west: taos, nm.

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

We left New Braunfels at 4:30 am- Thursday, June 17th.

It wasn’t a bad idea, really. I took the first leg of the drive towards New Mexico. A little caffeine to wake you up and carry you to sunrise, and after that you’re golden. The sun rose as we were traveling 85 miles per hour, passing the exit sign along interstate 10 westbound that read “Mountain Home.”

I poured a sip on the concrete for my homie Owen Temple and pushed forward.

He’s not dead or anything. He’s just from Mountain Home, and it seemed like the right thing to do.

Rodney Hayden was sleeping in the passenger seat. Holly was sleeping in the back seat.

Eleventy billion horses underneath the hood of our rig pounded their hoofs against the asphalt trail (we were in the Honda Element). Our tour had officially begun.

That’s how I’d start this thing if it were a novel. Maybe. I don’t know, now that I think about it. I don’t know much about writing novels, just songs. I think it’s a patience thing… tough to draw out all of that character development over the course of 200 pages. I’m going to give it a shot one of these days, though.

Anyway, we were off, bound for Taos, New Mexico. You can make some serious time out there on i-10 westbound past Kerrville, when the speed limit bumps up to 80. We were in Pecos by 9:45 AM, and I turned the keys over to Rodney. On our way through Roswell we stopped at Pecos Flavors Winery, where he and I had played a few weeks before for a lunchtime beer and a quick hello. After that, we headed up over the mountains just past Santa Fe, and arrived in Taos at 4. Checked in and cleaned up at our hotel, we set off for the gig– three of the last heroes of the Great American West, side by side, looking to conquer whatever musical challenges that were to be laid before us at The Old Blinking Light.

(what, too much? Yeah, you’re probably right. Anyway.)

Northern New Mexico is utterly gorgeous. In my years of traveling I’ve discovered that mother nature has an amazing effect on the overall attitude and personality of a town– my theory has yet to be proven wrong. You never find angry people living in beautiful places. Taos is a beautiful place, so you can guess what kind of people we encountered there.

That’s right– cool people.

The Old Blinking Light is just on the outskirts of Taos. It occupies a little spot on the very edge of the flatter-than-a-tabletop (sorry James), sage-covered high plains, right before the Sangre de Cristo mountains rise out of the earth in the dramatic fashion in which they do. On top of fantastic food, the OBL has an indoor stage and a great outdoor patio (our spot for the night), complete with fireplace and a health supply of piƱon pine. We ate a quick meal, backed by a few local brews, and got ready to play. With the sun sinking behind us, and a plethora of stars appearing above our heads, we kicked off the first show of our tour.

Forgive me if I breeze by the show portions of our trip. By now, most of you have either seen us or heard our music, so there’s nothing really new I can add about that. I like to chronicle the journey more than I do the reason for it, so I hope that’s ok.

My old friend Jed Zimmerman, and new friend Max Gomez played a few songs during our break. Both of these fine gentleman (and Taos residents) are bursting at the seams with talent. If you haven’t checked out their music, I encourage you to do so– it’s really some fantastic stuff.

We wrapped up our one night stand at the OBL in the cool, dry air of Taos, thankful that we are able to experience the things that we do because of the path that we have chosen. We headed for the hotel after a long day of travel, and woke up the next morning to make our way to Colorado.

Before heading north we explored downtown Taos, popping in and out of the shops around the town square, grabbing some coffee as we walked. It’s a quaint little place with a large artist population– a little searching and you can find some of the great jewelry and art made by these gifted people that helps to give Taos a large helping of manmade beauty to compliment that of the natural variety which is so abundantly available in every direction.

The road out of Taos took us over the Rio Grande River Gorge, a mini Grand Canyon of sorts. We walked out, weak-kneed at the view from the bridge (which boasts quite a drop to the river below) to snap a few photographs. A mile past the bridge, we stopped for a tour of an Earthship– a completely self-sufficient house made entirely of recycled materials. Holly and I agreed that, if we were ever able to do so, we wouldn’t mind building one of these homes for ourselves. They’re pretty remarkable and completely unique. Just the sort of thing she and I seem to dig.

After we finished the tour we continued northward, up and over the mountains, through the picturesque Carson National Forest, Durango bound.

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