The Turquoise Trail

November 12, 2012

Today we were leaving Santa Fe and heading south to Socorro, where would be staying a week while attending the Festival of the Cranes. It wasn’t a long trip so we got up late and had a leisurely breakfast. Then we packed up, loaded the car, checked out, and headed off.

First stop: Trader Joe’s, to stock up with groceries for our week in Socorro. We were almost finished when all of a sudden all the lights went out! The staff sent everybody out of the store, so we went back to the car, wondering how long we should wait. But luckily it was only a few minutes, so we went back in and bought the remainder of the items on our list. One downside of the power failure was that they couldn’t accept credit or debit cards, but fortunately we had enough cash to pay for our groceries.

Church in Cerillos

Church in Cerillos

After leaving Trader Joe’s we headed south on I-25 until we came to Highway 14, which was called the “Turquoise Trail”. Since we had all day to get to Socorro, we turned off on it. This road was a two-lane highway which took us past scenic countryside and through small towns. We stopped in lay-bys to take photos and look for birds and eventually stopped for lunch at Cerillos Hills State Park.

Cerillos State Park

Cerillos State Park

We paid our $5 entrance fee and found the picnic tables. This park is built around the old mines which prospered in the 1880’s. Silver, galena, and turquoise were all mined there. It was a beautiful day, so after lunch we went for a walk on the Jane Calvin Sanchez trail. It was not particularly long, about 2 km, but it was nice to get out and walk. The first section took us uphill through sagebrush and junipers to a viewpoint which was by a mine shaft dug by one of the pioneer miners, Hans Christian Rasmussen. The shaft was about 12 feet deep and neatly fenced off by a metal picket fence for safety. Continuing along the trail we passed two more mine shafts before descending steeply off the ridge to the road, where a mineral spring was located. Bird life was rather scarce, except for little flocks of robins which were all over the place.

Restaurant in Madrid

Restaurant in Madrid

We made a brief walk along a viewpoint trail which overlooked the small town of Cerillos and then got back into the car to continue our trip. We made a brief stop in Cerillos to photograph the church. The town itself was very small and looked almost deserted, so we didn’t stay any longer.

Next stop was the small town of Madrid, just a short distance down the road. (Pronounced MAD-rid if you please.) We stopped for a look around at all the funky buildings painted in bright colours. Somebody had told us that it had been taken over by a “gang of hippies”, but if it hadn’t then there wouldn’t have been any reason to stop there. The shops had clothing, jewellery, pottery, and other crafts. Rosemary bought a two-tone blue pottery bowl with a handle and spout, made by local artist Lisa Conley.

Sculpture in Madrid

Sculpture in Madrid

By now it was getting late and we still had a long way to go to Socorro, so we decided to drive there now with no more stops. The route was very straightforward and once we got through Albuquerque and back onto I-25 there was only about an hour’s driving to Socorro.

With easy-to-follow directions we found the Prickly Pear Inn, which would be our home for the next week. Our hosts met us and showed us our suite, which was basically the front half of their house. It consisted of a large bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. Perfect for us for the week. We settled in and then made our dinner – sweet potato bisque from a Trader Joe’s box with blue corn chips to go along with it. Dancing with the Stars was on television tonight, and then bedtime was at 10 pm because we had to get up early the next morning.

November 11: Santa Fe

November 13: Elephant Butte Lake

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