On Walkabout At: The Four Corners

Basic Information

Picture from Northeastern Arizona

Narrative

After a spectacular drive along Highway 160 from Tuba City, Arizona my family and I reached the next destination on our Arizona trip itinerary which was the Four Corners.  This area would be nothing, but a piece of remote desert if it wasn’t for the geographical oddity of being the only place in the United States where four states intersect.  Taking full advantage of this oddity the Navajo Nation has turned the Four Corners into a tourist attraction.  So once we crossed into New Mexico we saw the exit for the Four Corners and decided this would be a good place to take a  break before continuing on to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado:

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On Walkabout In: Gallup, New Mexico

Basic Information

  • Name: Gallup
  • Where: New Mexico, USA
  • More Information:  Gallup website

Narrative

As much as I like Colorado and New Mexico another place in the US I really enjoy visiting is the state of Arizona.  I lived in Prescott, Arizona many years ago and still maintain friendships with people who live there.  I sometimes drive over to Arizona to meet with friends which is what I did this past summer.  I drove from Colorado to Arizona via I-40 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I always enjoy the drive from Albuquerque to Arizona which features a lot of high desert scenery:

Picture from Gallup, New Mexico

One of the places I stopped to let my kids take a break from the long drive was in Gallup, New Mexico. Gallup is located in far western New Mexico near the border with Arizona:


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We exited I-40 and parked at the Gallup Cultural Center which is located in an old train station in downtown:

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Hike To the Gila Mountains’ Jordan Hot Springs

The Gila Mountains is one of my favorite wilderness areas in the US. Via the Backpacker.com website comes a hike to a hot spring I will have to check out the next time I am in the area:

Do it Escape to a hot-spring paradise in this remote, ancient volcanic region. Though a 300,000-acre wildfire raged through the Gila Wilderness in summer 2012, this 13.6-mile, out-and-back overnighter didn’t burn, and it will still take you to one of the area’s best backcountry pools. You might even have it all to yourself if you plan a midweek spring trip.

From the TJ Corral trailhead (1), take the Little Bear Canyon Trail (729), which rolls in and out of several dry washes as it meanders northward. Pass through piñon-juniper grassland and an old burn area, then ascend a steep 500 feet to follow a broad ridge. A saddle (2) at mile 1.2 provides a comfortable, sandy spot to enjoy the view across the 1,200-foot-deep West Fork valley. In .9 mile, stay right past the trail marker for The Meadows (3), then cross a 6,300-foot pass (4), the hike’s high point, in .3 mile. Long views show the serpentine Middle Fork of the Gila carving its way through a sculpture garden of towering columns and cliffs. [Backpacker.com]

You can read the rest at the link.

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On Walkabout At: The Kit Carson Memorial Cemetery

Basic Information

  • Name: Kit Carson Memorial Cemetery
  • Where: Taos, New Mexico
  • Cost: Free
  • More Info: Taos city website

Narrative

After visiting the Kit Carson Home and Museum during the recent visit our family made to Taos, New Mexico I had worked up an interest in learning more about Kit Carson.  At the museum I bought two books about the frontiersman that I quickly read through.  Reading these books I learned that Kit Carson was actually buried just a short walk down the road from where my family and I were staying at in Taos.  The cemetery is known as the Kit Carson Memorial Cemetery and it is part of the Kit Carson Park in downtown Taos:


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From the Casa Benavides Inn that my family was staying at, I walked a short ways down an alley to the entrance of the Kit Carson Park:

Near the cemetery portion of the park there is a New Mexico state historical marker recognizing the importance of the cemetery as being the final resting place of not only Kit Carson, but various other important New Mexican historical figures as well:

The cemetery is really not that large and some areas I was surprised to find was not up kept all that well:

Here is the corner of the cemetery where Kit Carson is buried which is easily identifiable due to the US flag flying over his grave:

Kit Carson was a frontiersmen that was born in 1809 in Kentucky.  At a young age his family moved to Missouri where as a teenager Kit Carson left home to live out West.  He learned to become a trapper and eventually a respected mountain man.  He eventually even married two Native-American women.  His first wife from the Arapaho tribe died of sickness after child birth, but gave birth to two daughters before her death sometime between 1838-1840.  Kit Carson would later remember his time living in the mountains with his first wife as the happiest times of his life.  He married another Native-American woman from the Cheyenne tribe in 1841, but the marriage was dissolved after a few months due to Kit Carson refusing to follow the Cheyenne on their annual migration around the West.  In early 1842 Kit Carson brought his children to live with relatives in order to get an education.

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On Walkabout Hotel Review: Casa Benavides Inn Bed & Breakfast

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Narrative

On the recent trip that I took my family on to historic Taos, New Mexico we decided that instead of staying in a chain hotel like a Holiday Inn that we usually stay in, that we would try a locally owned and operated bed & breakfast.  With Thanksgiving coming up we have some friends from Australia who may visit us if they can get a good price on flights to USA.  They wanted to see Taos and we thought staying at a bed & breakfast would be a good experience for them.  So I did some Internet research and settled on staying at the Casa Benavides Inn Bed & Breakfast:

This bed & breakfast is located in the historic district of Taos and right next to Kit Carson’s old house that has been turned into a museum:


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According to the Inn’s website the owners Tom and Barbara McCarthy come from two families that have deep connections to the city.  They knew each other their whole lives before marrying and having three children.  They opened the Inn in 1989 and named it after Barbara’s parents Carlos and Ruth Benavides.  Carlos had built three of the prior homes on the property which are now part of the hotel.

When we arrived in Taos we at first drove right by the inn and had to turn around to make the turn into the parking area that can at first be hard to spot from the main road.  Parking in the historic district of Taos can be challenging, but once we turned on to the small entrance into the hotel’s property we found that there was plenty of parking here:

This is another nice aspect of the hotel which is that it is conveniently located within walking distance of the historic district.  Once at the inn there is no need to drive to get to anywhere else in downtown Taos.  After my wife and I pulled into the property and parked we found a sign pointing the way to the reception desk.

To go inside the hotel I passed through this pleasant courtyard outside the hotel lobby and dining areas:

On the way to the reception desk I stopped and checkout the beautifully decorated lobby of the hotel:

However, once I got to the reception desk there was no one there to check us in:

So I had to walk around a little bit until I found the kitchen.  The Inn’s employees were in the kitchen baking goods for the afternoon tea time.  One of the workers came out and was able to quickly check me into the hotel.  She was extremely friendly and invited us over to the dining area to have some of the afternoon tea and cakes they were preparing.  Before having tea and cakes my wife and I wanted to get our bags put away in our room.  The room we stayed in was the Acoma Room that was being offered for $135:

We really liked the room because it was big enough for a family of 3 to stay in and it was tastefully decorated:

The room had hand made wooden furniture such as this cabinet that contained the room’s television:

Since we were in Taos we didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the room so the TV was hardly ever used.  The room also featured some pieces of artwork by local artists that were a nice touch:

The room also had its own restroom that we found to be clean and functional.  After checking out the room and putting our bags away we then walked over to the dining area to have tea and cakes.  Like the rest of the Inn the dining room was tastefully decorated in a Southwestern style:

The cakes we had were all home made and quite tasty.  Be careful here because you can definitely pack away some calories staying here and eating all those great cakes and cookies:

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel which featured a mixture of American and Southwestern cuisines:

If you just want an American style breakfast, cereal and French Toast are available.  However, I not only had the American breakfast items offered, but I also ate all the Southwestern items like eggs with chili as well.  I especially recommend the homemade tortillas which I must of ate about four of.  I had just climbed to the summit of New Mexico’s highest mountain the 13,161 foot Wheeler Peak the day prior so I had worked up quite an appetite that morning and found the food outstanding.

Conclusion

Overall we were very impressed by the Casa Benavides Inn.  I can’t say it is the best bed & breakfast in Taos since I haven’t stayed in all of them, but what I can tell you is that you will not be disappointed staying here.  The room we stayed in was very nice, the service was very friendly and family oriented, and the food was great.  The addition of having a tea time along with having a breakfast is a nice added bonus.  The location is hard to beat as well being so close to downtown.  With all these features my wife and I both thought we got our money’s worth at $135 a night staying at the Inn.  If anyone has any other bed & breakfast recommendations in Taos please share them in the comments section, but right now my wife and I are big fans of the Casa Benavides Inn and look forward to staying there again the next time we are in town.

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On Walkabout In: Taos, New Mexico

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Narrative

When it comes to ranking the most beautiful cities in New Mexico, I would rank downtown Santa Fe as the most beautiful city in the state however the city of Taos in northern New Mexico is a worthy runner up and arguably more historic due to its still vibrant Native-American culture.  Taos is located about two hours north from Santa Fe and the drive is quite a pleasant one as Highway 84 passes through various small farming communities before giving away to Highway 68 that passes through the Rio Grande Gorge and up to Taos:


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Taos in the Native-American Tiwa language means “the village” and this village is really old by American standards.  The Taos Pueblo located just outside the modern day city of Taos is considered the longest continuously inhabited city in the United States which helped it become designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992:

You can view more pictures from my visit to the Taos Pueblo at the below link:

Taos was established roughly around 1000 AD by the Native-Americans and  it is said that this pueblo still looks much the way it did when the first Spanish explorers arrived here back in 1540 except for the windows and doors that were added for convenience reasons by the tribe.  The Spanish and the local Tiwa Native-Americans lived peacefully among each other for many years until the two cultures came into conflict due to the poor treatment of the Natives by the Spanish and their zeal to try and convert the Pueblo Indians in the region to Catholicism.  This led to the Pueblo Revolt that began on August 10, 1680 under the leadership of Pope, a San Juan Pueblo Indian.  The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 led to the deaths of many Spanish settlers and ultimately the expulsion of all the Spanish from New Mexico.  12 years later the Spanish were able to regroup and send a massive military force from Mexico led by Don Diego de Vargas to reconquer the New Mexico Territory.  The Pueblo Indians realizing how futile it would be to fight the large military force armed with modern weapons largely gave in to Spanish demands to surrender.  However, it wasn’t until 1696 that the Spanish were able to get the Taos Puebo to fall under the Spanish flag.

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Picture of the Day: Clouds Over the Taos Mountains

This is a picture of the Taos Mountains as viewed from just outside of Taos, New Mexico.

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Picture of the Day: Through the Cimarron Canyon, New Mexico

This is a picture from my drive through Cimarron Canyon State Park located in New Mexico.

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Picture of the Day: The Taos Mountains In New Mexico

This is a picture of the Taos Mountains as viewed from Eagle Nest, New Mexico. The Taos Mountains are home to the highest point in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak that rises to a maximum elevation of 13,161 feet. You can read about my hike up to the summit of this great mountain at this link.

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Picture of the Day: Baldy Mountain, New Mexico

This is a picture of the 12,441 ft Baldy Mountain located outside of Eagle Nest, New Mexico. This mountain is on my short list of mountains to hike to the summit of over the next year.

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