New Mexico

What a great vacation . . . usually at the end of a week away, I’m ready to get home, or at least ready to leave where I’m vacationing. Not this time. Santa Fe is positively sublime and heavenly. I can’t recommend it highly enough for a trip of your own, with kids, as a couple’s getaway, however you like it, Santa Fe will fit the bill.

We spent a lot of time in gallery’s and museums while out there, and are mulling an investment in an artwork we found out there (in Taos, actually, not in Santa Fe itself). It’s a big piece (six feet by three feet) with a big (for us) price tag, but it’s absolutely stunning, and will fit in the big white space where the scary dangerous mirror once hung. The gallery owner’s given us rights of first refusal and a week to ponder. I think we’re going to get it. Photos to follow when it’s shipped and hung.

We also took a couple of day trips, one to the west, where we visited Los Alamos National Laboratory (or at least the public parts of it), which was kind of interesting to us, since we’ve both worked on other highly secretive and sensitive Department of Energy National Laboratories. We also visited Bandelier National Monument, one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. It’s incredible to me that it’s not better known . . . I, for instance, had never heard of it until we drove out to it. From Bandelier, we drove up into the Jemez Mountains and then down across the Valles Caldera (one of the largest collapsed volcanic cones in the continental United States), then down through Jemez Springs and back up to Santa Fe.

On that road trip, we also stopped at San Ildefonso Pueblo, which was a serendipitous stop, as we found we liked their traditional pottery more than any of the other Pueblo People’s traditional styles. They use a special technique for firing that turns the red clay black. Very striking and unusual. We purchased a small pot with the image of the serpent (signifying water) on it.

The only other pueblo we visited on our vacation was Taos Pueblo, on our other long day trip. Taos is one of the best-preserved and largest pueblos in New Mexico. We walked among buildings that are estimated to be 1000 to 1500 years old, and which are still home to members of the community. Gives you an amazing perspective on the relative youth of our civilization.

During our trip to Taos, we took the so-called “High Road” and had one of our typical vacation adventures. After an hour or so of winding around some pretty amazingly sheer and high switchbacks and serpentine roadways, we came to a small town called Truchas. Unbeknownst to us, the High Road made a left turn at Truchas that we missed, so we drove straight through the town and left it on the wrong side on a different road.

Ten miles or so later, the pavement ended. At this point, most tourists would say “We must have made a mistake, this can’t possibly be the highway.” But we’re not like most tourists, because we’ve lived in Idaho, where State Highways often are dirt roads. As we jogged and bounced along the dirt path, Marcia and I regaled Katelin with stories of our road trips in Idaho, and how it was just a fact of Western living that sometimes highways weren’t paved.

The road got worse. Deep ruts started dragging at the bottom of our rental car. We began to wonder if our Idaho conditioning hadn’t been incorrect in this case. We finally decided that something wasn’t right when we rounded a curve and found the entire roadbed under a strongly flowing stream of water. After a gently executed U-turn in less-than-optimal conditions, we headed back for Truchas. Lo and behold, we had indeed missed the highway. Marcia noted that she was proud of my self-restraint, as there was a time when I would have tried to drive through the flooded road.

Our only other foray out of Santa Fe proper was to drive up to the nearby Ski Santa Fe resort. Skiing season was done, but the views from 12,400 feet were incredible and worth the drive up. We noticed that Katelin seemed to get excessively giggly at such high altitudes. I guess oxygen-starvation effects little people differently than it does big folks.

If they turn out, I’ll probably post some photos of the trip when I get them back from the processor. The weather was perfect all week, so hopefully I got some decent shots of some of things we saw and did, although I doubt that even the best photos will do justice to the majesty of the landscape and city as experienced up close and personal.

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