"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chama, New Mexico

Now we're in Chama, a small town in northern New Mexico. There isn't a whole lot going on here except for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. We're planning a ride on that before we leave here.

Chama is high and dry, and it's fall here, with nights dropping below freezing. In fact, last night our hose froze because we forgot to check the overnight temperature. Luckily, Rick had to get up in the middle of the night to change over our propane tank and noticed that it was 25 degrees and there was no water running from our faucets. So he unhooked the frozen hose and stuffed it in the basement to thaw. (No damage done to the hose.) By about 8:30 in the morning it was warm enough to hook up the hose temporarily, fill up our water tank and put the hose back in the basement to stay warm. We don't have any trouble with our pipes or tanks freezing, but since the hose it outside it's exposed to the cold. 

Our first exploration of the week was up to Pagosa Springs, CO. We had passed through it on the way south and thought it looked interesting. The drive back up Route 84 was so pretty we didn't mind doing it again.

Guess what Pagosa Springs is famous for?  Yes, its springs.  There are a couple of resorts right on the San Juan River that runs down the center of the town.  Unlike any other resort I've seen, except maybe in the tropics, the whole place is visible to anyone walking along Main Street...

...and the river and natural hot springs are easily accessible as well. The springs are sulphuric, like those in Yellowstone, and have that subtle rotten egg smell, so it didn't draw us to soak.

After poking around on Main St. for awhile we dropped in to the Visitor's Center and the woman there suggested we take a short drive north on Rt. 160, up to Wolf Creek Pass. There's a popular overlook near the Continental Divide that gives you the view south toward Pagosa Springs.

Just a bit further along Rt. 160 there's a left turn on a dirt road that takes you up to the Lobo Overlook for a 360 degree view of Colorado and New Mexico.  Looking down from that summit you can see the Wolf Creek Ski Area.

From Chama it's about an hour south on Rt. 84 to Abiquiu, NM, noted for being an artists' community and the historical home of artist Georgia O'Keeffe.  There was a studio tour over the weekend so I thought I'd go check it out.  The route down follows the Rio Chama river, a major branch of the Rio Grande.  (Our campground, Sky Mountain RV Park is actually right on the river.)  Here it is flowing by  the landscape that inspired many of O'Keeffe's paintings.

The river helps Abiquiu be a green, fertile valley in contrast to the surrounding desert.

The old town is a typical New Mexican pueblo town with a dirt plaza surrounded by adobe houses. That area of the town is what might be called shabby chic in some parts of the country. In other words, it's pretty rundown. The town seems to be about half artists and half Native Americans or Mexicans.  There is at least one really upscale gallery in town: Jon Bosshard's Tribal and Traditional Arts. Contrary to what one might expect, it is not Native American Tribal or Traditional Arts; it all appears to be imports.  

The gallery is housed in one of the largest buildings in the plaza, and it has some nice architectural features, supplemented a bit here by nature. 

The mission style church in the plaza is one that O'Keeffe also painted. 

There were several open studios in the plaza, including the home of Napoleon Garcia, the local story-teller, town elder, guide, character and artist.  This YouTube clip is exactly what my experience was visiting with him, sampling his wife's delicious biscochitos, and listening to his stories.

My walk led me past the tiny public library, which was surrounded by this fence, a style that is often used in this part of New Mexico - tall thin tree trunks lashed together.

The rest of the studio tour was not all that inspiring, so I had a little lunch at the Abiquiu Inn on Rt. 84 and pondered what to do next.  After a very satisfying lemon bread pudding and a cup of green tea, I decided to travel on to Taos. Hope you'll check out my next post, as it has some really neat pictures of the pueblo there.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, thank you for these gorgeous photos of the area around Chama. Our daughter and her husband live there, and we LOVE to go visit them. Enjoy your trip. You write really well.


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