Friday, October 9, 2015

Road Trip - Taos, NM

Loretta Chapel Mysterious Spiral Staircase
We were going to Taos, but before leaving Santa Fe we visited the Loretta Chapel, home of the miracle staircase.  The story told is that the sisters of the chapel needed to have a stairway built to reach the choir loft 20 feet above the floor of the church as a ladder just didn't work in the space they had. Praying for help brought them a man who mysteriously built a spiral staircase without supports. That staircase was a miracle for the sisters and the church and it still stands today. I have read scientific studies about the staircase where they tested the wood and found it to be "petrified", which may give the wood enough strength to stand by itself. How this man treated the wood is still a mystery and how he designed and built the stairs using only simple tools is also a mystery. He also left without payment which only adds to the story.

San Francisco De Assisi
On the way to Taos, NM from Santa Fe, we drove through the Rio Grande canyon and along the valley on NM 68. At Ranchos De Taos, we stopped to get a photo of the San Francisco De Assisi church, one of the most photographed adobe sites in America.
In Taos, we visited the Kit Carson Home tour. At $7 per person, it only covered 3 sparsely furnished rooms and a History Channel film. I know the house was always small, but for all Kit Carson had done for the western United States, I had hoped for a better, much more informative tour. Read Hampton Sides book Blood and Thunder to get the real story on Kit Carson, you will be glad you did.
The rain finally caught up with us as we left Taos and climbed to Angel Fire, before descending Cimarron Canyon.  We drove through the canyon and the Cimarron Canyon State Park.  Stopping at the Palisades Sill on US 64, we took a photo of the beautiful rock walls echoing the sound of the stream. These cliffs were made by the Cimarron river cutting through igneous rock known as a sill. The rock was emplaced some 40 million years ago as the Rocky mountains uplifted. The elevation here is 8000 feet above sea level. This is another place I will return.

Looming above us the Palisades Sill
At Cimarron, we turned south along the Santa Fe trail and came to the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. I backpacked there in the summer of 1971 and it changed my life. It was late and was raining at the time, so we didn't get out to visit anything. It was nice to show my wife where I enjoyed a great 2 weeks so long ago. And I'll be back!

Tent City at Philmont Scout Ranch
Our route was north from Santa Fe to Taos along US 285 and NM 68, then US 64 to Cimarron, and on to Raton, NM where we joined I-25.

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