Today we kept things pretty low key. Erin prepared a delicious breakfast casserole and we departed the hacienda by 10:15.
[Several of our party went out for an early morning trip out to watch the sunrise. KK, PK and Erin left the house about 5:00am. They were rewarded by seeing lots of elk out grazing at that hour. They also visited the Elizabethtown Cemetery and the surrounding area. There will be more sunrise trips scheduled while we are here, and I definitely plan to join them at least once.]
Our first stop was driving back deeper into the Mutz Ranch to go meet the owners of the ranch, Robert and Jenny Mutz. The Mutz’s have lived on the current acreage for many years, as Robert is in his early 80s and his dad had settled in Eagle Nest. Robert was very generous with his time on our surprise visit. He walked us back through several of the buildings at their homestead, including a building that was originally built as a slaughterhouse, and also the horse stables. (The only thing with horsepower in the stables today was a new compact tractor. Robert commented that “it handles like a cutting horse”.)
Several of the buildings were over 100 years old, and Robert told us that his house was built around 1800. Still standing strong, too! Robert kept us entertained with many stories for probably 30 to 45 minutes. Years ago, Robert was on the David Letterman show, as the show’s crew visited his ranch and had a great time with him. Robert had commentary on welfare, the history of the region, and a variety of other topics. He loved the talk and even as we would walk from building to building, Robert would stop every 10 feet so that he could continue his story.
After we departed Robert and Jenny’s, we went to downtown Eagle Nest. There are a number of shops, mostly tourist related, that we went through. Interestingly, Mom and Dad told us that none of these stores are ever open when they come through Eagle Nest in January for their elk hunts.
As we parked on the main drag and were getting out of our van, a fellow with his two little girls was walking by and said, “Go Union!”. It turns out he saw Stephanie’s front license plate (Union Mom) and my Union Redskins t-shirt, which I just happened to be wearing. He had graduated from Union High School in the late 90s and happened to be in town. We visited for a few minutes, and we liked the good karma that this chance meeting obviously meant.
While in some of the shops, we got information about the Independence Day parades in Eagle Nest and in Red River. However, we didn’t find any treasures that we were willing to part with our money for. While exiting one store, an older man was walking in and he saw Stephanie’s Oklahoma State shirt. He asked if it was an Oregon State shirt, but we politely corrected him. He told us that he used to be the Assistant Head Football Coach at Oregon State from the late 50s through 1965. We didn’t catch his name, but he was very friendly. It turns out that he currently lives in Palm Desert, California, which is ironic as that is one of the favorite vacation spots of my good friend Shaun. (In a totally unrelated note, he was traveling with another man who was driving a Jaguar station wagon. Who would ever think that Jaguar would make a station wagon?)
After all the Eagle Nest shopping we could stand, we went back to base camp and grilled hamburgers for lunch. We then departed for an afternoon of shopping and sightseeing at Red River, which is about 12 miles from where we are staying.
On our drive to Red River, we climbed a lot in altitude and went through some rain. As we got to the top of our climb, near Bobcat Pass, we could tell that we had just narrowly missed a snowstorm. The temperature gauges in our cars showed that the temp had dropped to about 41. We pulled over at a scenic turnout and took a few pictures, as the snow was still on the ground. It was cool in Red River when we first got there, but it very quickly got back into the 60s. The temperature has been very comfortable here.
Another highlight of the trip to Red River was a very large herd of elk we saw near the road. We estimate we saw approximately 100 elk in this herd. This herd included a good number of baby elk.
Our first stop was the Red River Art Gallery. This gallery features the paintings of Kenneth Wyatt. He is a favorite of PK’s, as he was a longtime Methodist Minister and now he uses his painting as a ministry. Mr. Wyatt was actually in the gallery today and welcomed each and every one of us into the store with a smile and a handshake. He was even working on a painting in one of the corners of the gallery. In a very generous move, he even offered to let each of the three kids help him paint part of his portrait. Each of the kids got to add several dots of paint to some bushes in the painting. It was a very neat experience, because this painting was obviously toward the end of the painting – it was very nearly finished. Thank you, Mr. Wyatt!
We had our first run-in with bad travel luck as we pulled into the Der Market in Red River for some ice and groceries, we noticed that one of our tires was low. We found an auto shop in town that would fix the tire, so we dropped the car off and continued our shopping journey. When we picked it up later, it turned out we had just run over a nail. All is well now!
We killed several hours walking up and down the main drag going in tourist shop after tourist shop. After a while it was evident that we were seeing the same junk fine merchandise again and again. We decided to call it a day and head back to camp.
Don’t get me wrong, Red River is a scenic little town nestled high in the mountains. However, it is truly a ski town first and foremost. As a matter of fact, I took my Senior Trip in high school to Red River for snow skiing back in 1987. There was plenty to do in town if you had more time, or perhaps if you were staying right there in town. We saw people going up and down the main street on segways, oversized scooters, little electric carts, and human-propelled carts that held maybe 6 people (pedal power).
Tonight, we grilled chicken breasts and several vegetables on the grill. Eating our meals on the porch is turning into quite a treat. The temperature had started to fall by the time we ate tonight – in fact, KK ate in his Carhart overalls!
There seems to be a lot to do as we hang around the hacienda. Mallory and Marissa are always running around outside, either pretending to be horses, or petting the real ones which are wandering around. Scott and I engaged in a thrilling game of horseshoes while the vegetables were grilling. We finally had to admit we must play modified scoring rules, as the score was 2 – 0 after 10 minutes of horseshoes.
The after dinner excitement typically includes discussing the next days activities, some card games, and running into Eagle Nest to borrow the internet connection from the Lucky Shoe sports bar.
Tomorrow is a day we have been looking forward to, as we will be visiting the Bandelier National Monument, and finish with a trip into Sante Fe.