As we left Mexican Hat and Monument Valley we wondered what we would see that we hadn’t already seen. The landscapes and scenery until now had been so dramatic that it would be impossible to top! As we drove east the surrounding mountains changed to blues and greys and the desert looked much drier in yellows and dusty olive greens. Ship Rock followed us part on the way and we realised how it got its name. Depending on how the road wove its way through the hills the rock would appear and sail past us back and forth. And when we got to Santa Fe we found that the city’s unique qualities are man-made: adobe houses and art, art and more art…
Santa Fe is a city of 70.000 residents and more than 200 art galleries. Artists started moving to the area around 1900 and the city has a unique style. We stayed for 3 nights but could happily have spent longer. It was hot and dry and lazy with lots of great food and plenty to see to keep you entertained for weeks…
The adobe architecture evolved from the technique used by the natives in the area and is the predominant style used in and around Santa Fe – either in its original form using adobe (mud, earth and straw) bricks or, more likely these days, wood framed houses that are rendered to look the same.
From Santa Fe we drove to Taos for the day, a much smaller but equally arty town about 100 kms north.
As a large part of the population is Hispanic, we had some great Mexican food even if we are still trying to tell the chimichangas from the enchiladas and the habanero from the chipotle.
When we left Santa Fe we took the scenic Turquoise Trail south. There are lots of small ‘ghost’ towns in New Mexico that mostly started as prospecting and mining towns (turquoise, silver, gold and coal) in the 1800s. Some towns completely disappeared save for the odd wooden shack and other towns were discovered by yet more artists setting up studios and shops.
The most interesting was Cerrillos which was more dusty and authentic than the rest. The owner of the Trading Post (cum museum / general store / petting zoo) has put together an eclectic collecting of 1000s of tools, household items and memorabilia from the area.
We overnighted in Truth or Consequences – it was too far to drive all the way to Las Cruces and we wanted to check out such a curiously-named place! We learnt that in the 1950s they changed the city name from Hot Springs to that of a new TV show in return for the first episode being filmed there. Everybody needs a claim to fame!
Truth or Consequences (T or C) turned out to be a very neat little town with plenty of character.
Outside T or C we visited Engel, another ghost town. However this is the location of the Virgin Galactic Spaceport so soon a lot more people will be coming here.