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June 24, 2017

Colorado – family and haunts

We entered Colorado just south of Alamosa with the intent of doing a morning hike to Zapata Falls.  A hike we skipped on our previous visit to the Sand Dunes NP.  But there is a Train Fest - Rails and Ales going on and everything is booked, there is not an empty wide spot on the road!  Who knew there were so many train buffs? or is it ale buffs?

Instead of taking the mountain roads thru Salina to Denver we reluctantly head east toward the freeway.  Fortunately we stumble on Blanca RV Park, it’s not much to look at, but a place for the night.  The shade trees offer some shelter from the heat wave and it's at the right time.  Heather, originally from Kentucky, was behind the counter when we checked in – no picture – but she could have been a cousin of Reese Witherspoon and do her voice overs.  I could have listened to her chatter all day.
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We take their last site right in the driveway! FHU for $27, although the breaker tripped twice Smile I’d stay here again.  By far the best WiFi on the trip.  And Heather can talk my ear off anytime.

From here there is not much choice but to endure 25 north, on a Sunday morning.  Not too bad for us northbound folks, but the Renaissance Fair in Lurkspur has southbound traffic backed up for 20 miles (Fran’s driving and measured it … I’m kicking back).

I figured since it was Sunday we’d be able to snag a spot at Cherry Creek State Park, near Bobby’s (Fran’s brother) home.  Oh boy was that wrong!  We waited in line for an hour to get into the ‘day use’ section of the park.  The $9 admission allows us to check out the campground.  No sites!  Without a reservation, to get a site you have to show up at 9AM and place your name on the wait-list, then be present at 1PM when vacated sites are assigned.

We did pay the day use fee and stretched our legs in this beautiful park in urban Denver.
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Littleton WalMart can no longer offer overnight parking (city ordinance) – that was plan B, and we did not have a plan C.  South Park RV did have a single spot available which we settled into for the night.  It’s just dirt with FHU, the sites on either side are gravel with concrete patios.   Location, location, location … but this is the worst value so far on the trip.  At least it is close and we can spend the day visiting with Bobby and family.

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Late afternoon we join the crowded rush-hour traffic heading north.  Son Micheal has lived in several areas around Denver including Loveland, an area we know fairly well.  Loveland RV is just off 25 on 34 west toward Estes Park, where we take a site and take the scooter off the carrier.  The sites are all FHU and ample spacing, but I do not really like the ‘Good Neighbor’ spacing where adjacent sites face in opposite directions, thus sharing a patio area.  At least there is good shade at most sites.
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We take the scooter to the Visitors Center.  Loveland is known as the ‘Sweetheart City’.  At the VC, a map can be obtained of the various locations of the Heart sculptures in the city.
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There is nothing at the VC to really strike up a ‘gotta-go’ urge, so we decide to revisit a few of the old sites.  Although Michael lived in different areas of Denver over the years his first home purchase was in Loveland.  The home is now a rental and lacks the pride of ownership of a first time buyer, it still feels like ‘coming home’.
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Not far is North Lake, an easy scooter ride down Taft.  Loveland is also noted for its public art presentations, although it’s nice to look at the painted electrical boxes, the sculpture gardens can be truly amazing.  There are several other gardens in Loveland, but for an idea here are a few from North Lake.
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And my favorite the ‘Book Peddlers’.
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In the morning WY as we continue on. … and on!

June 21, 2017

Taos – It’s not New and it’s not Mexico

We are right back at the junction where we turned off to La Chiripada and there is Vivac Winery.  Not wanting to continue empty handed and ‘since we are here’, of course we stopped.  Vivac is a term for a mountain refuge and at 6000’ it was indeed a nice shelter.  With 100% New Mexico grapes and French oak barrel ageing, a much smoother finish can be obtained.  We now have a nice Cabernet for later.
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We skipped the Bandelier National Monument, although Pam from  ‘Oh the Places They Go’ showed it off as a wonderful destination.  And it was not the heat that detoured us, nor the delayed start, but the wildfire on NM-4 north of the park.  I just did not want the RV smelling like smoke the rest of the trip.  So now despite leaving a week late in starting from San Diego, we are ahead of schedule.
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We stopped at the Visitor Center for the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument to get some ideas of what the area offers.  Really not much for the RVer without a ‘toad’.  For us it was just rafting or spend some time in Taos.

We arrived in Taos and found a nice Good Sam park at Taos Valley RV Park.  It’s the right spot at the right time for the right price.   It’s still too warm to skip hookups, but with the gain in elevation it is close to a point where BLM lands would be fine.  The sites are ‘good neighbor’, where each neighbor pulls through from the opposite direction.  Not my favorite design, but easy to build and we have a privacy screen, and no neighbor!

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Can’t believe I did not take a picture of the parking spot at either Santa Fe ($30) or here in Taos (FREE).  Skip the paid parking in Taos and head east – away from town – on Kit Carson to the FREE public lot a few blocks away.  While walking to the Plaza the first building is the original studio Joseph Sharp, a deaf artist from Ohio.  He expressed in his paintings what he could not hear.  His compassion and expression was rewarded as the first artist to be selected into the Taos Society of Artists, which he helped found and who now call his home – home.   Beautiful patios/plaza of its own.

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It’s Saturday and the Taos Plaza is full of festivities and vendors for the weekend Farmer’s Market.
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As we walk around the exterior of the plaza the Made in New Mexico shop catches our interest as does a bench made out of snow skis.
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The plaza vendors offer mostly jewelry and ready to eat foods.  They were out of tamales tho!  Lots of blue corn offerings, tortillas, chips, on the cob, fry bread, etc.
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Directly across the street from the first Taos Trading Post is the home of Kit Carson.

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The museum is good but left me lacking.  It does not mention what happened to his first daughter born from an Indian wife, and was left in a St Louis convent, nor why does Escondido CA have a ‘Kit Carson Park’, nor any mention of his involvement in the relocation of the Indians at Canyon de Chelley.  I’d call it more of a museum of his home of 25 years in Taos, and not a remembrance of his life.  I’d still do it again Smile.

We had a great education from our stop at Taos Pueblo, an original village still maintained in the traditional style, with true adobe buildings (no faux-dobe here!)  The Pueblo really deserves its own post, but you really should go yourself.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with national recognition as a Historic Place and a Historic Landmark.  The Red Willow People (and their Warchief) welcome visitors.
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We waited to buy our blue corn fry bread here, still warm from an adobe oven.  The walking tours are FREE – the docents offer their knowledge in exchange for a ‘tip’, whatever the guest thinks it is worth.  We caught the tail end of a young man who maintains 3 adobe homes here – his grandfather, his father and his own.  We also took a complete tour with a very informed and well spoken young gal, but not a resident.  We also roamed free about the Pueblo as we explored further.

No photos are allowed inside the Catholic church nor of individuals without their permission.  The church is a beauty, want a picture of the inside? – go see it! – each door of the adobe structures is a single family home.  Each traditional home is a single room for the family and a separate room for storage.  Yup the facilities may be down 3 ladders!  Don’t think I’d make it thru the night …
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Traditional adobes are clay and straw dried in the sun.  Unlike Mexican adobe with may include manure and is kiln dried.  Homes need to be re-plastered about twice each year, before and after the rainy season.

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There are still a few permanent residents, but it is mostly a tourist destination and well worth the $14 each charged for admission.  All arts are local made, our blue corn fry bread fresh out of the oven.  This Pueblo has been permanently inhabited for over a thousands years.  The native history in the area goes back over 7000 years.
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After the Pueblo revolt, the Spanish, Mexican, Anglo and native Indians lived in peace.    Inter marriage was common, Kit Carson’s native Indian wife died in childbirth and he lived with Josefina, his Spanish wife, for 25 years until her death.  Then the US Army arrived, those that could fight defended the 18’ high x 3’ deep adobe walls.  The women and children took refuge in the Catholic church.  No defense was a match for the American canons, all 150 women and children died along with many defenders.  The church now is a reminder and grave site of that day in history.
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Taos Pueblo is a remarkable stop if you are in the area.

Altho there is ‘parking’ at each end of the bridge, there is an official Rest Area on the west side – park there!  The pull off parking is totally occupied by street vendors.  It is an easy walk from the rest area across the bridge and back.
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WTH???  Want to live a sustainable life?  We all do, but is this it?  So worth a stop, but I’m not ready to sign up …
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Glass bottles provide light, while solar panels provide power.
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Light and water provide life.  Water is captured in cisterns from runoff.
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Colorado is just around the corner …