The drive continues; but before we left Taos we drove a bit further out of town to see San Francisco de Asis Church. The church is one of the most photographed churches in the United States. It was built between 1813 and 1815 and is still an active congregation today. The parishoners and community re-coat the mud/straw adobe exterior every year to keep it well preserved. Unfortunately the church was closed so we could not see inside but we took some pics of the exterior. From the air the church makes the shape of a cross.
Our next stop in town was Kit Carson’s Home and Museum. Being baby boomers we grew up with cowboy movies and cowboy tv shows and cowboy stories. The exploints of fur trapper/scout/soldier Kit Carson were very familiar to me.
As they said on the video we watched, “The legend of a hero always makes them seem larger-than-life men and women; not just in courage and adventures but in stature and strength.” It was interesting to learn that Kit Carson was a slight man (not even 5’5″ tall) with stooped shoulders, a large chest and bowed legs. We had a nice visit with the lady at the museum gift shop. She was kind enough to let me plug in the battery charger for my camera while we toured the museum. I had taken one photo of the church and the battery died. John kindly let me use his camera battery and said if he wanted to take some photos he would use his phone.
Pagosa Springs is a very popular tourist location and a vibrant artist community. There are galleries of all kinds up and down every street. The scenery and local architecture and people would certainly provide plenty on inspiration. Not too far northwest of Taos is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. The Rio Grande river has cut a channel through the volcanic balsalt to a depth of 1000′. The main supports for the bridge are anchored on the chasm walls almost half way down the gorge making the bridge 565′ (172m) high. There is still almost 500′ of gorge to the river at the bottom. The bridge is 1500′ long and has viewing platforms extending out on both sides. Every time a vehicle, especially a large truck, goes by you can feel the flexing of the bridge. I found this photo online to show you the entire bridge. Amazing engineering.The view from the other side of the bridge. You can still see the cuts of the gorge off into the distance.Unfortunately the bridge has been the site of several suicides and there are Crisis Hot Line boxes located at each viewing platform and at each entrance to the bridge.
We passed the Earthship Biotecture about 10 miles out of Taos. This radically sustainable community was begun in the 1970s. There were many strangely shaped buildings tucked into the earth over a large area. Earthships are entirely eco-friendly, built with natural and up-cycled materials (like earthpacked tires), thermal/solar heating and cooling, self-contained sewage facilities and some amount of internal food production, and they harvest and store their own water. The homes are considered off-the-grid and can be rented nightly or for longer stays. There are several Earthship communities in the world. Pretty funky looking structures. We spent much of the day driving through the Carson National Forest which extends northward into Colorado where it is the San Juan National Forest.We stopped to find a geocache at a large pull-out near the Continental Divide and I spotted this mushroom pushing its way into the light. The scenery was pretty spectacular. And the road was winding and twisting and climbing and descending. John had a great time. We crossed the border into Colorado at 4 o’clock and found a geocache called “Shed Head Delight” that was right on the border tucked into this animal skull attached to a post. The resort is very nice; lots of units, lots of facilities, the requisite golf course and many other things we will ignore. We couldn’t ignore the sunset though. The colours were so pretty and extended on to the clouds in all directions. A 360 degree show and a very pretty welcome to our week in Pagosa Springs. Laziness, walks, reading and geocaching will follow.
Sidebar: During the course of the day we spoke to three different people in three different locations all of whom had been to Vancouver and/or inland BC and the Island. The man at Rio Grande Gorge said, “There must be something special and unique about a country that posts a sign that says ‘Kindly please close the door.” He thought being asked kindly to do something like close a door was pretty cool and has never forgotten it. Words and mannters do matter.