When we planned the road trip part of this adventure, we looked at each of the potential cities we wanted to hit, then sought food and activity recommendations from a variety of sources. Our to-do list for Santa Fe was several pages long, so we decided to dedicate a whopping 36 hours here. (The fact that we found a highly rated motel for $40/night didn’t hurt.)
After a fantastic night’s sleep in our cinder block room, we consulted our lovely hostess for assistance in whittling down our list of things to do. Instead, she added at least 10 new sights to be sure to see, all circled on a map with a walking trail. We started off at Whole Foods, where we purchased water and coffee, abandoned the car, and set off on foot to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. While Eastern Market in DC holds a special place in my heart, Santa Fe’s just blew it out of the water. Several hours later, after sampling nearly every chile, cheese, mustard, tea, and bread available (and getting sidetracked by a crate of adorable puppies and a baby goat), we settled on a delicious, spicy breakfast of yak stew. I was thrilled to see such a local commitment to goat farming; I could absolutely imagine my beloved friend Tessa and her man, Steve, rocking one of the booths here one day.
From the Farmers Market, we trekked over to the State House. As we learned later that day, New Mexico’s State House is the only one in the country without a dome because there is a city-wide mandate in Santa Fe that nothing be taller than the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis the Assisi. Another interesting tidbit: the State House is designed so that an aerial view of the building reflects the compass rose from the New Mexico flag.
We took Don Gaspar Ave into the Historic Plaza, where we did a bit of touristy shopping. Of particular interest was the open air jewelry market, where Native Americans from different pueblos were selling their handmade pieces. As I discovered, I still have Cristal taste on a PBR budget; some of the quartz, turquoise, and coral pieces were just stunning.
In front of the La Fonda hotel, we caught a tour with Billy the Kid, or rather, an Australian storyteller named William with a certain fascination for the Wild West. Really, we couldn’t go wrong riding an open-air bus on a gorgeous, sunny day listening to stories about Santa Fe from a lively tour guide with an accent. The tour led us up Canyon Road, a stunning stretch with literally hundreds of art galleries tucked into every crevice, around every bend.
Following the tour, we looped back and ducked into both St. Francis of Assisi and the Loretto Chapel, which boasts a miraculous staircase built without any nails. I’m not sure how miraculous the staircase is (after all, they did use wooden pegs), but it is certainly a pretty spot. From the churches, we looped up to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Vagina/flower paintings aside, I have a certain affection for O’Keeffe’s work because she painted scenes of Lake George, where I spent all of my childhood summers. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of her Lake George-inspired pieces in the Santa Fe museum. Jason pointed out some of the quotations printed on the walls; in one, O’Keeffe describes how she couldn’t just paint a mountain or a tree, she needed to paint how she felt looking at that mountain or tree. Studying her “Storm Cloud, Lake George” landscape, I can very much appreciate that sentiment, having tried many times growing up to try to capture Lake George in some art form.
Museum-ed, chuch-ed, and jewelry-ed out, we went in hunt of the Marble Brewery, for some local microbrews. Realizing it had been hours since our last meal of yak stew, we enjoyed a Marble IPA / Amber on a rooftop patio and wolfed down a green chile, pine nut, and chicken pizza. By this point, we had just enough energy to stumble back to the car and collapse on the bed back at the Silver Saddle. We can honestly say that we checked off everything on the to-do list today, with time to spare. Tomorrow, we’re off to Scottsdale to visit with my Aunt Jill and cousin Max, who I haven’t seen in about 15 years!