Tuesday, May 21: On the road to Vermejo Ranch

Sally built the centerpiece of this trip around our stay at Vermejo Ranch. Vermejo is a 600,000 acre ranch in northeastern New Mexico, as well as a small bit in southern Colorado. It’s the largest of the properties owned by Ted Turner, whose 2,000,000 acres make him the second largest private landowner in the US (1).

But first we had to get there.

Rt 64 north of Taos, May 2019

The road to Vermejo from Taos goes over the mountains and through narrow canyons. Waze, my preferred GPS navigator, said it would take more than 4 hours for the 135 miles. Quick math tells you that equates to about 30 mph, implying a set of very slow roads. And the first couple of hours met this expectation; narrow, twisty roads snake though the mountains and canyons north and east of Taos.

Storm at Angle Fire, May 2019

At one point, it was snowing lightly on us and quite heavily in the distant mountains we could see. After we came out of the mountains at Cimarron, we could see the Great Plains stretching off to the east, while the foothills of the Rocky Mountains were to the west.

We arrived in Raton, NM with Waze still projecting about 2 hours to complete the remaining 36 miles. So we grabbed a “meal” (2) at Micky D’s while I checked Google Maps for its estimate on the travel time. It showed 1:20, which meant we would be averaging about 30 mph rather than Waze’s implied 18 mph.

Turns out that Google Maps was also estimating our projected speed way too slow; it took us only 45 minutes to cover the ground. I’ve never seen these two navigation systems differ by so much, or be so wrong.

Vermejo Ranch main buildings, May 2019

The main buildings at the ranch are expansive, to say the least. As is the suite apartment mansion Sally reserved for us. It’s three rooms, including a huge sun room, a living room and a bedroom. Plus a two room(!) bathroom.

Bed, bath and beyond, May 2019

Living room and sun room, May 2019

Sun room, May 2019

After we settled in for a bit, I went for an easy hike. Tomorrow, I’m planning a more involved one with a guide, so this was a warm-up.

Afternoon walk in the woods. May 2019

Finally, we spent an hour chatting with Will the bartender, who carefully questioned Sally before preparing a heavily customized Mai Tai. My bourbon on rocks was much simpler. We both had onion bisque and bison for dinner, which was yummy. Much better than MacD’s.


(1) John Malone of Charter Communications is #1 with 2.2m acres.

(2) I actually got a Happy Meal with Artisan Chicken. It’s still McD’s.

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