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No Not That Mexico, The New One.
October 01, 2007

I have to admit, I've never had an overwhelming desire to go to New Mexico, but the opportunity arose, and gave me the chance to educate myself on a state I knew nothing about.

For starters, I didn't realize that Santa Fe (the capital) lies at nearly 7,000 feet, almost 2,000 feet higher than Denver, Colorado! This makes Santa Fe both the highest, and oldest, capital in the U.S.

When I think of New Mexico, I picture a desert, not mountains, which New Mexico has plenty of. So it was another surprise to learn that they have some pretty decent ski hills as well.

Tuesday Night

Flew into Albuquerque on United, with a 40 minute connection in Denver, and somehow, miraculously, our luggage made it. Yes, that's right, 40 minute connection, United Airlines, and our luggage arrived. In Denver we could see them actually loading our luggage and watched them debate over whether there was time to load it all. I came very close to banging on the glass and encouraging them to do so.

Budget gave us a P.T. cruiser, which we drove down to Santa Fe that night. New Mexico has the highest speed limits I've ever seen in North America, 75 MPH, day or night.

Arriving in Santa Fe, we checked into our B&B, the Madeleine Inn. It was late, but they left us our key, and freshly baked cookies, which I quickly dispatched of.


The next morning we hit up the Marty Sanchez public golf course. It was a great course, and a steal at only $30 for 18 holes. Back home it would easily cost over $75 for a similar quality course. I even managed to chip one in from off the green, a first.

Driving back into Santa Fe, we had lunch at La Boca, which was recommended to us, and didn't disappoint! Awesome tapas. Then we walked around Santa Fe, which consists mostly of stores that bore me to tears, but I'm probably the wrong demographic (ie: not a rich middle aged woman that enjoys buying $600 pottery).

That night a large group of us hit up the Catamount Bar for food and drinks. And when I say large group, I mean 30+, and we suddenly overwhelmed this place on a slow Wednesday night. There was exactly one waiter, one bartender, and one cook on hand, and they all did an amazing job, especially the cook, I don't know how he did it.

After a few drinks, a few of us were daring each other to eat a bit of the world's second hottest pepper, an orange habanero chile that came with one of the meals. Well, being the show-off, I chomped off a large piece of the pepper, knowing full well that I rarely eat anything even remotely spicy, so this was going to be quite a jolt to the system. And it was. Witnesses report that my face turned a shade of purple, tears were streaming down my face, and I looked to the waiter for both mercy and a glass of milk. He brought some honey as well, which helped.


Early the next day, I drove to the Bandelier National Monument. When I think of a monument, I think of a statue, but this is actually a wilderness area, which contains a canyon, which contains the restored ruins of a number of dwellings, kivas (ceremonial structures), and rock paintings from people that lived in the area over 10,000 years agao.

On the way back I stopped in Los Alamos, where the U.S. developed the atomic bomb under highly secretive conditions. Today Los Alamos is a town full of scientists, engineers, etc, but of course, not so secret.

That night we went out for drinks and had a late dinner at Cafe Pasquals, another great restaurant I had wanted to check out.


Friday morning I walked around town, trying to find something interesting. By now the endless art galleries of Santa Fe were getting to me. I also went and checked out the Loretto Chapel, home of the "miraculous staircase". The most miraculous part to me was that people of seemingly average intelligence were paying to look at a staircase.

Ducking in from the rain, we had lunch at El Farol, yet another great restaurant. Yes, we ate well in New Mexico, believe me. That night we went to, what else, another restaurant, The Bull Ring, an excellent steak house, and of course, indulged in a few more drinks.

We headed over to the local piano bar, where the piano man treated us to likely his one millionth performance of Billy Joel's "Piano Man". After that we went to a local's hangout, where a cover band played some great songs, but refused our drunken cries for Whitesnake.


That morning, we hit up the Marty Sanchez golf course again, and then headed north out of town. We were headed towards Taos, which is a ski-resorty type town, set near some great scenery. We took the "High Road to Taos" which is a nice drive from Santa Fe to Taos. Along the way we stopped at Shidoni to watch some bronze pouring. It was about as exciting as I figured bronze pouring would be.

In Taos we had booked a room at a place called the Laughing Horse Inn, which we had heard was a little quirky. I like quirky. Quirky is interesting. It's run by a counterculture hippy couple (organic, artsy, and "sorry to hear" that you work for an oil company). The hot tub is clothing optional. The outer hallways are dirt/plants. A lot of artists are guests here. Definitely interesting....

We had dinner at Orlandos, an authentic New Mexican cafe, popular with locals, and very tasty. This is where I finally tried some blue corn enchilladas, a New Mexican speciality.

Back at the B&B we watched a movie, which was being played on a tv, which was literally hanging right above us, on the top bunk of our bunk bed. (Told you this place was quirky). The movie I chose was 'Easy Rider', which was a film I had never seen, and thought this would be the perfect time, since many of the scenes were shot in New Mexico, including some in Taos.


Sunday morning we ate an organic breakfast at our hippy palace, and chatted with an artist that was staying there. We drove out to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (you can see it in 'Natural Born Killers' and 'Wild Hogs')

Then we went and checked out the Taos Pueblo. There was an important feast ritual spiritual thing going on, so we couldn't take pictures, couldn't ask questions about when anything might take place, so were left to just enjoy the old adobe buildings.

We headed back south to Albuquerque, where we were disappointed in the XXX candy store that we had read about, and checked out the 'plaza'. Every city/town in New Mexico has a 'plaza', surrounded by art galleries, selling their wares to tourists.

Plazaed out, we headed to the Nob Hill district, had lunch, and headed home!