Santa Fe and Ghost Ranch

Wednesday, Thursday, April 5 – 6A beautiful sunny morning greeted us, and we made an easy drive up to Santa Fe. We picked the Santa Fe Trailer RV Park and Over 55 Community as our base. It is just off a busy Cerrillos Rd, but set back enough so that road noise was minimal. The RV portion of the park is sort of the entrance to the Community portion, so it was well kept with a few trees and grassy areas and decent laundry. Much better that the Park across the street which was basically a parking lot with hook-ups.

We are waiting out some upcoming weather so we can travel to Chaco Culture National Park. We’re being over cautious I know, but it only take one good cloudburst to muddy the road beyond drivability. We still have some wiggle room before we return home, so a couple days here fit in well. Besides, we haven’t been to the Coyote Cafe for dinner since, well, the last time we visited. We drove the 4 miles to the old downtown square, strolled about a bit until our reservations were ready and had a wonderful dinner.Thursday morning we were back to town for breakfast at the Plaza Cafe, right on the square. Great food all day long, but breakfast is my favorite. I love the interior of this place as well – especially enjoying the broken plate display above the counter. Mary wanted to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum just a few blocks from the plaza, so we strolled over, hoping to digest a bit as we went.The museum is a nice way to introduce oneself to Georgia’s work and get a feel for the landscape she painted. They have quite a deep collection – from earliest student work to some of her last. I see new works each time we visit, and a new museum phone app related deeper aspects to think about. Afterwards, we walked around town to do some gift shopping before heading back to camp.

Ghost Ranch
Friday, April 7Before moving to her hacienda in Abiquiu, O’Keeffe lived and painted at nearby Ghost Ranch for a time. The entire area is rich in beautiful landscape to explore, and with a couple more days before we can get into Chaco, this is a good time to visit.The drive to Ghost Ranch was another easy 65 miles from Santa Fe and we were soon set-up with a rather primitive full hook-up site for $40/night. We located a couple of hikes we wanted to do while here, and in the afternoon, we set out for a walk on Matrimonial Mesa. The trail starts just along the entrance road at a rundown log cabin that was a movie set for City Slickers. We walked through grasslands for a time as the trail wound up and down along the edge of the mesa. From here Georgia’s Pedernal could be seen. In fact, it can been seen from just about everywhere on the property. No wonder is appears in so many of her works. As we worked our way up the trail, we came into more areas of colored sandstone and badlands. I am always surprised at the varied color combinations. So different everywhere I go. The wind was coming up again as it seems to to every afternoon, so we turned around. We could have made a big loop out of this trail, but it would have meant walking back a couple of miles along the much less interesting road.Back in the car, we toured around the grounds a bit, trying to get a feel for the layout and found a yurt and a number of interesting other buildings, before calling it a day.

Ghost Ranch – Chimney Rock Hike
Saturday, April 8Another beautiful morning got us up and out by 8 am for our planned 3 mile out-and-back hike. The trailhead was a short distance from the campground through some of the compound buildings, so we left the car behind and walked it. With an elevation gain of 675’ over 1.5 miles, the trail is a steady gradual rise, then steeper toward the end.We were soon walking up the first of the hills, and the landscape opened up immediately to wide vistas of colorful rock. In the distance, we could see Chimney Rock, our destination is the tip of the mesa. As the trail wound in and out of the hills, we would get new, closer views as we went. The trail got steeper and more rocky the higher we got. It moved into, and scooted up the side of canyon that sported hoodoo’s and some nice coloration. Near the top, the trail was even more rocky but still not hard to traverse. Once on top of the formation, it leveled off somewhat, but the wind was much stronger. Near the shear drop off edges, it was fierce. I had to go to a knee and hold my hat to keep steady to make pictures. Where the trail ends, wonderful views of Chimney Rock begin – if you can bear getting close enough to the edge to lean over. Even if not, the views from the rim all around the valley below are wide and with a clear sky, the colors of the ridges and hills and cliffs kept me busy. We lunched at a spot out of the wind and just took in this wonderful landscape. Now later in the afternoon, we made our way back down the trail enjoying the lower angled light and high clouds as they combined to change the scene before us. Tomorrow all looks good for Chaco.

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