Day 6 - Las Vegas, NM - Santa Fe

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June 18th 2010
Published: June 20th 2010
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It was in the 60's last night so we opened the windows and slept like little babies. It was so cool and crisp...I just love this mountain air. So here we are in Las Vegas, New Mexico another one of the many places we've been that I have never heard of and had no idea they existed. It's weird when I stop and think about being back at home in Stockbridge, GA and how far away it is from here and then I think about how much we've seen in the world and how much more there is to see. I wish we could just take everybody with us on these trips so they could see how big and beautiful America really is. There's so much out there and yet so few people really get to enjoy it. I was thinking about what it would be like for our parents and children to be with us and experience all this wonderful stuff with us............I guess I woke up in a sappy mood this morning because I had a message from my Mom and it's really making me miss home. Okay, I'll stop the babbling and get on with it. There really wasn't much to do in Las Vegas (sounds funny) but there was this one place we needed to see that was in the book. It's called the Plaza Hotel, it's an old western hotel that sits three stories tall and was built in 1882. Back in it's day it was considered one of the best around and more especially was Byron T's Saloon downstairs. We found it situated right in town at the town square and made our way on over to check it out. It is really cool and I can see why it was one of the best back in the day. The staircase was amazing as were the ceiling and walls. Tim just admired all the woodwork and especially the bar in the saloon. We talked about what it must have been like back in 1882 and how cool it would have been to have lived back then. We strolled down the sidewalks and looked at some of the other stores around, stopped for a cup of coffee for Tim and then headed on back to the motorhome. We were in route to Santa Fe, New Mexico which turned out to be one of those "sleeper cities" that you never hear much about but is actually really cool. There were a few things in the book we needed to see and a little cafe we needed to eat at so that we could mark them all off the list. As we made our way into Santa Fe we started noticing how really nice and really really clean it was. Everything, including the people, the cars, the buildings, just everything was so nice and I mean this place was CLEAN ! I started getting excited as we were driving around in circles looking for somewhere to park.......which ended up being a nightmare. We had to park over a mile away at the city park and walk into town but that was okay because we needed the exercise and we definitely were not going on another bike ride today because our butts were too sore ! We parked and walked into town......this place is a woman's paradise. There must have been hundreds upon hundreds of little shops and stores all around. I love buying souvenirs so I was in heaven ! But before Tim would unleash me he insisted we stop at the Coyote Cafe for lunch. I reluctantly agreed but I'm so glad he forced me to because it was one of the absolute best meals I have ever had in my life !! I had the garlic chicken with a spinach salad and it was mouthwatering and Tim had the chicken enchiladas and he said they were just as delicious as my chicken. We started with a guacamole dip as an appetizer and it was the best I have ever my life ! We enjoyed our lunch out on the terrace and were surrounded by water fountains and sunshine. It was so relaxing, we just held hands and talked and fell in love all over again. It was a nice start to a beautiful day. We finished up lunch and then began meandering throughout the tons and tons of stores. Tim eventually ended up standing outside each store and people watched while I fought the herds and did a little damage to the plastic. He also came upon a sunglass wearing dancing dog that was kind of interesting ! He said he watched as the owner took the glasses on and off while making the dog turn tricks. We literally spent hours, which was more time than we had planned, here in Santa Fe but it was so worth it. If you ever get the chance, you have to go to Santa Fe. We eventually made the long walk back to the motorhome and headed on over to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum where we got to see some of her fabulous works of art. Next, we had one more stop in Santa Fe and that was the Santa Fe Opera. We drove the highway for a few miles until we saw the Opera house sitting high upon a hill. We exited and proceeded over to check it out. Unfortunately there was some event going on and we were not allowed inside so we just took a couple of pictures of the exterior and made our way back to the highway. We found ourselves riding on the Georgia O'Keeffe Trail as we were headed towards Los Alamos. We were on our way to find the Bradbury Science Museum so we could learn all about the ultra-secret Site Y of the Manhattan Project which resulted in the world's first atomic bomb and many other top secret things. Los Alamos is the home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory which is one of the world's leading scientific research institutions with lots of top-secret areas and high-tech projects in the works. We eventually found the museum which turned out to be very interesting but we were excited when we found out from the little guy in the gift shop that we could actually ride around the perimeters of the LANL. He gave us a map and sent us on our way. We couldn't wait to see all this top-secret was exciting ! The Los Alamos National Laboratory is actually a complex that is 40 square miles large and consists of several different top-secret buildings and facilities. We arrived at the gates and the motorhome was searched by the guard on duty (he wouldn't let me take his picture) and we were cleared for take off. As we entered the gates we immediately start seeing all these huge satellites and towers and stuff, it was really cool. There were biohazard signs and explosive signs hanging everywhere and we stared at everything trying to figure out what the heck they were doing in those buildings behind those gates. It was really intriguing and interesting and we had felt like you were doing something you weren't supposed to be doing. Once we were finished snooping around LANL we made our way over to the Bandelier National Monument. This is a National park that is home to many cliff dwellings as well as the Valles Caldera volcano. By the time we arrived here it was getting kinda late so we didn't get to do much which was okay with me because I was feeling pretty yucky. But, we rode around for a little while searching for the moma bear and it's cubs that had been sited earlier in the day. My head was throbbing, which was unusual for me because I don't normally have headaches, and it just wouldn't let up any. Once we were off the mountain and back into town, we stopped for a famous Blake's Lotaburger, which my friend Danette had recommended. She was completely right when she said it was "the best burger in town" ! Don't worry, I didn't cheat too bad, I actually had the itsaburger which is the baby version so I kept my calories to a minimum. Tim and I thought if I had something to eat it might help my headache but we were was actually hurting even worse. We couldn't figure out what was going on until later in the evening Tim realized that we had gone from 6,000 to 8,000 back down to 3,000 and then up to 7,000 feet in elevation all within about 24 hours. I was suffering from elevation sickness and it was no fun !! We were headed to Taos, New Mexico to settle in for the evening but I couldn't stay up any longer. I took some Advil and went to bed while poor Tim was stuck making the drive by himself. He got us all the way to Taos and we settled in at Wal-Mart for hopefully what would be a good nights sleep.

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1st July 2010

No wonder you developed a headache!
What an itinerary! You folks sure hit all the hot spots in northern NM and I don't mean just Los Alamos! Sorry that the altitude got to you, it does that to lots of folks. Water, water, water and more water always helps. Thanks for sharing your enjoyment of our area and happy trails on future journeys!

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