Driving north through New Mexico was a real treat. Starting at Albuquerque we followed the Rio Grande toward its source in Colorado, taking I-25 to Santa Fe and then up US 84 to highway 63 to Taos.
Once out of Santa Fe the hills closed in from both sides until we were ascending a valley with the sparkling river right beside the road on our left. Fed by mountain springs and snow melt the flow wasn’t sluggish at all, but rushed through the narrow places and foamed over rocks. To our right the near-vertical cliffs rose so steeply that wire mesh anchored by large steel stanchions was all that prevented an apparent avalanche of rocks and boulders onto the highway.
We topped a rise and saw spread out before us a broad valley with the river running through a canyon in the middle of it. Ahead was the town of Taos nestled against snow-capped peaks that soared up into the clouds.
Taos, if you’ve never been, seemed to my casual gaze passing through as a town that caters to a tourist trade. Lots of adobe pueblo-style construction, lots of art galleries and curio shops, a few ski rental outlets and lots of motels and restaurants. I’m sure that’s not fair to the town or the residents, but all I did was drive through on the main highway. The views and scenery from anywhere in town were fabulous.
Another 20 miles north we found the town of Questa. We turned east and three miles out of the little town found the entrance to the Molycorp moly mine. That was our stopping point for the day, and I won’t bore you with the details of our business there. However, during our facility tour (which covered a number of miles) we were told to watch for deer and elk. We weren’t lucky enough to get a sighting of those, but saw a real, populated beaver dam in the creek flowing through a valley.
The mine itself defies description in the limited space of a blog posting. Suffice it to say it is mamoth, with a huge no-longer-active open pit portion, and a very active deep underground portion.
We left the mine after 5:30 p.m. and returned to Taos to spend the night. A productive day, and one that was very satisfying esthetically as well.