Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Queen of Wink Roadtripping to Taos New Mexico

The Queen of Wink, Joely, is today's Durango Roadtripping Guest Blogger. Joely recently spent 3 action packed days in Taos, New Mexico. What follows is the Queen of Wink's description of her Taos experience, with the first thing described answering my question as to what makes for the wonderful smell one encounters at the Taos Pueblo....

The smoke at the Pueblo?


I arrived early Saturday morning, found a campsite, not the one I wanted, but doable. I planned on moving up the road, next to the river, once a spot opened the next day. On the way to my camping spot, I passed a vineyard.  Small, but beautiful. After setting up camp, I ventured up to the little store that promised espresso and rafting. I signed up for both. I headed into town, and stopped on the way to pay the outfitters for my rafting trip the following day. Got into Taos and needed another cup of java, the Taos Java Shoppe did just nicely, as I needed a place to sit and figure out my new digital camera.

In the Shoppe, there was a trio of musicians doing some harmonica and guitar playing. I chimed in when they did a favorite of mine, I'll Fly Away.

After spending about an hour drinking Taos Java, I headed on up to the Pueblo.

Let's see, at the Taos Pueblo...

First I met Rafael, and bought a turquoise wrap around bracelet.

Then I met Bobby and purchased one of his small water color paintings.

Then I met Juanita. She being the smiling one who always waves and asks "where's your honey?" Which is what she did with each newcomer.

I ventured into Sunflower's little shop and purchased a tiny pottery piece painted in sunflowers.

Finally, I met Pat. She made small dream catchers made from deer skin and sinew. I also purchased one of those beauties. All in all, the Taos Pueblo was interesting, with the most interesting part, to me, being their newest edition, the church.

After the Pueblo, I ventured out of Taos, looking for the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which eventually I did find. I parked on the west end, at the rest stop, and then walked slowly across.

Gosh, it's far up and vibrates when the cars go over. Got some vertigo and had to stop looking down into the river.

On the way back, I noticed that the Mesa Taos Brewery was celebrating their one year anniversary with free samples and live music. I partook of both.

Then I decided I should head back to camp before I lost the light completely.

Losing daylight, I did get lost, but got un-lost, eventually and made it back to camp, right as the rain started.

I sat in my car for a little while, hoping the storm would quickly pass over, but it didn't. So, I did what brave campers do and zipped myself up in my tent, hoping it was actually water proof. The rain, thunder and bolts of light came down furious and hard.  Yes, I had leaks, but not enough to drive me from my little shelter.

The next morning, I packed up and set up in a different camp spot. This one had a shelter, just in case I caught myself in another storm.

I had a 9:30am raft trip scheduled and I went up to the Pillar Yacht Club (fancy name for that little store up the street) to have breakfast and coffee while I waited. While I was dining al fresco, I met Patrick, not to be confused with Pat.  Patrick happens to be the owner of the small vineyard I had passed on the way to the campground.  He was there also enjoying breakfast and coffee with his dog, Smokey.

Patrick and I conversed for a while and he invited me to tour his vineyard and maybe go for a ride, once I was finished with my rafting stuff. I agreed.

Rafting was a blast!


I did join the honorary Rio Grande swim team. I fell into the river at the Sleeping Beauty Rapids. My 6'5" guide, pulled me briskly back into the raft once I made it out from under it and back to the surface. Everyone was a bit shaken and thankful I had made it back. Blake, the eleven year old, said it was "cool". He liked my falling in. We all agreed that the story would be I had taken a swim, voluntarily.

Rafting is hard work! Lots of paddling and plenty of exercise. I was exhausted and found myself back at the Club for lunch. I hadn't eaten so much in ages! The local rafting guides were also there eating lunch and invited me to join.  I met Ben, who has this strange entertaining laugh. Susie, and her two young sons. Eric and Jeff, plus Bradley, Rayna, Anna, Cherry, and of course my guide was, Scotty. I was invited to take a second trip as a guest, during which I was given the important task of handing out life jackets, which they call PFD. After some time I figured out that PFD stood for Personal Flotation Device. Pretty clever.

My second trip down the river didn't find me swimming, fortunately. I was teamed up with Bradley, a young 28 year old.  He went on and on about how much I helped him. I don't know if he was just being nice or if he really meant it. The river ride was gorgeous.  Some huge rocks/boulders were pointed out to me, with an explanation that they had come crashing down the side of the mountain to land just in those precarious spots.

Once that was finished, Bradley invited me to go into Taos for some night life. I agreed and picked him up from the boat yard, which is where he lives. In a small boat, with a tiny sleeping compartment. What a life.

We went into Taos, parked and walked all over. Went into a bunch of galleries. Interesting, beautiful, weird...  tons of sculpture, paintings...  and very EXPENSIVE! We ate at Lamberts, I had the wild salmon, and yep... more coffee. I was wore out! More music, and then back to the boat yard to watch the meteor showers. I stayed out there with Bradley until 2 AM, just talking and watching the skies.

He invited me to sleep in one of the rafts, but I declined and made my way back to my camp. No rain, but a HUGE SPLASH in the river around 5am. I didn't get back to sleep. I kept thinking about those bears the camp host told me about.

For some reason, though, that morning, I felt I had had enough. I packed it all up, headed to the store for some coffee.

And then drove home to Wink....

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fire Destroys Much of Canon City's Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge & Park

To the left is what Royal Gorge Bridge, over the Arkansas River, in Canon City, Colorado looks like today, after being burned by a wildfire which Canon City and Royal Gorge Bridge and Park officials describe as leaving a tragic, devastating, cataclysmic, demoralizing, desertscape, moonscape.

As of late Thursday the Royal Gorge Fire's estimated 3,100 acres was 20% contained.

Of the 52 structures on the park's property, only 4 remain unscathed by flame. Those structures which have been burned by the fire, include the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park's visitor's center, tramway building, carousel and multiple restaurants.

The Royal Bridge Suspension Bridge is 956 feet above the Arkansas River, making it one of the highest bridges in the world. Over 1,000 wooden planks make up the bridge's road bed. Of those more  than 1,000 planks, 32 were burned  on the south end of the bridge.

Park  officials plan to have the park reopened within months and rebuilt within a year.

Below is the same view of the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, as above, in its pre-fire state, back when I had my one and only visit to Royal Gorge, back in the last century. My memory of the Royal Gorge area does not include a lot of flammable foliage of the sort which would make such a catastrophic fire. Clearly my memory is faulty on this subject.