Day 192 – New Mexico North – Part 2

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Day 192 – New Mexico North, June 7, 2011

At the suggestion of Kelly and Buck, I took the “High Road
to Taos” from Santa Fe through several old Spanish towns.  On the way to Taos, I stopped at El Santuario
de Chimayo, a USA National Historic Landmark since 1970.  The shrine is built on the site of what many
believe to be a miracle associated with the crucifix of Nuestro Senor de
Esquipulas.  Different beliefs associated
with the crucifix can be found at

It is also the site of “el pocito”, a small pit of dirt
which is considered holy because it is in the spot the crucifix of Our Lord of
Esquipulas was found by Bernardo Abeyta in 1810.  Thousands of pilgrims and visitors have come
to El Santuario de Chimayo in search of spiritual, emotional, and physical

The grounds surrounding the shrine include several crucifixes,
graves, and small worship areas decorated with colorful beads, mosaics, flowers,
holy figures, and candles.  Inside the
shrine, a small adobe room decorated with statues of Jesus, statues of Mary,
and religious paintings, surrounds the square of sand holding two plastic
spades that visitors may use to shovel the holy dirt for healing.  The room is attached to a larger chapel
filled with pews and one of the most colorful pulpits I’ve ever seen.

After visiting the church, we continued on to Taos where we
stopped at the Rio Grande Gorge. Perching 650 feet above the raging Rio Grande,
is the fifth highest bridge in America which quakes with each passing truck.  The cantilever truss bridge spans 1,280 feet
and in 1966 was awarded the Most Beautiful Steel Bridge in the Long Span
category by the American Institute of Steel Construction.  The bridge has appeared in several films
including Natural Born Killers, Twins, and She’s Having a Baby.

On the other side of town, we visited the Church of St
Francis of Assisi. The church was constructed between 1772 and 1816 and is
located on the plaza in Ranchos de Taos, a historic district.  While I visited, it appeared to be under
renovation, but it is said to have inspired among the greatest number of
depictions of any building in the United States.  It was subject of four paintings by Georgia
O’Keefe and photographs of Ansel Adams and Paul Strand.

We moved toward the east following 522 to 38 through what is
known as the Enchanted Circle.  The
scenic drive passes pine covered peaks, picturesque valleys, and alpine
lakes.  Just before reaching Red River, a
popular ski resort, we found the Junebug Campground in Carson National Forest
where the river skirted the edge of the southern campsites.  The gurgle of the waters flow made for a peaceful
evening.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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