Taos Ski Valley

I figured I couldn’t come to Taos and not visit a ski area, even though I am not a skier.  Turns out there is one only 10 miles from where I was staying the last 2 nights of my visit near Arroyo Seco, just north of Taos.


And yes, there is already snow way up there on the highest peak (I thought it looked a little whiteish from town earlier in the day).  From the parking area where I took this picture it was 55 degrees, although the wind chill today made it feel like about 15!  I was parked at an altitude of 9,517 feet.


Taos Ski Valley has 110 trails, gets an average of 300 inches of snow per year and is among the 3 highest populated areas in the United States (or is the highest, depending on who you ask).  Their Kachina ski lift is the highest triple chair lift in the US reaching a peak elevation of 12,481 feet.  Up until 2008 this ski area was one of only four in the United States which did NOT allow snowboarding.





This cool dude was ramming around on his bright blue bike wearing his stylish mohawk helmet.  His mom said it was ok to take his picture and post it on the blog.



I bought a hat and a slice of pizza to kill time until 3 o’clock when Happy Hour started at the Stray Dog Cantina.  I then enjoyed two yummy Bloody Mary’s while listening to the end of the NASCAR race on my phone and watching a football game on their TV.



As I was leaving I noticed that in addition to the pretty-people cars (an Aston Martin and an Audi A8, among them),  I was parked next to a pickup truck with a makeshift tailgate.


Now… about those taillights, sir…..

This picture was in an ice cream shop called Taos Cow in Arroyo Seco, where I discovered my new favorite flavor may be Pistachio White Chocolate (in a waffle cone, of course).  These ski types certainly have a sense of humor.


And when I was in Breckenridge, Colorado a few weeks ago I asked my brother David, who used to work there for one season, if he wanted me to get him anything while I was there.  He said a ski in/ski out condo on Peak 6.  I did see a sign for one like that which is available here in Taos.


A steal at only $ 525,000 but hey, you might be able to rent it out on Airbnb and recoup some of that investment.

What do you see??

Look at this picture and see if you spot anything interesting.


Let’s try a little closer…


See it yet?

Don’t feel bad, the first time I was here I didn’t see it either, although I had an idea of what was coming.

I was on Route 64 West, about 10 miles outside of Taos, when suddenly I was dangling (well, that’s not the right word exactly – driving) approximately 565 feet above the Rio Grande River.


Throwing caution (and my fear of heights) to the wind, and keeping a firm grip on my smartphone, I marched out on the bridge to take a few photos.  I was here a few years ago and I hadn’t heard that it had collapsed and been rebuilt since then so I had a little confidence that it would remain standing.

Looking north from the center:


Looking DOWN from the center (one eye closed, phone held out over the edge):


Looking out towards the south:


And looking down towards the rapids on the south side:


And not to make light of a serious problem, but this suicide hotline call box was out in the middle of the bridge.  I wonder how many calls they actually get, once someone has come this far….


Looking back towards Taos.  The reason suddenly appearing on this bridge was such a surprise is that there is no superstructure above ground level indicating what you are about to do.  One minute you’re driving in the desert, and the next you are high above the Rio Grande.


Some Native American artwork on the bridge railing:


Earthship Biotecture

This community is located out in the desert west of Taos.  It is apparently sustainable living, structures built to utilize solar power and natural light and minimize the dependence on conventional utilities.


These are the two main structures, located near the entrance.  There are signs posted that this is private property and that you are not to trespass beyond these two buildings, although there were many similar houses out in the desert.

This is the Visitor Center.  There was an admission charge and I opted not to go inside, figuring I could read all about it on their website.




This is a larger unit, across the dirt road from the Visitor Center.  It is apparently still a work in progress.  You are not allowed inside.





There are lots of solar panels, satellite dishes and south-facing windows.  The north side of almost all the structures were covered by mounds of dirt, apparently to minimize the dissipation of heat and cold from within the houses.


The houses were somewhat futuristic in appearance but, frankly, looked like Epcot Center at Disney World if it had been abandoned for 10 years.  The inside might be nice, and I admire the intent to be self-sufficient, but I can’t say as I was impressed.

There are some of these houses listed on Airbnb but they are higher than my normal rate (because of the novelty factor, I’m sure) so I doubt if I’ll be staying in any.



Taos, New Mexico

I decided to just spend the day today in and around Taos.  Being a Sunday morning, things in town were pretty quiet and parking was free and plentiful.  I tried going back into town later in the day and the traffic was crazy so I turned around and headed back up towards Arroyo Seco and the ski area.

Taos is a small, artsy town which reminds me very much of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  Lots of restaurants, craft and jewelry shops, art studios and high-end clothing stores.  When I was here a few years ago there was a guy dressed up as Zorro riding his horse around town, posing for pictures but I didn’t come across him in the five days I’ve been here.

This is a side street I parked on:


Many of the stores are around the park in the middle of town square:




And there are lots of nooks and crannies, pedestrian-only side streets:



This was some interesting artwork.  A stand-alone nose and mouth, bordered on each side by figures whose heads give the appearance of eyes on a face.



And this stuffed bear at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory was taking a break, getting rested up for his big day ahead.