Taos, here we go!

033107 Taos Inn How many different ways can you describe a day as beautiful? Insert your own here. The weather served up the most delicious blue skies you can imagine for our last morning in Taos. However, I awoke having pulled something in my back rendering me unable to turn my head or move my upper body without excruciating pain. Fortunately, the giant comfy bed was a perfect place to lie and read while Chris tackled a pre-St. Louis-marathon training run of 13 miles around Kit Carson Memorial Park.

By the time he arrived back home, I had coaxed myself upright and began to gather our things together for our late checkout. Turns out he didn't quite take into account the elevation here -- I believe we're at about 7,000 feet -- and spent the first 1/2 hour of his run trying to catch his breath. But the trouper kept going and looks like he'll be in good shape.

040107 Taos 01

We opt for a second wander around town before we head south to Santa Fe. Specifically, I head back into La Lana Wools, having decided I couldn't possibly leave town without at least a few of their gorgeous (but pricey) skeins to make a souvenir scarf or something else small and pretty. The woman behind the counter has a wonderfully low voice and a bursting enthusiasm. She lets me -- no, encourages me -- to take photos of their gorgeous displays, urging me to make sure I get pics of the roving, the baskets of wool, the onion peels and other plant matter they use for dying the yarn.

I'm a sucker for orphans and bargains, so I pick some single skeins of silk from the discount bin in colors that mimic the southwestern skies and landscape -- a terra cotta pink, a shiny sand, a pale blue. Then I select a regular-priced skein in a deep turquoise. I have no idea what pattern I'll use -- perhaps knit something horizontally so the colors seem to blend like the strata of the earth -- but I don't care. I just want to own these little works of art.

040107 La Lana Skeins

The woman at the counter throws in a free pattern. "The great thing about this yarn," she tells me, "is once you start knitting with you, it speaks to you and tells you what direction it wants you to go in." And, because this is Taos and because I am a knitter, I can tell her I know exactly what she means and not even feel a little bit weird about it. I ask her if they stay busy mostly through local knitters shopping here or if it's mostly tourists and web orders. "Oh," she says, with a smile, "however it's supposed to be, it is." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of mentality that makes Taos Taos.

040107 Weaving Southwest

We wander up the street a bit to some shops we didn't hit before. At Weaving Southwest, they have some of the most beautiful rugs, made by hand with their own dyed yarns. Deep, gorgeous colors, so different from the plant-based results at La Lana. I'm particularly smitten with a geometrical rug hanging on a wall, a pattern of grey and blue blocks. It's 3 x 5. It's also $2,000. Sigh.

In the backroom, small cubbies are loaded down with weaving yarns of all hues. I think of my friend Margaret, who's lately digging weaving, and glance over at all these strange weaving supplies -- a whole 'nother world of fiber art from knitting. She'd probably pee her pants in here. Figuratively speaking, one hopes.

We're also drawn into a little gift shop called Wabi-Sabi, partly because one of our favorite getaways in the world, Hix Island House, is built in that style and partly because we're heading to a Japanese-style spa in Santa Fe, so it all seems fitting somehow. Although this little gift shop specializes in Japanese gifts, there's actually a lot of congruity between this Japanese aesthetic of simplicity and natural beauty and the Southwest. Plus, the woman in the shop is just lovely to us, offering us cups of tea and chatting about what we do.

I sometimes like to pick up a small piece of pottery on our trips. I confess to knowing absolutely nothing about the art form but just loving certain kinds of pottery, particularly bowls or tiles, and I love having small pieces that bring back memories of travels. Here, I pick a bowl in greenish-blue with two simple flowers on it and, while I worried about the silliness of buying an import to represent a trip to New Mexico, it turns out it's made by a local artist. Perfect.

040107 Huevos Rancheros

We have time for a quick late breakfast/early lunch before jumping in the car and heading back to Santa Fe. This time, we opt for a place called Michael's Kitchen, a favorite of both locals and tourists for decades. It's just a regular ol' joint and I brave another round of huevos rancheros while Chris opts for some outstanding-looking strawberry pancakes. Two nuns in grey habits squeeze into the booth next to us. If you're wondering what nuns are eating this season, it seems the open-faced hot roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes is the thing. And, as one of the nuns tells the waiter with an impish smile, "Lots of gravy."

040107 San Francisco de Asis

Then we're back in the car, stopping first in the area just south of Taos known as Ranchos de Taos. Here we checked out the historical San Francisco de Asis church, whose striking adobe facade has inspired artists such as Georgia O'Keefe and Ansel Adams -- plus, likely a host o' folks were inspired by what goes on inside as well. The church was so lovely that when we got back on the road, we forgot to backtrack to the road that would have taken us back to Santa Fe via the high road, an alternate to the Turquoise Trail route we'd taken north our first day.

No complaints, however, at having to follow the same path back. We weren't met with any storms this time, no cloudy skies and everything looked much pinker and, somehow, more hopeful as we headed towards Santa Fe. Or maybe that was just the way it looked through our eyes after two days of relaxation.