Traveling

Last weekend we drove to Santa Fe for an overnight visit. We went not to shop, like many would do, but instead left El Paso to get out of town for a few hours. What makes Santa Fe so special are its hidden secrets, which surprise--you just need to know where to look. We don't know very many, but the ones we do know are worth every cent and time it takes to make the 4 1/2 hour drive. It is even worth navigating the "(un)safety zone" that runs from Belen through to south Albuquerque, the I-40/I-25 interchange, and northward towards La Bajada Hill. Back in the day, La Bajada was a steep, narrow, two lane road. Going, you needed a standard transmission vehicle just to get up the hill (we had a 1978 Audi Fox, 4-speed). Coming down you better have good brakes, especially in winter. It's tame now, and quite a boring ride. But the scenery is still gorgeous.

We entered town via Old Pecos Trail. It connects to old Santa Fe Trail,
and ends at the back of the La Fonda Hotel near the Loretto Chapel.
Usually, we go to Santa Fe to check on how the City Different fares these days, especially the parts of town we know well. These are comfortable places--downtown, with its tiny Plaza and Governor's Palace with the women of various Northern New Mexico pueblos selling their turquoise and low temp wood-fired red and black pots; crooked, narrow Guadalupe Street near our bed-and-breakfast; and, of course, Casa Solana, our old neighborhood where we lived for four and a half years, located just over a mile from the Guadalupe Inn where we always stay.

Gate, private home, San Francisco Ave., south of
Paseo de Peralta.
The bed and breakfast is owned and run by the siblings of an long-established Santa Fe family. It is adorable, quiet, and reasonably priced. In the morning, made-to-order breakfasts are always tasty and filling, and the conversations interesting and intelligent. It is a gem, tucked away from the over-the-top pricier hotels downtown. Unpretentious, local, simple, and kind. It is a marvel. Then again, that is the way the secrets of Santa Fe open themselves for you.

We drove around for a quick review of the downtown area; it was good to see Santa Cafe, Tia Sophia's, and Pasquale's were right where we left them, although many of the galleries were gone and replaced by new ones, which was expected. Dressman's was still on the Plaza, but the Ore House now has a new name. Copious strands of beads still bedeck the windows of Gloriana's Bead Shop, and Kaune's grocery still remains open for business. (We wondered if they still allow people to charge their monthly purchases, or if they now only accept debit and credit cards.)

Later, we wasted time driving down the dreaded Cerrillos Road (a mess and under construction) to peruse the tourist trap Jackalope. But first, we had lunch.

Building facade, San Francisco Avenue
south of Paseo de Peralta.

At Tomasita's, we waited 45 minutes for a table, but our timing could not have been better because those arriving a few minutes later via the Rail Runner from Albuquerque were informed that the wait time was now one hour. They muttered and complained openly, "You'd think things would have settled down by now," referring to the even more hectic Indian Market weekend craziness. We didn't care because we had all the time in the world. That evening, we sat at La Choza (the younger sibling The Shed) and waited the requisite 45 minutes there too. Both served excellent New Mexican food--I had stacked red enchiladas at La Choza and chiles rellenos at Tomasita's.

After breakfast Sunday morning, we had a nice long visit with our innkeeper, and then headed to town to walk around for a bit. We ended up having coffee at Starbucks on the Plaza. It was nice to sit in the dark cave of this corporate cup o'joe, read the New York Times, and connect our devices to wifi. Afterwards, we left downtown, and once more drove down the dread Road Cerrillos to check out the new location of Artisan's art supply store.

For decades, it was located on Canyon Road and was a great source for artist's supplies, but it was also very claustrophobic. Artisans has served the artists of Santa Fe for so long that on the register, a copy of a check, written and signed by Georgia O'Keefe, is proudly displayed. This bright and spacious location has enough space to display many sizes and shapes of easels, storage containers, all kinds of oil, acrylic, and watercolor paints, and their various brushes. It is a dream of a store. I bought a new storage plastic briefcase to hold my color pencils, and an interesting Micron-like pen with extra nibs and refills, sized .03mm.

OL Guadalupe, tile installation, private home, San
Francisco Avenue near Guadalupe Avenue.
Afterwards, we drove the Turquoise Trail (back route to Albuquerque and I-25) so we could see what was going on in Madrid. A mining ghost town, Madrid is a kind of last bastion of southwest hippiedom and free thinking/living. Its once greyed, tiny mining shacks look much better today than the last time I saw them. Its main drag was in full bloom--a veritable ren fair(e), complete with big dogs walking around without leashes, bikers parking their Harley's on the dusty shoulder, flowing skirts, waving banners. All exuded that kind of happy community that welcomes out-of-towners and their cash.

But, all too soon we were out the in door, driven past Golden, and onwards past Cedar Crest. We sailed down the road towards the interchange that threw us southward towards El Paso. Our 36-hour vacation was coming to a close.

I don't miss working in Santa Fe, but I do miss living there. I miss the climate, the vegetation, and the whole atmosphere of the place. Once we were migrants to the City Different, but now we are tourists again.

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