Santa Fe New Mexico

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April 24th 2022
Published: May 1st 2022
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Day 1 Saturday April 23, 2022

We had an early flight from Knoxville, leaving the house at 5am. The plane from Knox was really tight, but Rob and I had seats together, and we don't mind being close. Delta treated us well overall, even getting us a whole row to ourselves on the main part of our flight from Atlanta to Albuquerque. We had a very nice flight. It was really nice to not have to wear a mask the whole trip. In fact, we have not had to wear masks at all so far.

We got into Albuquerque by just after 10am. We decided to upgrade our rental car in case we went on some dirt roads in the Caldera. We paid an extra 20 dollars a day and got a Jeep Wrangler. It's a really nice one, with a removable top that might come in handy later in the week.

The drive to Santa Fe was beautiful. I had never been North of Albuquerque and was surprised at the scenery. There were dunes, pueblos, plateaus, and mountains along the 55-mile drive. It certainly was not boring to look at. We got into Santa Fe after 11am, a bit early to check into the hotel, so we decided to head to the old city (the tourist area) to find a restaurant to eat at and check out the area.

The old city is so cool, with the pueblo style that is mandatory in Santa Fe, and beautiful churches at each intersection, it seemed. The Native artisans were set up selling their handmade items. All quite lovely. Santa Fe has a rule for the artisans, the items have to be hand made by them using genuine materials. They actually send out a rep to watch them making the items to verify their authenticity before they are approved to set up at the plaza. We didn't buy anything yet, but I am sure that some authentic native wares are in my future. 😊 I am especially interested in a handmade flute that a gentleman had for sale. He was also selling CDs of his flute music, which filled the air of the plaza. It is the most beautiful sound, in my opinion.

We ate at the Burrito Company, a small restaurant owned by a man from El Salvador. The decor in the cafe was all alpacas and El Salvadoran designs. I liked it and the food was delicious. In typical Santa Fe style, we were given the choice of the hotter red sauce or the milder green sauce. I chose red, and it was hot indeed. Good, though. At some point I will remember to order Christmas, which is both red and green sauce.

After eating, we continued to check out the shops, deciding on what ones to return to for souvenirs later in the week. As our wanderings lead us straight to the Loretto Chapel, we decided to go ahead and visit it today. It is only 5 dollars for entry and so worth it. It is the most beautiful church I believe I have ever seen. The decor is in the gothic style, popular in France where Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy was from. He brought in French architects and had the small church built from locally quarried stone. It was commissioned by the sisters of Loretto for a girl's school in 1873. It took 5 years to build and is evident of the care and skill of the architects who clearly made it a masterpiece. The stunning stained glass windows throughout the chapel were imported from France during its construction. I was blown away by the chapel itself. Then there is the mysterious stairway that made Loretto Chapel famous. The Sisters needed stairway to reach the balcony, but had no money to commission their construction. They prayed nine straight days to St. Joseph that God would provide, and soon had a knock at the door. An unknown carpenter told the Sisters that he heard they needed a stairway and he was there to help. He constructed the staircase in 1877 with only glue and pegs and miraculously made two spirals to the choir loft with no supports. It is so beautiful and looks like a piece of art. It fits perfectly in the impressive Chapel. I was so moved by its beauty. I even paid the 1 dollar they charge to light a candle under the statue of Jesus.

We checked into the hotel just after 4pm. We were both exhausted, so we had food delivered and went to bed early.

Day 2 Sunday April 24, 2022

We were up and around in good time. Just up the road from the hotel is an IHOP and it sounded good to both of us for breakfast. It did not disappoint. I had Dulce de Leche pancakes and Rob had French toast. Yummy!

We made a quick run to Walgreens for stuff we needed, then headed over to Meow Wolf. We bought tickets in advance for the first entry at 10am. There is no easy way to explain Meow Wolf. It is full of amazing exhibits from brilliant artist, but in a free flowing sort of story of a house with all these doors and secret passage ways into other dimensions or worlds full of wonder. It was so cool and so incredibly immense that you could easily get lost in it. Most of the areas were interactive, with all kinds of things to do and discover. They even had a full arcade with classic video games that you could play for free. It was a complete feast for all of you senses. We opted for the dimensional glasses and we are so glad we did. They made all of the neon areas pop out like they were floating away from their surface. It really added to the otherworldly effect. It was a blast.

After leaving there we looked for the Kakawa shop that was nearby. I got us turned around bit, but it didn't matter because it is closed on Sunday anyway. We decided to go ahead and make our way to the Railyard district to check out the artisan fair. We missed the Farmer's Market that they have there every Saturday, but it was ok as we would not have use for market items anyway. The artisan market is much smaller, but made up of some very creative artists selling their wares. We found a really cool photograph printed on aluminum that looked amazing and decided that we just HAD to have it. 😊 Well, I did, anyway. It is really cool. Now I will just have to find a wall to hang it on at home.

We decided that after two such eventful days, we should take a mid day siesta for a bit before getting back into hitting the tourist scene. We are not as young as we used to be. haha. It was a good time to start today's blog and get some needed rest.

Feeling refreshed after our break, we decided to go into the old city and hit the Margarita trail. Santa Fe has a fun little thing called a Margarita passport, where you can go to over 30 different restaurants and get their signature margarita and get a stamp in your passport. After 5 stamps, you get a t-shirt, after 10 you get a membership and a t-shirt. If you do all 30 you get a bar tender's kit. We will never get to 30, but we decided to try for the t-shirt. I was the driver, so only Rob could do the drinking.

We found a place in the old city called The Secreto for our first stop. They had a margarita called the smoked sage. It was a bit much for me, but Rob liked it. I enjoyed chatting with the ladies that were tending and learning a little about their bar. They were really friendly, as I have found that most people in Santa Fe are. We left there and saw the Rooftop Pizzaria right next door. They had a margarita called the Berry Berry Margarita. Rob got his stamp there, and although he really did not like the drink (it was really strong, no berry flavor) he did finish it. It was still early, so we decided that we should have a light dinner somewhere. We wanted to try the Thunderbird Cafe which was just up the road. We couldn't have their signature margarita for the passport, because you are only permitted two every 12 hours, however Rob wanted to try one of their other margaritas. He bought a Prickly Pear margarita, and we also ordered an appetizer. He loved the margarita. We both enjoyed the view of the plaza from their rooftop balcony and the chips and dips were really delicious. It was winner. We were even treated to a mariachi band leading a group around the square below. It might have been for a vow renewal celebration, but we were not sure. It was just neat to see.

We wanted to stop at the Meow Wolf bar so that I could try the Meow-garita, their passport drink, but they were already closed. So, we just headed back to the hotel for the evening. An altogether fun day.

Day 3 Monday April 25, 2022

We got up fairly early, had breakfast at IHOP again, then made our way to Kakawa Chocolate House. Thier selection of chocolates are exotic and unique, including Lavendar, Chili and Margarita flavored. So incredibly good. We each got a selection to take with us on our drive over to Bloomfield.

Out of Santa Fe, the terrain became more hilly and picturesque. Red and white cliffs surrounded by desert were all around us. About and hour North of Santa Fe, we turned off the 84 onto the 96, that would take us across the Jemez Mountain pass to the 550 toward Bloomfield. At the start of the trip were more of the mesas and cliffs, as well as the Chama River flowing below us. We came quickly to the Abiquiu Lake, a dam in the middle of the desert terrain. It was out of place in the desert landscape. We decided to remove the top off of the Jeep to feel the wind in our hair as we drove and have a better view of the cliffs around us. As we climbed higher, we started to see scrub pine and the air got cooler and cooler. We tolerated the cold breeze on our head for as long as we could before having to put the top back on. The scrub pine turned into a full on tall pine forest. I read that the Chaco Natives harvested pines from these mountains in order to build the massive structures at Chaco Canyon. It is nearly 90 miles away and would have been quite a feat in itself.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that the road across the pass was all paved, despite it looking like gravel in the pictures. We made good time, even with frequent photo stops. We reached the 550 just around 3pm. Most of the drive up the 550 was just high desert, but every once in awhile we would come around a corner and be surprised by some spectacular formation or other. One so impressed me that I took a road into the terrain. It was a gravel road for oil pipeline access and I was glad that we upgraded to the Jeep. We got some cool pictures and video of the otherworldly landscape before moving on up the road.

We got to Angel Peak just before 4pm. It was a rough dirt road into what looked like just flat desert. It suddenly opened up into a canyon with white rock formations and a beautiful view of the Colorado Rockies in the distance. It was such a surprise to see just how close we were to the Rockies. There are several overlooks and even a primitive campground in the Angel Peak area. We spent as much time as we could getting video and pictures. It was so worth taking the detour. We plan to go back at sunset, since it only 15 miles south of Bloomfield.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat and making sure we knew where Salmon Ruins were, we went back out to Angel Peak to check out the area for sunset. Rob had jokingly told me to ask God for no wind earlier in the day so that he could fly the drone. I just laughed, but God answered the unspoken prayer anyway. There was no wind, which is kind of a miracle this time of year in a canyon like that. Especially since it had been so windy all day. But God is good that way, and we were able to get the drone in the air and get some amazing footage during golden hour and at sunset. It was truly as spectacular as I had hoped it would be. So beautiful.

It was a glorious, adventuresome day, and now I am exhausted and fighting a headache due to the dry air. So tonight, I will likely crash early and prepare for the exciting day ahead of us tomorrow. Chaco Canyon, baby!

Day 4 Tuesday April 26, 2022

This is the day that I had been waiting for. We met up with our tour guide, a bona fide archeologist, at the Salmon Ruins Museum. We were joined by two elderly gentlemen who were going on the tour with us. Our guide was full of so much knowledge and not only tolerated my barrage of questions, she said she enjoyed answering them. She gave us a full background of the Anasazi as well as the current Puebloan people as we drove the bone rattling dirt road out to the canyon. There were so many things that I thought I knew that I was completely wrong on. For one, as it turns out, the Navajo and Apache are not Puebloan. They migrated south from Canada around 1400 AD, long after Chaco was abandoned. However, the Navajo denied that fact to the US government when it was arranging who would have say in certain Puebloan affairs, including what happens at Chaco Canyon. In fact, the entire Chaco National Park is in the middle of what is now Navajo land. It is all so complicated and convoluted. Needless to say, the actual descendants of the Chaco people have not faired well over the years.

We went through several of the great houses, ending up at Pueblo Bonito. It was cool and really windy in the morning, and dry, hot and dusty in the afternoon, but it was worth every single second. I learned so much and was just blown away at how advanced they were. Besides building strong, 5 story buildings, they captured rainwater and created canals for irrigation. They even had indoor toilets, composting the waste to fertilize their crops. It was so impressive. We got to go into some of the rooms and even saw one that was still completely like it was 1000 years ago, complete with its wooden roof. Amazing.

The setting of Chaco Canyon is so pretty, it is easy to see why they settled there. Although it is dry and not as inviting now, back when they settled it there was a year round river running through it and green grasses growing in the valley. All around the valley are mesas and huge rock formations that actually had small trees growing on them, even now. There were some really dramatic rock formations that acted as markers to the canyon for those who traveled there for trade and events.

I could not have asked for a more perfect tour guide or a more perfect day to tour the site. Simply amazing. One more bucket list item down. 😊

It was a long 3 hour drive back to Santa Fe after the day long tour. We were so tired when we got back. We could not find any place to have dinner until we got all the way back to Santa Fe at 9pm. So a late dinner it was. Then we just crashed in the room for the night. What a day!

Day 5 Wednesday April 27, 2022

Today is our anniversary. 9 years ago I married the man of my dreams and now we are here in Santa Fe, continuing our adventure together. We decided to have a slow and relaxing day today, since yesterday was pretty involved. We slept in, and awoke to sweet texts wishing us a beautiful day. Our plan was to visit the Georgia O'Keefe museum and then the St. Francis of Asisi Basilica in the old town. We struggled to find parking, as always, but finally found the museum and a parking space close enough to walk to it. On our way, we met a man who was doing the yard work at a house with some cool statues. He saw me taking pictures and engaged us in conversation. He was so friendly, as I am finding is the norm here. He told us a little about the house he worked at, the town and even the wildlife there. He said an Eagle used to next in the tree next to him, and one day he saw something shiny hanging on the powerlines. He took a closer look and saw that it was a fish! The eagle apparently dropped it on the way to its next. It was a shame too, he said, as it was bigger than any fish he had ever caught in the river. He was fun to talk to. I got pictures of the statues there, along with their back story, and then we went on our way.

The Museum happened to be closed on Wednesdays, so we just walked back to the Jeep and decided to go into the plaza and go to the Basilica and walk around a little. The Basilica was beautiful, as expected. It was very grand. I personally preferred Loretto Chapel, but the Basilica did have an amazing baptistry right in the middle of the sanctuary that was unexpected. It was made of marble and even had a lovely fountain. Knowing that Catholics do not practice full immersion baptism, I asked the lady at the entrance how it was used. She said that the person being baptized kneels in the water, facing the alter, and then the priest pours water over their head.

In the gift shop, i found a dog token for St. Francis of Assisi that included a small fragment of the original church he served in from Assisi. It was cool, so I bought it.

We left there and decided to walk around the plaza to check out the Native American wares again and this time buy something. I found a lovely silver and turquoise cross necklace, handmade by a lovely Native American woman. Her initials are engraved on the back. I put it on immediately as it even matched what I was wearing. I love it.

What I really wanted more than anything, though, was a handmade, quality Native American flute. A gentleman had been in the square earlier in the week selling them, but I did not see him there today. A lovely lady selling some of her own art, got me in touch with a man who knew everyone really well (he gave rides around the old city in a cart pulled by a bike) and he directed us to a museum gift shop for the oldest house in the US, built in the 1680s. It turned out to be quite a treat. The gift shop did indeed have the flutes i was looking for. They were crazy expensive, but I indulged. I may have to work some overtime to pay for all of my extravagances on this trip. haha. The flute is beautiful, made of red cedar with turquoise inlay and a bird motif. I have always wanted one, so now I do. 😊

After the buying the flute, we went into the oldest house museum to see how they lived in the small adobe structure. It was so nice and cool inside you can see why they built them that way. Right next door to the house is the oldest church, a mission. We went in there as well and it was truly beautiful too, for being so old, also from the 1600s. So many beautiful churches here.

After walking around for a bit, we decided to come back to the hotel and do laundry and chill for a bit. On the way, we passed the other Kakawa chocolate shop and decided to stop for ice cream. It is so thick and rich, we ended up saving most of it for later.

After laundry and resting we hit the margarita trail. We stopped first at the Ranch House, which was a very nice place, with a top-notch margarita. Next stop was Hidden Mountain Brewery and it was really nice. Rob had his margarita then noticed a special local brew called Without a Trace. It is a seasonal beer with a very limited brew, and we decided to get a bottle of it for him to drink later. It even has a number 560 out of 875 on the side.

Our last stop was the Tortilla Flats. Rob had the Sandia margarita and we had dinner there as well. Rob had a local favorite, a pork chop dish, and I had the chicken sopapilla. They were both so good. I absolutely loved my meal. And they gave us Sopapilla with butter and honey for desert, included with the meal. It was so good, I wish we had tried this place earlier in the week!

We were back in the room early, to just chill, watch tv and let Rob try his beer. He enjoyed it.

Day 6 Thursday April 28, 2022

This was a day full of the unexpected. We got up at our leisure and had breakfast before starting our journey along the Scenic High Road to Toas. Before we left IHOP I found a brochure about a waterfall along the way. It happened to be in the Nambe Indian Village, just a few miles off of the road we were on. It was aptly named the Nambe falls and there was a Nambe reservoir up the same road. The falls were inside a park area, so we first stopped at a Ranger station, where a very nice gentleman guided us on where to go. It was up a dirt road to a little picnic area. I didn't think it was going to be a very long hike or anything, so I was not really prepared, wearing only flip flops. It turned out to be a little more challenging that I thought. It wasn't a long hike, but it was kind of steep in places and a lot of steps. But the weather was beautiful and the view of the falls totally worth the effort. Rob helped me back down in the places where is was a little slick and steep. The falls came off of a dam, but still seemed to be a natural formation. The dam must have been built above the falls at some point. They were at the top of a pretty canyon with an awesome view of the valley below.

After the falls, we decided to check out the lake created by the dam. That was our first unexpected experience. It was beautiful! The water was crystal clear and deep blue. The greenery around it stood in contrast to the desert landscape that surrounded the whole area. There was a man and a woman there enjoying the water by skipping stones. The man introduced himself as Reuben, and the girl and he had just met that day, she was Alexis. They were from a nearby town but had never been up to the reservoir. Reuben was really impressed with it. After talking to us for a few minutes, he disappeared into his truck and then came back asking me if I had heard of Selenite crystal. I had heard of it somewhere, and he produced a good sized piece he had wrapped in plastic wrap. It was beautiful, almost completely clear. He told us that he mined it, and I figured he was going to try to sell it to us and was already thinking of a price I was willing to pay. Unexpectedly, he handed it to me and told me that I could have it! I was blown away. It was a beautiful example, I could not believe he would just give it to a stranger. What an awesome guy. I thanked him profusely, I was so amazed. Just another example of the incredible people around here.

Our next stop was Chumuya, where there was a sanctuary and an old chapel said to have healing dirt. It was a big complex with lots of stations and exhibits besides the chapel itself. I was surprised again to find that they had a strong connection to a place in Vietnam. There was a whole section dedicated to the church there that had had a visit from the Virgin Mary who told them to gather the leaves around them for healing. I guess they somehow became connected with this small sanctuary on an Indian reservation in the US and had given them soil from those leaves. There was even a statue dedicated to the sanctuary from the church in Vietnam. It seemed like such a odd mash up. We spent a little time there, and visited the chapel. No photos were allowed in the chapel itself, but it was really cool, with hand painted decoration and obviously very old.

The road took us up a high pass with amazing views of the valley below and also of the snow capped mountains above. It was so pretty. We stopped several times to get pictures. It was amazing how the scenery could change so rapidly from desert sands below to the tree lined forests above.

Our next stop was at Las Trampas, where another old church stood. It was right off the road, so it was easy to spot. It was unfortunately in disrepair and not accessible for tours. We got some nice pictures of the outside though, then continued on our way. We saw a beautiful bird fly by our jeep at one point. It was black with a large white patch and long tail feathers. It was so elegant and graceful. Somewhere in the recess of my mind I remembered it was a Magpie. That was not the last one we saw. They were all over on our journey. As a conformation that I did have the name right, there was a shop in Taos called the Magpie. Lovely bird.

The next unexpected was Taos itself. I had always imagined that Taos, a ski village, was nestled in the mountains, surrounded by trees. It was not. It is in the valley, surrounded by desert. The road into Taos was flat and dusty, and under construction. We did manage to find our way to their quaint town square, though. Like most Spanish towns, Taos has a plaza, and it is surrounded with cool little touristy shops. It is much smaller and more compact than Santa Fe's Plaza, which meant it was much easier to check out. We found a nice place to eat, and even got some chocolates at a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory shop. Rob bought a few souvenirs, and we met some nice people. Just as we were getting ready to leave, we heard music playing in the plaza's center gazebo. There were two gentlemen playing guitars so that a woman in traditional New Mexican dress could dance. I could not resist getting a picture and a short video of them.

We went north of Taos a bit to check out the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. It was touted as a must see and it did not disappoint. It was a really unexpected surprise to be driving through flat plain desert and then suddenly come upon this massive deep gorge. There was a rest area on the other side of the bridge, so we stopped there to get pictures and video. It was really something. Upon leaving, we encountered a small heard of long horned sheep, just chilling by the exit. We got pictures of them too.

We wanted to get to Valles Caldera before dark and get settled in for star gazing, so we left Taos around 5pm. Getting out of Taos took a bit with all the road construction, but we finally made it to the Scenic Low Road from Taos that would take us to Espanola where we could turn off to get to Los Alamos and eventually the caldera. The Low Road was another unexpected. I thought the High Road was going to be the most scenic as it was the most popular, but the low road took us through the Rio Grande gorge valley right next to the river. It was breathtaking. We were in a lush valley between towering mountains and cliffs. The river was rushing beside us and we occasionally caught a glimpse of some brave kayakers. We wound along the river then up into the mountain to over 6000 feet, with beautiful view below. It was in such contrast to the descent into Espanola where the desert took over again.

The turn off to Los Alamos took us up rocky cliffs like we saw near Chaco Canyon and then to the very modern and obviously wealthy town of Los Alamos. It was such different town than any others around that it might have been in a different country. All the building were new and well-built and there was not an adobe style in sight. It was definitely not what I expected, but I suppose with Los Alamos National Lab as the primary resource, I should have not been surprised. You have to make it nice to attract the best scientists.

We tried to follow signs to the Caldera, but found ourselves face to face with the security gates at the entrance to the lab. Although the signs pointed in that direction to get to the Caldera, the road went nowhere else but into the lab. We tried unsuccessfully several times to find a way around, and finally just pulled over to find another route. Rob finally found a bypass, so we navigated the very confusing road system and finally descended off the ridge where the town of Los Alamos stood and onto another road out of the city.

This road was not as direct as the one that was supposed to go the way the sign pointed, but it was a pretty drive. I really enjoyed the winding canyon roads up the side of the Caldera. There was a lot of obvious fire damage around, as we expected, but as we breeched the top of the Caldera we were rewarded with the incredible view of its center. It was a huge lush valley with tall grass and little else, surrounded by the high edges created by the volcanic eruption. In the center of the valley was the volcanic cone, now just a small hill in the middle of a vast field. All the info on the Caldera promised that elk sightings were inevitable and sure enough, a whole heard were spotted on the side of the road.

We found the entrance into the bowl of that Caldera but were disappointed to find the gate locked. A signed informed us that it closed at 5pm. I was so surprised because this was listed as one of the best star viewing areas in New Mexico. How can you view stars from the Caldera if it closed before it was even dark? I was disappointed, but was undeterred. There was pull off just back a little from where we came that abutted the bowl of the Caldera and commanded a perfect view of the vast sky. We watched the sun set and then killed time as the sky darkened around us.

It was indeed a good spot for star gazing. The sky was a little hazy from smoke from a nearby wildfire, but we could still see a vast sky filled with stars. It was not the startling, bright sky that I saw on my travels through New Mexico years earlier but was still beautiful. We saw a bunch of constellations that we could identify, several satellites and a few shooting stars. We pulled up star maps on our tablets and were able to identify a whole bunch of constellation with their aid. It was so pretty, but also very cold, especially with the wind. It was only 9:30, but we decided to head back to town anyway.

We very much did not want to try to navigate the confusing roads in Los Alamos, so we took another road that bypassed it. It was a longer drive, but I didn't mind. The drive along the steep canyon road was thrilling for me, especially with the vast view of the city and town lights below us and of the forest fire in the distance. We were careful as we spotted another elk and did not want to make one a hood ornament. Once out of the canyon, the road was flat again. I struggled to stay awake, but we finally rolled back into Santa Fe about an hour after leaving the Caldera. I was exhausted, so we went right to bed.

Day 7, Friday April 29, 2022

Our last day of vacation. We followed what has become our usual routine and went to IHOP for breakfast. They do have the best variety, and I never ate the same thing twice. After breakfast we just came back to the hotel to blog, pack and I did a little laundry that I won't have to do when we get home.

At around 1:30, we decided to go back into the old city and hit the margarita trail again. We first stopped at Meow Wolf to see if we could go in and get one of their cool looking Margarita Trail margaritas, but they don't allow anyone in the building without a ticket. So, we moved on down to the old city and parked on Alameda Street where we discovered reliable parking not too far from the action. It was just two blocks from the Loretto chapel and the Luminario restaurant and bar next door. They had a strawberry jalapeno margarita that counted as Rob's last stamp for his t-shirt. We went from there to the La Fiesta at La Fonda for their margarita, which counted toward my stamps. The last place we went to was back to the Thunderbird restaurant. Rob got their paparita and that was the last one I needed to earn a shirt. We also grabbed another appetizer of chips and dip trio. So, so good.

When we left there, we went to the visitor's center and redeemed our "stamps" for t-shirts. They weren't too bad, margarita green with the margarita trail logo on it. And Rob got to get a little drunk.

Our last task to complete in the old city was to finish our souvenir shopping. We had already picked out the place we wanted to shop, so we headed right there. The wind had picked up terribly and it was blowing in smoke from the fires as well as dust in a big way. The sky was brown and breathing was getting harder. I felt grit in my eyes as well, it was a relief to get inside the shops. We got what we were after, for the most part, and then braved the smoke to get back to the Jeep. We made one more stop at Kakawa for more of our favorites then went back to the hotel to take a break.

After a little laundry and a break from the smoke, we went out for one last nice dinner in Santa Fe. We had liked the Ranch House Restaurant that we had visited earlier in the week for their margarita, so that was the place we decided to eat. It was delicious and very well priced. We both had steaks and a big meal at that, and the total was less than $50. What a great end to a terrific trip.

Impressions of Santa Fe and Surroundings

1. The people were so incredibly friendly and helpful. They went out of their way to make us feel truly cared for.

2. The landscape is so diverse that it can go from dry dusty desert to lush forest in a matter of a 10-minute drive, with everything in between.

3. Their culture is a wonderful mix between Native American, Spanish and modern American.

4. So many talented people are in this area. There was so much art and craftwork everywhere.

5. They love their towns and love to share them with others.

6. They know their history and are happy to talk about it.

7. There is beauty everywhere.

8. The food is awesome and unique.

9. You definitely need to like either red or green pepper sauce. Or both (called Christmas)

10. They are very adaptable people who take everything in stride. All with a smile.

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