previous day’s route so I could stop in Chimayó and visit the Santuario de Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas. From Wikipedia: “A private individual built it by 1816 so that local people could worship Jesus as depicted as Esquipulas; preservationists bought it and handed it over to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1929. The chapel is now managed by the Archdiocese as a Catholic church. For its reputation as a healing site (believers claim that dirt from a back room of the church can heal physical and spiritual ills), it has become known as the “Lourdes of America,” and attracts close to 300,000 visitors a year, including up to 30,000 during Holy Week (the week prior to Easter). It has been called “no doubt the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States.””
After this I rode the high road back to Taos (the low road follows the Rio Grande) much of which I rode the day before. Without all the weight on the bike and very little wind, it was a fantastic ride.
Dinner was at a local Mexican restaurant that was barely adequate, disappointing after the previous night’s ribs at the Alley Cantina, housed in the oldest building in Taos, almost 400 years old! The building, not the ribs.