santa fe days 3 and 4

On Saturday, our third day in Santa Fe, we drove about 45 minutes out of town to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.  (I’ll be referring to it as Tent Rocks, though.)  While I was in the shower that morning, I wondered if I should bring cash for the entrance fee at Tent Rocks, but just forgot.  Sure enough, we got to the gate and they rejected our credit card.  So, note to all of you future Tent Rocks visitors: bring some cash with you.  It’s only $5 per car, and there’s a gas station with an ATM about five minutes down the road, but we could have avoided a handful of fees by just bringing cash with us.

Tent Rocks is so neat.  I don’t know how it was formed, I don’t know why the rocks are the way they are, and I don’t know why the rangers at the gate don’t accept credit cards, but that’s okay.  My apologies for including more pictures than I can count, but as you’ll see, it was hard to resist…

DSC01603

DSC01605

DSC01606

DSC01613

DSC01614

DSC01617

DSC01626

DSC01631

DSC01632

DSC01639

DSC01642

DSC01644

DSC01647

We combined the Cave Loop Trail and the Canyon Trail, and were hiking for a little less than three hours, although the total distance was only around 3 miles, we definitely took our time.  The weather was just right, and being that we were there in the spring, the crowds were definitely manageable.

We had a late lunch at Bumble Bee, and walked to Canyon Road in the afternoon, where we spent two hours wandering through galleries.  We enjoyed all of the paintings and sculptures and photographs, but got a little a tired by the end.  One highlight was seeing sculptures by my high school art teacher being sold at one of the galleries!  We also stopped for pictures at a few places we’d admired over the past couple of days and walked around the Santa Fe National Cemetery – a sobering, beautiful place.

DSC01649

DSC01651

DSC01653

For dinner, we went to Thai Vegan, an Asian restaurant that offers only vegan food (two things that could probably be assumed from the name, but it never hurts to clarify).  The food was good, but the ambiance could probably be improved and the number of Hindu idols reduced just a tad.  On our way back to the hotel at night, we stopped at Trader Joe’s for some cookies that have been sold out every time we look for them at our TJ’s.

Sunday morning was snowy – not our favorite to see at the end of April, but we were just thankful it was on our last day and not on a day we wanted to be outside.  We packed up the car and went for breakfast at Annapurna’s (told you we wouldn’t be able to stay away!) where I had some banana cardamom pancakes that were just too good.  I’d gladly eat them once a week.

DSC01654

Our drive home was rainy but largely uneventful as we took I-25 straight from Santa Fe to our apartment in north Colorado Springs.

I’m so glad we finally took a trip to Santa Fe.  Our route down, while a bit longer than necessary, was fun with stops at the Rio Grande Gorge and in Taos, and I felt like even though we were only in Santa Fe for a couple of days, we got a good taste for the town and it’s beauty.  There are many museums and hiking trails I would have liked to check out, but due to time and weather constraints, we just couldn’t do them all – now we have something to do the next time we go!

 

 

santa fe: day 2

Friday, our first full day in Santa Fe, began a bit rainy and cool, so we started our day indoors at the Palace of the Governors.  We arrived a little after 10am, wandered around a bit, and caught the 10:30am guided tour.  In retrospect, I’m not sure we would take the tour again.  It was a bit dry, but it did give us a good overview of New Mexico, and more specifically, Santa Fe, history.

The Palace of the Governors is connected to the New Mexico History Museum, and even though we were a bit done with learning and museum stuff after our tour, we decided to give it a try.  And we were so glad!  The history museum is so good.  If you are in Santa Fe, you should go.  It’s new, it’s high quality, it’s well done, it’s interesting, and (best of all?) it’s not overwhelmingly big.  Seriously, give it a chance.  I’d recommend going to the history museum first, and giving it your full attention, and then breezing through the Palace of the Governors, if for no other reason than it’s a neat, old, historic building.

DSC01569^^ Danny in the history museum, looking into the semi-covered wagon because there’s a video projected onto the inside of the cover.  Told you it was cool.  ^^

After the museum(s), we walked back to our hotel and headed to lunch.  We both had veggie burgers and fries at the Tune-Up Cafe, an eclectic and cute place with decent vegan options, and then headed for the New Mexico State Capitol.  We wandered through the halls and into the rotunda and felt a little like we were breaking the rules at times (even though we weren’t) since we were the only visitors there.  Compared to some of the more traditional state capitols out there, New Mexico’s certainly isn’t as grand or eye-catching, but it does have some fun and unique features, and we enjoyed getting to check it out a bit.

DSC01570

DSC01573

^^ I know it’s not the best picture ever, but I have a picture of Mysteridge and I in front of this same buffalo from years ago, and just couldn’t resist.  It’s made of all sorts of random materials, and looks so cool both up close and far away. ^^

DSC01574

The weather was just so dicey all day on Friday, that even though there’s so much great hiking in the area, we just weren’t sure if we were willing to take a chance and actually get outside for any length of time.  However, late in the afternoon, around 3:00, we decided to give it a shot.  We drove outside of town about 15-20 minutes to the Rio en Medio Trail, and got hiking.

DSC01576

The trail follows a stream for about three miles to the base of a waterfall, and then continues up above the waterfall, to other (much smaller) waterfalls and pools.  I believe that the trail eventually leads to a good view of Santa Fe and the surrounding area, but going that far was never our intent.  We went to some of the upper waterfalls, but turned around so that we could have dinner at a reasonable hour.

DSC01578

DSC01586

^^ Some people and their selfies… ;) ^^

DSC01591

DSC01597

DSC01599

There were no other cars in the trailhead parking lot, and we saw no one but each other while hiking, which felt a little weird to me, especially since it’s such a great trail – it’s wooded, involves crossing the stream a few times (always fun), and is fairly flat the whole way.  I’d highly recommend checking it out if you’re in Santa Fe – I think we’d do it again if we went back.  I know it will look different depending on the season, and maybe next time we’d do the complete trail.  So peaceful and quiet and beautiful.

We made it back into town for a late dinner at Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe.  It’s won the Best of Santa Fe award for Best Vegetarian Restaurant many years in a row now, and I can see why.  The menu is EXTENSIVE, and has many options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, for those who like Indian food and those who do not (me).  I had a hunch that we would really like Annapurna’s, and planned to go there early on in our trip, so that we would have a chance to go back again if we wanted to.  The menu suggests dessert first, so we gladly partook and shared a piece of (vegan) pecan pie before our entrées arrived.  It was great, as were our meals – I had the shepherd’s pie which was very good and Danny had the falafel wrap (which included quite possibly the best falafel we’ve had since we ate lunch at Camden Market in London last September).

And that was Friday!  A good mix of history and indoor exploring, as well as being outside (weather permitting) and, of course, plenty of tasty vegan food.

Check out day 1 here.

santa fe: day 1

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.

DSC01526

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.

DSC01530

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.

DSC01531

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!

DSC01532

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.

DSC01536

DSC01537

DSC01543

DSC01540

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.

DSC01548

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.

DSC01549 DSC01552

DSC01558

^^ 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.  ^^

DSC01560

DSC01562

DSC01564

^^ 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?

DSC01565

There you have it – day one – our travels and stops from home to Santa Fe!