Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Woolf Pack in Taos-- Days 3-4

End of the Trip

After the landscape tour was over, we loaded back on the bus and headed north and east for Taos.

Entering the city from the south (see map on previous post), we stopped at the famous church of San Francisco de Asis at Ranchos de Taos, where we got out for a few minutes and took various artsy pictures.

The church's forms are so rounded, so solid, that almost every angle seems to produce an image worthy of a professional photographer.

Across the street we spotted a pawn shop with an engaging sign that we decided should be the motto of the whole trip:

We arrived at the Mable Dodge Luhan ranch in good time, but only had a chance to do a bit of exploring before dinner.

Mable bought the ranch, which borders on Tiwa tribal lands, in 1918. At that time it was only the string of rooms to the right of what is now the largest part of the house.

She had brought a flock of Italian ceramic roosters from Italy which were cemented to the roof, giving it the local name of "Los Gallos"-- the roosters (though DH Lawrence may have preferred an earthier translation).

For the next few years Mable and Tony Luhan worked together to build the large addition to the house--first the living rooms, library, spacious dining room, with bedrooms for Mable and Tony built above. Then a sun porch was glassed in as Mable's bathroom, but Lawrence was squeamish about Mable being seen bathing so he and Dorothy Brett painted over the windows with various heraldic designs including celestial objects, roosters, and a phoenix.. A new sunporch was built out, extending from Tony's room, and then finally a third floor sunroom was built atop everything.

Having stayed in the house before I requested Tony's room, because I knew it came with access both to the painted bathroom and the capacious porch. (For more photos of the house, including Mable's room and the bathroom windows, see 1st blog entry for my March trip.)

Our agreeable driver drove us all up the road to where we could conveniently walk to the restaurant where we had reservations for a group dinner. Graham's Grill in Taos proved to be the only major disappointment of the trip, as they were unprepared to serve a party of our size. We came in at 6:30 and weren't served until 8:30, which meant we didn't get back to Mable's house until about 10:00. Fortunately, the guest house atmosphere at Mable's meant that the dining room was open and the water still hot for tea, so more socializing followed.

Many people got up quite early Wednesday morning to explore the ranch before a hurried breakfast. Suzanne Bellamy shot a good deal of video, including me in my nightgown on the balcony. Here she is filming me.

On the way north out of town, Pam Evans, our resident expert on Dorothy Brett-- the Slade-school painter who followed Lawrence out to Taos in 1924 and stayed there for the rest of her life (53 more years), painting Indian ceremonials dancers and other local subjects-- had the bus pull over so we could see Brett's house. I took this picture through the bus window, which means I inadvertently got a reflection of a passing car.

A few miles up the road, we also saw the entrance to the road leading up to the Lawrence Ranch. (For pictures of the ranch and a harrowing account of my journey there in March--which should explain why we didn't try to get our large bus up the mountain-- see my March blog).

Our trip back to Denver was quick and quiet since so many days of intense sightseeing at such high altitudes had tired most of us out. We reached the airport in ample time for people's flights home, and dropped off Stuart and Stephen's luggage, so they could pick it up for their trip back to the UK on the following Friday. Stuart had been hospitalized with pneumonia for the duration of the trip-- a sobering lesson in the physical stresses of jet lag and high altitude when combined with a frenetic schedule of conference events.

1 comment:

Eleanor McNees said...


I'm so technologically challenged that I wrote a long comment but couldn't send it since I didn't have a google or "blogger" account. To sum up: Impressive and informative site. Thanks so much for posting all this. I'll work on my NM photos and will either learn how to email them or make CDs for people.