Taos? What’s in there? I snuffed when my husband declared that Taos is where we are going for our mini vacation this time.
Didn’t you want to go to New Mexico? he argued
Yes, may be to Santa Fe or Carlsbad, but what’s there in Taos? – I thought.
I admit, it was my ignorance. Taos was coveted by artists since more than a hundred years ago. Artists like Nicolai Fechin, D.H. Lawrence are just a couple of names who made Taos their favorite home. There are many modern artists too.
I was pleasantly surprised when we reached there and later felt it was one of the best mini vacations we had ever taken.
It took us about two and a half hours to get to Taos from the Albuquerque airport, since we flew from San Francisco.
Here is what we did: ( I am posting them in order of importance and my liking – not our chronological order)
If you only do one thing while here, explore the Taos Pueblo. This ancient site is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark by the United States government.
Archeologists date habitation at Taos to around 1,000 AD and the buildings to between 1,000 and 1,450 AD. About 150 people still live in these original buildings much as they did a millennium ago, although the world around them is very much 21st Century. Walk the Pueblo on your own or to get a sense of their history take a guided tour.
2. In this context I want to mention the R.C. Gorman Gallery
Gorman in the 1980s moved to Taos and worked on bronze sculpture, paintings and lithograph. All those works are now in this gallery which was his home- a two hundred years old house.
I loved browsing the different rooms of this house, feeling the presence of the artist’s spirit in every nook and corner.
3. The Fechin Museum:
You may feel similar vibes when you wander through the different chambers in Fechin Museum. Nicolai Fechin was one the most prominent portrait painter of the 20 the century. He relocated from Russia and made Taos his new home.
Nicolai Fechin was not only a great painter, he was equally interested in working with wood. His house, which is now the museum, is totally built with his own two hands.
I could feel his touches on all the little details on the doorways, furniture pieces, stair case and even in the garden.
4. The Rio Grande Gorge
It is a wonderful thing to see. The Rio Grande Gorge runs 50 miles from the north west of Taos to the south east. It is 800 ft deep and it is quite a sight indeed. You may walk along the bridge and see the street artist. They bring their artifacts to sell here in their caravans. You may find great deals in Navajo pottery at much less price than what the boutique shops charge.
We befriended a young guy named Rafael wearing an A’s cap and he confessed that though he is not from California he is a faithful fan indeed.
From Rafael we heard why he can’t leave Taos. This place has an attraction for the artistic soul. It was the same bond that did not let other artists (like Nicolai Fechin) and D.H.Lawrence go back to where they came from.
5. The Enchanted Drive:
This eighty miles drive is just awesome.
From the downtown Taos we took State Route 64/68 and then continued north or rather straight to Rt. 522. We reached a small community called Questa.
Here we took N.M.38 to continue the Enchanted Drive and came across a beautiful river named Red River. The day was snowy and the river was kind of a gurgling brook. We passed a sleepy ski or summer resort town. In mid May (when we were there) all the shops were closed on week days. I heard the place is much awake in summer.
Highway 38 continued a little more and we came to Eagles Nest – another small town that sits at the junction of 38 and 64. The lake here is a popular fishing spot in summer probably, and another 31 miles via 64 and you’ll be back to Taos, where you started from.
The scenery of this route is spectacular. The day before it had snowed unexpectedly and quite heavily in Taos, so we saw a very unique scenery. Part of the drive was spooky too as it was still snowing a little bit that day. Yet it is memorable.
There are many other things to see and do in Taos if you have more time. What I really liked about this place is its artistic nature. There are lots of galleries and beautiful boutiques. You’ll find a nice stimulation.
As I am drawn to jewelry making art, I made friends with Jessica, the shop keeper gal in Sudio J. Taos. I took a short class from her too and had the opportunity to chat with her for two hours.
I heard the same resonance that Rafael had shared, or Evita, a ceramic artist who decided to relocate from New York shared.
Jessica expressed, “This place has an enchanted spirit. People are mostly artistic in nature, they may not have much money, but the crime rate is also very low. We are happy here.”
At the end when it was time to leave, I felt I had fallen in love with Taos; my husband shared the same feeling.
It is a beautiful place. Give a visit to Taos.