Rio Grande Gorge
The La Vista Verde Trail, in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area, runs from State Highway 567 to an overlook point with the Rio Grande Gorge rapids far below. The steep-walled gorge trail has dramatic changes in elevation and draws many species including raptors (such as eagles and hawks), songbirds, waterfowl, beavers, cougars, ring-tailed cats, and mule deer. The trail is 1.2 miles long. We started at 6,243 feet, with an elevation gain of 88 feet as the trail climbed—a gradual gain in elevation and an easy hike.
Welcome back. I hope you enjoy reading about my first road trip with my new parents. It has been a little over a year since I’ve been in my forever home, and everything is going great. I love my new parents even though they tend to gush over me sometimes.
In August, we left the Texas heat behind and I went on my first road trip. When my parents loaded me into my 4Runner, I expected to go to the park, maybe Starbuck’s, or lunch at an outdoor café, but something was different about this trip. They had spent a day packing my SUV, and that seemed odd. The last long drive I had been on was when Grandma Jane rescued me in Madisonville, Texas, and drove me to her home. I thought she planned to keep me, but four days later she put me in her SUV and drove me to my forever home.
Back to the road trip. I was getting worried when we rode for a really long time and it didn’t look like they planned to stop anywhere. Then I saw a sign for a town called Decatur. I had never been in this part of Texas and I felt a bit nervous, especially after they pulled into a rest stop. But my dad patted me on the head and my mom filled my water bowl, while I hopped out to sniff the freshly mowed grass and to leave a few scents of my own.
A short time later, I jumped back into the hatch of my 4Runner, and off we went to continue our journey—and a very long one it would be. I dozed as mile after mile of grasslands, cotton fields, and milo flitted past the windows. Along the way, we took a few more potty breaks, and every time they put me back in my 4Runner and we kept going. By now, I had come to the conclusion that they didn’t plan to leave me anywhere, so I was feeling pretty good when we filled our gas tank at Clines Corners and Mom sped up on US-285 toward Santa Fe.
Mom loves this stretch of highway, and I could see why. I sat up to take in the view—a sea of green dotted with cholla cacti, and on the horizon the landscape butted to an orange mesa, the flattop scraping a turquoise sky. No wonder Mom surrounds herself with coral-colored and teal-colored stuff. Must remind her of New Mexico. “It has been a wet winter,” said my dad, which was why the trees were so green.
Just beyond the subdivision of El Dorado, Mom jetted up the on-ramp to I-25, and we motored up the freeway to the St. Francis Drive exit. We cruised through Santa Fe, blew by the Opera House, and began our ascent toward Española, headed north on NM-68. Leaving Velarde, we entered a narrow canyon with a two-lane road—the mountains to our right and the fast-moving waters of the Rio Grande River to our left. “Good snows and rains this year,” said my dad.
“Horseshoe coming up,” Mom alerted us as we climbed and climbed, then dropped into a wide U-shaped canyon and almost immediately crested the rise for a breathtaking view of the Taos Plateau and the Rio Grande Gorge. I stuck my nose to the open window and sniffed the dry air. I wanted to hang my entire head out the window, but they wouldn’t let me. Ten minutes later, road weary and hungry for dinner, Mom parked in the garage and the unpacking began. But they fed me first.
Dusk fell, and soon darkness enveloped the house. In the distance, I heard a strange yelping. “Coyotes,” said Dad. But I was too tired to care, more interested in curling up on the sofa, and wondering what tomorrow would bring. More adventures, I hoped.
I was a big hit in Taos on my first visit. Almost every day, Mom and Dad took me to the plaza to walk around or to the local park. People of all ages stopped to pet or hug me, and I socialized with other dogs. I even ate at restaurants with Mom and Dad. Everyone commented on how well behaved I was, so I guess they were happy to have me there. They always gave me fresh water and treats. And when we showed up for a table at our favorite eatery, they made sure we had a big one, giving me plenty of room to stretch out without anyone stepping over me.I sure am looking forward to my next Taos visit.
Next time I post, and I’m not sure when that will be, I’ll write about my second road trip. But for now, we plan to take a break from posting and will be back soon with a new series starting with Pat’s Canadian rail-train trip. Sounds like fun, so watch for updates on her website and on Facebook and Twitter.