Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Day 34: Española, NM - Walsenburg, CO

Just don't stop in Española, keep driving.
Also sprach yacf's Woollypigs at eight this morning in Skipton, or 01:00 in Española.  A bit late, in other words.  Still, it's the thought that counts

This morning I will hie me to Taos.  Taos is ded gud, apparently, and hav a very interesting history etc. and is full of arty types.  I didn't like it enough to linger for long at all (see also "Aspen") but the drive up from Española was nice, with proper mountains and corners and so forth.  Also I found another phone in a lay-by, but this one didn't work either.  Taos is not actually in the mountains as such, no, it sits on the edge of the Taos Plateau which, as the name suggests, ought by rights to be one of the scorching plains™ of New Mexico.  It's got mountains behind it, though:
As I drove out of town, a beat-up VW microbus was coming the other way while an executive jet roared overhead from the adjacent airport.  This is some kind of powerful metaphor, I think, or a coincidence.  Also Kit Carson (remember him?) is buried here.

Besides, the real reason for going to Taos lies a few miles to the west of the town.  Across the scorching plain™ and up to here:
Single-line traffic, the fire department and several different species of small furry animal law enforcement types.  Clearly there'd been an incident of some sort but I didn't like to ask and there's not been anything readily locatable on the Intertubes either.  People are always jumping off it, though, because from the other side it appears thus:
Under this bridge - a long way under it - is the Rio Grande.
...those are far away
Natch the place has attracted a little cluster of people selling handicrafts but because this is Taos, the Native Americans have been joined by Mr Whitey Dreadlocks and his ilk.  I did not investigate their wares.  Carvings of dogs on strings?  I'm a crashing snob, aren't I?

Just around the corner from the bridge is the Earthship Biotecture and then back to more scorching plain™ peppered with shacks, trailers and dead pickup trucks and looking like a right fucking mess.  But finally cometh US-285, on which much time has been spent already lately, so straight across on US-64 and into some more proper mountains.

How proper?  This proper:
This was taken at the lay-by just after the highest point, which Emily reckons to be 3212 metres.  Or 10,538 feet.  This point is not marked on my map and nor does it merit a mention on Wikinaccurate.  And, more to the point, it did not feature in my travels in 2011 either.  Now I'll have to do them all again.  How many other undiscovered ten-thousanders are there lurking in this corner of the Rockies?

I thought I'd found a couple on crossing back into Colorado, but they turned out to be the Cumbres and La Manga passes, which I did visit in 2011.  The road more-or-less follows the route of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, which we encountered in Antonito last week.  Today I could hear the trains but not see them.  In 2011 I did a U-turn at the top of the La Manga, which was a mistake as the descent is triff.
Looking north-ish from somewhere on the La Manga pass
This follows the valley of the unfortunately-anagrammatic Conejos river until it emerges, blinking, from the trees and out into the San Luis valley, which is only prevented from being a scorching plain™ by virtue of being in Colorado and not New Mexico.  Even the trucks can keep up 65 mph across here, but show them the slightest vestige of the La Veta pass and they disappear backwards at a rate of knots.

The La Veta is one of those wide sweeping jobs which are excellent until you reach the summit just too late to overtake a pickup driven by - to judge from the verve and aplomb with which it was being conducted - Miss Marple.  And so to Walsenburg.  I read something about it recently but can't for the life of me remember what.  Or where.  But it's reasonably close to Denver and one or two other things I plan to visit before getting back in the big metal bird to That London, so here I stay for - gasp - two nights.

On the feeding habits of Mudstangs: I did not have to replenish the Mudstang's supply of motor-spirit at all today.  On the other hand, it is asking plaintively for an oil change so I suppose I should check the level tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. The bridge over the Rio Grande is fabulous isn't it. We stayed in Taos in some kind of very funky place with a lot of Whitey dreads about - again this was 19 years ago. If you are ever there again you should pop into the something-or-other Hotel where DH Lawrence's paintings are on display and which kind of suggest he was right to switch to another Day Job. Mind you, I've seen worse. Speak soon! C x