Taos, New Mexico: Still Heavenly
By Kent E. St. John, GoNOMAD Senior Travel Editor
Its bound to happen to a nomad sooner or later; a return trip to a favorite destination and things have changed. Chain hotels have sprung up like dandelions. Close your eyes and you still can name the fast food places tucked in between the hotels.
Dont turn tail and run; get some local advice as I recently discovered in Taos, NM. It wasnt long before I was traveling into Taoss parallel world. The one filled with magnetism, allure and simple pleasures. The one that attracted artists such as Georgia OKeefe and D.H. Lawrence as well as mountain men like Kit Carson.
A Place to Hang Your Head
On rare occasions paying a little more for lodgings can pay off big.
The Casa de las Chimeneas (House of the Chimneys) certainly proved
that point. To simply call it a B & B is an injustice and not
simply because a buffet supper is included.
If funds are low and a hostel stay is the way to go, head ten minutes north of town and hunker down in the hamlet of Arroyo Seco at the Abominable Snowman (see below). In the summer there are teepees and camping areas and in the winter, bunk style lodgings. Its clean, spacious and close to the ski area. The circular fireplace and kitchen are gathering spots.
A good mid range stay can be found at the Sun God Lodge. The rooms are done in a southwestern style and the hot tub out back is a great place to end a long day.
Air, Mountain Appetite
As a past restaurateur Ive dealt with egos before. So suffice it to say, glad Im on the other side now! Ive got to love a chef who posts his accolades on the bathroom doors! !The chef / owner of Josephs Table (see details on right of the page), Joseph Wrede, has it right. Small, offbeat, good, and wine prices in this world not out. And he loves his job. Better yet, its a splurge thats worth it! In Taos, with planning, you can offset other costs with a wonderful meal at Josephs Table.
Pizza, pasta and family fun add up to one thing--reasonable. La Luna is fine, filling and a better value than chain food. Youll forget its in a strip mall when you twirl the pasta.
The Bent Street Deli offers casual fare with artistic flare. The Taos is turkey, green chile, bacon, salsa and guacamole all rolled up in a flour tortilla. They also serve an arrangement of salads from hummus to tabbouleh.
Late night dining (weekends) is authentic and inexpensive at El Pueblo Café. Its a no frills eating and drinking spot, but a great chance to try menudo or pozole. One thing is for certain, there is no need to pass under golden arches or visit Wendy.
Tiny Taos, Wide Open
blue skies punctuated with staccato white clouds have a powerful effect
in Taos. The surrounding mountains only add to the draw. Taos is more
than adobe buildings and art galleries; outdoors is king here.
Closer to Home
experience bar none in Taos is a visit to the Taos Pueblo. This is
not a Disney set; it is a place where traditions are a way of life.
The language you will hear is the unwritten Tiwa. The traditions are
passed verbally and religiously.
Just outside of Taos is the Martinez Hacienda and museum. The hacienda provides Spanish colonial outlook of life New Mexico. Its thick adobe walls and central courtyard are a reminder of past Comanche and Apache raids.
Art has played a part of the area for at least 100 years. The tradition is still strong today. Just three possibilities are the Fechin Institute, Van Vechten-Lineberry Art Museum and the Millicent Rogers Museum. Before hitting the hundreds of galleries in Taos a stop at the Millicent Rogers Museum is a good idea. The collection is heavy on traditional Hispanic and Native American pieces. The starting point for many of the local artists.
One Kokopelli Over the Line
is the southwestern version of Bacchus, the god of merry making. After
12 years of living out west I have seen just about every design and
use of the mythical creature. I believe this can be done in just one
stop in any of the over abundant tourist shops.
Boot Scootin' Boogie
combination of Inn, dance hall and restaurant sounds overwhelming
take a big gulp and head into the Sagebrush Inn. The locals gather
here on weekends to dance their cares away. Dont let the combination
of cowboy hats and concha belts rattle you. These people are friendly
and willing to teach you some dance steps.
For a different variety of performances try the Adobe Bar. There you will encounter jazz, rock and even Celtic duos. The place is called, the living room of Taos. For rock and roll Taylors new dance floor is the place to be.
The natural beauty of Taos is well matched for three strong and distinct cultures. The American Indian, Spanish settler and artist colony weave together to create a one of a kind destination. If New Mexico is the Enchanted State, then Taos may be its cosmic heart. Every season has a good reason to visit Taos.
Street Deli & Cafe
Home & Museum
Roadside History of New Mexico
Touring New Mexico
Read more GoNOMAD stories about New Mexico
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