Santa Fe to Taos, New Mexico

Day 21: Monday, May 20, 2013
Start: Santa Fe, NM
End: Taos, NM
Miles Driven Today: 91
Total Miles: 3,144

Today we said goodbye to Santa Fe and hello to Taos. After re-jiggering our travel schedule, we’re staying three nights in Taos. This way, we can go see the Rio Grande Gorge, the Taos Pueblo, the Earthships, local museums, Bandelier National Monument, Ojo Caliente and Abiquiu and not have to rush.

We decided to take the High Road to Taos on our way up (thanks for the tip, John and Barb!). This was a spectacular drive through both scenic desert and mesas and through the Carson National Forest. People think of New Mexico as dry brush, but it’s spectacularly beautiful.

New Mexico open road

New Mexico open road

More open road

More open road

For the last few days, we’ve seen the same couple at breakfast. We’ve exchanged a few pleasantries. This morning, they stopped by to say goodbye and told us about their trip up to El Santuario de Chimayo. As we were driving up the High Road, we saw the sign for El Santuario. We stopped at this lovely (and still active) mission. There were as many people worshiping as there were tourists viewing the lovely main church (the artwork inside was so wonderful) and the grounds.

Door at El Santuario de Chimayo

Door at El Santuario de Chimayo

El Santuario de Chimayo garden

El Santuario de Chimayo garden

At the edge of the parking lot, a couple (Arthur “Lowlow” and Joan Medina) was selling chile powders, lavender and sage. We bought some chile powders and started chatting with the sellers. They grew their own chiles and made the powder and were in the process of joining a co-op of certified growers of both Chimayo and Hatch chile peppers. It seems like genetically modified seed has been infiltrating the Chimayo and Hatch growing fields, and these small growers are trying to keep their plants pure. Arthur is also an artist, and their Lowrider cars are famous! I wish we could see his art! There will be a website soon (LowLow’s Lowrider Art Place).

Joan Medina

Joan Medina and her homegrown goods

Before we left Chimayo, we stopped at a Chimayo woven good store. Traditional native designs are created using giant looms. The pieces, from rugs to sport coats, are quite striking in their intricate designs and quality. We loved the work and the loom room!

Loom rooms

Loom rooms

After we left Chimayo, we started to climb higher into the mountains. We then hit an art district with a number of small galleries. We stopped at a co-op gallery in Truchas where I got some brilliant glass art jewelry by Barrie Brown.

We snaked our way through Carson National Forest. The vistas were fabulous…and definitely not what I expected in New Mexico!

Through Carson National Forest

Through Carson National Forest

Vista in Carson National Forest

Vista in Carson National Forest

What a view

What a view!

When we finally reached Taos, we were a bit disappointed by the end of the ride. We tried to check in to the hotel, but our room wasn’t ready. We headed to the “Old Town” area of Taos (nothing like Santa Fe, I’m sorry to say) and walked around for a bit.

We checked into our hotel, the Sagebrush Inn. Walking into the room was…alarming. It had this odd, “you don’t want to know” smell to it. Whomever wrote glowing reviews of this place on Yelp and TripAdvisor must have been employees or paid reviewers. I was afraid to sleep on the bed.

We were hungry, so we decided to get out of the room and get some dinner. More Yelp-ing yielded the Downtown Bistro. We were looking for some salads, and this was one of the only restaurants that seemed to have some fresh green salad alternatives. We headed down to the restaurant and were greeted warmly by the chef/owner. When he opened the door (we got there at opening), I was on the phone with the hotel in Albuquerque that mucked up our reservations. He politely waited for me to finish, and welcomed us in.

We chatted about our travels and hotel woes, traveling with dogs, etc. He was very friendly and nice. We were seated, and we ordered our salads and a bowl of Red Chile soup. The soup was, in one word, exquisite. A superbly flavorful and spicy broth was peppered with little morsels of meat. We told the chef how much we were enjoying it, and he came out with MORE for us. Really! The salads were fresh and crisp and the balsamic dressing was perfect. It’s hard to do simple. A salad may just be a salad, but perfect greens, a balance of flavors and a really beautiful dressing…hard. We’re definitely going back before we leave. Sorry, but I was so into the soup that I forgot to take a picture of it!

We were chatting with the waitress (who was giving us tips on where to go and what to see) and we told her that we had to find a doggie daycare place for the pups when we were visiting Bandelier. She told us that her sister was a dog sitter and promised to give us her number. A couple of minutes later, she was back with a cell phone with her sister on the line! We chatted for a few minutes, and soon we were talking about our hotel. She gave us a recommendation on another place to stay (Hotel Don Fernando), and we stopped by on the way back to the smarmy Sagebrush Inn.

The front desk guy was great. He let us see a room (roomy, not fancy, but CLEAN), and then gave us a rate that we couldn’t turn down. We went back to the Sagebrush, packed up and moved. To the Sagebrush’s credit, they didn’t charge us for the room and apologized for the issues we had with the room.

So, here we are in our nice room. We’re looking forward to a couple of days of sightseeing. We’ll then head to Albuquerque, where we’ll stay through Memorial Day weekend. We’re planning a day trip to Acoma, seeing Old Town and Sandia peak, visiting the Petroglyph park, and just chilling. I’m sure there’s a shop or two that might interest me.

Once again, the people we have met have made the trip special. Okay, the spectacular scenery has been great as well!

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Santa Fe: Relaxation Day

Day 20: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Miles Driven: None

Today was another day of relaxation for us. We haven’t driven anywhere since arriving in Santa Fe. It’s a great walking town, and we are loving it!

We started the day with a long walk down the Canyon Road arts & crafts district. It felt good to have a nice long walk (walking off all that green chile stew), and we took the pups along in the doggie stroller (short legs, long walk…nope). As usual, we attracted a lot of attention.

Canyon Road has some fabulous galleries. While we were out early for a Sunday (most of the places opened at 11, some at 10), the outdoor art was spectacular. Almost all the galleries had statues.

Street art

Street art on the way to Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Relaxation Day

Aaaah…Relaxation Day!

Rock chair

Rock chair. It’s MUCH more comfortable than it looks!

Bunny

This one’s for you, Sydnee!

Reading arch

Reading arch

We worked up an appetite (duh) and once again decided to dine at Tia Sophia’s. Some old friends of Tom’s, Hans and Marge, joined us at brunch. As Tom described in his blog post, he hadn’t seen Hans and Marge in 23 years! We had a great chat and a great brunch.

Sunday Special at Tia Sophia's

Sunday special at Tia Sophia’s: Chorizo, potato and scrambled egg burrito “Christmas” style (red and green chile sauces)

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans–great brunch with great people!

After brunch, I went for my spa treatments. I had a lovely Shiatsu massage and a pedicure at the Nidah Spa at the hotel. All I can say is…aaaaaaaahhhhhh! When I got back from my pampering, I found Tom and the pups napping on the couch. It seems like I wasn’t the only one with a relaxation day!

Everyone had a relaxation day

Everyone had a relaxation day

To top off our day of relaxation, we sat by the fireplace at the Agave Lounge at the hotel and had drinks and appetizers. The Kobe Beef Sliders were exceptional!

Relaxation

More relaxation!

The reason this post is a day late is due to the travel complications from Memorial Day Weekend. We were originally planning to stay in Flagstaff, but due to its proximity to the Grand Canyon…well, let’s just say that staying at the EconoLodge would have been the same price as Santa Fe’s Eldorado hotel. NOT. So, we were up until 1am, rejiggering our travel plans and making reservations. I’ll create a separate post for today’s travels…and travel adventures!

Santa Fe Art Day

Day 19: Saturday, May 18, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
No travel today!

Today was the first day in weeks that we haven’t packed up and moved on. We’re spending a couple of days in Santa Fe, seeing the sights, eating way too much food, and just enjoying ourselves. Like we haven’t been doing that all along the way…

Our plans today were focused around the museums and galleries in Santa Fe. Our hotel is full of local art, and this is the first item that I really liked–a display of Kachina dolls.

Kachinas

Start of our art day–Kachinas at our hotel

However, before we started our gallery tour, we had to have sustinance. Our pet sitter showed up a little before 10 a.m., and we were soon seated at our restaurant of choice–Tia Sophia’s. Tom chowed on the daily special–a chorizo and potato burrito, covered with a green chile sauce. I had the green chile stew and some eggs. I do have to say that Tom’s meal was exceptionally good; mine was less so. The green chile stew at the Blue Corn Cafe kicked butt. This one, not so much. Sorry, but we ate so fast that I didn’t get photos! 🙂

After breakfast, we headed to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. It was museum day there, and we were given a package of post cards of her home in Abiquiu as a special gift. Sweet! I had been expecting skulls and flowers; I was surprised to find out and see that O’Keeffe’s first love was abstract art. We watched a fascinating biography of her life and viewed her artwork. While the exhibit and the museum was much smaller than I expected, it was still quite special.

Georgia O'Keeffe Quote

Trees: Georgia O’Keeffe Quote

O'Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico

O’Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico: “Her” Mountain

O'Keeffe Skull

O’Keeffe Skull–one of only two skull paintings at the museum

O'Keefe Kachina

O’Keefe Kachina

O'Keeffe Kachina

Another O’Keeffe Kachina. I see such personality in these!

Portrait of O'Keeffe

Portrait of O’Keeffe by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, gallery owner and photographer

After the O’Keeffe Museum, we headed to the Santa Fe Museum of Art. There, they had an exhibit of New Mexico art from ancient times to today. They considered the arrow heads part of the artistic landscape; they required significant skill to make. This Kachina was my favorite piece of art…again, the personality of the Kachina spoke to me! They also had a very odd video art exhibit; it was…unique.

My favorite Kachina

My favorite Kachina. Isn’t it great??!!

The museum was housed in a fabulous building. The entrance to the exhibits were through a lovely courtyard with this fountain:

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

It was a very beautiful and temperate day in Santa Fe. Reaching a high of only about 70 degrees, it was mostly sunny. We did some people watching in the central Plaza. It was a beautiful Saturday, and there were many local artisans with booths all over the Old Town area. It really was an ‘art’ day!

Beautiful Santa Fe Plaza

Beautiful day at the Plaza

People watching

Great people-watching day!

One of the other things I was really excited about was visiting a bona-fide Rubber Stamp store! Rubber Stamp Art has really died down, mostly due to the use of digital art and the focus on scrapbooking that the craft industry took in the last decade. But there it was–Guadalupe’s Fun Rubber Stamps on Don Gaspar Avenue!

Guadalupe's Fun Rubber Stamps Santa Fe

WHOOP! Rubber Stamp Store!

I had a great chat with the gal at the store, Lea Daugherty. Of course, I couldn’t leave without some stamps to play with!

On our way back to the hotel, we encountered a great little band of street musicians. Alas, we couldn’t stay long because we had to get back to the room to rescue the pups from the DOG SITTER!

Street Music

Street music at Burro Alley

 
Yes, we hired a dog-sitter. We were going to be out all day and we didn’t want the pups to suffer. We found a pet sitter service that came out to the hotel and stayed with the dogs, took them out for walks, etc. It was worth the money for the peace of mind!

Pre-dog sitting

Our sweet cherubs (pre-dog sitting!)

Tomorrow, we’re going to do some more art gallery touring. I have a pampering session booked at the spa in the afternoon. Now that’s what I call a vacation! 🙂

Route 66: Into Santa Fe

Day 18: Friday, May 17, 2013
Start: Tucumcari, NM
End: Santa Fe, NM
Miles Driven: 201
Total Miles: 3,053

Today’s voyage was more Interstate than back roads, but we made a couple of side trips off the Mother Rode that made the travels very worthwhile. Much of Route 66 is either impassable, rough road or under I-40 from Tucumcari to Santa Rosa. So, first thing out, we sped down I-40 near the speed limit. We reached Santa Rosa and drove around the downtown area…not much to see so we moseyed on.

Along the way, we paced a freight train. For whatever reason, in this setting, even a train is dramatic!

Train

Racing the train

We soon came to the Highway 84 (Route 66) turnoff towards Santa Fe. It was a long, straight highway with little traffic and dramatic views of mesas and desert. We loved it! We reached I-25–our turn-off to Santa Fe–but instead of heading South towards Santa Fe, we decided to go a bit North to visit Las Vegas. No, there isn’t a casino or glittering signs. It’s a small town of less than 15,000 people. Established in 1835, it’s the ‘original’ Las Vegas.

The Original Las Vegas

Vegas Baby! Well, the ORIGINAL Las Vegas.

Our route today also put us on the Santa Fe Trail (I-25, today) as well as the Old Pecos Trail (in Santa Fe). We were just steeped in history today!!

Santa Fe Trail

On the Santa Fe Trail

We really liked Las Vegas. It was a charming little town. We walked around the town square, and voila! There was a quilt shop! The ThreadBear Quilt Shop is owned by Ann & Michael Siewert. However, today, a nice lady, Martha, was there to chat (and sell me fabric, of course!). When I was getting ready to leave, Tom came in with the pups. Of course, Martha swooned over them. It turns out that she had Dachshunds when she was growing up.

ThreadBear - Las Vegas

Whoop! Quilt shop! ThreadBear Quilt Shop in Las Vegas, New Mexico

Martha

Martha, the kind clerk at the Thread Bear!

Las Vegas was a satisfying stop. We got our fix of small town America and sweet people (Tom chatted with a guy while I was in the quilt shop). We then hit the open road again. While I-25 was speedy, it was still magnificently beautiful. It was a far cry from the Texas Panhandle. When we were experiencing our open road driving the Panhandle yesterday, it was a dry and desolate drive. Tom said to me, “Hey, there’s oncoming traffic!” I looked down the road and said, “It’s a building, honey.” Today’s drive was a bit more…picturesque. 🙂

Today's open road

Today’s open road

Driving up I-25, I noticed a big green space on my GPS. It turned out to be the Pecos National Historic Forest. We decided to make a second side-trip to take a look-see, and we’re very glad we did. We stopped in the Visitor’s Center where Tom was able to use his National Parks Senior Pass and get us in for free (WHEEEE!). We learned that there had been a huge Pueblo here, now in ruins. We watched the short film describing the history of the Pueblo and then went out to see the ruins of the Church that was built by the Franciscan Monks to try to ‘save’ these doomed pagans. Fascinating stuff!

Church Ruins - Pecos National Forest

Church ruins at the pueblo at the Pecos National Historic Forest

We got back on the road and headed for our destination for the next few nights, Santa Fe. We booked a room at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa in the heart of Old Santa Fe. We’re just a block from the Georgia O’Keefe Museum! While the location is nice and the room is comfortable, I have to say that we had MUCH better and FRIENDLIER service at the Drury Hotels. I am not really impressed by the lack of staff here and the cold, rather snooty service. However, I am looking forward to exploring Santa Fe and to my Spa treatment on Sunday! 🙂

Pups

The pups make themselves at home at the Eldorado in Santa Fe

As usual, the pups have made themselves at home here in Santa Fe. Juliet continues to amaze us with her change in demeanor and her real progress in socialization. She’s finally becoming less timid and is more willing to explore and greet other dogs.

We had a nice dinner at the Blue Corn Cafe–just a light dinner of soup and salad tonight. We plan on hitting Tia Sophia’s for breakfast tomorrow and going museum hopping! I also found a REAL rubber stamp store about a block away. I haven’t seen one of those in years!

Blue Corn Cafe

Balcony view from the Blue Corn Cafe

We plan on staying in Santa Fe until Monday. It will be fun exploring this town and tasting the lively cuisine here!

Route 66: Texas into New Mexico

Day 17: Thursday, May 16, 2013
Start: Amarillo, TX
End: Tucumcari, NM
Miles Driven Today: 116
Total Miles: 2,852

This morning, we awoke to some terrible news about a killer tornado in Northern Texas. When we had been driving along out of Oklahoma into Texas, we saw some ominous clouds that were…just strange. We checked the forecast, and we didn’t see any tornado warnings, so we just motored on. Seeing the devastation of that tornado gave us pause; it made us thankful for our good fortune.

Before leaving Amarillo, we decided to visit “Antique Road”, AKA SW 6th Street. There’s about 10 blocks of shops, restaurants and galleries on this part of Historic 66. We first stopped at the Lile Art Gallery. It was closed, but there was a phone number on the door with a sign asking us to call. We did. The owner, Bob “Crocodile” Lile, was busy and wasn’t able to come down…or so we thought. A few minutes later, he called me back and told me that he was on his way! Super!

A few minutes later, “Crocodile” Lile pulled up in his car, accompanied by a couple of friends. Apparently, he had been driving one of his friends from a doctor’s appointment, and diverted to meet us! Once again, the kind, welcoming nature of people all along Route 66 has made this a very special experience.

Bob Crocodile Lile

Bob “Crocodile” Lile. GO visit his gallery!!!

We walked around to view the art (his, and that of local artists). The art pictured behind him is made from remnant paint chips from the Cadillac Ranch. He also has some very nice abstract paintings, furniture, decorative items and more at his gallery. We picked up a few cool items (not to be mentioned here in case one of the recipients is reading this). We chatted for awhile, and then went on our way. “Crocodile” was kind enough to give us a little gift as we left. Thanks!!

Walking around the Antique district, we spotted this sign. I thought it was kind of cool:

Sign

Basset hounds?

We bid downtown Amarillo goodbye, and headed for our next stop–Cadillac Ranch. Armed with our cans of spray paint, we left our mark on Texas:

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

We left our mark

We left our mark

Another view of the Caddies

Pretty maids all in a row

But that was not the only mark we left in Texas. In Adrian, Texas, the midpoint of Route 66 (between L.A. and Chicago), the Sunflower Station Gift Shop had an old pickup truck with a “living” guestbook. Of course, we had to sign it. Luckily, I had my trusty Sharpie with me! Whoop!

Guest Book Truck

Guest Book Truck

Adrian Midpoint Route 66 signature

We left our mark at Adrian, Texas

 

Soon after Adrian, we arrived in New Mexico. As we approached New Mexico, the landscape changed. The flat Texas plain was replaced by dry sagebrush and mesas. It was as if someone turned on the New Mexico switch!

New Mexico State Line

Yay! New Mexico!

 

A couple of exits into the state, we encountered the Russell’s truck stop. Crocodile Lile told us to stop–the truck stop houses an impressive collection of vintage cars. now, the museum is free and quite impressive. However, after seeing vintage car after vintage car over the last few weeks, I’m almost vintaged out! 🙂 But it still was cool!

Russell's Car Museum

Russell’s Car Museum – Exit 369

Classic 1959 Corvette

Classic 1959 Corvette

Nice lines!

Nice lines!

We are really looking forward to seeing the landscape across New Mexico. The look of the open road has already changed. We’re SO looking forward to Santa Fe tomorrow!

Today's Open Road

Today’s Open Road (NM)

Soon, we were heading into Tucumcari, our stop for tonight. Our first sign was Tucumcari Mountain. Impressive at a distance…but a little less so close up. What really did get us were the little dust storms on the plain. We thought the clouds of dust were cars driving across the plain, but they turned out to be wind-whipped air swirls (we call them mini-tornadoes). It’s pretty dry and hot here, so it’s not surprising.

Tucumcari Mountain

Tucumcari Mountain

Dust tornado

We kept seeing these plumes of dust. It turned out that they were little dust tornadoes.

We got to our hotel, and the girls got comfy in the room. Juliet is exploring more and more. Jasmine is content just to be up next to me…my little lump.

Peekie Peekie

A dog in motion stays in motion. A dog at rest…is a lump. Peekie Peekie!

We got into town around 3pm (thanks to the time change), so we left the dogs in the room and did a little exploring around town. We found a little trading post (closed), and Tom found another John Deere!

Another John Deere

Another John Deere for Tom.

After a very yummy dinner at Del’s Restaurant (Tom mentions the superb Green Chile Stew in his blog entry), we are happily esconced in our air-conditioned room. We are headed for three nights in Santa Fe…a little respite after some serious time on the road.