Tuesday, June 30, 2015

That month sure went by fast..

Our month long stay in the Santa Fe area is coming to a close.  We have really enjoyed our stay here and hope to come back to this area again one day.  The northern portion of New Mexico, where we are located, offers so many interesting places to explore: a variety of outdoor activities, United States historical sites, Native American culture and history sites, lots of museums and many scenic drives and byways.  It seems we went somewhere almost everyday and we still have places yet to visit on our list.  Why this just gives us reason to come back again to explore more of the "Land of Enchantment".
Here's a few other places we found interesting.
NM Museum of Art entrance
There was a blue grass band playing in the museum's central patio area this evening.

We took in the final night of the 66th Annual Rodeo de Santa Fe.
Opening ceremonies

This cowboy just got bucked off his horse during the "bronco busting" competition.

"Double Roping" competition. The sunset was so colorful that evening.

New Mexico Hwy 570 traverses about 6 miles of the Rio Grande River through the gorge area that is located on the "Low Road to Taos".  This country road, located just off Hwy 64, passes through Orilla Verde where 6 or so Bureau of Land Management campgrounds can be found along the river.  This was an interesting drive especially the part where the road exits the canyon onto the flat plain.
Note the magenta cactus blooms.
You can see Hwy 570 to the left of the Rio Grande.  This view is from that same road as it climbs out of the gorge.

The dirt road/Hwy 570 can be seen to the right in the above photo.
View of the gorge and flat plains from Hwy 64.  Hwy 570 can barely be seen from this vantage point.

The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway offered us sweeping vistas of Red River, Wheeler Peak, Eagles Nest and the Angel Fire Ski area.
Wheeler Peak still had snow.  It is New Mexico's tallest peak at 13,167 ft..
The Enchanted Circle offered some outstanding scenery and varied temperature changes this day too.

A visit to the Tesuque Flea Market was an interesting experience.
There are many vendors at this flea market.  They sell art and other various items.  This quirky booth caught my attention.
Close up of all those paint brushes.

Of course we enjoyed some great Mexican food while here in the Santa Fe area.  The meals that stood out as being very, very tasty are:
New Mexico green chili chicken pizza and Greek pizza from the Backstreet Pizza. They are noted for their pizza crust rolled in cornmeal.

Chimichangas and chicken quesadillas from the Guadalajara Grill in Taos.

The Pantry Restaurant, located in Santa Fe, had good reviews. We tried their version of a chicken quesadilla and beef burrito.

And the Soft Blue Corn Tacos from La Choza in Santa Fe were also very good.

And one more New Mexico sunset to remember this vibrantly, colorful area...

More later as we eas-on down the road..

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Our day trip from Santa Fe to Albuquerque via the New Mexico Rail Runner Express was a lot of fun.  It was another early morning, arriving for departure from the Santa Fe Depot at 7:00am.
We chose to ride on the upper deck.
This photo of the Santa Fe Depot is from a different day..7am is too early for photos!
The trip on the Rail Runner, departing from Santa Fe going to Albuquerque, takes about an hour and thirty minutes as it stops at commuter stations and some of the New Mexico Pueblos.  We noticed that even though the train was not full on this morning, people were boarding and departing at almost all of the stops.
View from the train as we pull out from the station.  This is a great REI, by the way.

It was a relaxing trip both ways.  Seats are comfortable and the coach was cool.
The Rail Runner travels through some beautiful New Mexico countryside too.

The Rail Runner arrived at the Alvarado Station in downtown Albuquerque on time. Soon afterwards we located info for the public bus transportation to travel to the Old Town Plaza.
Alvarado Station in Albuquerque  Time on the clock is incorrect, it was about 8:54 am.
Our bus ride to Albuquerque's Old Town Plaza was about 5 minutes.  Folks were friendly and helpful as we navigated the public bus system.  No problem.
Now, it was hot this day..94 degrees.
We got some coffee and scones for breakfast then walked to the center square to enjoy the cool shade.
Old Town Plaza
Navy Brass Band happened to be scheduled to play this day.
We took the ABQ Trolly Company's "Best of ABQ City Tour".  The tour was about 80 minutes long, highlighting points of interest in Albuquerque.  We saw a variety of museum locations, Route 66, the New Mexico University campus as well as other high points.
The KiMo Theatre on Route 66.  It is a great example of the Pueblo Deco Style.
The Crossroads Motel, on Route 66, was used for the TV series Breaking Bad.  In fact, the trolley took us to several places used/seen in the TV series Breaking Bad.  

Valles Caldera National Preserve

The Valles Caldera National Preserve is the site of a ancient super volcano, dormant for millions of years.  You can click on this link here to learn more about the geology and history of the area.  This Wikipedia site describes the Preserve's historical importance to the Native Americans, it's ranching history as well as how it came to be a National Preserve in 2000.  This site also lists the films that have scenes made in the Preserve.  The Valles Caldera National Preserve is home to 2,500-3,500 elk.  On our visits we have mostly seem them gathered in the center area of the valley.
The elk herds can sometimes be found in the center of Valle Grande.

That's the Visitor Center to the right of the possible cinder cone.
Our day trip to this scenic place began early.  We arrived to the Visitor Center around 8:15 am to get in line for one of the 24 day/backcountry vehicle passes the Preserve issues each day. 
Entrance sign, notice the use of black obsidian rock at the base.
We were not the first ones there that morning, others were in line in front of us.

The dirt road through the Preserve is about 22 miles.  We took most of the day to do the entire drive.  We stopped several times along the road to enjoyed the quiet and the expansive scenery.  There are several pull offs and hiking trails along the way and we did see several folks stopping to set off on day hikes.  Although we didn't see many native animals as we had hoped, this day trip was still worth the effort.  We took a picnic lunch too which gave us more time to spend in this peaceful place.

The only view we got of the elk this day.
Old grove of Ponderosa pine.
This is the last stop on the eastern section of the drive.  We did see a coyote here but my camera couldn't zoom in close enough to capture a good photo.
Due to the unusual amount of rain this season, the wildflowers are abundant.

Ron is walking along a wash that is near the Obsidian Valley.  Here, we saw lots of obsidian rocks scattered about.
Black obsidian
Western Bluebird
Wildflowers everywhere
Furthermost reach on the western section of the drive.
Weather changes quickly here.  This storm seemed to roll in from nowhere.
More later.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A visit with friends, the High Road to Taos and other day trips..

Some of our New Mexico experiences the last several days include:

A visit with Esta and Joel of Hit N The Road.  We did some sightseeing, visiting and of course trying out some good restaurants.  Esta wrote a nice blog post about our visit here.  Click on the link to their blog to see more pictures.
We hope our travel paths will cross again one day so we can share those "funny, interesting and not-so-funny-at-the-moment" travel stories.

We drove up to Hyde State Park to enjoy the views of Santa Fe and the valley below. 
We also took a walk over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge west of Taos.  The view of the river and gorge below is breathtaking.

We could see the river rafters enjoying the rapids below.

Ron and I drove the High Road To Taos on this day trip.  The views on this section are just as stunning as the views on the Low Road To Taos.   
A smaller portion of this drive is desert.  Other highway sections are forested and located in higher elevation.

On this visit to Taos, we decided to go up Hwy 150, to visit the Taos Ski Valley.  The change in landscape and climate from Taos was striking.  Here we saw heavily forested mountain terrain and temperatures of 68 degrees. Elevation was 10,000 feet here compared to Taos, which is about 7,000 feet.
Ronnie is looking at the ski lift traveling through the snow capped peak.

All that driving and sightseeing made Ron and me thirsty again.  Earlier in the week, on our trip to Taos with Esta and Joel, we had driven by the Taos Mesa Brewery.  We made a mental note to check the place out one day and this seemed to be a good opportunity.  We happen to get there during their Happy Hour, yes.. it was the perfect ending to a great day.

Ron selected the KNCE IPA and I chose the Wheeler Peak Wheat.

We also have taken a drive on a section of the Turquoise Trail, seeing Cerrillos Hills State Park and the community of Madrid.

We enjoyed another picnic at the Abiquiu Lake and Dam.
View of Flint Mountain, also known as Cerro Pedernal. Georgia O'Keeffe painted this mountain several times too. 
Traveling through the Georgia O'Keeffe "Red Rock" country.

..and a drive through the Ghost Ranch compound. Our interest was to see up close some of the landscapes Georgia O'Keeffe painted during her month stay here.

  I wanted to stop by the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm.  It's also on Hwy 285 as the Ghost Ranch,  Abiquiui and the "Red Rock" country of Georgia O'Keeffe.
The lavender on the farm has just started to bloom.

More later..