Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Peaceful Days in Northern New Mexico (Abiquiu, NM)

Howdy folks!  We arrived at Abiquiu (pronounced a-bi-kew) Lake Sunday afternoon, October 2.  We set up in a Corps of Engineers campground (Riana Campground) that was fantastic!  It was a fairly remote location but the views, terrain and quiet were mighty impressive. 

The 2860 acre lake, at an elevation of 6400 feet above sea level, is the result of a a flood control dam built in 1963. As the pictures will reveal, the surrounding countryside is endless mountains, valleys and cliffs adorned with multiple layers of color. Very nice! After getting settled, we spent much of the first evening hiking the rugged area adjacent to the campground for several miles. Very satisfying.

Arriving at Riana Campground
Campground overlooks mountains and lake

Spacious campsite

Lake and mountain views from our rear window

Even a pole to hang our well-traveled fern 
The next day Debbie tackled her walking tapes with a vengeance and I took off on a spectacular bike ride.  I rode 15 -20 miles (forgot to reset my GPS) in an area running along the Rio Chama River.  It was such a great ride!  The route included rutted road, cobblestone like surface, abrupt hills and turns and finally gravel road leading to pavement.

At the turn around point I was somewhat halted by a helicopter sitting in the middle of the road.

It was medevac carrying a heart attack victim to Albuquerque.  I did a little detour into what I later learned was the Abiquiu Pueblo Plaza.  I told Debbie it was like stumbling into a Belizian village.  Very unique.

The ride back was of course a duplicate of the ride out with one glaring exception.  To enter the area I rode down the backside of the Abiquiu dam.  However, the return trip required riding back up the 340 foot dam. Now let me tell you this was a daunting challenge.  There are several switchbacks to the top.  But the sensation is that if you pause for a nano second you will drift back.  So ride to the top, without stopping I did!!  I felt like I might have to spit out my lungs but I was mighty pleased with myself!  Can you tell? 

We chilled the rest of the day.

Tuesday we drove The High Road to Taos,  a scenic route.  The route was a nice sampling of unspoiled NM terrain.

 It also passed through several  pueblos, which my definition would be village, that were little changed since their origins in the late 1800's.  One was pueblo Chimayo  which was the home of Santuario De Chimayo'.

The church setting was picturesque, charming and reverent.

Its claim to fame, respectfully, is that it is a source of healing soil.  The local woman telling us about the church was named Grace.  Nicely appropriate. 

Outside of Taos we stopped at a Vietnam Memorial.  It was built by the grieving parents of a soldier lost at the height of the Vietnam War.  It's now a state park.  I've never been to war but this sort of experience only underscores my strong desire for ALL troops to come home safely, NOW!  Enough said.

Before returning home we went west of Taos to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.  This bridge is about a quarter mile long and 650 feet above the Rio Grande.  Mighty cool!

We got home safely.  It rained all night and Wednesday we made our way to Albuquerque, NM for the Balloon Fiesta.  More on that later.


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