This week’s guest post on Taos NM is from Laura Ann Klein, aka Edgy June Cleaver. As children of the 50s we were raised on Leave it to Beaver. June Cleaver was a bit hard for the daughter of a feminist (and a future feminist) to swallow. When Laura introduced herself as “Edgy June Cleaver” at the TBEX Conference in Keystone, it was instant love.
I think people who love Northern New Mexico fall into two camps: Santa Fe people and Taos people. I love Santa Fe but I must confess I’m more of a Taos person. Santa Fe–The City Different–feels too posh and studied for me. Taos is a little more laid back and has a whimsical woo-woo, other worldly vibe about it. I’ll never forget trying to explain this “vibe” to my partner–Karen–and the look of utter disbelief on her face. That is, until we had just crossed the New Mexico state line at the mesa near Fort Garland, when she exclaimed: “Oh look! It’s an angel! An angel in the sky is pointing the way!” Actually it was a cloud shaped like an angel with an outstretched hand but the angel was pointing in the exact opposite direction.
Good thing I’m not that superstitious or we would have never gone on to Taos. I laughed at her then and I’m still laughing about that. We hadn’t even crossed the Taos county line and she was caught up in the magic and mystery of Northern New Mexico. The clouds do have a different character to them in the vast skies over Santa Fe and Taos. I’m sure there is a perfectly logical and scientific explanation for it but I would rather not clutter my mind with facts. Not only do the clouds dance and weave a story but the shadows on the rock formations and the wind burnished cliffs tell stories, too. There are so many details to notice in this spare landscape. One afternoon, driving near the Shiprock we swore we could see laughing gargoyles, Easter Island monoliths, skulls, and Casper the friendly ghost formed by the rock and shadows.
I like meandering from Colorado to Taos the “back way” weaving through the mountains and landing in the middle of town with the ticky-tacky abutting the pretentious. The people in Taos offer this cozy blend, too. Years ago, I’ll never forget witnessing a dinner party at the Taos Inn: a well-known New York socialite, a much revered Taos artist, and the kid who waited on me at the Alsups were breaking bread together, heads bent low in a conversation peppered with comfortable laughter. Taos is an impeccable blend of the old with the new, the grandiose with the humble that is then tossed together to create an unbroken entity framed by the seemingly vacant gray-green mesa and crystalline blue sky.
Traveling up and away from the mesas along the High Road between Santa Fe and Taos is another place I find renewal. Truchas and Chimayó with their tiny churches, each offering a blend of Catholic piety and indigenous mysticism, speak to my own mish-mash of spiritual sensibilities. Artists have made their way into the mountains over the years and it’s fun to see simple hand lettered signs proclaiming, “Buy Art Here!” A few windshield and shock testing trips down rutted roads have rewarded me with much loved art treasures purchased from the artists in their studios. But my favorite piece of art is the mural on the side of an old–otherwise–nondescript building. It’s a history of New Mexico told from a magical point of view and nothing is left out: the lore of the Native Americans, the Franciscans and the UFO enthusiasts are included in the whimsical story of the Land of Enchantment.
This Land of Enchantment goes beyond the visual and ventures into the metaphysical level. “Be careful in that mesa between here and Ojo; there’s magic out there and time slips”, a shopkeeper sagely intoned a few years ago when Karen and I were making our way from Taos to Ojo Caliente. I knew exactly what she was talking about. Years before while on my last solo trek, I left Taos to make the 40-ish mile trip to Ojo Caliente along highway 64. I made a couple of extra turns, just to see what I could see along the road, following other treks in and out of sandy hills. Time seemed to pass slowly, I was without a watch or clock and my internal sense of time led me to believe I was hours late to Ojo. I was stunned to discover it was an impossible 20 minutes later when I checked into the spa. My car couldn’t travel at 186 miles an hour even if I tried to drive that fast. Those“twenty minutes” in the mesa gave me the answers to nagging questions which spurred me onto the path I now travel; big medicine in the mesa. Most of my trips to this part of New Mexico have been solo treks for the distinct purpose of clearing my head and my heart. The quietude of the landscapes in Northern New Mexico never fails to help me heal or renew my energy. But there is something “funny” about those little highways that move through the mesas and mountains; one can lose time and get lost without even trying.
Laura Ann Klein, is a fifty-something blogger, based in Denver, Colorado. She’s currently making the hard earned transition from dry witted and often misanthropic mommy blogger to interested, engaged and sometimes dry-witted travel blogger who loves to experience places, eat beautiful food, meet the locals, and then write all about it. You can find her travel adventures at This is what happens when I leave the house and her adventures in dysfunctional parenting at Edgy June Cleaver. She can be found on Twitter @edgyjunecleaver and Facebook via her real honest to goodness name, Laura Ann Klein.