Earthships, Mud Baths and The Taos Pueblo

We have been to New Mexico every year for the past six years. We normally stop in to see some of our favorite kinfolk in ABQ. We love New Mexico and as residents, they obviously love New Mexico too. Inevitably our conversation drifts towards other great places in New Mexico to visit and Taos always rises to the top of their list. So, this time around, we decided to stop in Taos to see what all of the hoopla was all about. We are glad we did! What a fantastic place!

We only had two days up our sleeve so we decided to book an RV spot at the Taos Monte Bello RV Park, which sits about fifteen minutes northwest of the city center. The park was clean, gated and provided a beautiful backdrop for our big ol’ rig, “Celu.” We paid with cash and used our Good Sam discount, paying a total of $76 for the two nights.

We pulled in to our site around 2 pm and spent a few hours settling in, putting together a picnic. At 5 pm we drove 40 minutes west, popping in for a quick view of the Rio Grande Gorge, then on to Ojo Caliente’ Spa and Resort to enjoy a sunset soak.  We arrived at Ojo Caliente’ at 6 pm. The sunset soak runs from 6-10pm and is $17.50 per person. It includes 7 different mineral soaking pools, a mud bath that stays open for the first half hour, as well as, a sauna and eucalyptus steam room. The price also includes a towel, the use of a locker, fancy essential oil soaps, and other amenities in the locker rooms.

The facility was clean, beautiful, quiet, and the calm incense of sage wafted through the grounds. We soaked, laid in hammocks, read books and soaked some more. Then about 8 pm we dried off and went out to the picnic area to refresh with veggies, hummus, cheese and crackers and a fruit bowl, then we went back in for a final soak, sauna, and steam. We made it back to the bus about 11 pm and slept hard through the night.

The next morning we enjoyed a lazy start, eating breakfast on the bus before heading into town to do a little thrifting.  We found a few great thrift stores but our favorite was Pieces. The items were higher end and the prices reflected that. So, we went straight for the sale tags and found a few reasonably priced treasures, including a beautiful tunic from India and an NM Turquoise ring.

After our treasure hunting thrill, we drove through the touristy downtown and snapped a few pictures, then made our way to The Coffee Spot to refuel. I ordered their house made Chai with Almond Milk and was pleased with the blend of spice and flavor.

Craig had looked up things to do in Taos and discovered the Earthship Village. An Earthship is a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tires, pioneered by the architect Michael Reynolds in the 1970’s. Taos, NM has a large village and a building school where you can go to learn the craft. Craig, being the learner and builder that he is, was very interested in hearing the inside story of this place.  We inquired about a tour but found that the cost was prohibitive for us wanderers. We decided to trek over anyways, just to have a look and despite the signs that read “no trespassing,” we ended up doing a drive through the neighborhood. Our roadside view allowed us to see just the tops of the homes but we were fascinated and declared that next time around we’d seek out a local to show us the ropes.

Another finding of Craigs was the Taos Pueblo, which is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people. This special place is the only UNESCO Site in the United States and the Taos Pueblo has been one of the only continuously inhabited neighborhoods since time immemorial. We found it a remarkable example of preserved traditional architecture from the pre-Hispanic period of the Americas and learned it is unique to this region. We also learned that because of the living culture of its community, it has successfully retained most of its traditional forms up to the present day. And so, we trod lightly through their neighborhood, respecting their desire for tourist to withhold from taking photos. In fact, the only photo I took was a view from the parking lot. However, there are several really good shots on the UNESCO Site.

After a quick bite to eat we made our way a few miles down the road to the Taos Mesa Brewery to see our friend, Nahko, and Medicine for the People, perform at the breweries amphitheater. The facility and grounds were artsy, industrial and funky with mountains off in the distance and the staff was laid back, which made for a very relaxed evening. While at the concert, we met a few locals around the bonfire and had an opportunity to hear stories about what life was like in Taos. We also met folks from the Earthship school and were able to pick their brains about what they were learning, which rounded out our curiosity and made some of the things we had seen in our driving tour make more sense.

The next morning, we sat and had a coffee, enjoying our view one last time and then drove off into the distance towards Colorado Springs.

When in Roswell

20140520-144206.jpgWe stopped for a night in Roswell, NM to see what all of the alien hoop-la was about. We visited the International UFO Museum and Research Center, which is a museum that provides information about the 1947 Roswell Incident, as well as other phenomenon’s relating to UFO’s.  Other than a few faux reenactment exhibits, the museum was mostly papers and photos on story board. Sort of reminded us of a middle school science fair from the 1970’s.

My favorite exhibit was reproduced from TOP SECRET/MAJIC by permission of Mr. Stanton Friedman, titled “Why cover-up the Mountain of UFO data?” The answers varied from rule number one for security, ‘that you can’t tell your friends anything without also telling your enemies. Opening files would give competitors access to the new technology.’ To theories that suggest that the acceptance of aliens would ultimately push for a new view of ourselves. Instead of thinking… American, Canadian, Chinese, French etc… we would start to think of ourselves as earthlings and no government wants it citizens to owe their allegiance to the planet instead of a nation.’ Fascinating to think about but a little steep at $5 a person. However, when in Roswell…

Bottomless Lake State Park SunsetAfter an hour in the museum, we were looking for more to do. It was about 98 degrees so finding water was pretty high on the list. We looked up watering holes and found the Bottomless Lakes State Park just 10 miles down the road. The unique lakes at this park are sinkholes, ranging from 17 to 90 feet deep. The water was salty and reminiscent of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. There were fun hiking trails everywhere and the sunset was spectacular off the bathhouse.

We’ll remember this stop for next time around, as the rate for full hook ups was only $18 a night as opposed to our $50 a night at the local RV park.  

Bottomless Lake State Park

The Bee Keepers

Every time we swing through Albuquerque, NM we stop in to lend a helping hand at ECM. These friends are committed to the day in day out harmony and restoration of their local neighborhood in Central ABQ. They are generous and innovative, always looking for ways to serve their community and invite the community into the experience. An urban farm is one of their many projects and bees are an important part of that process. So, over the course of five days, Craig and crew built Bee hives.

 

Fun facts about Honey Bees:

  • There are three types of bees in the hive – Queen, Worker and Drone.
  • The queen may lay 600-800 or even 1,500 eggs each day during her 3 or 4 year lifetime.  She is constantly fed and groomed by attendant worker bees.
  • Honey bees fly at 15 miles per hour.
  • Honey bees’ wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.
  • Honeybees are the only insect that produce food for humans.
  • Honeybees will usually travel approximately 3 miles from their hive.
  • Honeybees are the only bees that die after they sting.
  • Honeybees are responsible for pollinating approx 80% of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.
  • Honeybees have five eyes, 3 small ones on top of the head and two big ones in front.  They also have hair on their eyes!
  • Honeybees never sleep!
  • Bees communicate with each other by dancing and by using pheromones (scents).

Speaking of dancing and good vibes, we topped off our visit with ECM by sharing a meal and jam around the campfire.

Our favorite, 88-year-old Shirley was in great spirits. What a joy to see her one last time before she heads out east to be with her 90 yr old sister.

We always look forward to sharing in community with the kinfolk at Casa Shalom. Until next time friends!

Pondering Chemtrail Sunsets

Yesterday, I shared a story about the amazing display of creation that shown around us at a Caballo Lake state park in southern New Mexico. We were camping near the lake with the stunning mountains as our back drop. When we arrived the sun was dazzling on the water and the sky was blue with a beautiful set of altostratus and altocumulus clouds.  I took photos of the magical colors that filled the sky as the sun was setting. When we woke up it was raining but the scenery was still just as breathtaking.

When I posted the blog to my Facebook, I stated that the past twenty hours blew our minds. And, asked folks to take a look at the masterpiece that the Creator painted for us.

I was taken aback by a few responses to the blog, stating that what I saw and experienced was not God-made but man-made. They went on to share with me about chemtrails and how the government is polluting the atmosphere, dropping poison from the sky. I felt rebuked and embarrassed for not knowing and I took their responses to heart. I watched the video sent to me on the subject and I felt terrified. I had never heard of these chemtrails and after visiting a few links, I don’t doubt there is some truth to them.

And yet, after all of the information,  I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with it? How was I suppose to respond? Was I meant to take the photos down? Was it more about giving mis-placed credit for the beauty I was seeing or was I not meant to see beauty in it at all?

Does knowing and excepting that man is behind the demise of our planet negate the beauty we see and the credit we give to God as the creator. Or do we take this knowledge and look beyond it to see something greater? How do we enjoy beauty without becoming skeptical?  What is the balance?

Caballo Lake

We were going to watch a movie last night but instead watched the sun beams set over the Caballo Mountain range. We woke up to a grand finally that was breathtaking.

They call this the Land of Enchantment.

The Land of Enchantment
The Land of Enchantment
Caballo Lake State Park
Heaven on earth
And then this happened, Those pretty pink wisps wrapped themselves around the half moon.
And then this happened, Those pretty pink wisps wrapped themselves around the half-moon.

 

He wraps up the waters in his thick clouds, but the clouds do not break under the weight. ~Job
He wraps up the waters in his thick clouds, but the clouds do not break under the weight. ~Job

 

One night at Caballo Lake State Park is $14 for water and 30 amp. It was a quiet and a fantastically beautiful park. Just 20 minutes north of Hatch, the Chili capital of the US.

The Hollands! Christmas Tour

The Hollands! Christmas Tour. We kick off this weekend in Tucson, AZ.

The Hollands! Christmas Tour

 

For details on times and cost visit www.thehollands.org 

Looking forward to seeing all you kinfolk out on the open road!

 

Tent Rocks National Monument

Tent Rocks

On a Sunday afternoon we took a day trip to the moon, I mean the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument with the Burton family. I say moon, because what we saw at Tent Rocks was otherworldly, ancient and enchanted.

Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the traditional Keresan language of the Pueblo. During the 14th and 15th centuries, several large ancestral pueblos were established and their descendants, the Pueblo de Cochiti, still inhabit the surrounding area.

The national monument, on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level. Apparently, The cone-shaped tent rock formations, also called Hoodoos, are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago.  While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet.

As the result of uniform layering of volcanic material, the colors are spectacular with bands of gray interspersed with beige and pink-colored rock along the cliff face. It took about 3 hours for the Burton Family (2 adults, 6 kids ages 15-2) and our family to hike the canyons, arroyos and scooping holes in the rock to the top of the summit and back.

Here are some of the photos from our adventure!

ECM and Casa Shalom

IMG_8380In the center of the East Central neighborhoods of La Mesa and Trumbull there is a light that shine brightly. This highly transient, low-income neighborhood is vulnerable to devious activity but with a deep commitment to the ministry of reconciliation and a persevering spirit, East Central Ministries offers an alternate reality to one of Albuquerque’s most violent and poverty-stricken areas.

ECM was developed in the spring of 1999 by John Bulten as a inter-denominational missions ministry in Albuquerque.  John spent the first two years walking the streets, talking to our neighbors and the relationships that he built during that time continues to be the foundation of the ministry today. In the summer of 2001, ECM moved into a boarded up building that was being used as a drug house. They renovated the property and opened with two community programs, “Wings of Eagles” youth leadership program and the Community Food Co-op.

Over the past years ECM has evolved in several directions and has become a vital part of the community. However, ECM primary focuses continues to be to build long-term lasting relationships with their neighbors. This is a unique approach in a “social service” organization because they actually encourage people to participate in their programs/community on a regular, long-term basis.  They are committed to long-term development and economic projects within the community as well as providing community led classes and initiatives.

We met John when we arrived for our tour. His welcoming presence and enthusiasm for his work and neighborhood was apparent. We met Morgan who runs the Urban Farm, Becky and Katina who facilitates the community youth programs, Louise, Shirley and many others who live at the Housing cooperative, Casa Shalom. We also met Bob who manages Common Goods Thrift Store and the staff at the Community run health care clinic, One Hope, which is the primer work site for medical students at the University of New Mexico.

There was a lot going on at ECU! We observed vibrant life and a people with a commitment to continue to work out relationship struggles. That openness to seeing cracks, discord and seeking reconciliation was most encouraging to us. It’s one thing to care for the community around you, to have great programs but we believe to be a people willing to nurture and seek reconciliation in the most intimate relationships brings true life to the community around us. We know that commitment is what will sustain them through the years. We are blessed to have met these “Tillers” and look forward to more times of community with our new Albuquerque friends. We also encourage you to connect with them along your way. Visit http://www.eastcentralministries.org for more info. Give them a call, they are your global/local neighbor.

Neighbors in New Mexico

20130305-104244.jpgWe have been in New Mexico for three weeks, one of our longer stop overs. We are parked in the cul de sac neighborhood of North Foothills. Our hosts, the Burtons, connected us with the Mulder’s, their next door neighbors and they allowed us to park in their “flat” driveway. The Burton’s have six  children and the Mulder’s have four, they both home school and have been such gracious hosts.

We have a brief history with the Burtons via our time at a community in Chicago. There is something connective about living with others that binds us together with others who have also lived there, even if our connection at the time of living in community was limited. I suppose it’s what folks who have been in the military or a sorority/fraternity might feel when they meet someone along the way who was in the same one. It’s a familiar feeling, yes, it feels like being with family. While with the Burtons we celebrated birthdays, had dinner parties, went hiking and enjoyed everyday life. I had the opportunity to cook for the whole clan most nights, which was a real joy for me. We shared homeschool stories and duties, (Craig taught math to the kids, David taught Mountain Biking, Sofjia taught English, and I taught Art). Sofija writes a blog and interviewed us about our journey homeschooling on the road. You can read that at “Teach Where You Live”

While in town, we also connected with a few other kinfolk. My dear friend, Holly and her family moved to Albuquerque a few years back and we enjoyed renewed friendship and encouragement. We had fun working out at Hot Yoga, dining at a hibachi grill, and working on a project at her house, building a fence for her dogs. It was so good to see her. Also, we connected with another close family, the Grovers, who moved to Albuquerque about 9 months ago to care for aging parents. Brian Grover is a mate of Craig’s and used to play music with him back in the old Ballydowse days. We performed in Albuquerque and Brian joined us for that show on Bass.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is one of our favorite places to visit. It is a city filled with history, creativity and wonder. It is the capital of the of New Mexico and was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with founding dates between 1050 to 1150. One of the earliest known settlements in what today is downtown Santa Fe came sometime after 900. Later, Don Juan de Onate led the first effort to colonize the region in 1598, establishing Santa Fé de Nuevo México as a province of New Spain.

Santa Fe, previously known as the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi, is at least the third oldest surviving American city founded by European colonists, behind the oldest St. Augustine, Florida (1565). The Adobe architecture is striking and we were impressed with the city’s efforts to maintain the heritage of this building style. 

We spent most of our time visiting the historical churches in Santa Fe.

Said to be the oldest standing church structure in the US. The adobe walls were constructed around A.D. 1610
San Miguel Mission, Said to be the oldest standing church structure in the US. The adobe walls were constructed around A.D. 1610
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral. It is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral. It is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. The cathedral was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church, La Parroquia (built in 1714–1717).
At the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail stands the Loretto Chapel, home of the Miraculous Spiral Staircase.  It has been the subject of legend and rumor, and the circumstances surrounding its construction and its builder are consideredmiraculous by the Sisters of Loretto and many visitors.
At the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail stands the Loretto Chapel, home of the Miraculous Spiral Staircase. It has been the subject of legend and rumor, and the circumstances surrounding its construction and its builder are consideredmiraculous by the Sisters of Loretto and many visitors.

20130225-132843.jpgThe Sisters of Loretto relate the story as follows:

Needing a way to get up to the choir loft the nuns prayed for St. Joseph’s  intercession for nine straight days. On the day after their novena ended a shabby looking stranger appeared at their door. He told the nuns he would build them a staircase but that he needed total privacy and locked himself in the chapel for three months. He used a small number of primitive tools including a square, a saw and some warm water and constructed a spiral staircase entirely of non-native wood. The identity of the carpenter is not known for as soon as the staircase was finally finished he was gone. Many witnesses, upon seeing the staircase, feel it was constructed by St. Joseph himself, as a miraculous occurrence. The resulting staircase is an impressive work of carpentry. It ascends twenty feet, making two complete revolutions up to the choir loft without the use of nails or apparent center support. It has been surmised that the central spiral of the staircase is narrow enough to serve as a central beam. Nonetheless there was no attachment unto any wall or pole in the original stairway, although in 1887 — 10 years after it was built — a railing was added and the outer spiral was fastened to an adjacent pillar. Instead of metal nails, the staircase was constructed using dowels or wooden pegs.

After our tours of the churches we went to the art district and enjoyed many of the galleries on Canyon Road. We ended our tour at Kakawa Chocolate House. The following quote is from the 1928 Santa Fe Fiesta Program and describes the flamboyant vibe in Santa Fe.  “This year we are making a studied conscious effort not to be studied or conscious. Santa Fe is now one of the most interesting art centers in the world and you, O Dude of the East, are privileged to behold the most sophisticated group in the country gamboling freely… And Santa Fe, making you welcome, will enjoy itself hugely watching the Dude as he gazes. Be sure as you stroll along looking for the quaint and picturesque that you are supplying your share of those very qualities to Santa Fe, the City Incongruous… Be yourself, even if it includes synthetic cowboy clothes, motor goggles and a camera.”

Later we explored the Santa Fe Rail Yard park It’s a 10 acre park designed to show off Santa Fe’s creativity while maintaining the rich rail yard history. We had a lovely time exploring the park and taking photographs.

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We look forward to visiting this fun city again down the line and highly recommend it as a vacation destination.