Taos A to Z: E Taos Unlimited's Taos A to Z

Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda take to the road in the classic film, Easy Rider."Easy Rider"
Directed by Dennis Hopper and starring Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, "Easy Rider" is an American road movie and pastoral. The 1969 film portrays the travels of two bikers from Los Angeles to New Orleans, exploring alternative lifestyles, the American counterculture, and the tensions associated with these lifestyles within mainstream America. The movie was partially filmed in Taos and Las Vegas (New Mexico), with commune scenes set at the New Buffalo Commune in Arroyo Hondo. (~Aimee)

A Bit of "Easy Rider" Movie Trivia: In the Albert Brooks comedy, “Lost In America,” the hapless Brooks compares quitting his job with a major advertising agency to drive across the country in a Winnebago to the characters in "Easy Rider." His wife quietly points out that "those two guys were selling drugs and riding motorcycles." (~Jean)

E.L. Blumenschein Home and Museum
Housed in a circa 1797 traditional adobe structure, the E.L. Blumenschein Home and Museum celebrates the artist who was so instrumental in establishing the Taos Society of Artists. Blumenschein first arrived in Taos in 1898, with his friend and traveling companion Bert G. Phillips, and when a wheel broke on their wagon, they decided to stay. The Blumenschein Home, which he acquired in 1919, is the only home of a Taos Society of Artists member that is open to the public. It features family possessions, a diverse art collection, and eclectic furnishings that are preserved much as they were when the Blumenschein family lived there. The blend of fine European furnishings, Spanish Colonial antiques, and works by early Taos artists within the rustic home creates a uniquely Taos experience. (~Jean)

El Camino Real
A National Historic Trail, El Camino Real is America's oldest and longest continuously used highway. Extending from Mexico City and the port of Veracruz to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and beyond, the over 1,500-mile trail brought European colonists to "New Spain" (New Mexico) 22 years before the Mayflower landed: from 1598 to about 1885. Many of the people now living in the Southwest are decendents of these early settlers. Today, Interstate 25 from Las Cruces to Santa Fe closely parallels the route of El Camino Real through New Mexico. (~Aimee)

Empanadas are a popular New Mexican treat.Empanada
An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry. The name comes from the Spanish verb “empanar,” meaning to wrap or coat in bread. An empanada is made by folding a dough or bread patty around the stuffing. These delightful treats are either savory or sweet: the first being filled with meat, cheese or spinach; the later with pumpkin, yam, sweet potato, and cream, as well as a wide variety of fruit fillings. (~Jean)

A corn tortilla usually filled with meat or cheese and smothered with a tomato and chili pepper sauce. Shredded cheese is then melted on top. Commonly added toppings and garnishes include sour cream, lettuce, olives, chopped onions, chili peppers, and fresh cilantro. Enchiladas are most often served on a platter with refried beans and spanish rice. (~Jean)

Spectacular scenery can be found in New Mexico's Enchanted Circle.The Enchanted Circle
The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway winds through 85 miles of the Southern Rocky Mountains and Carson National Forest: from Taos through the resort communities of Eagle Nest, Angel Fire and Red River, and continuing on to Questa and San Crostobal. The drive offers breathtaking views of mountain vistas and Alpine terrain, watched over by the 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest mountain. The Enchanted Circle is a "must see" day trip for visitors to Taos. (~Aimee)

Española Valley
The sprawling Española Valley lies between Santa Fe and Taos. The land is rich and fertile, with the life-giving Rio Grande bisecting the Valley floor on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. The Rio Chama and the Santa Cruz River merge with the Rio Grande near Española. Views in the area are breathtaking, from the towering cottonwoods of the river bosque to the majestic Sangre de Cristo range to the east and the Jemez Mountains to the west.

Within the Valley is the city of Española and several other smaller communities: Chimayo, Alcalde, Velarde, Hernandez, Truchas, Cordova, Dixon, La Puebla, and Arroyo Seco. Three of the Eight Northern New Mexico Pueblos are also located in Española Valley: Santa Clara Pueblo, San Ildefonso Pueblo, and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (formerly known as the San Juan Pueblo). The picturesque communities of Velarde, Dixon and Embudo are known for their fine vegetables, orchards, wineries, small farms, and cottage industries.

As part of the larger Rio Grande rift system, the Española Valley is different from most valleys, which are created by the slow and steady stream-cutting action of flowing water. Instead, 30 million years ago, volcanic activity created two parallel fault zones that cut across the region from north to south. When the faults moved, the area between them dropped and formed the Rio Grande Valley. The Rio Grande basin as a whole is the fifth-largest watershed in North America. The city of Española and most of the other villages in the region are located next to rivers, where the soils are rich and fertile. In these villages, river water follows the course of acequias (or irrigation ditches) that were laid out by Spanish settlers more than 400 years ago. (~Jean)

Pictured top to bottom: 1} A scene from the 1960s cult classic "Easy Rider"; 2} Empanadas; 3} Scenery from The Enchanted Circle

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