Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

This shack, next to the Ojo Caliente New Mexico Post Office, looked abandoned.
This photo of it was shot in a realistic mode.

Santa Fe’s leaden skies and cool temperatures and the desire to end up at my brother’s in Larkspur Colorado kept us from tarrying in Santa Fe. About an hour outside Santa Fe we stopped to stretch our legs in the tiny town* of Ojo Caliente, considered part of Taos.

*If it has a post office, we consider it a town. In fact, Wayne stopped to mail something at Ojo Caliente’s post office.

This dusty Ojo Caliente struck me as dreamy, so I gave it a more sepia-tone treatment when and zoomed in a bit. 
Ojo Caliente, which translates to “hot spring”, (or eyeball hot) offered an interesting contrast. On the one hand, there was a dry streambed and what looked like an abandoned shack. Yet right next store, was an historic, swanky hot springs resort. Probably just as well we didn’t know we could’ve taken a dip there for only $24 each for a day pass, $4 less than nearby 10,000 Waves, which has gotten pricier since my last visit there, when renting a private hot tub wasn’t too dear. Granted, that was over 10 years ago. Now at either spa, private hot tubs start at $45/person. 

At 10,000 Waves Communal and Women’s hot tub, clothing is optional. At Ojo Caliente, swimsuits are required in communal areas. Ojo Caliente was originally built as a resort in 1868. 
We kept seeing rain ahead after we left Sante Fe…..
There wasn’t a whole lot of traffic as we made our way along Highway 285. It was a barren land, with rolling hills and mountains, hiding in the clouds. Ojo Caliente’s high country, 6,250 feet above sea level, making Denver, “the Mile High City” at 5301, a bit of a piker, comparatively.
This San Antonio Mountain sign and pullout gave us another excuse to stop.
San Antonio‘s peak, a lone, volcanic mountain at nearly 11,000 feet. was not very visible in the clouds. And the wind, when I stepped out, was not only chilly, it was so wild I couldn’t really see what I was taking a picture of. Wayne wisely stayed in the car for that stop! And yet, we still managed at that stage to elude the rain.
Sangre de Cristo mountains with sagebrush un the foreground.
Despite the clouds, we could still make out the dramatic snow-topped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountains to our right as we made our way to Colorado from Sante Fe, New Mexico. Not pictured, to our left, the Rockies were unfolding.
Alamosa Colorado train station, adjacent a Welcome Center.

As we entered Colorado, the area rapidly transformed. Rivers and irrigation gave way to farming and lush green orchards and fields. Alamosa is named for its cottonwood trees. What a difference water makes! We stopped at Alamosa Colorado’s Welcome Center. The difference in wealth between the two states was also very apparent. New Mexico is one of the US’s ten poorest states. Colorado is not. Alamosa Colorado’s welcome center was chock full of maps and fancy brochures, and the building had two stained glass windows. When we entered New Mexico, there was… nothing.

One of many vintage trains at Alamosa Colorado.
Alamosa was formed to support Colorado’s railroads. Today, it’s more of a tourist town, a jump off point to places like nearby Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. If we had more time, we’d love to explore the Sand Dunes. Unfortunately the drive alone would’ve been at least 1-2 hours out of our way, not counting multiple viewpoints or any hiking. All that on a cold, blustery day without great visibility.

Alamosa looked worth of exploration in its own right. For a small town, it was kinda hip. It even had a locavore restaurant, or at least I assume it is, as it is named Locavores.

From our car window, speeding past the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
We could just make out the Great Sand Dunes at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.
Weathered, scattered ranches of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, taken from our car window, as we drove past.

We may have escaped most of the rain, but we did not expect to encounter snow! Just a little over a week before we left Florida in 93 degree weather!

Gack! Snow! In late May, Colorado. Photo taken through our front windshield at a dry moment of our drive.

Snow it was. First, rain with snow, which melted right away, then slush, then a regular flurry of the white stuff. Eventually it stuck. Overnight, it laid down about eight inches, most of what stayed was after we stopped. Whew!

My Prius, the morning after we arrived at my brother’s in Larkspur, Colorado.

We made it, well before dark, though the blizzard we drove through choked down the light, making the day seem later than it was in the dimness.

And it was pretty. More on that in the next post.

Location Location
We arrived at our boat on the afternoon of Saturday, May 25th, Memorial weekend in Portland Oregon.  In addition to catching up on blog posts, we are busy triaging the boat, and getting reconnected with our goods sent via Greyhound.