Sightseeing in Taos, New Mexico

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Yes, yes, yes, I’m STILL uploading photos from our cross country road trip that was like.. what? Almost two weeks ago now? I’m so slow. Forgive me internets?
Anyhoo, this was one of our sightseeing stops when we spent two blissful travel-free days in New Mexico. We made the 70 mile drive out of Santa Fe to Taos because the 501 Must Visit Destinations book that I am systematically traveling my way through describes Taos as, “An enchanting town with historical monuments and famous artist colonies.” And I simply must obey the 501 Must Visit Destinations book. I’m kind of OCD  like that.
Taos is a tiny town of about 6,000 snuggled into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in north-central New Mexico. The town is famous because it is home to Taos Pueblo, a Native American village and tribe.
The Taos Pueblo has been occupied for nearly a millennium and is the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. The small Native Indian village was built between 1000 and 1450 A.D. and there are currently about 150 people who live at the pueblo year round. The Taos Pueblo was added as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 as one of the most significant historical cultural landmarks in the world, right alongside the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids of Egypt and the Grand Canyon.
Taos itself is home to more than twenty sites on the National Register of Historic Places – mostly art museums and Native American historic landmarks. When we rolled into Taos, driving alongside the beautiful Rio Grande Gorge, we had a series of “Are we there yet?” moments. The town really is tiny and unassuming. The historic district of Ranchos de Taos Plaza just pops up out of nowhere, a tiny blip of color and culture in the midst of drab hills and monochrome adobe buildings.

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Our first stop was to eat at the La Cueva Café, a small hole in the wall joint located a block south of the Taos Plaza. Owned and run by Chef Horacio Zarazua and his wife Juana, the New Mexican cuisine eaterie was listed as one of the top stops for foodies in Taos on Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor. The food at La Cueva is prepared fresh daily and features natural ingredients and homemade spices.
Jonathan and I tried a sample plate of tacos, enchiladas and chimichangas, with Christmas sauce (a mixture of red and green sauces). While the food was most certainly good, my raised-in-Cali self has certainly had better Mexican cuisine. But if you’re ever in Taos, this little unassuming restaurant is definitely worth a stop.

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After strolling through the downtown Plaza, we stopped at the Kit Carson House, former home of the famous American trapper, hunter, frontiersman and Indian fighter. Kit Carson lived in Taos back when it was known as the capital of the fur trade in the Southwest. Taos was where Kit Carson learned his skills as a trapper, and where he was buried.
While sitting in his backyard courtyard, Jonathan and I began reflecting on how we’d like to always provide unique travel opportunities to our children, and let them experience life and history in a hands on fashion. Being only seven months old, nearly every single experience Tessa has is a completely new one. I started rattling off things that are mundane to us, but totally new to her, and I mentioned in passing, “Things like playing in gravel are completely new..” To which Jonathan replied, “You know, you’re right! We should let her play in the gravel, I bet she’d love it!”
So we set her down among the tiny pebbles of Kit Carson’s back yard, and watched her go nuts. And go nuts she did.. she kept digging, and clawing, and chattering at the gravel, picking up little pieces and dropping them, just to watch them fall. She was so enraptured in her play that she ended up crawling half way across the courtyard, completely oblivious to mom and dad watching her, laughing and marveling at how the world must look through her new eyes. And there was something fun, and adventurous, and romantic behind the thought that one of her earliest experiences exploring the world was in the heart of the home of one of America’s greatest explorers.

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On our way out of town we stopped by the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, a building that has been dubbed the “most photographed and painted churches in the world”. The church was built between 1772 and 1816 and is entirely made of adobe.
Adobe is the Spanish word for mud brick, and it’s pretty much just that. Only, before the the Spanish introduced the Native Americans to the making of actual bricks, the Pueblo people built their adobe structures without individual pieces, instead molding buildings out of handfuls of adobe, resulting in one continuous piece of mud for the whole structure.
While adobe is made completely out of sand, clay, water, and organic material (mostly straw and manure) they are unbelievably durable and account for some of the oldest existing buildings in the world. When I first approached the walls of the adobe church up close, you could see straw sticking out of the dried mud. It looks so rediculously breakable and fragile that I couldn’t even fathom how this thing help up in the rain – let alone the rains of 250 years.
So I did what any gawking white girl tourist would do, and I walked up and kicked the building. And mother effer, that thing nearly broke my foot. After calling Jonathan over to inspect, I tried rapping it with my knuckles. Ow. Yeah, don’t do that. It’s as though cement had an older, gnarly brother that looks like poop. Which is pretty much what adobe is, being made with manure. It’s poop cement. Damn crafty Indians.

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Oh! And then! (Almost forgot.) We stopped by the banks of the Rio Grande to get some fresh air, let our Golden Retriever Thor splash around a bit, and stretch our legs before the drive back to our hotel in Santa Fe… aaaand, our dumb dog almost drowned himself. Like, literally.
I am convinced that we have the worlds dumbest smart dog. He kept jumping around, trying to bite the splashes he was making, and literally bumbled out into the heaviest portion of the current and got swept away. When he tried to fight the current, his head started going under and he began panicking. Jonathan handed me the baby, emptied his pockets, and was in the process of jumping in after the dumb dog when Thor managed to get his bearings and doggy paddle back to the shore.. just in the nick of time. (If the current had carried him any further, where there WAS no more bank, just rocky walls, Jon would have HAD to jump in after him!)

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So that was fun! Overall, it was a great day outing. Not sure if it would be worth the drive or flight to see all by it’s onsie unless you were already in the area like we were – but of course when we visited, all of the Native American sites – including the church – were on spring break (LAME) so we only got to lurk around like annoying tourists outside the adobe buildings and national landmarks.
But we still enjoyed our day-long excursion to this unique and remote little town! Check out some of our travel photos below:


 

Have you been to Taos, New Mexico? Interested in visiting? Share below!

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Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

6 thoughts on “Sightseeing in Taos, New Mexico

  • 25 April, 2014 at 8:17 am
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    I love Tessa playing with the pebbles…and trying to get into the beehive oven!

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    • 25 April, 2014 at 3:03 pm
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      Yeah, she’s a doll! She is our new favorite part of traveling, hehe..

      Reply
  • 28 April, 2014 at 2:07 am
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    I would have played in the gravel and tried to get in the oven too

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    • 28 April, 2014 at 8:36 pm
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      I do not doubt this.

      Reply
  • 28 October, 2014 at 5:34 pm
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    Oh wow, what an interesting-looking place! The pictures are great, I can feel the sun in my skin just by looking at them, good job!

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    • 29 October, 2014 at 12:58 pm
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      Thanks! We had a lot of fun on that whirlwind trip!!

      Reply

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