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Published: August 19th 2015
We start the day with a quick cruise through downtown Taos. Starting early, when there is little traffic it takes about 3 minutes. Later when the rest of the tourists are awake, this could take 20 minutes. It’s a little alarming what the traffic through Taos is like.
Our destination is the Enchanted Circle. This loop circles the great mountains around Taos and takes you through Angel Fire and Red River at the northernmost tip. High country that is dark and cloudy and cool. For a Tucsonan, this is like heaven. We, however, travel at our own pace. When we see a sign for DH Lawrence’s cabin, we take that right turn onto the dirt road. Several miles in we find the ranch and frankly it’s kind of giving it the high hat treatment to call it a ranch. It’s a couple of cabins and a memorial with (or maybe without) Lawrence’s cremains in the walls. DH and his wife Frieda were invited by Mabel Dodge Luhan to move to Taos to create a community of artists. Things went well, then they went bad and then Mabel Dodge offered the Lawrence’s this piece of land – I think 160 acres – for free as a kind of peace offering. The origin of their dispute isn’t known. Anyway, DH would have none of it but Frieda liked the offer and paid Mabel Dodge $1 for the property. Frieda and DH then developed a plan for building a utopian community on this spit of land. Of all their friends only 1, a woman named Dorothy Brett joined them. DH didn’t last long in Taos – a couple of years. During this time, Alduous Huxley showed up and spent time with them writing Point Counter Point (I think).
Shortly after leaving Taos, Lawrence died in Italy. From here things get a bit sordid. Frieda brings their Italian ‘caretaker’ back to Taos – apparently they’ve been lovers for some time. Frieda becomes obsessive about building a memorial to DH on the Taos property and sends the caretaker back to Europe to have DH exhumed, cremated and brought back to Taos. The story now gets weird – it isn’t clear what this guy did with the body, the possible ashes or not ashes. But he shows up at the ranch in Taos and he and Frieda begin to build this anomalous memorial to DH – perhaps using his cremains in the blocks or perhaps not…no one but the caretaker knows what happened.
Needless to say, we spend the time until closing at this site. It’s just too good to miss. Did I mention that you can see the entire Taos Valley from the ranch? Another incredible view.
From here we set off in earnest to cover the Enchanted Circle. More beauty, more monsoon, chilly temps, a music festival, cowboys going crazy and views and landscapes to love. This is what the Enchanted Circle is made of.
I should probably encourage people to learn more about Mabel Dodge Luhan. She was, as much as anyone, the creator of the artist’s haven that Taos has become. She wanted, as I understand it, to create a Paris in the area with great salons and creative spirits everywhere creating great novels, philosophies, works of art, etc. She is worth reading about, but this trip was not about her so we’ll move on to Georgia – who is at the heart of this trip.
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