The weather wasn’t cooperative enough for us to take a proper hike so we walked instead in Leah’s Nob Hill neighborhood past pretty adobe houses with colorful vegetation and cacti to the main Nob Hill shopping district, where we explored some craft, resale and jewelry shops – and discovered a familiar car with Michigan plates and Iowa bumper stickers that did indeed belong to our friend Scott who moved here recently. We tracked him down and had a drink later. Small world.
Even when it’s rainy, the sky is very dramatic, with a band of dark blue and below it light blue and fluffy grey white clouds. The dark bit looks like a heavy curtain rising up or down on the mountains. We walked around the pretty grounds of Los Poblanos, a farm converted into a classy inn, restaurant and pricey gift shop. The bar there was closed so we ended up having chips and salsa in old town at Charles Street Cafe, an old New Mexican place.
On our last day, we walked along the muddy banks of the Rio Grande along the Bosque trail and checked out the El Vado motel, a renovated white adobe gem along Route 66.
Way cool mid-century modern furnishings, pool, outdoor food court and reasonable prices. Turns out it’s owned by the same folks as our go-to lodging in Santa Fe — the El Ray Inn. Our last meal in abq was at Duran Central Pharmacy, a fun place that’s a little dining area with a counter and good New Mexican fare (particularly hot carne adovada, I learned) tucked in an adobe drug store that is also an interesting gift shop. We really enjoyed Albuquerque and are thinking it may be a possible retirement option…
Way behind on my blogging since we left Albuquerque two days ago. There we woke up to a dusting of snow — enough for public schools to be delayed. We drove to Santa Fe where it was even colder and snowier which was pretty but made walking around outside not very enjoyable since we still were chilled even wearing borrowed warmer gear. Tuesday is not the best day to visit Santa Fe if you want to do indoor activities.
Two of the places we would have visited are closed on Tuesdays — the crazy George RR Martin installation, Meow Wolf, and SITE, the new contemporary art museum at the railyard district. We ended up having coffee at Tesuque Market, an alternative hangout (that has become sort of a touchstone for me) and later a good Spanish lunch at La Boca near the Plaza. Oddly this is restaurant week in Santa Fe, when restaurants have price fixe (i.e. slightly more reasonably priced) meals…to lure people. Des Moines’ is in August. We drove back to ABQ on the always stunning turquoise trail (highway 14) through Cerillos and Madrid but the scenery was even more dramatic with the snow and the clouds dropping snow in the distance over the mountains and the sun streaming through at the same time.
Leah’s bumper sticker OMG GOP WTF
I finally made it to Chimayo Santuary, a small old church in a rural village in the mountains north of Santa Fe (about a half hour drive) and it was worth the trek. Lovely, quiet, peaceful place. I tried several times to find the remains of a colonial plaza in Chimayo but despite driving up and down and around a narrow rutted dirt road that supposedly went to the plaza, I never got there. I did pass by the restaurant in Chimayo that we ate at a few years ago, Rancho de Chimayo, and Ortega’s Weaving and Marketplace.
Earlier in the day, I ended up in Tesuque Village, picking up a cup of coffee at the funky cafe/market at the crossroads (the breakfasts looks great) and then wandering down the shady, narrow Bishops Lodge Road, dotted with the occasional impressive stucco homestead or ranch, sculpture foundry or gallery. I landed in surprising place, a little pet cemetery/memorial called All Creatures Memorial Park, a tranquil spot at the edge of the road (before the entrance to a private estate) with pretty tiled walls with honorable mentions of pets past.
We have breezed through Albuquerque in the past but spent more time there this trip because our daughter will soon be attending UNM there, several relatives live there and, last but not least, we’re Breaking Bad fans (which filmed in Albuquerque.)
We enjoyed some local restaurants including El Patio (excellent New Mexican fare) and Frontier (an old-time almost all-night joint frequented by UNM students, and others.) Our brother-in-law who grew up in the Dominican Republic also took us to Salsa Under the Stars – which happens on Friday nights in the summer at the Museum. Full of a great and very diverse group of salsa dancers and large live band. Perfect on a summer night. We also enjoyed the Saturday morning farmers market downtown, picked up some green chile powder, a tacos, designer bread, an empanada filed with spinach, artichoke and feta, some “marriage equality” dish towels as wedding gifts.
With Amelia in Albuquerque
I should probably mention that we were a bit disappointed with our longtime lodging in Sante Fe – the El Rey Inn. It’s a great old motor lodge that we’ve stayed at several times over the years. Still charming and very affordable and good service but we found our “traditional” room a bit shabby this time around – I’ve let the proprietors know (since they asked several times for our opinion) and hope things will improve so we can stay there again (not to mention recommend it to others…) Other options: the Madeleine, Nicholas, Inn at Paseo.
At Ten Thousand Waves
Excellent tapas at La Boca, a tiny Spanish place Near the Plaza in Sante Fe, where we were seated next to a woman who played flamenco guitar and sang (very well). We were surprised at how quiet the Plaza was on a Thursday night, except for some kids hanging out by their cars that blared music heavy on the bass.
Overall, we found that the farther you get from the main tourist area by the plaza, the more interesting the shops, the better the art, and the slightly more real the scene. Which we like. We stopped at Ten Thousand Waves, a spa north of town with a very Zen/Japanese vibe (and good Japanese restaurant, we’re told) and made a mental note to visit next time. Also stopped at a funky cafe in Tesuque Village Market for some good local coffee (Ohari). wandering around the Railroad District, it was hard to get our bearings. It has changed a lot since our last trip 13 years ago. But found some good shops and galleries (Rainbow Gate for great ceramics with painted birds and fruit; Bon marche (brightly colored linens).
For lunch we met Leah at Shake Foundation for green chili burgers, shoe string potatoes and a shared piñon nut caramel milkshake. lovely to sit outside at picnic tables in perfect weather,that clear southwest sky and air.
Just south of sante Fe, we almost drove right past the San Marcos Cafe, an old adobe restaurant set back from the road and obscured by feed store stuff, supposed to have good food. Next trip.
We drove though the dusty town of Cerrillos, which was a reminder of what nearby Madrid could be like if it lost its hardy band of entrepreneurs, including the owner of Seppanen & Daughters Fine Textiles, who sold us yet another stunning Oaxacan rug (we bought the last one from him 18 years ago.)