Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rio Grande River, Bridges and Scenery, Taos

Even if you live in Texas, I'll bet you don't know that the Rio Grande River begins in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado and travels 1,885 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The river flows south down the Rio Grande Rift through a series of long narrow valleys from Alamosa in Colorado to El Paso in Texas. For 82 miles, from Lobatos Bridge, CO to Velarde, NM, the river cuts into the rift to form the Rio Grande Gorge. While rivers normally create their own valleys, it was the Rio Grande Rift valley which captured and controls the direction of the Rio Grande River. In other words, unlike the Colorado River, which formed the Grand Canyon, the Rio Grande Rift valley was already formed and the lazy Rio Grande River just followed the course already laid out for it.

When we got ready to leave the motel for the day, we went in search of breakfast. Seeing an Appleby's that looked open that early in the morning, we pulled in. It turned out that the Taos Rays Baseball Team was doing a fund raiser and we could have pancakes, bacon and coffee for $7 each. The boys were very polite and took good care of us. The pancakes were perfect and the bacon unusually delicious. Go Rays!

Here am I standing on the shore of the Rio Grande near Taos, New Mexico
Some brave rafters coming down the Rio Grande
Don't know what this plant is named, but the flower resembles a lavender paint brush
An extremely dilapidated bridge across the Rio Grande
Same bridge, different angle
We believe she was waiting for her raft to come in
Gaging Station for reporting depth of water in managing floods
This bridge is open, but as you can see at the edge, needs repair
This is the end of paved road for a while once you cross yet another bridge
We've come way up the mountain on a washboard road  and the wind is ferocious
There was method to our madness. This scary road is a short cut to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge so we do sort of know what we are doing. Eventually, we will drive into the north side of Taos, on paved road, I might add.

We've arrived at our destination and I just can't wait to take in the view
It was definitely worth the drive
This bridge has truss spans of 300, 600 and 300 feet and a 36-foot steel I-beam span at each end. It has a total length of 1,272 feet and a 28 foot wide roadway, and is 565 feet high. The cost of the bridge was $2, 153,000.

The Rio Grande Gorge at this location is approximately 1,200 feet wide and 600 feet deep. The Rio Grande Bridge was designed by the New Mexico State Highway Department Bridge Design Section, and it received the American Institute of Steel Construction's award for "Most Beautiful Long Span Steel Bridge" of 1966. In 1997 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I am literally blown away by this incredible man-made landmark
The Rio Grande from the other side of the road. It's a loooong way down!
This is Teresa, an Indian lady selling her jewelry by the side of the road near the bridge
The next morning, we pack up, check out of the Super 8 Motel and drive to a local restaurant for breakfast. We have that good ole standby, biscuits and gravy. There is a church in Taos that Georgia O'Keefe painted a lot and we wanted to be sure to see it before heading back to Alamogordo.

This is a shot of the wall around the church showing the straw mixed into the adobe
These beautifully carved doors are part of the priests quarters
The San Francisco de Asis Church with two giant blue spruce in the courtyard
A side view of the church. Isn't the architecture exquisite!
An old building showing how it looks under that beautiful adobe covering
This is the sign identifying the church
Even their little walkways are works of art
The area is surrounded by quaint colorful little shops
We took the high road back to Santa Fe and this is one of the mountain views from the highway

These mountains are an exquisite shade of pink
This is one last shot on our way back to Alamogordo

One can never get bored driving in New Mexico. The scenery is ever changing and beautiful. We have picked up rocks from everywhere and will be making a travel totem with each rock named for where it came from. The totem will be built in the backyard to enhance our desert theme there.

Thanks, Doug, for the great photography.

This is all I have to say for now.

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