Early morning after a wonderful breakfast at Los Ploblanos Inn, we take a quick look through the farm gift shop which is a cross between Martha Stewart and Restoration Hardware. We then head out for Taos. This ride will take us back through Santa Fe and then north west to Espanola. From here we ride through the 13,000 foot Sangre de Cristo mountains. First stop is Chimayo. It has a special plaza, a weaving shop, and a famous restaurant, and a Sanctuary legendary for it’s healing dirt. The traffic is very heavy and does not seem to see motorcycles. James wants to go on and get away from this issue so Chimayo will have to be next time. Eventually we get to the type of riding we had hoped for with mountain curves and great vistas. Little villages come and go along the way. Cordova is an artesian village with all kinds of little shops. Ahead we enter the forest and by the time we get to Trampas the weather has turned very threatening. Lightening, strong winds, and incredible clouds are moving toward us from the west. No time to dally, we put Nell through her paces as we make Taos not a minute too soon. We find a back street route to El Monte Sagruclo. This is a nice looking resort just east of the main part of town. It has a spa of note which we have decided to check out. The weather forecast calls for severe thunderstorms for the next three days. We plan to put the time to good use as we always seem to be behind on the blog. The next three days become a challenge at this place. Not necessarily the facilities, but the service is abysmal. Our early walk into Taos is a joy. We had been forewarned that we might not like Taos as much as Santa Fe. It is quite different. Taos is much more artsy and not as upscale but very friendly and comfortable none the less. We do a little shopping and grab a quick lunch before rushing back to the Inn before the thunderstorms dump 1 and 1/2 inches of hail all over the place. The Inn is the site of a charity event this evening. We had watched the volunteers all morning working tirelessly setting up and putting up the decorations. All to no avail. The storm made a complete mess of them only an hour before the event was to begin. What is more the temperature dropped dramatically making the outdoors rather cool. Quickly the event is moved indoors and they carried on. Although 30 couples were no shows due to the weather, the event was a success for the charity. The next day we visit the Taos pueblo village located a mile out of town. We get the “deluxe” tour with an Indian guide who seems to still have a lot of resentment toward the white man. This while he gladly pockets the $20 per person fee for a tour of a bunch of mud huts. He does mention that the tribe was given 100,000 acres of forest land and the sole source of Taos’ water supply by President Nixon. The structures are more than 1000 years old and have been continuously occupied even though there are no utilities. Water comes from the stream, propane for heating and gas lights. No Fox Network. How will they know when the Republicans are coming? The village has a relatively new church. It is number three on the same site. You can guess what happened to numbers 1 and 2. James listens politely never mentioning that American Indians had not mastered the written language or the wheel when we illegal aliens arrived. After experiencing how hot and dry this land is even with today’s modern conveniences, I cannot imagine the type of settlers that made it this far. Tonight we enjoy the local restaurant, Martyrs. Notable was the cedar plank salmon. James ordered a side of fried mushrooms that almost took up the whole table. After dinner while we waiting for our taxi, I watched a stray dog carefully approach the normally busy highway and quickly cross and enter the gate to the restaurant. It went to a little ditch next to the parking lot and knelled down so no one would see her. The restaurant staff told me that she came every night and despite their efforts to rescue her, she would have nothing to do with them. I got the impression that the chef put our leftovers for her as she looked fit. Today we leave New Mexico. I still have a few things to come back for. There was that blouse in Santa Fe, the dog at Martyr’s, to see Chimayo, all will draw me back. Overall we feel we have seen a lot of this state over the last three weeks. Now, we are heading north to Colorado and cooler temperatures. As we head north we have a few more stops as we ride the west side of the Enchanted Circle. One stop off of Hwy. 522 is a side trip to the Rio Grande Bridge which is a 16 mile round trip. Once again it is absolutely amazing how within one mile you can go from Alpine forest into desert. It is a nice morning with pretty colors and a flat plateau stretches out in front of us for miles. In seven miles a deep chasm becomes visible in the otherwise flat terrain. Some 300 feet below the Rio Grande is crashing over rocks while rushing along. The quarter mile long bridge crosses this deep gouge in the land. I am back at my vision of some settlers on their covered wagon arriving at this impasse. No wonder Taos is here, they gave up! Back on Hwy. 522 we leave the Enchanted Circle for Colorado. The highway again changes back to desert. We have wild horse warning signs. Now that would be a sighting. No chance, they must have run off with Elk which I have yet to see the first one. We cross into Colorado without much fanfare or noticeable change to the arid desert terrain. Its 34 miles to Ft. Garland. Halfway we experience a sudden change in our landscape. To our right is the 13,620 foot West Spanish Peak. Ahead, not one, but four 14,000 plus peaks with snow clinging to their tops. So far, our mountains have not been nearly this high. We ride looking at their majesty off in the distance. They frame our highway with a contrast of gray and white to the green lower down where we are. We have kept our blue skies. It is all so beautiful. At Ft. Garland we turn left for our last 26 miles into Alamosa for tonight’s stop. As beautiful as it was, today’s ride will not compare to the next 12 rides in Colorado. As we come into Alamosa we pass by the National Wildlife Sanctuary which gives the animals a safe home along the Rio Grande. It has gone from its raging bucking bronco section to a wider calmer river. Birds, I notice, are taking advantage.