Casa San Ysidro was not entirely an indoor activity, as preferred due to lingering cold and snow. The restored 19th century adobe residence along a quiet dirt road, in a rustically chic village about 20 miles north of Albuquerque, has a lovely interior outdoor courtyard (or plaza) and a rear walled-in yard with stables, workers’ lodgings, a three-hole outhouse (not sure how that works) and a small livestock pen. The “territorial Period Greek revival rancho” from the area’s Spanish colonial past, circa 1875, is owned by the Albuquerque Museum which offers twice a day tours. We were joined by a couple visiting from Maine on a low-key tour by a former teacher who is a docent that took us inside the thick adobe walls into rugged atmospheric rooms with low-ceilings made of thick wood beams and cross planks, with period furnishings, Mexican pottery, cut and stamped tin wall hangings, New Mexican photos, portraits, and art. Well worth a visit.
At a nearby coffee shop, one of several enticing small businesses lining the two lane road through the quiet, well-heeled, village of Coralles, we found beautiful watercolor prints of dusty wildflowers painted by ABQ native (now in Nashville) Sheallean Louis and local pottery — natural cream-colored stoneware — from Hansellman Pottery, which is made a block away. We promptly visited and bought a few gifts, in an unusual self-serve manner.
Wandering along backroads, avoiding interstate 25, we ended up driving through Rio Rancho, with many large contemporary adobe homes in the shadow of the snow-dusted , pinkish brown-grey (depending on the time of day/light) Sandia Mountains, and then to Bernadillo, where we chanced upon the original Range Cafe, with rustic southwest decor, good New Mexican fare and pies, and walls lined with locally-inspired artwork. A host did let slip that the cafe is short-staffed due to sickness. “Covid,” I half-asked, half-stated. “I’m not at liberty to say,” she replied with a near wink.
It was a reminder of the still in-process pandemic, which we’d almost forgotten. As If. We were seated far from other diners and wore masks until eating. (Unlike Iowa, New Mexico has a mask mandate for businesses.THANK YOU!) We’ve decided to brave a few restaurants this trip but not without taking precautions and our government-provided Covid test arrived in the mail today.