Welcome back to part 2 of my drive on the High Road to (and from) Taos, New Mexico in mid-April. After four wonderful days photographing with my friends around Taos (watch for posts on that adventure in the next few weeks) it was time to head back towards Santa Fe and on to Albuquerque for the flight home.
It was a beautiful sunny morning with a few puffy clouds as I set out on the High Road. My first stop was very near Taos in the village of Talpa. There isn’t much to this little town of a few hundred people but like many towns on the High Road it has a beautiful, well preserved adobe church located in a very small public square. After a few photographs I looked around for other points of interest but didn’t see much. About that time, a pack of unattended, non-descript dogs (mutts!) approached sniffing at my shoes and maybe checking out how much meat I have on my bones! Fortunately, they quickly moved on perhaps smelling something better, more edible and not so tough!
As I drove the High Road, I occasionally pulled over to admire the beautiful mountain scenery and take in the cool, fresh air. Here’s the view on one of my stops.
Approaching Las Trampas from the north has a different look than when coming from the south (duh!). If a traveler drives fast through this village (not recommended, the roads are very curvy), they might miss one of the most interesting and photogenic sites on the High Road, the San José de Gracia Church and the historic plaza. Last week’s post included some photos and a description of this church but here’s a few more to enjoy from different angles.
Up the road from Las Trampas and before driving past Trucha, there’s a large cemetery on the top of a ridge. I didn’t notice it on my way to Taos but there it was in all it’s glory and inviting to passersby to stop for a look see at some of the unusual grave markers. Here are few photos of the ornate and decorated graves. I’ll have to say residents in this area of the country really take a lot of time and creativity to honor those who’ve passed.
While I didn’t stop in the village of Cordova as it was tucked away in the mountains, I did stop at the overlook for a photo of the landscape to offer you an idea of how it might have looked to explorers and settlers to the area.
Moving on down the High Road, I began to see some painters with their easels, brushes and paints standing at the side of the road creating art from the landscape. My curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped to check out their work. Meet Cynthia and Lili painting the same scene but in different styles, one traditional and the other in abstract. I like them both! I found out they were part of a large convention of plein air (open air) painters from all over the country that was taking place in Santa Fe that week. Later that day I would find out just how many there were (well over 1000) when I tried to book a hotel room in Santa Fe!
As I was standing talking to them, this cloud formation appeared. It wouldn’t be the last set of picturesque clouds I saw that day.
Towards the end of the High Road is the village of Nambé, that’s roughly translated from the native tongue, meaning rounded earth. This village is located on a reservation of the Pueblo Indians. The town plaza contains a round pueblo that looked to be very interesting in it’s structure but with several large signs declaring “No Photography Allowed Without A Permit” I decided to keep moving! Apparently, the pueblo is open to visitors that make arrangements and photography permits are available by application. On this trip, I found there are some people that are kind of prickly with photographers shooting images of adobes, pueblos and other buildings. There’s a ton of photography classes, workshops and tours in this part of the country and I’m sure some rogue photographer spoiled it for the rest of us.
Nearby there is a recreation area called Nambé Falls that looked interesting but it was closed to visitors that day without any explanation. After turning around, I came across another plein air painter and stopped to see her work. From the public road, she was painting this old adobe house set into the landscape.
As I was driving out of Nambé I noticed a large church by the side of the road. There I saw two more painters so again stopped to chat and see their art. Meet Sally and Barbara who were busy trying capture the essence of this adobe church. Just after I arrived, a very drunk guy showed up and started bothering the painters and me too! They asked me to hang around for a bit until he left or passed out! Soon he got bored watching them and them ignoring him and moved on.
While I was talking with Barbara and Sally, the most unusual cloud formation appeared in the New Mexico sky. I can’t describe it but here are a few of my attempts to photograph it. The second photo (of the church that Barbara and Sally were painting) is one of my favorites of the whole trip to Taos.
After driving away from this church in Nambé, I was off the High Road and back on the busy highway towards Santa Fe.
Another pleasant few hours spent traversing the mountains, valleys and villages between Taos and Santa Fe. This off the beaten path driving and photography route is highly recommended and it’s back on my must do list the next time we are in New Mexico. I’m sure my traveling partner will find it as enjoyable and fascinating as I did.
Next up, Welcome to Taos.
Until then, travel safe.