Monday, February 29, 2016

new mexico | exploring santa fe

Santa Fe 2014
When we got back from Acadia in September - our third vacation of the summer of 2014 - I knew our season of crazy travel was over and I prepared myself to settle in for fall at home. But I was wrong - less than three weeks after we got home from Maine, Larry and I found ourselves in New Mexico.

Larry had a business trip for a meeting at Bandelier National Monument and I insisted on tagging along. Larry and I often discuss which city we'd like to live in when we eventually leave DC, and oddly enough neither of us have ever been to our top three contenders: Savannah, GA, Portland, OR, and Santa Fe, NM. (Why do we think we'd like to live in these places if we've never been there? Our top criteria for what makes a location appealing include access to nature/outdoor activities, artsiness, beautiful scenery, and climate.) Anyway, Santa Fe is known for being an artsy town and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see whether it would be a good place to live. Also, we would be in New Mexico during the weekend of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, an event that I'd been dying to photograph for years. And thirdly? New Mexican cuisine! Yum!

On Wednesday, October 1st we flew into Albuquerque and drove the scenic Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe. All the budget hotels were booked due to the upcoming Balloon Fiesta, so we lucked into staying at the amazing Hotel St. Francis on the company dime. One of the nicest hotels I've ever been to - the arched doorways, fireplaces, iron chandeliers, pillar candles, and baptismal font in the lobby made it feel like we were staying in a monastery.
Santa Fe 2014
Santa Fe 2014
While Larry spent the next day in meetings, I was free to explore Santa Fe by foot. I walked to the Plaza downtown and had breakfast at Plaza Cafe - Santa Fe's oldest restaurant which was established in 1918. I am helpless to resist any huevos dish while traveling and stuffed my face with Huevos Divorciados (Divorced Eggs) and prickly pear lemonade. New Mexico knows how to do breakfast right! (Though my mouth was a little numb from the chipotle salsa!)

My next stop was the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. I always thought O'Keeffe's work was revolutionary, even though flower and skull paintings are not what I would choose to hang in my own home. (Also, it is a myth and misinterpretation that her flower paintings were representative of female parts!) I was interested to learn about O'Keeffe as a person and found I could really relate to her. She loved nature and travel, she loved to cook and grow her own food, and she was fiercely independent and did what she wanted to. Yes! I found her to be a very inspiring person and look forward to reading more about her.
Santa Fe 2014
Santa Fe 2014
Santa Fe 2014
Santa Fe 2014
I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around downtown Santa Fe and going into nearly every shop searching for affordable pottery and turquoise jewelry, but everything cost thousands of dollars, so I settled for a couple of postcards and woven baskets. I photographed the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi before meeting Larry back at the hotel room.
Santa Fe 2014
Santa Fe 2014
Santa Fe 2014
"Love one another constantly." I'm not one for church, but I love that!

I found Larry resting in bed shirtless: his body was white, but his head was tomato red. Poor guy walked around the desert all day and forgot sunscreen.

Red chili dressed as a green chili:
new mexico 2014
In the evenings we went to the bar in the hotel - the Secreto Lounge, which was fantastic. The bartender, Chris Milligan, is one of the top bartenders in the country and he makes a Smoked Sage Margarita which tastes like licking a campfire...but with tequila. I usually don't even like margaritas, but this one one of the best drinks I've ever had.
Santa Fe 2014
And sometimes we just took our evening beers back to the room.
Santa Fe 2014
Santa Fe 2014
One night we walked down to Canyon Road - this is the true art district in Santa Fe and is home to over 100 art galleries. They were incredible. Once again, I searched for an affordable piece of art to bring home with me, but the cheapest works I saw where in the $6000 range! But I loved exploring the galleries - there was some really amazing stuff. My favorites were the kinetic sculptures. We also saw fire dancers, and actor Sam Shepard sitting at the bar where we went for dinner. At the end of the night, a band started playing in the restaurant and all the old hippies started dancing and grinding to the music. They were into it and it was awesome. Santa Fe definitely has a fun vibe and fun people.

And I can't write about Santa Fe without discussing the food...all of it was delicious! Chiles and cheese on everything! All the huevos! All the guacamole! All the margaritas! Get in my belly! Our favorite was the renowned Cafe Pasqual's, which definitely lives up to the hype.

We really enjoyed visiting Santa Fe and the surrounding area and would love to come back - there is much more to see and eat! But Larry and I agreed we don't want to live there. I think since both of us are east coasters and grew up surrounded by green grass and trees, that the desert just feels too brown and flat for it to feel like home. But wow is it a fun, interesting, and delicious place to visit!

7 comments:

Karen Travels said...

Taking notes!!!

Karen Travels said...

Also . . . poor Larry!

You might not remember this, and I don't blame you, but did the art galleries seem wheel chair/walker friendly? I remember trying to get around a gallery with Brycen in his jogging stroller once. Big mistake, but we had forgotten the tiny umbrella stroller.

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Karen - I'm thinking they probably weren't wheelchair friendly. Some of them might be, but I'm not sure how you'd research this. :(

However, my favorite "exhibit" was the kinetic sculptures and these were outside at the Wiford Gallery sculpture garden - I'm thinking that would be accessible for you. I don't remember what the parking situation was on Canyon Road though - we walked a couple miles from our hotel to get there.

little green field book said...

Sly grew up in NM and always talks about two things: the food and the camping. He was in boy scouts and they camped quite a bit so I'm assuming trees were somewhat involved. Now I'm trying to remember my trips to NM...there are trees on the mountains, right?

I love the idea of living in the desert and have always thought I'd end up in a trailer in the middle of nowhere.

Unfortunately I feel like the bigger NN cities have a lot of big city transplants that can afford overpriced turquoise and oftentimes gaudy art.

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

There were *some* trees - mostly shorter ones, and they often seemed to grow in the low points/valleys where water collects. It's just a very different look from the east coast - which isn't a bad thing, just different. And even though everything seems brown there, the sky was always SO blue - it was incredible!

Jillian said...

Oh, loved reading this one. Your photos are just gorgeous. I've never explored the southwest and it's really intriguing. I want to visit just to try that cocktail though!!

Drew Watts said...

Truly an amazing place! I am glad that you had such a wonderful time exploring New Mexico. I will also visit couple of vintage Chicago venues very soon with my husband as he has a business trip there next month. Really very excited for this trip!