Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jemez Mountain Scenic Byway

The weather here had taken a turn for the worse on Sunday. A cold front had come through with winds up to 70 miles per hour. That horrible wind blew sand and dirt into the air, it was difficult to be outside for any long period of time. Add to that mix a little splatter of rain and soon mud covered one side of our home as well as our little car. It looked like we had been driving off road in the back country! Consequently on Sunday we decided that it was about time to visit a museum. The Albuquerque Museum of Art proved to be an excellent choice- presently eighty sketches of Francisco de Goya, which are currently on a national museum tour, are at the museum. While at the museum we were also fortunate that a concert was being performed which featured chamber music of two of Goya's Spanish contemporaries. By Monday the wind had died down, but it remained cold. On Tuesday the weather had not warmed up as the weather man had predicted, but we thought that we should still venture out. If we could not be outside, then at least we could sit in our warm car and look at some scenic sights. We chose one of New Mexico's most scenic drives which is Highway 4. Our first stop was at the Pueblo Jemez Walatowa Visitor Center. We were informed  there that pictures could only be taken of the rock formations, as we were on tribal land. It had been cloudy and cool up to this time, but the sun now shone brightly over the red rocks.
 From there we took a connecting road off the scenic byway to the Gilman Tunnels. In the 1920s the tunnels had been blasted through solid rock mountains to construct a rail line for hauling logs out of the mountains. 
Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, the road was blocked off shortly beyond the tunnels. It still was a beautiful side trip along a canyon which has the Guadalupe River flowing through it. Further down the road we stopped at the town of Jemez Springs. It was selected as the smallest All-American city in 1995. We splashed our hands in the hot springs located there. I sure wished I had my swimming suit along, I could have spent the rest of the day in those warm waters! Our next stop was at Soda Dam. Here water from underground hot springs has flowed for centuries and has formed a rather strange-looking dam. It is pictured below. The rest of our day on the scenic byway will be in the next posting.


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