Three weeks ago today, Danny and I loaded up our car and headed south on our very first road trip. We’ve been on a variety of trips together, but most of them have been via plane or less than two hours away (by car), which I don’t really consider a road trip. I was really excited for this trip – I have such fond memories of taking trips to Illinois to visit family and exploring Colorado and neighboring states by car throughout all of my growing up years – but then Danny started making me a little nervous in the weeks before our trip. He said things here and there like, “I don’t really like road trips,” and “I don’t like driving for a long time.” Uh oh.
When we got in the car around 7:30am on Thursday morning, we had at least six hours of driving ahead of us before we got to Santa Fe. A long ways for my plane-preferring husband, but we were excited.
We switched drivers every hour, which may have extended the time we were on the road a bit, but it seemed to work well for us. Our first stop was in south Pueblo, and happened to be right next to this fun comics store that was right up Danny’s alley. We took a few pictures, stretched our legs, and got on our way again.
Another hour, another stop. And look at those mountains in the background! They were a lot closer than this picture makes them look, and I’m not going to lie…I was pretty happy when it was Danny’s turn to drive again so I could look out the window to my heart’s content without putting our lives in danger.
And then on our final stop before we made it to our picnic lunch destination, we just pulled off on the side of the road. I ran a couple of laps around the car and Danny stretched out…our GPS took us on some pretty deserted roads!
We stopped for lunch at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. There’s a rest area with picnic tables and bathrooms and even vendors selling different things (vague because I have no idea what they have – we didn’t look). We ate our sandwiches while overlooking the gorge, and afterwards walked across the bridge. The area is about 15 minutes from Taos, and for us, was totally worth it. We thought the gorge was pretty neat, and a great place to stop for lunch and a little walk. It’s also very unexpected – up until we were driving on the bridge, I thought we had the wrong address into our GPS – we had no idea we were approaching the gorge.
After our time at the bridge, we headed into Taos. Neither of us had been before, and while we weren’t there long enough to form much of an opinion, it seems kind of charming. We stopped in the library to use the wi-fi for a couple of minutes and walked around the plaza. Now, I don’t have a lot of experience with plazas, but Taos’ seemed pretty average. We were there mid-day on a Thursday, so it was very quiet – we only stopped in a store or two, and enjoyed an especially beautiful blossoming tree. A fairly quick visit as we had places to go.
I was on the fence about Taos Pueblo up until we started our tour. And I suppose, I still am on the fence about it. I just wasn’t sure if it would be worth it, if it was a tourist trap, if it was ‘fake’ sort of like the Manitou Cliff Dwellings…I just couldn’t get a good feel for it from what I read online and in guide books. In a small sense, it was sort of what Paris was like for me: a lot of people love it so I wanted to go and do it, but overall, it was overpriced and overhyped (in my opinion). That being said, we did enjoy our tour and the chance to walk around a bit afterwards. The weather was great, the scenery pretty, and the pueblo historical. I’m glad that we went, but I do wish it cost less than $16 a person to get in.
^^ We wanted to try some of the legendary Indian fry bread, but apparently taking a tour late in the day means they could be sold out, which was what happened to us. So we got an (overpriced) cherry tortilla thingy. It was okay. ^^
^^ There is something really historic and significant about this cemetery, but unfortunately, my memory is rather poor. I guess you’ll just have to go and take the tour yourself. Or Google it. ^^
After our tour, we were ready to be done with the car and driving from place to place. We drove the last hour to Santa Fe and checked into our hotel, the Villas de Santa Fe. I stayed at the villas over Christmas years ago with my family, thanks to my grandparents’ timeshare, and was happy to find a Living Social deal offered for them recently. We didn’t just have a room – we had a bedroom with two beds, a kitchenette, and a living room, access to the pool, hot tub, and game room, plus the all important free wi-fi for around $65 a night. The location can’t be beat – it’s in a very central location in a quiet neighborhood, a block or two away from a Sprouts, and a short (five to ten minutes, depending on your pace) walk to the plaza.
We had dinner our first night at Bumble Bee Baja Grill. Bumble Bee is a great place for all the people – their menu is extensive and is friendly to all types – those wanting gluten and those not, those wanting meat and those not, those wanting to spend a lot and those not. My parents went to Bumble Bee a few times while they were in Santa Fe last year, and brought us back a menu, thinking it’d be somewhere we’d like. They were right. Check out Bumble Bee if you’re in Santa Fe and looking for good food, an unpretentious, down-to-earth atmosphere, and a lot of options. They have two locations in town – we ate at the one down the street from our hotel off of Jefferson Street.
After dinner we walked to the plaza and wandered around a bit. We were glad to have our jackets – it was chilly! One thing I wasn’t expecting was that most of the shops were closed. It wasn’t very late, but apparently most of them close around 5pm. Maybe it was because we were there in the off-season – perhaps in the summer some places have expanded hours?
There you have it – day one – our travels and stops from home to Santa Fe!