Year 1 Day 28 Exploring The Rio Grande Gorge

The weather during our first month of boondocking has been remarkably nice.  During our stay in Tucson it was very hot the first week but we remained very comfortable with two of our three a/c units running.  At Richard’s place we had 30 Amp service so we were limited to running just two of the three units but it is enough to keep LeuC nice and cool.  It was a good learning experience in marshaling our energy use.  After that first week, things cooled down from about 106 to the mid-90s.  When we left and then gained 2000 feet elevation in Columbus and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the highs were only in the mid-80s.  Now we are up above 6,000 feet here, Pilar and the highs are in the mid-70s: very comfortable.  At night, it drops down to the mid-40’s but we use one of the heaters (our three units are actually heat pumps so they can do both a/c and heating) and it keeps LeuC nice and snug while we sleep.  There have been a few times while in New Mexico when it has rained but it has always been at night and then only briefly.  The weather just doesn’t get much better than this!

Today, we decided to hop in our little Fiat and explore up the Rio Grande Gorge and then Taos, just 10 miles to the north.  We knew there was a famous bridge over the gorge to the west of Taos and we were hoping that we could go up the side wall of the gorge, get to the bridge and then circle into Taos.

Since we do not have Internet accesses here in the gorge, we did not have Google Maps to guide us.  I had previously inspected our area using Google Earth and there appeared to be two roads that could lead us out of the gorge, one on each side.  Thus, fat, dumb and happy, off we went.

Here is an aerial view of the area we explored.  It shows how long and deep the gorge is.

Rio Grande Gorge Area

Along the way we stopped a number of times to take photos of this very scenic river, tucked between the steep sides of the gorge.  We passed a number of small campgrounds, each holding just a dozen or less sites.  We finally came up to a fork in the road.  To the left there was a narrow bridge crossing the river, to the right, a dirt road.  We opted for the right and headed down the dirt road.  Soon we saw a sign that said the road ended in ½ mile.  Damn!

Looking up the gorge that we set off to explore.

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One of the small campgrounds we passed going up the gorge.

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We turned around, returned to the fork and headed across the narrow bridge.  Once across the river, the road turned to dirt and in the distance, we could see it climbing up the steep wall of the gorge.  However, it was filled with ruts which gave us pause.

Now, as you may know, Mary Margaret and I are very adventurous and we longed to follow this dubious, rutty, steep, steep dirt road.  However, we were in our little Fiat.  What you may not know is the Fiat 500 Pop, does not come with a spare tire.  It only has its four tires and a patch kit with an electric pump.  We had visions of us bumping along this rutty dirt road and losing a tire to a sharp rock and being stick in the middle of nowhere with no cell coverage or Internet access.  Gulp!  With our tails tucked between our legs, we opted to turn around and return to the narrow paved road that would take us back to Pilar and the main road to Taos.  As we drove down the gorge, we vowed to buy a little spare tire and stuff it into the trunk when we got to Denver.

The view as we drove back toward Pilar

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As we approached Pilar, we came up to a short line of cars and a RV all stopped.  We got out and discovered that a tree had fallen across the road.  One of the people had a chain saw and was sawing off the many limbs.  We all then pitched in, carrying the various limbs and then rolling the cut pieces of trunks off the road.  It was a community moment as we laughed and joked about what one has to do to travel the back roads of New Mexico.  It was a lot of fun!

The tree blocking the road.

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If you look closely, you can see our little Fiat waiting in line due to the tree across the road.

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We then were able to drive up to Taos, which has become an artsy community.  Here we went shopping for some perishables and some more little things that somehow had snuck onto our “must need to get” list.  Once again, we were impressed with how friendly and helpful everyone we talked to was.

The view of the gorge as we approached Taos

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We then had lunch at a very nice little restaurant.  Since the tourist season is over, we were the only ones there and we had a wonderful time with the waiter.

Once our tummies were full, we struck out in search of the famous bridge over the gorge.  About 10 miles or so we saw it in the distance and when we approached it, we joined the host of other cars that had pulled off the road.  It seemed the thing to do was to get out of your car and walk across this bridge, which spans the gorge far, far below.  Mary Margaret is not a great fan of heights but she surprised me as she insisted she come along.  The winds were really howling, blowing up the gorge at around 35 MPH.  It felt like we were going to be blown off!

Once in the middle of the bridge we stopped, took a number of pictures which I will post, then then clawed our way back.  Whew!  That was a hoot!

Here’s Mary Margaret Out On The Bridge WIth The WInd Howling!

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The Deep, Deep Gorge!

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When You Look Down And Zoom Way In, Here Is What You See!

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Just In Case You Are THinking Of The Great Jump, Help Is Here!

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Your’s Truly Once Off The Bridge.  Notice The Snow Up High.

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With our adventure lust satiated for today, we returned to LeuC and snuggled down to a cozy night inside.

One thought on “Year 1 Day 28 Exploring The Rio Grande Gorge”

  1. Great day and pix! Gotta say you made a wise voice about the dirt road imo. Years ago we were in a dirt road in CO with ranger Del driving a jeep. We had two flat tires that afternoon. Fortunately the hero had two spares. We also almost went off the cliff – or so it seemed – but that’s another story. Happy you guys are having so much fun.

    Liked by 1 person

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