Atlanta to Seattle Road Trip – Day 4: The Land of Enchantment – New Mexico (Part 1)

Since Aman & I had a argument on day 3 about reaching places at not so appropriate time as I want to, we started early on day 4 around 6am. After taking our morning picture in the car (our daily picture in the car with GoPro mounted on the dashboard) we started out for Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Driving directions from Motel 6 in Santa Rosa to Santa Fe in New Mexico
Driving directions from Motel 6 in Santa Rosa to Santa Fe in New Mexico

The sunrise was incredible in the desert, it was quiet and serene. We pulled up to a rest area to capture the beautiful sunrise on camera.

Early morning rest area on I-40 was as typical as we could have expected. There was 1 car in which a couple was sleeping on the driver and passenger seat. Another car entered behind us, in which the people came to stretch their bodies and use the rest area.

I saw an area with the fence which marked the limit of the rest area and behind it lied the vast plains of desert with a rising sun and golden blue sky. But before I could reach the fence, I had to cross numerous 18 wheel trailers which were lined up on opposite sides of the ramp to freeway.

And out I went finding my way through those trailers towards the engaging fence which was covered in golden light of morning sun. I captured the ascending sun through my lens and we proceeded towards Santa Fe through US – 285.

 

US- 285 is a picturesque highway. We made a lot of halts along the US-285 for taking pictures of the empty roads and plain desserts of New Mexico.

With all the stops and fun we reached Santa Fe downtown around 8am. EVERYTHING WAS CLOSED. Fortunately, the visitor center was open and we could gather some information for how to spend our day.

The people at the visitor center gave us useful information and suggested us to go up north and explore the Rio Grande River Gorge and Taos Pueblo. And later in the afternoon we can come back to Santa Fe downtown and tour this charming city of adobe buildings.

As suggested we started driving towards Rio Grande River Gorge on Hwy 68 and merged onto Hwy 570 which was scenic way upto the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge(where we could see the divide in Earth). While on Hwy 570 we made 3-4 stopovers and saw a small foot bridge hanging over the Gorge.

From Santa Fe Downtown to Rio Grande Gorge Bridge via Hwy 570 - scenic route along the Rio Grande
From Santa Fe Downtown to Rio Grande Gorge Bridge via Hwy 570 – scenic route along the Rio Grande

We drove on a gravel road for about 2 miles, and ultimately reached other side of the Gorge onto west rim road after crossing a small vehicle bridge.

Rio Grande River Gorge from the overlook on the gravel road
Rio Grande River Gorge from the overlook on the gravel road

The west rim road was 8 miles long and was mostly flat with spectacular views of Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the east.

We walked half way on the Rio Grande Bridge enjoying the steep views. On the bridge at an extended overlook, there was a warning sign along last chance call box for people committing suicide from the bridge.

Rio Grande River Gorge - Taken from the bridge
Rio Grande River Gorge – Taken from the bridge

Following the walk on the bridge we went to hike on the west rim trail to behold the views of the Rio Grande River Gorge and the Bridge.

After admiring the beauty of the Rio Grande for a while, we switched back on the trail to our car and drove towards Taos Pueblo.

Direction from Rio Grande Gorge Bridge to Taos Pueblo (UNESCO Word heritage site) in New Mexico
Direction from Rio Grande Gorge Bridge to Taos Pueblo (UNESCO Word heritage site) in New Mexico

It was feast day at Taos Pueblo, so the place was crowded with visitors. Since it was feast day at Pueblo, they didn’t allow any kind of photography, not even taking pictures with the phone. So we left the cameras and cell phones in our car and experienced the feast event without any interruptions from gadgets.

Pueblo are referred to as Native American communities which were made with stone and adobe mud material. Pueblo is not just one house but its a community of various houses – what we now have in modern days as apartment community. Even though it was 1000 years old, Taos Pueblo still had about 100 people inhabiting those houses. The mud houses were about 8ft tall and had no electricity and running water. Visitors were not allowed to go inside the Pueblo’s – as they are private dwelling of people.In the center of the community area there was San Geronimo Chapel, which is open to all the visitors.

The ceremony started with a ritual. A group of men were standing on both North and South Pueblo complex and were enchanting some prayers loudly with 5-10 mins intervals. We rested under a shed in the Pueblo community area and waited patiently for the cultural corn dance to begin along with other visitors.  After a while we saw a group of female dancers dressed up and ready to perform the traditional dance ceremony.

We enjoyed the corn dance performed by the native people of Taos pueblo and headed back to Santa Fe downtown for early dinner and downtown walk.

 

From Taos Pueblo to Santa Fe Downtown
From Taos Pueblo to Santa Fe Downtown

 

 

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