Tag Archives: Georgia O’Keeffe

Four Corners – The Largest Beach in the United States

5 Aug

My family loves going to the beach, and I decided to take them to the largest beach in the United States. After a walk around Santa Fe to see the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, we hopped into the car and headed north to Colorado. We passed through Espaniola, New Mexico and past San Antonio Mountain, which was mesmerizingly beautiful. We spent a lot of time driving toward it, and, as along every mile, I became more amazed by it.

Eventually, we made it to Antonito, Colorado, which is a neat little town. Then, there was Alamosa, Colorado, the home of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Before we could get to the sand dunes, we made a detour to Arby’s. Then, it was on to the beach. Yep, they wanted to go to the beach, so I found one in Colorado. However, it is not just a beach. It has sand dunes over 700 feet tall. It is a never-ending beach.image-32

Our only disappointment was that the snow melt stream was not flowing. The Great Sand Dunes are usually a natural water park, but the water was only a trickle.

One would think that climbing the tallest dunes in North America would be the end of the excitement for one day. However, this was not a normal day. We found the nicest IHOP any of us had ever seen. The service was not that great, but the building was great. A bunch of the Amish even showed up.

An exciting day. Start with the works of Georgia O’Keeffe. Play on the largest beach in the United States. Eat fancy pancakes. Then, break into a hotel room.

We got separate rooms for us and for the girls. The rooms were next to each other with those doors in between to allow us to walk from room to room. The girls locked themselves in liked they were supposed to do. They turned the deadbolt and put on the chain. Then, they came into our room and shut their door behind them. There was no way to get in.

We got the front desk clerk, and, with her help, we broke into the room. We used the special key that worked on the hidden deadbolt keyhole. We also used the special instrument that unhooked the chain. I try to learn something new whenever I can. On that day, I learned that when you lock yourself in your hotel room you are not really locked in. My family learned that you do not have to go to the beach to go to the beach.

New Mexico Days

26 May

Another trip to New Mexico has been completed, and it is time to write about our adventures in the Land of Enchantment. For those who do not know, a few members of our faculty teach a field trip course in northern New Mexico. With Santa Fe as our base, we take students on daily excursions.

The days were packed with various activities and learning experiences, but I am not going to write about all of them. That would take a week’s worth of posts. Instead, this post will be about the thing I liked most about each day.

Friday – The morning was spent in a ghost town and at a national park. However, lunch at Horseman’s Haven was the highlight of the day. I saw the restaurant on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show and asked that it be added to the dining list. My burrito proved this choice to be a good one.image-30

Saturday РWe went to a few places that are on the itinerary every year. Then, we went to a place that was new for the trip. I have been told that Taos is a great place to visit, but the trip organizer has a bad opinion of the place. Due to months of badgering on my part, he agreed to take us there. He got more grumpy with every mile closer we got.

Unfortunately, it was raining in Taos, and we did not see much. However, it was not raining when we crossed the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which is 565 feet above the river. It was cool to walk across it and take a peak at the bottom of the canyon.image-31

Sunday – This day brought the highlight of the trip. We had lunch at the home of Josephine, a lady who lives in the Santo Domingo Pueblo. It was a feast of Native American food prepared by her and the other women in her family. Everything was delicious, and the tamales topped it all.image-32

While we ate, Josephine talked about growing up in the pueblo and about the problems facing her people. She mourned the slow disappearance of her native language and lamented the effects of alcoholism on her community. Hopefully, the students were as touched by her hospitality and honesty as much as we teachers.

Monday – As a historian, I should pick a historic site as the highlight of this day, but we visited a site that I have seen many times. Instead, I am picking a hike up one of the volcanoes that helped create the northern New Mexico landscape.image-33

Three ancient volcanoes sit on the edge of Albuquerque and serve as sentinels over the city. I climbed one of them with a former colleague who retired and moved to Santa Fe. It was great to walk with him and rekindle our friendship.

Tuesday – Have you ever been to a town that died from its evil and was reborn through love? When I first went to Madrid and asked about its history, that was the story that I heard. We jokingly call Madrid a hippie colony, but it is an old ghost town that, in the 1970s, became inhabited by people who wanted to escape the rat race and live a simpler life.

I did not take any pictures of Madrid, but you have seen it if you have watched Wild Hogs. In fact, that movie became part of this year’s experience.

Madrid has become a destination for motorcyclists who have seen that film. As we stood in front of the building featured in one of the pivotal scenes, I explained to a student that the building was part of the movie set. An old biker overheard and got mad because he had ridden a long way to eat in a fake diner.

Unlike him, I am never disappointed in Madrid. I always wonder what it would be like to escape to an old town and live a life without worry. Of course, I would probably get tired of it after two days.

Wednesday – Chaco Canyon is an amazing place to visit. It is even worth the long journey to get there. The canyon was home to a people who disappeared, and archaeologists have been trying to figure them out ever since. The conclusions often change, and some are scoffed at with ridicule. The questions may be hard to answer, but the beauty of the canyon leaves no doubts.image-34

Thursday – This was another day of national parks and historic sites. However, they did not compare to our visit to Santa Fe Bite, home of the city’s best green chile cheeseburgers. The restaurant used to be in another location and go by a different name. The important thing has not changed.image-35

Friday – Our last day in New Mexico was spent at Ghost Ranch, where dinosaur remains have been found and artists have been inspired. We hiked the high mesa trail and looked over a landscape that can be found in the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe.image-36

Like I did on all of our hikes, I looked over the land and listened to the theme of Centennial, the 1970s miniseries about the American West. Everyone else thought I was insane, but the music inspires me. I knew that listening to it would add something to my experience and offer something to visualize when I hear that music in the future.

As always, we had a great trip filled with great experiences. These were just a few of them.