day 15: taos to santa fe, taos pueblo, the high road.

Above: $5 organic half-and-half. This was one of the longer and more trying days of the middle section of Trip 2016. But you wouldn't know it from the pictures. The extortionately priced coffee creamer above was only one component of a "quick stop for essentials" the night before at Cid's Food Market, which made me wonder exactly who could afford to shop there. There was no jar of peanut butter cheaper than $5. Pretty sure our loaf of bread was $5. It was like a dollar store but, you know, a five dollar store.

Anyway, bitch bitch bitch. I sound bitchy. Below: Taos Pueblo, which generated more questions than answers. Who gets all the admission money? What's up with the pile of recycled graveyard headstones? Why does the grandma making our "green chile" ask everyone if they want beans in their chile or not? Why do people who don't want certain things in their food not know this until the food shows up or it is otherwise too late to do anything about it (pueblo grandma to customer, "So you want everything on this, onions, beans, salsa?" Customer: "Yes please, everything." One minute later: "Actually could you hold the onions on that?" Grandma: "Sorry sweetie, I already put them in back when you said you wanted them," Customer: "Oh, well, I guess that'll be OK then,")?

Still bitching. Regardless, overall impression of Taos Pueblo: you don't need to go there, we did it for you.

After Taos Pueblo and a brave lunch pictured above of "vegetarian green chile" and Pueblo fry bread (this version being the tastiest fry bread we encountered), we were finally ready to leave Taos. Oh right, after we spent an hour at a vintage/antiques store. And after we had coffee and picked up a weapon-sized red chile burrito to go at Taos Diner. And after we stopped at an incredible roadside gift shop? metal animal market? to buy a yard flamingo for my parents. Not joking.

I  sound like I'm still bitching, but these post-Taos Pueblo moments in Taos were my favorite of our brief brief stop there. We spent time in three great local businesses and had real-seeming contact with real-seeming people who lived there and seemed to like being there and were also open to having a real-seeming experience with us. So: good save, team.

Then, we hit the High Road. Or tried to: the plan was to take the High Road down to Chimayo or something and then veer off to Lake Santa Cruz to check out the overlook. I had a vague idea of how to get there and a crappy PDF file saved to my phone...Google Maps would do the rest!

Wellllll.....that didn't work out. A couple things did go right that afternoon: 1) most importantly probably, the car that would die two days later managed to eventually start again every time I turned it off in a terribly remote location with no cellular service and no passing cars, this desolate roadside cemetery pictured below for example, and: 2) speaking of no cellular service thus no navigational assistance, at a certain point all I was left with as a navigational aid was this PDF file that wouldn't render all the way. You could kind of tell what state it was.

I had a faint impulse about something I was pretty sure was called County Road 98, but we juuuuuust couldn't seem to find it even though it was supposedly right under our noses. So we tried some other county roads, which in this county were one-lane gravel paths that reminded me a bit of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.

Anyway, despite some extended stretches of 5mph driving while squinting at my iPhone compass to make sure we would eventually hit civilization again...we found the lake. And all in all, it was a beautiful drive, especially at precisely this time of year, where the autumn leaves are fully exploded into burnt yellows and crisp oranges and will also be gone from the trees within a few weeks. But our mild "that's it?" response to it made me wonder what we would have thought if we'd done the whole trip in reverse, so the spectacularly extraterrestrialness of Utah would've been the big finale instead of the early scene-stealer.

We were also just tired, and Nelson was still sick, and tired of being sick. After kind of seeing the lake, we decided to hit one more scenic stop before Santa Fe, Nambé Falls, but our intelligence didn't know that they were closed for the season. And at this point I think that we didn't yet know that if you commit a crime (like speeding, or trespassing) on Native American land in America, the tribal police will take you back to the police station on the reservation...it's a different police force and different set of laws altogether. Which sounds really really interesting! And probably a sure way to "get off schedule."

So, not knowing this, we picked up some beer and I tried to fill Nelson in on American drinking laws, and how your car is one of the "safest" places you can drink as an American teenager because you're less likely to attract attention in a moving vehicle that is obeying traffic laws than just about any other public space.

Then we arrived at Peter and Nouf's and they proceeded to shower us with spiced pecans, mezcal, and mushroom tacos. And guacamole, and some corn business I need a reminder about, and a pepita salsa, and, well...it was quite a shower.

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