Today we drove the Enchanted Loop, an 84 mile loop which leaves the desert behind and goes north to the forested Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the ruggedly beautiful Carson National Forest. It circles the highest point in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak (13,161 feet).
The first town we came to was the resort town of Angel Fire. There were lovely homes around a golf course complete with a club house, shopping and medical facilities and a small lake.
About 5 miles north of Angel Fire is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park. It is the first and only state park in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to Vietnam veterans. The Memorial was constructed from 1968-1971 by the Westphall family, whose son David was among 16 Marines killed together in an ambush in Vietnam. David’s parents spent their whole life working on this project and are buried in a cemetery on the grounds. The mission of the Memorial is “to remember and honor Vietnam veterans, provide educational opportunities for the public and maintain a haven for healing and reconciliation”. The sight includes a Huey helicopter, the Peace and Brotherhood Chapel, a Blue Star Garden, a pathway of bricks that have been donated in memory of soldiers, a Gift Shop, and displays of pictures of fallen heroes, as well as educational records and exhibits. This was a very moving experience for us, having earlier this year lost our dear cousin, Joe, to post traumatic stress syndrome, as a result of his experiences in Vietnam. Joe was flying a Huey helicopter when he was badly wounded in 1967. He went back for another tour in 1971. May we never forget the sacrifices made by the soldiers and their families.
We passed through Eagle’s Nest, a base for sports and skiing in the winter. Red River was a very cute Old-West style town which was once a gold-mining town. We drove into the Taos Ski Valley, but absolutely nothing was going on this time of the year. With all of our stops and side trips, this 84-mile circle took most of the day.