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Taos Trip Report by Billy Wilson
(or A Culinary Voyage to the Old Southwest)

Trip Statistics:
Distance: 493NM KGPM to Taos.
Elapsed time: ~6 going, 3.2 coming
Squawks: On-plane lavatory facilities are inadequate. Headphones probably inflict fatal wounds after flights in excess of 3.5 hours. 

Notes on flying to Taos from Dallas and other stuff (from Billy):
"Larry Pardue said you might have an interest in this trip report to Taos. Reference to the "shocking watch" is my pet name for the Relief Band, a electronic device that controls motion sickness.  

Note the comment to Larry about the tongue in cheek nature of the report.  

The trip is pretty boring until the last 30-40 minutes when you are crossing the mountains.  I flew GPS direct from Hicks after threading my way through Class B airspace.  If you do that, you will arrive at the mountains slightly south of Angel Fire.  At that point, you can bear slightly left or slightly right to give yourself extra clearance over a ridge.  Slightly right is more direct, but slightly left follows a valley with a road through it.  Crossing at 12500, there might be 3-5 minutes where an engine out might be a problem on the right side.  Probably not an issue, but after looking the situation over, I will probably veer left from now on. 

My plane flew first in May 2002, I think."

Billy's note to Larry Pardue:
"Larry,  As usual, the Santa Fe trip was a good travel story.  My wife loves places  like Santa Fe.   We recently got back from Taos and had a great time.  I attached a trip report of my own; bear in mind that it is slightly tongue in cheek in  places (43 gal fill-up was more like 33).  You might get the impression that my wife likes fancy dining.  A couple of days ago, we went to Galveston, and I would highly recommend  it, except for the $2.50/gal fuel.  Within easy walking distance is the  Lonestar Flight Museum (we didn't get to go in), and Moody Gardens.  Moody  Gardens has several exhibits, but the most enjoyable are the aquarium and  the rain forest.  We just ate fast food, but there probably are some good  resturaunts there if you were interested."

Thursday, the day before the trip, I arrived home to pack for the trip. There was a discussion about the lack of preparation. Friday, October 11th, Ann and I took off at about 10:30 am with NO reservations, a cursory discussion of the weather with a flight briefer, two wings, and a prayer. Around Childress, observed a low cloud layer extending farther than we could see. Descended below the layer to remain in VFR navigation status, scud-ran until we were having to fly down a fence line in order to find an open gate to go through, and promptly had to land in Quannah due to low ceilings. (A little Tom Cruise-ish maneuvering) Told Ann that the ceiling was a little low, but this was just a precaution. I understand that the shocking watch (Relief Band) was employed during this leg. Weather briefer was incredulous that low ceilings existed in this area. Decided to eat; the airport operator loaned us his car to go into town. Smelled barbeque, stopped at the apparent source of the odor: Cowboy Steakhouse. This was NOT the source of the pleasant smell. Our meal consisted of:  

All you can eat buffet of chicken fried steak, fried catfish, french fries, fried hush puppies, ranch style beans (fried), greens (fried), and kernelcorn (fried), all opened fresh today; complimentary ice tea available if you could find the waitress 

Went back to the airport, discussed aircraft painting with the airport operator. Made note of the fact that Ann's grandmother used to go to the doctor in Quannah, transported by an airplane. Walked the length of the runway, picked up assorted airplane parts scattered on or about the runway. Called flight briefer, chatted about the no clouds, decided he must be correct and took off. Scud-ran for a couple of minutes, then blue skies.  Arrived at Taos around 4 pm local time. Summoned rent car. Filled airplane tanks with 43 gallons (just kidding, 33 gal), made a good try at severing my fingers with the ground cable. When confronted about the ragged ground cable, the FBO manager (thought: "Oh, grow up") offered me an alcohol wipe. Thanks dude. Meanwhile Ann has called the best damn Bed and Breakfast in the Southwest, Casa Europa, and secured reservations for the first and third nights and saved us from certain mediocrity at the Ramada Inn. We got to the B&B, and everything was OK. Ate at Zen Ranch Cafe. Here's what we ate: 

Thai Style Satay w/ spicy peanut dipping sauce served on a bed of fresh salad greens with spears of crisp noodles and green onions. Pot stickers-sachets filled w/ organic chicken, ginger, mint and dried papaya served in a curry caymote sauce. Fresh corn pan fried salmon served with scallion chardonnay butter sauce and root vegetables.  Root. Vegetables. Hmmm. We went back to the B&B and had a happy overnight. Breakfast the next morning was: Fresh grapefruit, whole wheat and oat waffles, topped with whipped cream and garnished with fresh peaches, raspberries, and peach and raspberry puree, and bacon. 

Next morning, we had to find a place to stay for that night. Went to the historic Taos Inn, home of a cat fancier. Were reminded of the virtues of cat worship and informed that there was no room at the Historic, Famous, Taos, Famous Inn, but did we want a cat? Walked in the general direction of another B&B. In the window of a store was a, a, . something that caught Ann's eye. As best I can determine, it was discarded clothing from an impoverished nation, disassembled and fashioned into a bedspread. We made inquiries. Considerable discussion about the size of a queen sized bed.  The shopkeeper was pleasant ("I hate you; buy something"). We were unable to make a purchase. Next stop was another B&B; no room at the second Inn, but we were referred to still another B&B. This one HAD room for us. This brings us to lunch at Arby's. I started to think about retiring here. We dined on:

You know, Arby's.

After lunch, we went to at least two wineries, some pottery places, some tourist junk places. Ann bought some wine to be polite. Oh, I forgot to tell something: Ann forgot her purse. I guess I meant that I bought some wine to be polite. At some point, we went back to the room. No food that night, strictly because I was too lazy to leave the room. Next morning, we walked around the plaza, bought some stuff, then ate at our favorite restaurant, Zen Place:

Ann forgot what we ate, but rest assured, it was fun eating.  Bought a leather coat. Went up into the mountains. Aspens were starting to turn. Walked around at the ski resort. Fished a couple of cans out of a stream. Looked for property to buy. Went by the airport to see if the airplane was still there. It was. Went to the Rio Grande Gorge and tried to look off of the side of the bridge. It's really too high for that. Back to Casa Europa for afternoon snack: (Ann says it's called "tea")  Homemade shortcake covered with sliced fresh strawberries and whipped cream washed down with white wine and a Corona.  Brief rest, then out for supper at: Momentitos de la VIDA, where we dined on: 

Seared medallions of venison tenderloin in peppercorn, cherry cognac reduction sauce served on a bed of wilted greens, organic purple potatoes and asparagus spears for the lady and K.C. Strip served with classic mashed potatoes and vegetables for BCW. Dessert was dark chocolate pots de creme topped with whipped cream, garnished with white chocolate curls and caramelized sugar spears. 

They are hot for caramelized sugar spears. Oh, and by the way, Julia Roberts was at the adjoining table. She pretended not to notice us. If only she knew we flew there in our own little airplane..

Went back to C. E. and slept like I imagine rich folks sleep. Next day, trip over. Packed our stuff and hit the road. Well, not literally. Taos is at the foot of the mountains, so we circled for a few minutes in order to get to the other side. This is not WHY airplanes cross the mountains, it is HOW airplanes cross the mountains. And the rest is history. 

A good time was had by all, (we are assuming that Julia Roberts enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed hers) and the bottom line is: Ann WILL accompany me on another trip in the future. 

More to come.

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