Roger here..... We have not talked too much about our campsite at Cochiti Lake near Santa Fe, but it is amazing. The first two pictures show the views from our front windshield. Not a bad view to wake up to! The next pic shows our covered picnic area behind the motor home. The shaded, covered table surrounded by small, smooth pebbles makes an ideal place for the dogs to chill and for Dianne and me to read, enjoy the view, and daydream.
From our lounging area, we also can see a paved road far down into the valley. Soon after we arrived, I noticed that there was an inordinate amount of traffic on the road. The Cochiti Reservation is not a heavily populated place -- 15 + miles from Santa Fe. I wondered where everyone was going. I retrieved my New Mexico maps to discover that the road we were watching pretty much ended in the mountains a couple miles from where we were watching. A puzzlement?
One morning when I was walking the dogs, I ran into a friendly lady who said, (* see paragraph below for interesting sidebar on the woman) "Are you here for the apples?" I said, "Apples?" She said, "Yeah, there is a big orchard down the road and people come from miles around when they are in season." I thought she might be a little touched. This is a high desert. There are no trees here other than scrub cedars. Apple trees don't grow in the desert. My grandfather in Indiana owned an orchard that I played in every Sunday, so I should know.
Well, I was really wrong. Other neighbors confirmed that the orchard existed and that the apples were wonderful. I googled apples + New Mexico and found all kinds of information, including an Albuquerque TV News Broadcast indicating that it was time to wait in line to buy Dixon Orchard's famous Champagne apples. We had to go check it out.
*Dianne here: I heard this elderly woman strike up a conversation with Roger while he was grilling our supper. I looked out the window and saw an old woman wearing a "Little House on the Prairie" bonnet, walking her little dog. Not the kind of person you would look twice at (except for the hat). As they continued to talk, Roger learned that she travels alone in a small truck camper. She said she just can't get traveling out of her blood; after all, she rode the rodeo circuit for over 40 years!! Wow, what a gal. Her children are all grown, out of college, and in productive careers. People like that are an inspiration to me -- I hope she has safe travels for many more years! Now, back to the apple saga....
Since our fellow campers indicated that the wait was two hours in your car and an additional two hours in Disney-esque queues, we decided to let the weekend pass before making the short trip (only six miles away). That was a mistake, because on Sunday they sold out of their famous Champagne apples (not available except at the orchard), but they did still have a limited amount of their Sparkling Burgundy apples - tart and sweet. We hopped in the car and discovered a wonderland.
The pavement ended after about three miles. The road was dusty and rutted. We had no choice but to continue, since there were cars in front of us and behind us, with no place to turn around. We entered a canyon, and there it was: Apple trees everywhere! How cool.
After passing the column of port-o-potties, we got in line, rolled up our sleeves, and loaded a half bushel of Burgundy Reds in a half-bushel bag (the smallest amount you could buy). Delicious, by the way.
(Dianne here: the half-bushel limit didn't faze the locals; they used wagons to load bags and bags of apples and gallons of cider. I guess we really take our apple orchards for granted in Indiana!
When we emerged, we found ourselves in a carnival atmosphere. So peaceful. So unique. Perfect weather. AND..... Apple fritters for sale - fresh from the hot oil and smothered with powdered sugar and cinnamon. We enjoyed the fritters at a picnic table under an apple tree with a Native American and his mother who make an annual trip to the Dixon Orchards. Really nice people. My fritters were particularly good.
The apple adventure filled our morning. We still had the afternoon, so we decided to drive along highway 14, billed as the Turquoise Highway. We did not go into any of the mines, but we did find some interesting places. The town of Cerrillos, with its dirt streets and trading post covered with old glass bottles was fun to explore.
Down the road we discovered the old ghost town of Madrid. It has been invaded by artists and restaurants! It was lunch time, and the effects of our apples and fritters had worn off. We decided to have lunch at the Mine Shaft Tavern. It was a fun place to eat, and the food was great. Dianne had nachos. (My happy smile is due to the fact that they had our favorite Texas brew, Shiner Bock, on draft. -- D.)
I had pork stew with green chili. SPICY - made my nose run - TMI? Before we left, I overheard our waitress tell another couple that she ended up there because that is where she ran out of gas - kinda adds an interesting flavor to the place :-)
We did not buy any turquoise on the Turquoise Trail, but...... The next day Dianne insisted that the motor home needed a good cleaning and that she wanted me gone while she cleaned. (She does that from time to time.) She claims that I am a distraction to doing anything productive. (BELIEVE IT -- D.) Personally, I don't see it, but what can I do?
She insisted that I leave, so I got in the car and went back to the plaza in Santa Fe. I had pizza on a terrace that overlooked the plaza and the cathedral. I read a newspaper, then wandered down to the row of Native Americans who were selling their wares in front of the Governor's Palace. Guess what? I found a turquoise and silver pendant that matches a pair of her earrings. She should send me on my way more often, don't ya think?