Why I Stopped At Mountain Home

Sep 30th, 2006 Posted in road trips | 1 Comment »

I woke up in Moab and headed home through landscape that looked not-of-this-world. I completed some kind of karmic circle by stopping for gasoline in Brigham City where I spent the first night of this trip. I continued driving until I could drive no more, but this time I stopped not because I was exhausted. I stopped because I could no longer see.

Throughout the trip I was concerned and alert about hitting an animal — a deer, a squirrel, an armadillo, a rabbit — all plausible hits. Unfortunately, I hit and killed no fewer than 2000 bugs.

I stopped counting…

Jul 10th, 2006 Posted in road trips | 8 Comments »

…when I reached 100. And this was the 100th one. I continue to be stunned at the number of WalMart trucks and the number of really bad radio stations across this country.

A picture’s worth…

Jul 7th, 2006 Posted in road trips | 1 Comment »

Today I went on a stunningly gorgeous hike, and I purposefully didn’t bring my camera. I didn’t want to think about the scenery and views in terms of photographs. There’s no way I could have captured the expanse, and some things are just better left to memory.

The wildflowers were in full bloom, and the views were breathtaking. And I made it back to the trailhead before it started raining too hard!

Tomorrow I’m leaving Durango, but I’m sure I’ll be returning someday.

The best meal is made by a friend

Jul 6th, 2006 Posted in road trips | 2 Comments »

I got in touch with my friend Keith who’s lived in Durango for the past 30-years or so. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to hook up, but he was exceptionally generous with his time. I suggested we meet for dinner, and he one-upped me and suggested we go to his house and throw some steaks on the grill. He understands how nice a home cooked meal is when you’ve been traveling for awhile.

Keith worked with JanSport as a sales rep, and his knowledge of the outdoor industry is formidable. He’s been involved in the industry from all angles — as a designer, as a manufacturer, as a retailer, as a sales rep, and probably in other capacities which I’m forgetting. He was involved in the creation/invention of the first dome tent; he was instrumental in the success of many outdoor companies you’ve all heard of.

I met him at the store he bought a few years ago:

  • Pine Needle Mountaineering
  • And then I followed him up the hill to his house. It’s a gorgeous, open house with spectacular views and full of amazing history.

    He’s a great storyteller, and he talked about his climbs up Everest, Kangchenjunga, Mt. Rainier, etc. He knew Tenzing Norgay, and he knows Sir Edmund Hillary. He has survived a helicopter crash, and he’s an all-around fascinating (and lucky) man.

    We ate salami, bread, and cheese (two kinds) to start. We shared red wine, a salad, and grilled jerk steak. He brought out some authentic Gruyere (who knew it wasn’t supposed to be brick hard!?!) and pears for dessert.

    The meal was just great, and — even better — it was nice to catch up with an old friend.

    Home Truth

    Jul 6th, 2006 Posted in road trips | 2 Comments »

    Two people have commented, “Your blog seems focused on food.” Well, yes. But I’ve done quite a few things unrelated to food.

    A couple days ago I visited the “Earthship Landing Zone” west of Taos. Earthships are (supposedly) completely sustainable structures entirely “off the grid.” They’re constructed primarily from materials which would otherwise go into a landfill. The ones I saw were constructed of tires, cans, bottles, and rammed earth.

    They’re heated and powered with solar and wind energy; water is collected from rain, and sewage is handled with “gray water,” “black water,” and a traditional septic system. Used water is first filtered through indoor gardens. I think they called them “jungles,” and there were bananas growing in one of the ones I saw.

    There’s an entire development of these houses surrounding the Visitors’ Center. Not all the houses look so “funky,” but all of them look a little different from a “traditional” house. The rest of the subdivision is technically off limits to visitors, because they’re private residences. I know I’d sure get tired of having tourists ogling my house all day.

    You can read all about Earthships here:

  • Earthship Home Page
  • Yesterday I visited houses of a different sort. I spent about three hours at Taos Pueblo. The houses, for the most part, are remarkebly well-preserved considering they date back to at least the 1400’s.

    By taking the 30-minute guided tour I found out that doors and windows weren’t part of the original structure. Access to the inside was through the roof.

    The access point in the picture below, however, goes to an underground area off-limits to tourists (there were five such points throughout the structures).

    These areas are where traditional ceremonies are often held. The Taos Pueblo religion, language, and much of the history is not spoken about to tourists. The language is not written.

    There have been people continually inhabiting most of the structures since they were built. Not the same people, mind you. And even though visitors aren’t allowed to wander around much of the reservation, the parts I could visit seemed very peaceful unlike the adjacent Taos community. The reservation extends to the top of Taos Mountain:

    And finally, similar to a lot of reservations I’ve seen, there appear to be a fair number of stray dogs. This one looked different from all the others, and besides…I really like this shot:

    I’m in Durango now. More about Durango later.

    No Escape

    Jul 5th, 2006 Posted in road trips | 4 Comments »


    Jul 4th, 2006 Posted in road trips | Comments Off on Bumbershoot

    I had my first not-so-great meal today, and I suppose that’s pretty good considering the number of places I’ve eaten over the past almost two weeks.

    I had dinner at El Pueblo (no relation to Taos Pueblo, and not on the reservation). I wanted some more good red chile, and El Pueblo looked to be just the place. I had also read two good reviews of the joint! Unfortunately, the food was closer to Mexican food versus New Mexican food. So perhaps El Pueblo was okay, but yesterday in Espanola I had about the best Mexican food ever.

    Yesterday I had — for all of $3.85 — a pork tamale (there were actually two), a “pollo and avacado” taco (that’s how it was listed on the menu board), and a large iced tea.

    I sat at a picnic table under the shade of some cottonwood trees (off to the left of the picture below) and enjoyed every bite.

    Vote Early and Often!

    Jul 4th, 2006 Posted in road trips | 4 Comments »

    I’m leaving Taos tomorrow AM. Where should I go?

    A) Durango
    B) Santa Fe
    C) Monument Valley
    D) Mexico
    E) Other

    Going Native

    Jul 4th, 2006 Posted in road trips | 1 Comment »

    You’re probably thinking the Farmers’ Market in Espanola looks incredibly small. You’d be right. By spending some time with the Market Manager I found out why — it’s the very beginning of their season, and it’s been a very tough one. Farmers usually start with fruit (cherries and apricots), but a freeze destroyed those crops. Since then there’s been very little rain.

    She talked a little bit about water rights which Puget Sound area farmers don’t need to concern themselves with. I saw a book about irrigation in New Mexico, and I think I’ll return to the bookstore to buy it.

    By September there will be 30-regular farmers selling here. Early October sounds particularly joyous, because everyone puts up (and sells) strands of chiles.

    I wasn’t familiar with much of the produce, so I was eager to purchase and try it.

    Clockwise from top: Purslane; Red Chile Powder; Fresh Garbanzo Beans; Ronde de Nice Squash; Chokecherry Jam; Roasted Fava Beans with Chile and Lime.

    The Market Manager visibly bristled when I asked her how many of the vendors grew organically. She carefully explained the community is very low income (clearly noticeable), and the majority of the farmers can’t afford the certification required to be officially labeled “organic.” She also explained that most of them grew organically anyway, because they were using traditional methods that had been passed down to them. The ones who used pesticides were not shy nor embarrassed to talk about it, so she encourages all shoppers to ask individual farmers about their growing methods. This doesn’t sound so different from the Northwest farms with which I’m familiar.

    On the days WIC checks are issued the market can be quite crowded. Today was such a day.

    We talked about the cooperative kitchen sponsored by UNM and how the state encourages (or doesn’t encourage) WIC families to buy produce at the Farmers’ Market.

    So here was tonight’s dinner:

    The fresh garbanzo beans were out of this world, and the roasted fava beans make a very appropriate snack with beer. The chile powder was absolutely fantastic, and the entire bag only cost $4.00. I’m eager to use it when I return home.

    Picture Book

    Jul 2nd, 2006 Posted in road trips | 1 Comment »

    Today I tried to familiarize myself with Taos and some of the surrounding area. First I walked to the other side of town to have breakfast at the Dragonfly Cafe.

    I hadn’t heard of it or read about it. I was just planning on walking until I found a place without a long wait.

    I enjoyed a really good breakfast of 2-poached eggs on top of cornbread with red chile sauce. It came with black eyed peas and greens. I drank enough coffee before venturing out, so I had iced tea instead of coffee.

    As you can see, it is clearly two servings. I ate about half of it, although I ate both eggs.

    I then kept walking OUT of town. Taos is much more crowded and touristy than I anticipated, and I was trying to find someplace quiet. I thought about walking to Taos Pueblo, but I think I’m going there on Tuesday instead.

    I did find a quiet place:

    I then headed back toward town and came to an arts and crafts fair going on in Kit Carson Park.

    One of the first booths I ran into was this one:

    I spent time talking to the owner and looking at his photo album. He’s been tending goats for twenty years, but when he first started he didn’t know the first thing about goats (“I was a horse man”). He learned everything by just doing it, and he now has 60-goats. He hires a staff of five people to help him. When I asked him how he learned to make cheese his response was, “Oh, there are lots of books out there.” He didn’t know anything about goat cheese to begin with either! Of course, I had to buy some of his cheese after talking to him for 20-minutes.

    I then walked toward “downtown” or “The Plaza.” I took a few shots. Notice all the cars! There are too many people for this tiny town.

    I know there’s a Wal-Mart around here somewhere, because I read a reference to it while looking at some real estate listings (no, I’m not planning on moving here). I haven’t seen the Wal-Mart, but the McDonald’s is pretty close to the center of town. McDonald’s is the center building in this shot.

    So I’m sure there are some architectural guidelines/restrictions for building in this town. The town isn’t fake looking like some places with architectural restrictions though (Leavenworth comes to mind).

    I walked the “back roads” to my casita…

    …where I changed clothes and walked back into town to rent a bicycle. I figured I’d be able to see more on bike, and I didn’t particularly want to add to the car traffic woes. I rode up to Arroyo Seco, a little community north(?) of Taos. I also rode out to the Rio Grande Canyon about seven miles west of Taos:

    There’s a big suspension bridge near where I took this picture, but I forgot to bring a map and I couldn’t find it. I’ll go back tomorrow to take a walk out on it!

    Note the sky (note the sky in all the pictures, actually). The weather changes frequently here. I hightailed it back to town, because there was thunder and lightning in today’s rain. I don’t care about thunder, but I really don’t want to be riding while lightning strikes around me.

    I returned the bike, and — lo and behold! — directly behind the bike shop is a brew pub:

    I enjoyed the Taos Mountain Gold.

    And then I walked to the grocery store to pick up some dinner, and then back to my casita.

    Dinner was a non-event. I missed the farmers’ market yesterday (I was in the middle of the Oklahoma Panhandle), and the “good” food store is closed on Sundays. I’m driving to Espanola tomorrow to check out that town’s farmers’ market (and to see the town of Dixon), so I really didn’t want to buy anything at the local Kroger. Dinner was bread, cheese, and fresh organic apricots. Pretty simple and pretty good!