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September 24th 2014
Published: December 31st 2015
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Chama, New Mexico south on 84 to the Echo Amphitheater, Ghost Ranch and finally Ojo Caliente, NM.

September 24, 2014
On our last day we chose another option for breakfast. Fina’sis a popular breakfast/lunch place among locals. Very unassuming exterior, it almost looked like a trailer outside with a high sign. Fina’s is located across the street from the High Country Restaurant and Saloon. The inside was surprisingly spacious and clean. Photos lined the walls thanking Fina, the owner, for her various community contributions. Several photos of annual Sheriff Possie Drives added to the local color. Fina must have a thing for Coca Cola for all throughout the restaurant we saw Coke memorabilia. We were surprised to find that Fina was a proud fan of the Pittsburg Steelers!

The food was just average, what you would expect from a regular breakfast place. I really don’t understand the comments saying there was tons of food because it wasn’t apparent to us and we are not big eaters. I had a ham and cheese omelet that was very bland, with green chilis on the side. My husband had bacon and eggs but the bacon was burnt. Both dishes came with hash browns. As I mentioned, this place did have local color of Chama, but for food I think I would choose the Box Car over Fina’s.

We drove south after breakfast and stopped at the Echo Amphitheater. This place is worth a stop if you are driving between Chama and Abiquiu on 84. We were headed south towards Ghost Ranch and decided to take a little hike to see the amphitheater. The paths are paved and there is easy access to the site. There is a small donation charge to park and hike into the Echo Amphitheater and if you are not in a hurry it makes a nice little diversion but I would not make it a destination unless you want to camp, as there are many campsites available and some are away from the main road.

My husband and I first visited Ghost Ranch in 2008 and were immediately impressed with the landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe. Ghost Ranch is about an hour south of Chama, NM and about an hour west of Taos. In 2008 we enjoyed a picnic lunch under the shade of the cottonwood trees looking out at the stunning red rock mesas. Afterwards we had explored much of the property on foot, taking in the breathtaking landscape that is now identified with this great artist.

This year, in 2104, we decided to visit the ranch again. Although the major landscape was unchanged, many new buildings had been added to Ghost Ranch, now a Presbyterian retreat and education center that caters to retreat goers but is open to the public. The first new thing I noticed was the removal of the beautiful cottonwood trees that had lined the road and had given a beautiful contrast to the rugged red mesas. So sad. The addition of many new buildings is taking away from the rugged and wild aspect that was once so attractive to us at Ghost Ranch. Although I will say there are still hiking and riding trails to get you into the wild. One new addition that I did like was a serene meditation labyrinth located on a path devoid of buildings and other construction. We chose to have lunch at the cafeteria used primarily for guests of the Presbyterian Retreat center, but open to the public. The food was overcooked steam table fare (beef brisket, baked potatoes, soggy green beans, but there was a nice salad bar and chunks of fresh watermelon).

There is a small Museum of Anthropology and another small Museum of Paleontology, both worth a walk through for local history. Sadly I found many docents speaking negatively about Georgia O’Keeffe, mostly about her “brash personality” and unsuccessful desire to purchase specific parcels on this property where she had rented for what she thought was forever. What disturbs me is that this retreat center is using Georgia O’Keefe as an enticement to visit, offering O’Keefe landscape tours, O’Keeffe trail rides, O’Keeffe sunset tours and “Walk in Georgia O’Keeffe’s Footsteps”, all for a fee. That this place profits on the name of Georgia O’Keeffe and then speaks so negatively about her really troubles me, but the natural beauty must be seen at least once. Just try to ignore the commercialization of Georgia O’Keeffe and the negative energy surrounding her history there.


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