Over our winter break we decided to take a little vacation for ourselves before visiting our families. The first semester was a bit rough (on me particularly), and I really needed some good R&R. So we rented a cabin outside of Taos, packed up the Subaru, and drove out of Marfa with Truman in tow.
We found a small cabin in San Cristobal at the Taos Gogi Eco Lodge. The Lodge has a collection of four cabins which were built in the early 1900s and used by sheep herders. Later D.H. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, and others lived and wrote in the cabins. We stayed in the Lawrence cabin; 325 sq. feet with a cozy living area and bed, kitchen, and bathroom. It was the perfect size for our week-long stay. (They have larger cabins for bigger parties.) Truman enjoyed taking daily walks down the quiet road and hopping around in the snow (surprisingly). It was such a tranquil spot. Our hosts provided wood for our wood stove, and each night I looked forward to hearing the logs crackle. San Cristobal is only ten miles out of town, but it felt much more remote. In the evening we could hear the coyotes howl and in the morning we had gorgeous sunrises over the plateau. I thoroughly enjoyed staying there. Hopefully we’ll go back and experience it in the summer.
We did several different things in Taos during our stay. I’m going to split up the week into two posts so it’s not so overwhelming.
I didn’t know what to expect when we drove up to Taos Pueblo. It was a slightly overcast day, cold, but with a bitter wind blowing. The recent snowfall had melted and the dirt roads and walkways were muddy pits that tugged at your shoes. We were slightly surprised by the admission price, $16 each, but I’ve since read that the admission fee is $10 and the photography fee is $6. I imagine they combined the fees for simplicity’s sake. Although tours are offered we opted to walk around on our own. (We arrived in between tour times.)
The Pueblo is a spectacular sight. It is estimated that the Pueblo was built between 1,000 CE and 1,450 CE. When Spanish explorers arrived in Northern New Mexico they believed the Pueblo was one of the golden cities of Cibola. The adobe is several feet thick and is annually maintained to protect/mend it from the elements. Originally the doors and windows were absent from the facade. Openings in the top of each home were fitted with a ladder for easy entry and exit. It was also a strategic choice, giving the people additional protection from invaders.
The Pueblo is inhabited by 150 people full-time, give or take. However, there are 1,900 Taos Indians living on Taos Pueblo lands with most people living in modern homes. The Pueblo does not have running water or electricity so most homes within the Pueblo walls are used for ceremonies or tourism. Several artists used homes in the Pueblo as their shops and much of the local economy is based on the tourism trade.
We ventured into a few stores and were amazed at the intricacies of the items: gorgeous turquoise and silver jewelry, mica-flecked pottery, moccasins, drums, and ornaments. I wanted to buy several things but the prices were a bit out of our range. We ended up with a nice ornament featuring the Pueblo.
Kit Carson’s Home
Located in downtown Taos, Kit Carson’s home has been well-preserved in its original form. It didn’t take long to tour the modest home but I felt that we received a full picture of the man and his life. I knew very little about Carson prior to touring the museum, but I emerged with an interest in reading more about his life and legend.
The Carson home is believed to have been built in 1825. Carson purchased it as a wedding present for his third wife, Maria Josefa Jaramillo, in 1843. The house was occupied by the Carson family until 1867. They had and raised seven of eight children in the house before both Joesfa and Kit passed away. The home went through several hands before the Grand Masonic Lodge of New Mexico purchased it in 1911 as a memorial to Carson (a Freemason). However, it wasn’t until 1963 that the home was recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.
Before we toured the home we watched a brief video detailing Carson’s origin story. He was born and raised in Missouri, but was enthralled with the mystery of the West. Bored with his apprenticeship to a saddle maker, he ran away and learned how to become a trapper. He later guided John C. Fremont as he mapped the Oregon Trail and the lands west of the Rockies. It was Fremont’s written accounts of Carson that created the larger-than-life legend of mountain man, Kit Carson. Carson’s frequent interaction with Native Americans and his ability to speak some Native languages made him an ideal candidate to become a Federal Indian Agent. Carson met with members of the Moache Ute, Jicarilla Apache, and Taos Pueblo tribes in his home office. Carson died in Colorado in 1868, only a month after Josefa. The two were brought back to New Mexico and buried in Taos.