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Three years ago, driving across New Mexico quickly, I didn't have time to take the lift ride up to the top of the Sandia Mountains outside of Albuquerque. Today, I took the time to do so. One of the longest such rides in the world, there was a great view from the top, looking across at mountains, forests, mesas, and the city of Albuquerque.
From Sandia, I drove up to Taos Pueblo. Another interesting old village, with a similar history to the Sky City Acoma Pueblo from yesterday. Taos may have the reputation, but I thought Acoma was a lot more interesting and enjoyed that tour a lot more. The truth is my favorite parts of visiting Taos were the drives in and out. On the drive in, I stopped after coming over a crest and stopped for a few minutes:
Been driving between two large rainstorms, through towns, past casinos, and on a long curving road just above the Rio Grande. As the road crested the hill, an incredible view spread out below.
First, high dark clouds appear as if they have a tail as rain falls towards the ground not too far away. Second, a canyon dug by the Rio zigzags across the wide flat plain. And dominating the scene, even if noticed third, the tallest mountains in New Mexico stand guard over everything.
August in northeastern New Mexico is truly a sight to behold.
After visiting the Pueblo, I started to drive south, down New Mexico highway 518. A long, curving drive through a forest that reminded me a lot of the Maggie Valley in North Carolina, sitting just below the Great Smokey Mountains. Past forest roads and up and down hills and through little villages, on and on I drove, mostly having the road to myself. Finally, I landed in Las Vegas, NM (a much smaller and less interesting place than the similarly named city a little west of here), where I joined I-25 south before getting on US-84 south. I had no idea where I was, or how to get back to Route 66 from there, but I knew that at some point, I was supposed to be on 84. So on I drove south on 84, past amazing views as the sun set behind the mesas, and finally, after 70 miles (including the last few on I-40), I ended up in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
I am staying at the La Loma Motel. This is one of the real throwbacks to Route 66's heyday. It is hard to explain why that is, or even to convey it in pictures. Little more than a glorified truck stop, with only the barest of amenities, La Loma is the perfect place to end another day driving around New Mexico, and is great to get me back into Route 66 after spending most of the last 2 days off of the Mother Road.
Tomorrow, see a couple of sights in Santa Rosa, then the 60 miles down the road to Tucumcari and on to Texas.
Pictures are all from inside the traditional Taos Pueblo.