After a very early morning leaving Seattle, I landed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Four beautiful women joined me in Albuquerque and we started our journey through the Land of Enchantment. Here are some of the places we checked out!
After arriving in Albuquerque, we hopped in our Chrysler Town and Country (aka Bessie) and headed to Taos. We took the scenic route by stopping in El Sanctuario de Chimayo. This spot was simply precious. It is a small church that was built over a hole where a crucifix was found hundreds of years ago. The crucifix was from Central America and every time the crucifix was taken out of the hole it mysteriously returned there. The dirt surrounding the crucifix appeared to have healing powers for those who rubbed it on themselves. Very spiritual place but no pics sorry!
We left Chimayo and headed to Taos which is about 3 hours North of Albuquerque. We stayed in a beautiful home right near Red Willow Farm where we would be volunteering for the week. We had a quick dinner at Taos Ale House and rested up for the early morning ahead.
One of the greenhouses at Red Willow Farm in Taos
This was the first day volunteering at Red Willow Farm. We got there at 8 am and met the awesome assistant managers, Mayana and Zion. We helped replant cucumbers and swiss chard for most of the morning. Suddenly, I was a gardener and could plant anything! I am definitely inspired to start an herb garden in my home.
View from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
After grabbing lunch at a local tamale shop, we went to the bridge that goes across the Rio Grande Gorge. The Gorge was incredible and the bridge was terrifyingly high. We grabbed a couple of goodies from the vendors that sell items next to the bridge.
Red River on the Enchanted Loop in Taos
One of the vendors told us about the Enchanted Circle so we decided to take it! It was about an hour an 15 minute drive around the Carson National Forest and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The scene was breathtaking. There were so many different colors and sights along the way. We found a spot to stop at the Red River. We hopped out of the car and just walked around for a bit to stretch our legs.
After the Enchanted Circle, we made a quick grocery run and made tacos for dinner to wrap up the night.
My friend digging irrigation lanes for the corn on the farm
We went back to the farm where we started helping to plant corn at a nearby school. This was a doozy. We were clearing irrigation lanes so that water could go through where the corn seeds would be planted. This was a whole new level of manual labor I hadn’t quite experienced yet. We were shoveling dirt and rocks and it was hot. But we made it through because we are strong! We also got to plant some of the seeds. I loved that the seeds were prayed over and they taught us to say something kind when we put them in the ground.
Mud bath at Ojo Caliente Spa
After leaving the farm, we grabbed a quick lunch at home and went to Ojo Caliente, a hot springs spa about an hour away from Taos. Each hot spring at the spa had a different healing property; for example, the Arsenic Pool was purported to be good for arthritis and digestive issues. We hopped in a few before heading to the mud bath, the real highlight of the spa. There was a spot to put on mud and let it cake on. It felt like a full body exfoliant! Awesome feeling. The worst part were the stares we got. A group of five black women walking through a spa is apparently an anomaly in Ojo Caliente. Everyone looked at us as though we were monkeys at a zoo. Incredibly uncomfortable. Beautiful place but in no rush to go back.
We left the springs and grabbed delicious pizza from Taos Outback Pizza. We watched the game and had a chill night in.
We went back to the farm to continue digging irrigation lanes for the blue corn. The parent volunteer opened the ditch that allowed the water to flow through the lanes with corn in them – that was the most rewarding part of the farming! We got to see our babies get watered and see how our work on the lanes really helped. It was great. Nerdy but great. We took pictures with our coworkers for the week and said our goodbyes.
In front of one of the homes at Taos Pueblo (photo credit: WCM)
We headed out to lunch at Michael’s Kitchen after farming and got some delicious chili burgers. On the suggestion of just about everyone we met, we headed to Taos Pueblo, the traditional neighborhood where the Taos tribe originally lived and still have homes. All of Taos was amazing but the tour of the Pueblo was an especially rewarding experience. Our tour guide Elliot was a college student who shared with us so much about his culture and his people. Absolutely amazing. The Pueblo is full of adobe homes that the whole community comes together to build and maintain. There was also a river through the Pueblo that residents are able to drink from because of how well they care for the it. We were able to shop a bit and take some photos before heading out. Then we grabbed some ice cream from Taos Cow which was delish!!
On our last day in Taos, we left our beautiful home for the week and visited the Earthship Museum, located in the world’s largest community of earthships with 75 homes. Earthships are fully sustainable homes that are built using recyclable materials and use rain water/snow for drinking water and plumbing. The museum was a bit disappointing since there was only one earthship we could see but the concept was interesting.
River at the end of the gorge on the way to Santa Fe
After leaving the museum, we tried to get to Santa Fe and somehow ended up driving down a gorge at a petrifying angle. We had to stop and say a prayer before making it down the gorge. By the grace of God, we made it and found a beautiful spot with water where some folks were rafting. We then drove to Santa Fe to meet up with my friend and have lunch downtown. We ended up with more stares from Santa Feans, which seemed to be normal at this point. My friend showed us the historic St. Francis Cathedral that was downtown where there were neat relics and artifacts. The downtown plaza was beautiful but the atmosphere/stares were a bit too much so we dipped out.
We made our way to Albuquerque where it was…less than easy to find something to do. My brilliant friends used Tinder to discover that Nob Hill was the place to be so we grabbed some dinner there. We also checked out The Board Game Library, an awesome cafe where you could also play board games. After playing for a while we went back to the house.
Four Corners Monument where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet
We got up nice and early and headed to the airport to drop off two of the ladies where sadly we had to say goodbye. The rest of us headed to Moab, Utah with a stop at the Four Corners. The drive to Four Corners took about 4 hours and another three hours to Moab. At the Four Corners, we had to wait in line for at least 45 minutes before actually making it to the monument. Once we got there we were able to be in four states at once!
Navajo frybread at the Four Corners
We were able to try some Navajo frybread which was absolutely yummy! It tasted like an elephant ear…but better. After the Four Corners, we were so hungry and of course there was so food for miles and miles. After about an hour of stomach growls and angry yelling, we found a gas station that had a restaurant with delicious tacos. Still not sure if they were actually delicious or if we were just insanely hungry. Either way it did the trick!
Milky Way over Delicate Arch at Arches National Park (photo credit: James Brandon)
We drove another hour and a half to Moab, Utah where we checked into our hotel and took naps. We got up when the next part of the group came in so we could go for a night hike through the Delicate Arch trail in Arches National Park. We left around 10:30 pm; the trail was only about an hour each way and we could see every star in the sky. Unfortunately, we could not figure out our cameras well enough to capture any photos but it was absolutely breathtaking. There happened to be a photographer out there at the same time who snapped some amazing shots – we saw him as he was taking the photo above (Instagram: jamesdbrandon). It was pretty great seeing the stars out in the desert so clearly. Amazing.