Riana-Abiquiu COE, NM SEPT 12, 2017

After a very enjoyable stay in Eagle Nest, we traveled west and crossed Palo Flechado Pass, elevation 9,109 feet.  After a gradual descent we continued through the Carson National Forest and then followed the Rio Grande River further west.  The scenery, especially the red rocks, was absolutely breathtaking.IMG_20170914_152356

We arrived at the Riana-Abiquiu Campground COE located near Abiquiu (AH-be-cue) in northern New Mexico, about an hour northwest of Santa Fe.  This is a very nice Corps of Engineers campground with a few electric and water hookups.  We did not have a reservation and hoped to get a first come first serve electric campsite, so we hoped arriving early on a Sunday would help.  When we arrived the campground was pretty full and we were not sure they would have an electric site for us.  Bill was talking to the campground host who assigns the available sites.  The subject of football came up and the host mentioned he loved the Redskins.  Bill said his wife loved the Redskins too.  The host said in that case, he just had to get us a good site.  We ended up with an electric and water site with a beautiful view of the 5,200 acre Abiquiu Lake, the northern most flood control reservoir in New Mexico.  Never expected being a Redskins fan would help me in New Mexico.  Strange, small world!IMG_20170913_144811

The host also told Bill to be careful of rattlesnakes.  He said people and dogs had been bitten, to be careful in the park bathrooms as they had been seen there, and advised against wearing flip flops.  Great, just great.  My one and only phobia and he had to tell us that news.

From our RV we could see Cerro Pedernal, a distinctive flat top mesa rising 9,862 feet.  This was Georgia O’Keefe’s favorite subject to paint.IMG_20170917_105253

One day we drove to the nearby Abiquiu Dam Visitors Center with exhibits on the Dam, area history and natural resources of the area.  Farming and ranching in the area is made possible through flood control and irrigation provided by Abiquiu Dam.  Most of the water is headed to Albuquerque, but irrigation ditches provide water to the area’s arid land.IMG_20170913_142324IMG_20170913_144834

On another day we spent the day touring northern New Mexico.  The geological beauty of the spectacular red cliffs, rock formations and mesas is enough to take your breath away and bring tears to your eyes.  This area was the inspiration for much of the work of Georgia O’Keefe and inspired her to leave New York City and make her home in New Mexico.IMG_20170914_152505IMG_20170916_135747IMG_20170916_135825IMG_20170916_135901IMG_20170916_140014IMG_20170916_140022

We stopped by Ghost Ranch where O’Keefe owned a summerhouse and painted scenes of the area.  It was formerly a 21,000 acre ranch but is now a Presbyterian education and retreat center. The movie “3:10 to Yuma” was filmed extensively at Ghost Ranch.IMG_20170916_142106IMG_20170916_140240IMG_20170916_140405

In the distance we could see Chimney Rock, a well known landmark.IMG_20170916_141145IMG_20170916_141156

Next we drove to the nearby Echo Amphitheater where a natural walled area of sandstone creates an echo chamber.IMG_20170916_142810IMG_20170916_144113IMG_20170916_144620IMG_20170916_145343

We finished the day at Plaza Blanca (White Place), made famous by Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings.  The area is actually on the grounds of a mosque, but they welcome visitors to hike and enjoy the amazing landscape of 60 foot tall towering white stone pillars and hoodoos.  The 2011 movie “Cowboys and Aliens” was filmed here.IMG_20170916_153832IMG_20170916_154405IMG_20170916_154411IMG_20170916_154632IMG_20170916_154713IMG_20170916_155037

Along with sightseeing we spent many relaxing, fun days just enjoying the gorgeous scenery from our RV windows.IMG_20170913_144938

Interesting tidbits:

  • Abiquiu is known among New Mexican Hispanics as a former dwelling place of witches.  Many tales are told by the local villagers about witches that still roam Abiquiu.  In the mid 1760’s there was an outbreak of witch hysteria in the area.
  • Kit Carson was among one of the first Anglo-Americans to arrive in the area.  He served as an Indian agent at Abiquiu.

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