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05.14.03
I've now been a Taoseño for 2 weeks and some very interesting events and observations have come to light.
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Firstly... there are a lot of dogs in Taos.  A lot.  And for the most part they seem to be free-roaming.  It is as if there is a city-wide "dog share" program... and the dogs, who wander from yard to yard seem to be pretty content with that arrangement.   They appear as perfectly content with one owner as the next :)  Well, I am exaggerating just a bit for effect, but it certainly feels this way, and I don't mind it, as long as they don't bite.
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Because of all the dogs, and because of the dog's genetic predisposition to chase anything moving slow enough for them to catch, it is advisable to NOT use the Taos backroads during bike trips!  I learned this quite the hard way, when a pair of dogs flanked my bike on each side and kept chase at my heals for a good 4 blocks at top speed.  I had no idea if they bit, and didn't care to find out.  I was worried that my decision to flee might actually encourage them to take a nip or two.  It was even kind of fun at first; I got to get some good excercise, and the dogs got to feel proud that they had repelled yet another threat to the security of their human owners.  It was all fun, that is, until the second set of dogs took over.
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Apparently, I had reached the end of the first canine territory, where a second pair of dogs were casually waiting, fresh from a restful shade and chops dripping with clean water.  They replaced the position of the first pair on either side of my bike with the efficiency of Olympic track runners, and gave me chase another 4 blocks at top speed all the way to the next and final canine territory, where this happened yet again!  I have never been more out of breath in my entire life, not even in my days as a mediocre cross-country runner.
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Other adventures included hiking through the wild and scenic rivers area, where I took a number of photos (including a few panoramas) which you can view at the right.  The landscape here never ceases to inspire, especially the colors.  I often wonder why Colorado has its colorful moniker and not NM, because in my not so humble opinion, New Mexico beats Colorado hands down for color.  On the other hand, the Painted Desert in Arizona may have the edge on both of them.  The colors of northern NM are much more delicate than Arizona though, and in unusual combinations I simply have never seen anywhere else I've been.  It is a fact observed by many who have come here, including some famous artists and writers who are keen to notice such things.
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Another adventure which turned out to be even more inspiring was a hike up to Tres Orejas.  I didn't make it to the peaks, however, because all along the eastern side of the hill rising up toward the lava flows is a village of DIY (Do It Yourself) homes of every imaginable size, shape and material.  And these back-to-basics homes are populated by a community of rugged individuals the likes of which you hardly see nor hear about anymore.  They are in many ways the last vestiges of free-thinking Americans who never abandoned the piss and vinegar of their youth.  Somehow, the formidable aftershocks of bullshit radiating wave upon wave from the center of the civilized world have failed to sway their steady gaze from the most basic rights and needs.  The truest Americans and American ideals and values you will ever find are there, at the very edge of America, pushed out of the way where they are much easier to fear and ridicule and hate, and envy too.
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I met some of them there, and in fact I rent an office space in town from one of them, and I can honestly say that I have not felt such a personal connection with people in a very very long time. Everything they said struck a chord.  I happened to catch Mike Maybury letting his hounds out for some fresh air and happened to ask what would turn out to be a very momentous question.  I asked him how long he had lived there, and he said, "Funny you should ask me that question, for today marks 22 years to the day."   It was also mother's day (yes I did send flowers to mine!).  He invited me in to meet his wife and his pet geese and we had quite an amazing and energetic conversation on the subject of expressing one's dissatisfaction with the status quo through direct and fearless action, and getting to the heart of living.  I loved every minute of it.   I am not talking about "crazy hill people with shotguns seceding from the union" here... I am talking about concerned, intelligent people ranging from the self-taught to those with doctorates, all finding themselves with the same simple and moral objection to being told how to build their house, where to build it, what it should cost to build it, what it should be made of, how it should look, how it should handle its waste, how it should get its water and energy, and what you can do inside of it once its built.  It is simplicity I am looking for, and it is exactly simplicity that they have reclaimed and cherish so ferociously.
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related images (click to view photos in full resolution) View of owner-built homes from the hills near tres Orejas
Owner-built homes near Tres Orejas
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Panoramic view from the Tres Orejas foothills . Panoramic view from the Tres Orejas foothills. .
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Panoramic view of Taos mesa . Panoramic view of Taos mesa .
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Homesteader Mike's pet geese . Homesteader Mike Maybury's pet geese .
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Awww... ain't that sweet! . Awww... ain't that sweet! .
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Homesteader Peg's fantastic frontier kitchen . Homesteader Peg's fantastic frontier kitchen .
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Wild Rivers view . Colorful Wild Rivers view .
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Wild Rivers trail view . Colorful Wild Rivers trail view .
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Another colorful trail view . Another colorful trail view .
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Panoramic view at Wild Rivers . Panoramic view at Wild Rivers .
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From deep down in the Rio Grande Gorge . From deep down in the Rio Grande Gorge .
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View up the Rio Grande Gorge . View up the Rio Grande Gorge .
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View west across the Gorge . View west across the Gorge .
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