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Explore! New Mexico searches the state for interesting stories to tell our listeners and readers - and now our blog followers! We are currently producing a series of multi-media podcasts for the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau about interesting events and places to visit. You can view them at our YouTube channel. Be sure to visit our website where you can get even more ideas about where to travel in the Land of Enchantment.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taos Daytrip: Kit Carson, Blumenschein & Bent

On our last day of travel, we headed along the High Road to Taos. Once there, we visited the Kit Carson Home and Museum as well as Carson's grave, stopped by the Gov. Bent house and gift shop, and toured the Blumenschein house and museum. In between we popped into any number of interesting galleries -- for which Taos is known.

Highway 68 runs from Espanola to Taos. That's how we came home. On our way there, we took thefamous High Road through Nambe, Truchas, and Penasco. The road wound and turned, often taking us back the way we came before heading northeast again. We rambled through juniper/pinon dotted hills with pine forest climbing higher up the mountains. Mt. Wheeler, the highest peak in NM, towered over us. It's a strikingly beautiful drive and, as we climbed higher into the pine forests, enjoyed grassy meadows dotted with wildflowers. At one point we hit the shoulder. We had just stopped to photograph a lovely church that two artists were painting and had barely started driving again when there to our right was a log flume. That's right! Two 20-foot-long logs had been hollowed out to move water to where we had no idea, but the technology was straight out of the 18th Century.

Cheryl had a particular interest in the Kit Carson house. Her great-grandmother lived across the street from the Carsons in Taosand the two families were friendly. Kit Carson's home eventually included 12 rooms in a few separate buildings. We toured four rooms of his home, which comprise the museum. Some rooms in another building are unstable and unsafe, soare not included in the museum. Another set of rooms across a courtyard are part of a gallery and gift shop. The museum is owned and operated by the Masons, as Carson was a member and they wanted to preserve his legacy. It was an interesting look into the character and life of the American hero. We went next to see the graves of Carson and his third wife, Josefa Jamarillo.

I had an interest the the Gov. Charles Bent house. In 1847, after Gen. Kearny left Santa Fe for California, many of the Indians and Mexicans in Taos -- those who resented the American take-over -- rose in revolt. They stormed the Bent house and murdered the governor. While he held them off, his wife and daughter, and Mrs. Carson pushed a hole in a back wall and escaped. Mrs. Bent is buried in the same cemetery as the Carsons. Charles Bent's grave is not there.

Ernest Blumenschein, an artist from back East, was enroute from Denver to Mexico
when his wagon broke. He rode on horseback into Taos to get repairs and fell in love with the town. He is one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists, the foundation of today's art
s community. His house consists of nine rooms. They
were built at various times from 1797 to 1924. He and his wife purchased three rooms in 1919 and as other buildings came on the market, they acquired them and expanded their residence between 1924 and 1931. Blumenschein, his wife, Mary, and daughter, Helen, all were artists and much of their art is on display, along with some of their furnishings. The house is interesting to explore and the art compelling. However,
we felt the $8 entrance fee was a bit steep.

Tired from walking and the heat, we headed south, stopping at the St. Francis of Asis church in Rancho de Taos -- a popular subject of painters and photographers -- and then dropped from the high plateau into the Rio Grande gorge.

I had read about an adobe home in Rinconada having two Mississippi riverboat capstans decorating it and wondered if the house is still there. The story dated to 1928. While we didn't find the house, we did meet Mark Saxe, who runs a stone carving school and gallery. He said perhaps the 90-year-old man across the highway might know, but advised not visiting his property unannounced. We decided to wait and see if Mark could contact his neighbor and inform us of the whereabouts of the capstans.

We returned to Santa Fe exhausted from our week of travel. We've had an exciting journey, and will have many more stories to tell -- after we've had a few days rest. And of course, we can't wait to return to do more exploring!

Posted by Bud Russo

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