A Week In O’Keeffe Country

Sorry for the delay in posting but our Jet Pack we use for internet died and we had to get a new one. On a good note we want to say thanks again to everyone who follows us or has stumbled onto our blog. We have now hit 25,000 views! That was a goal we’d set for 2014. With your help we made it. Where will we be on the total views for 2015? You’ll have to check in and see.

We now start on our way up and down US 50 through Colorado and then turn south into New Mexico. Our last day at Curecanti was a rainy one but high in the mountains it came down as snow covering the peaks. It was magical! The DreamChaser climbed it’s highest point at Monarch Pass, reaching 11,200 feet. The decent was “interesting” as we negotiated a ten mile 7-8% grade.  At one point Steve said “The transmission temperature is getting hot. I’m going to pull over and let it cool down.” That gave us a chance to get out and snap a picture or two. I only had my iPhone which handled the contrasty situation OK but not great. We continued on without incident.

Colorado, US 50, Monarch Pass

The View At Monarch Pass

Before long we reached flatter ground. Soon we found ourselves out of the woods and into the desert. The Chama Wild and Scenic River, Santa Fe National Forest and Carson National Forest along with beautiful rock formations make the northern New Mexico landscape appealing. We arrived at our campground on Abiquiu Lake. This is a Corps of Engineers park and a beautiful place to stay. With our Interagency Pass it was also very inexpensive. In fact for the next two weeks we’d be in Corps parks and our total cost was less than $150. In the summer you have to reserve an electric site way ahead. This time of year there were still vacancies. There is a beautiful view of the Pedernal from the campground. This was Georgia O’Keeffe’s favorite mountain. She is quoted as saying “Maybe if I paint it often enough someday God will give it to me.”

Abiquiu Lake, Corps of Engineers campground,

Abiquiu Lake

Pedernal, Georgia O'Keeffe, art, New Mexico

View Of The Pedernal










In 2008 before Steve came into my life, I’d visited Santa Fe with friends. We’d driven up to Abiquiu to see where Georgia O’Keeffe had lived. We learned you could tour her home through the O’Keeffe Museum but weren’t able to fit it in on that trip. I put it on the “someday” list. This week is “someday”. We choose the regular tour which costs $35 as the curator led tour for that week was already full. We were fortunate to have as our guide a retired fine arts professor who was also a painter. He said he’d been doing tours for only a month but you’d have thought he’d done it for years. He’d certainly done his homework. The tour did talk about her art but centered more on giving you insights into O’Keeffe as a person. Our guide talked about how she’d found the run down building belonging to the Catholic Church and how it took her ten years to convince the Church to sell it, the restoration and design of the home, her relationship with the community and the healthy lifestyle she followed. O’Keeffe lived to be 96. Many of the people who work on the estate today are grandsons and granddaughters of people who worked there when she was alive. Steve and I both loved the story about her relationship with her gardener. O’Keeffe collected rocks from many areas in the southwest and displayed them on her living room window sill. Of course being an artist she had them arranged aesthetically. Without ever speaking about it to each other occasionally the gardener would move a few rocks. O’Keeffe would spot the change and move them back. This went on for years. Neither of them ever acknowledged the game. Unfortunately no photos are allowed on tour. The photos used here are from the O’Keeffe Museum website.

Abiquiu O'Keeffe Home

O’Keeffe Home Living Room Looking Onto Garden

Studio Annex

Studio Annex

Courtyard Of O'Keeffe Home

Courtyard Of O’Keeffe Home

We spent time exploring the Ghost Ranch, a large workshop and conference center now owned by the Presbyterian Church. When O’Keeffe lived there it was a private ranch where she stayed and painted prior to obtaining the Abiquiu house. Today they hold self improvement, art and literature, paleontology and other workshops. They also rent rooms and cabins and have hiking trails and two museums on the property. We took a hike, visited the museums and enjoyed the gorgeous New Mexico fall weather. Toward the front of the property there is a log home. Does it look familiar? This was left on the property after being built for the set of “City Slickers”, the classic Billy Crystal movie. And yes, the sky was really that blue!

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

Hiking At Ghost Ranch

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It











movie prop, wagon

A Wagon From The Movies

A Tree Grows In New Mexico

A Tree Grows In New Mexico

movie, City Slickers, Billy Crystal

Cabin Used In “City Slickers”

At the suggestion of our campground host we took a drive to Echo Amphitheater in Carson National Forest and then to a monastery along Forest Road 151 in the Santa Fe National Forest. In other parts of the country these would be prominent sites. Here they compete with so many other beautiful sites that they are hidden gems. Echo Amphitheater true to its name creates a voice Echo, echo echo… The drive out FR 151 was amazing as we passed rock formations that looked like hobbit houses, the Chama River and at the end of the road the beautiful  Christ In The Desert Monastery of the Benedictine order that just celebrated fifty years in this location. Georgia O’Keeffee came here often to paint. The monastery was designed by renowned architect and woodworker George Nakashima. When I lived in the Washington, DC area I took a day trip with the Smithsonian to Nakashima’s home and workshop in Pennsylvania. The monastery uses solar power as the only source of electricity. The monastery runs the only monastic brewery in the US, the Abbey Brewing Company. In 2006 a five part television series, The Monastery, was made for TLC about five laymen living and following the monastic life for forty days. It is a place of total peace and serenity. While we were there no services were being offered but if you are lucky you might hear the monks performing Gregorian chants. Amazon offers a CD of the chants but we were not able to locate the TLC program.

New Mexico, Echo amphitheater

Inside echo Amphitheater

Rt. 151, scenic drive

The “Hobbit” Houses

Chama River, scenic drive

Chama Wild And Scenic River

church, landscape

Christ In The Desert Monastery

Monastery Gate

Monastery Gate











church, Christ In The Desert

Inside The Monastery Chapel

Another day we headed over to Bandelier National Monument. If you can get in before 9am you can drive right to the Visitor Center.  After that you must park in the satellite lot and take a shuttle to the park. This is because the parking in the park is so limited. We got ourselves up and going. The drive up the canyon is worth the trip all by itself. We arrived just in time to take a special tour given by volunteers telling about the work the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).  Until the CCC built the current road the monument was very difficult to access and had low visitation. We didn’t know at that time we’d be giving similar information about the CCC at Petrified Forest National Park. Following the tour we walked the trail through the cliff dwellings and posed for a picture.

Bandelier, national monument, scenic drive

Driving To Bandelier NM

Along The road To Bandelier

Along The road To Bandelier









Frijoles Canyon Scene

Frijoles Canyon Scene

CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps

CCC Buildings At Bandelier

rock formations

Tree In The Rock





















Walking Amongst The Ruins

Walking Amongst The Ruins

Posing In A Cliff Dwelling

Posing In A Cliff Dwelling











On our way back we decided to go through Los Alamos and see the Bradbury Museum which tells the story of the Manhattan Project and current studies at the laboratory. It was strange to go through a security check point to enter a city. The museum was very interesting even though we were pushed for time.

atom bomb, Manhattan Project, Bradbury Museum

Display At Bradbury Museum About The Manhattan Project

Delivery Of The Nuclear Capsule For The Trinity Device

Delivery Of The Nuclear Capsule For The Trinity Device











Trintinite Formed From Heat Of Nuclear Blast





Our week went very quickly. Now we make a short move down to Albuquerque for an event we’d been anxiously anticipating for several months.

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