Date: Sep 23, 2009 11:45 AM
We spent four days urban camping in Taos alternating between Wal-Mart and Smith's grocery store before we found the public parking lot. Most accommodating with the city bus line right there, too. Taos is wrapping up the "Summer of Love" and I have had a good time interviewing locals about their reactions. Very diversified and some downright controversial. I have a scathing report to pass on later from a local, but I'm still waiting for permission to publish his rant.
Taos is tiny and I'm telling you they roll up the sidewalks at six o'clock around here. The restaurants are closed by nine and there are I think only three bars that are open into the night. The whole focus is the art scene and skiing. The prices are outrageous I think and all the merchandise is high end. We attended an open-mic in the lounge at the historic Taos Inn, but got there late. There was never a sign up sheet or invitation by the guy singing for anyone else to participate. The drinks were $9 apiece so Joe just ordered a $2 cup of tea. It was a great place to people watch. It's obvious who are the wealthy tourists and who are local low-enders. Their faces are lined with hard work and their jeans are stained with dirty feet in worn out sandals.
The lobby itself was magnificent, constructed of old timbers higher that telephone poles called vegas. They held up a mosaic roof of more wood, smaller pieces called latillas. They made a mosaic of great beauty, like some Cistene Chapel made out of logs. Balconied rooms overlooked the lounge and there was a great iron door that opened into the bar. All the walls were old adobe.
A beautiful long-haired redhead sat next to Beatlick Joe so he initiated a conversation with her. Turns out she lives in Gatlinburg and is moving to the tiny little shrine town of Chimayo. She said her name was Jen and she was staying in Santa Fe and had driven up for the day because she loved Taos so much. Her rental car had been broken into into two days before and she was overcome with how much help and support people gave her as she dealt with the problem. Turns out when she was married she lived in Nashville and her ex-husband ran the fancy Stockyard Restaurant downtown. After a few reminiscences about Music City we were discussing the local hot springs.
Before long a single man sitting on a nearby leather sofa joined our conversation. He was from Rhode Island, a real estate evaluator, whatever that means. He was obviously taken with Jen, who never would disclose her last name as she divulged her former careers in radio and the broadcast media world.
Bob turned out to be divorced, came to Taos two or three times a year, and was currently staying in an earth ship house out in what the locals call the "gopher holes." Those are houses made of recycled materials and tires filled with dirt. As Jen used her interviewing skills Bob's answers disclosed more affluency. He had another house in Vermont. The richer he appeared the more animated she became. Soon Bob was ordering a round of those $9 drinks. We had a good time talking to those two and Joe and I speculated if Jen would really drive all the way back to Santa Fe. We all departed when the bar closed at eleven. Jen had a CD of one of her interviews with an important physicist and philosopher back at her car she wanted to give Bob. We speculated whether she would make that long drive back to Santa Fe that night.
It was one of the most social nights we have had with anyone since we came here. The other highlight of our trip was the spectacular hike down to Manby Hot Springs. They are just a few miles out of town, about six miles down a dirt road. Then you park and hike down the Rio Grande Gorge. It was a steep and rocky trail but only took about twenty minutes. Another VW van owner was there with us. We have seen a lot of VW vans in this town.
Our hot springs mate was Stephan, pronounced the European way: stef-fun. I had hoped we would be alone and we had waited most of the afternoon for the parking lot to empty out. But just as we locked up our van Stephan pulled up in his. So I had to soak, in my bathing suit I might add, with Joe and Stephan both naked. But that's the way it's done out here.