Mesa Verde, Bisti, Albuquerque, and Taos

Puebloan Country

We are now in Puebloan country. Leaving Durango, we snake up the highway to the top of Mesa Verde. From the road leading up to it, this place emphatically punches the clear blue sky. As I drive up, I wonder how there would be enough water to sustain a civilization. Because of the pandemic, we are unable to walk through the dwellings, but the views from the overlooks are awe-inspiring.

From here, we head to the Aztec Ruins. The grounds, along with the many rooms, seem embracing, bringing us into the past with a feeling of connectedness. The reconstructed Great Kiva echoes sacred ceremonies that transcend time.

Bisti Wilderness

We shoot south, and off the side of the highway, we follow Mark and Sarah, pulling into the parking lot of the Bisti Wilderness. This place has been on my bucket list, and having read about the wildness of this place, of the difficult route-finding, of people getting lost, I wasn’t going to attempt this without Mark being there. His search-and-rescue experience would be helpful. We set up camp just off to the side of the parking lot. Then, Mark leads us through the featureless terrain to fantastical hoodoos. We climb up and over them, weaving through the stands of sentinels and creatures. The sun dips below the clear horizon and paints the sky with wisps of pink and orange. This place would become one of our kids’ favorite places, where they remember the free range where they roamed and the boulders which they conquered. We head back to camp as the stars begin to emerge.

Chaco Canyon

The crisscrossing roads through the flat landscape makes us feel lost, and the rumble of gravel makes us dizzy. At last, we arrive at Chaco Canyon; we’re not lost. Stepping into the ruins, it’s not hard to imagine the once-advanced culture flourishing in this place. Because of time constraints, we choose to explore Pueblo Bonito. Climbing up to the precipice, we marvel at the structure’s outline, the design, rooms, and architectural details. And, I find myself constantly fearful of the kids falling into one of the kivas. We emerge safely and enjoy a picnic lunch by Casa Rinconada.


Mark had suggested that we stay at Los Poblanos, and I’m glad we booked this place. We love the manicured lavender fields and tended gardens. The farm-to-table creations are amazing. The Biggest Little Farm is Daphney’s favorite documentary, and staying at this place brings back those warm feelings of being in a working farm, smelling the earth, feeling the connectedness to the rhythms of the seasons.


We next journey to Taos. There is so much history to this place. My college sociology professor, Monte Andres, recommend me Cather’s book, Death Comes for the Archbishop. Seeing Taos in person breathes life into the book. We take a day trip to Bandelier; the cliff dwellings are my favorite ruins, and I can see how this mystical place set in a peaceful valley can be so captivating to those who lived there.

In Taos, we stay at El Monte Sagrado, another recommendation from Mark. The kids love the setting, mesmerized by the falling leaves and the fish swimming in the pond. We love our room decorated with the Bali theme, and we wish our stay here was longer.

The Enchanted Circle drive ends up less scenic than what we were hoping for. We did enjoy lunch amidst some beautiful fall color.

Back in Taos, we pull in to La Luna Mystica, a hotel consisting of renovated RVs scattered outside of town. We have never stayed in an RV before, so this is to be our RV experience.  We love our Airstream and its porch with a firepit. The kids enjoy jumping around the dining area. It’s windy tonight. We light a fire for ambience but quickly head inside before being blown away.

We wake up to a calm morning. Leaving town, we visit the bridge over the Rio Grande. Then, we stop by the closed San Francisco of Asis Church and travel the high road to Chimayo. In the church, the side chapel with all the crutches inspires faith, but the Atocha child off to the side seems creepy. I wonder if the dirt is refilled each day by a caretaker, or if it self-replenishes.

Soon, we’ll be leaving this land of “bright yellow waves of high sand dunes,” where the landscape is punctuated by “a few lines of dark juniper that crew out of weather cracks,” where wild pumpkins look “less like a plant than like a great colony of gray-green lizards, moving and suddenly arrested by fear.” Soon, we’ll be back in Colorado.

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