Sunday, August 21, 2011

Road Notes: Ranchos de Taos, Questa and Carson

There is a Carson, New Mexico. It is about halfway between the Rio Grande and Taos Junction which is on U.S. 285 ten miles or so east of Ojo Caliente. Advertising brought us to Carson. It was the billboards in Taos erected by the Ojo Caliente folks (full name: Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa). The boards reported that a newly paved road along the west rim of the Gorge would get one to Ojo. The “west rim” part was a stretch. The road was far enough west of the rim that one could not see into the gorge. Still, a nice drive.
But whether paving the road was justifiable in light of the transportation department being hundreds of millions of dollars short of doing what it says it really needs to do, well, that’s another question entirely.
Things have changed, big time, at Ojo since 1979 when “Hot Springs and Pools of the Southwest” described it as an “older commercial resort and bath house.” The older buildings are still there, but facilities such the new (to us) “Cliffside Suites” go for $349/night on weekends. Check it out at
In Questa we found, after some searching, Shakey’s Bar and Grill. It is two large rooms behind a liquor store. We didn’t ask the origins of the K-Bob’s mirror over the bar. The burrito was good.
Other than the San Francisco de Asis mission church, for me the gem of Ranchos de Taos remains the Trading Post CafĂ© with elegant Italian food, fine and expensive art on the walls (even in the restroom), and an overall environment that can only be called “intensely local.” My lunch was a Torta Cubano, hardly Italian, but who cares.
Red River, our destination on this jaunt, was full of No Vacancy signs and Texas license plates with the occasional Oklahoma. That’s good.

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