mOjo Caliente

When you want to drop out of the daily grind, come to New Mexico – The Land of Enchantment.

When we drove across southern NM last year visiting Carlsbad Caverns, long stretches of cactus fields and pecan farms and the serenity of Radium Springs, we thought NM should call itself the Land of Entrancement. Its nature lulls you into a hypnotic trance that frees the cluttered mind.

In Northern Taos, it was all about sunsets and juniper fields. A lush high desert where the wind always blows, the sun always shines and even the post bloom flowers leave an inspiring silhouette. In the 5 miles of town, there’s a thrift store on every corner and a green chile enchilada in every restaurant. The Rio Grande gorge cuts through the plateau to the west of Taos providing river adventures. The ski valley lies to the east providing fresh powder. Taos sits in the middle, remarkably retaining its charm as an arts community. There’s one auto dealership, one cinema, one ubiquitous Walmart, and dozens of local eclectic businesses. Taos chooses art over commerce. Enchantment.

After 4 days in the thick of it, it was time to get more mojo at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. At Ojo, the sulfur-free, geothermal mineral waters have flowed from a subterranean volcanic aquifer for thousands of years. Ojo is the only hot springs in the world with 4 different types of healing mineral waters. There are 13 pools filled with different types and combinations of the waters, with temperatures ranging from 80 -105 degrees, along with sauna, steam and spa services.

You can Ojo for the day, or you can lodge in their hotel, cottages, suites or RV park. With only 2 spots for bigger rigs, we were assigned cozy #2 where Betty tucked with 360 degree green tree views. The RV park is lightly used, but a great option – electric and water, bathhouse, dedicated wifi for the 4 other campers staying here. We’ve never had better, faster internet service! Vintage trailer/cottages, the kind you see on AirBnB, are in the process of being added. Our site was the forest embed option where Betty had to be precisely positioned to allow the slides to extend in between tree trunks. We could have asked for another site, but some of us cannot back down from a parking challenge.

Cell phones are prohibited at The Waters, but imagine this plaza surrounded by small pools where soakers move from hot spring to hot spring, from the mud baths to the steam/sauna rooms to the farm to table restaurant and the private massage rooms. We spent the afternoon pool hopping from The Iron Spring – iron rich to benefit our blood and immune system – to the silent relaxation Soda Spring – relieves digestive problems – to hottest 105 degree Arsenic Spring – relieves arthritis, stomach ulcers and skin conditions – to The Lithia Spring – relieves depression. In between we relaxed at the Mud Pool where we coated our bodies in mud and baked in the sun on stone slabs. At first it felt weird, like we were in some hippy-dippy commune. Everyone spoke in whispers. New Age music floated by from hidden speakers. By the end of the evening, it still felt weird but, like a good seafood dinner, we had been scrubbed, baked, softened, soaked, and steamed so it was hard to notice.

Ojo is adjacent to BLM managed trails so we took a hike to the Jones Mica Mine to get some exercise before we went back to the pools for more fancy water. It was two uphill miles of junipers, cactus and cicada chirping to find three holes in the side of a mountain. The landscaped glimmered in the distance until we climbed the steep grade to enter the caves for the payoff.

Sheets of Mica embedded in quartz rock. Stunning. We don’t think there is a market for mica, other than possibly the jewelry market, so the caves are basically untouched and covered in it. The Land of Enchantment.

Capping off the day with an encore presentation of green chile tamales from Albuquerque with Betty, we went back to the pools to soak away the hike and Sheri took the Ancient Echos treatment at the Spa based on East Indian Head Massage techniques to promote a deep sense of calm and tranquility while Eric channeled his inner Swede with dry sauna, cold plunge, repeat. Salus Per Aquas.

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