Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Mexico – October, 2015
Flew to Albuquerque from orange county which is always convenient!  Rented a car and drove to Santa Fe where I checked into my airb&b which was a delightful room about 10 minutes walk from the plaza.  Walked around a bit until it got dark and then had dinner at Eloisa, jean sedlar’s new restaurant named after his grandmother.  A smart, modern restaurant in the Drury Plaza Hotel, Eloisa’s menu is filled with interesting choices.  I ordered the white and green corn flan with quinoa, crab cakes with potato straws and acorn squash tamal with goat cheese and pulled pork.  Dessert was a creamy chocolate avocado mousse with a hard chocolate center.  All delicious!!!

Took a walk along Canyon Street in the morning where all the art galleries are and had a pastry at Chez Maman nearby which was not very good…drove up to museum hill to the folk Art Museum and enjoyed the collection of fantastic pieces from all over the world.  Spent a couple hours at the nearby Indian Arts Center with its displays of basketry, pottery, clothing, etc. and watched an extremely interesting video of Maria Martinez, a famous potter, making her famous black pottery.  Lunch at La Boca was yummy, i.e. shrimp tacos with mango/cucumber slaw and chocolate espresso pot of cream.

Later I visited St. Francis Cathedral with its beautifully carved doors and then the Loretto chapel to see the acclaimed spiral staircase built in 1878 by a mysterious carpenter.  Wandered along the river to the Guadaloupe historical area to see the train and the little shops.  Visited the Santuario de Guadalupe built in the late 1700s and said to be the oldest American shrine to the virgin of Guadaloupe.  Stopped by a gallery exhibiting one of Siri Hollander’s enormous horses made out of scrap metal which was incredible and then wandered canyon again to see if some of the galleries were open.  Drove to Radishes & Rye for dinner.  Cute little restaurant in a house with great farm to table food.  I had salmon tartar with quail egg, grilled cauliflower with fried capers and sage leaves and a pecan tart with rye crème anglaise - a wonderful dinner!!!

Took a nice walk and then had breakfast at the French Bakery near the Cathedral.  Had a delicious almond croissant, flaky and warm and rich coffee.  Headed to Chimayo and the high road to Taos.  Stopped at El Santuario de nuestro senor de esquipulas constructed in 1816.  The earth beside the altar is said to have healing powers and attracts 300,000 pilgrims per year.  There is also a sanctuario des ninos with photos of healed children covering the walls.

Stopped at the trajillo weaving shop, ortega’s weaving shop, etc. and made my way up to Penasco where I had lunch at Sugar Nymphs Bistro, i.e. open faced goat cheese/artichoke/roasted pepper/olive sandwich on focaccia bread and part of a 3 layer chocolate cake – both delicious.  Stopped by the Picuris Pueblo where there was nothing much to see except the church newly built in 1776 and a few old kivas.  On to Las Trampas to see the San Jose de Gracia church but it was closed…  Visited some art galleries in LasTruchas and a nice weaving shop where authentic Navajo rugs were made before heading back to Chimayo. I stayed the night at El Meson, a spacious suite with adobe walls where it was nice and quiet.  Drove up to Rancho de Chimayo later for dinner and ordered some typical southwestern fare, i.e. a combination plate with cheese enchilada/pork tamale/chile rellano filled with cheese/Spanish rice and beans/fry bread and honey….

Left Chimayo early as I was told there would be a service at Santa Cruz church in espanola which I really wanted to see but it was closed so I headed on to Taos on the 68.  Stopped for delicious coffee and zucchini/chocolate bread at Oh My Garden Cafe & Market in Ranchos de Taos which was lucky for me as it was near the San Francisco de Asis Church famous for its modern adobe sculpture with no doors or windows visible.  A beautiful building inside and out.  Drove a few miles away to the Hacienda Martinez built in 1804 by merchant, trader and mayor Don Antonio Severino Martinez who lived there until his death in 1827.  Its 21 rooms were built around two placitas and each gives a glimpse of the austerity of frontier living – well worth a visit.

I headed on up to the Millicent Rogers Museum founded in 1953 by her family members after her death.  She moved to Taos in 1947 and began a magnificent collection of native American arts and crafts.  She also designed pieces of jewelry that she had crafted and wore herself.  A magnificent collection!  Lunch at Gutiz, a little French restaurant in town.  I had a nicoise salad with fresh tuna and a slice of flourless chocolate cake, served warm with whipped cream.

Drove down to the Taos Art Museum housed in the former home of Nicolai Fechin who emigrated from Russia.  He was not only a painter and sculptor but an incredible woodworker and the house is filled with cabinets, beds, shutters, etc. designed and carved by him.  The house is the most interesting part of the museum.

On to the home of mountain man and Indian agent Christopher “kit” Carson.  Watched a video of his life with his three wives and nine children and some of his adventures.  A modest home consisting of four rooms filled with little treasures of his life.  Wandered around the plaza and then checked into my airb&b nearby.  Room was nice and quiet and I had the whole floor to myself as no other guest was there.  It was an easy walk to the plaza.  Drove up to Love Apple for a delicious dinner of bacon wrapped dates on greens with blue cheese, salmon trout with quinoa fritters and blackberry plum crisp with vanilla ice cream.  The restaurant is in a cute little house and everyone is sooo friendly!!!  I plan to return tomorrow night!

Took a walk in the morning along paseo de pueblo norte and had a delicious almond croissant at a cute little café called bear claw.  Drove up 64 into the enchanted circle drive, first stopping at the D. H. Lawrence Ranch near San Cristobal.  Visited the 160-acre Kiowa Ranch that Mabel Dodge gave to Lawrence’s wife Frieda where he worked about 11 months of the 3 years he spent in New Mexico.  You can visit his little house and also his memorial.  On through Questa to Chiflo where I walked the half mile trail down to the Rio Grande river.  The path was rocky and small but easy to follow and the river was beautiful.  As I drove there was an abundance of fall foliage still remaining which I thoroughly enjoyed.  On to Red River, a center for skiing, fishing and river rafting at 8,750 feet.  Walked through the small town, charming and quaint and had a cranberry walnut scone for lunch at the Mountain Treasures Café. 

Stopped at the ghost town Elizabethtown, founded in 1865.  It was a gold mining town with 5 stores, seven saloons, etc. at one time but by the early 1900s much of the gold had run out and in 1903 a fire blazed through the town, leveling most of it.  A few dilapidated buildings remain.  On to Eagle nest and then to the Vietnam Veterans memorial state park.  It is a stunning structure with curved white walls soaring high against the mountains, built by Dr. Westpahll in memory of his son Davis, killed in Vietnam in 1968.  Passed through Angel Fire filled with condos, cabins, etc. used in the winter and back to Taos.  Returned to Love Apple for great chile chicken confit tacos with cabbage and flourless chocolate cake with cream – excellent.

Walked along kit Carson road and back to bear paw for another delicious almond croissant.  Visited the Taos Pueblo first with a guide and then wandered around by myself.  There are two main structures of the pueblo which are well over 1,000 years old.  The buildings are many individual homes built side by side and in layers.  There is no electricity and no running water.  The red willow creek is the source of their drinking water and there is an outdoor adobe oven where bread is baked.  Some of the homes are actually gift shops selling local crafts. 
Stopped by the Rio Grande bridge spanning the gorge with the river flowing down below – quite impressive.  Also stopped at the Earth Ship center which explained the concept of self sufficiency, i.e. water is collected from the rain, tires filled with dirt are used to build houses, solar energy is used to heat the earth ships, etc.  There are many of these self-sufficent earth ships out in the desert which I passed as I headed to Chama and in 25 countries around the world…

Stopped at Tierra Woods in los ojos to see the beautiful rugs, sweathers, wool, etc., arriving in Chama about 2:00 p.m.  Stopped at Box Car for pie and ice cream before walking down to the train depot to pick up my tickets.  Took a walking tour of the depot and wandered a little around the small town before checking into the Gandy Dancer where I would stay for two nights.  A charming little bed and breakfast walking distance to the train depot where I would catch the bus in the morning.

Dinner at High Country Restaurant about 10 minutes drive away from town.  A bustling restaurant and saloon with a lot of atmosphere.  A live band was playing oldies in the saloon which I enjoyed while dining on delicious fresh trout with pine nuts/rice/organic greens and a little sliver of chocolate mousse cake.  More than I expected from such a small town!!!

Breakfast at 7:45 a.m., i.e. French toast with fresh fruit.  Walked down to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad depot and caught the bus to Antonio where we boarded the train.  I had booked the parlour car as the seats faced the window and you were essentially sitting alone but the weather was so beautiful that I spent to whole day outside in the open car.  The train is America’s longest and highest narrow gauge railroad and it passed through beautiful scenery as well as hangman’s trescle, whiplash curve, Toltec gorge, etc.  We stopped at Osier for lunch which was served cafeteria style and then headed back to Chama.  A couple German guys boarded our train for the short ride back to Chama.   They were hiking the continental divide trail and had started their trip three months ago in Canada!  It was really interesting hearing about their adventures.

Once back in town I took a long walk to stretch my legs and then drove back up to High Country Restaurant for blackened salmon/rice/organic greens and a little piece of pecan pie.  As it was Sunday night there was no music but I enjoyed it just the same.

Took a walk around town in the morning and then had breakfast burritos and fruit at 7:45 a.m.  Headed toward Bandlier national monument stopping first at Echo Canyon Amphitheater.  The “theater” is hollowed out of sandstone by thousands of years of erosion and is a natural work of art.  The walls send erie echoes.  On to Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’keefe spent about 40 years painting canyons, etc., eventually buying a portion of the ranch where she lived in a humble adobe house.  Stopped in Abiquiu where O’keefe’s house and studio was but it was closed so instead I had a delicious lunch at the Abiquiu Inn nearby to get out of the rain, i.e. ahi tuna tacos with cabbage and salsa and chocolate pine nut tart with a crumb crust.

Luckily the rain let up as I pulled into the visitor center of Bandelier national Monument and was lucky that it was almost 3 p.m.  You can drive your own car in after 3 p.m. and stay until 6:30 p.m. which I did.  Picked up walking tour map and visited the large kiva and homes of the village of Tyuonyi, cave dwellings you climb up to with a ladder, etc.  Saw some petroglyphs and walked to the alcove house 140 feet above the canyon which you can enter by climbing up 4 ladders affording beautiful view of the area.

It started to rain just as I left but I didn’t have far to go, arriving in Jemez Springs about 7:30 p.m.  Checked into my “cabin” at the Laughing Lizard Inn and then headed out for berry pie and ice cream at the stage stop.  Nice and cozy in my little room after a hot shower….

Took a walk through the little town and had a fresh from the oven cinnamon roll and a bowl of strawberries at the little café nearby.  Picked up a pecan tart and hard cooked egg for later as supposedly there is nothing available in chaco canyon.  Drove and drove and finally found the entrance to chaco but the dirt road on 1750 turned into a muddy road which I couldn’t cross in my little car…I stopped a red truck and asked the two Navajo ladies if they could take me into the visitor’s center if I paid them and they said yes.  I parked my car near their house and they drove me about 10 minutes to the visitor’s center and agreed to pick me up at 3 p.m.  Found a nice ranger who drove me into the park where I took a walking tour of the pueblo bonito, the largest prehistoric southwest native American dwelling ever evacuated.  It was planned and constructed in stages between AD 850 and AD 1150 by ancestral puebloan peoples and contains enormous kivas and 800 “rooms” covering more than 3 acres - very interesting.  Got a lift back to the visitor’s center where my “ride” picked me up at 3 p.m.  Would love to go back someday to see more…

Drove through the pouring rain to Laguna and finally found the Apache Canyon Inn where Ada was waiting for me.  A delightful Inn, friendly hostess and a delicious salmon dinner w/mashed potatoes and collard greens which she had prepared for me and her other guest, a biker from the Ukraine.  Took a nice hot shower and was happy to be out of the rain!!!

Had hoped to visit the Acoma Sky City, built atop a 367 foot sandstone bluff and considered the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America but it was pouring rain so I drove on into Albuquerque.  Checked into the Brittania W. Mauger B & B which was a lovely place to stay and very centrally located.  Walked up to the Indian Pueblo Culture Center which housed displays of distinctive handicrafts of each community.  Lunch at Vinaigrette, a cute little café nearby, was delicious, i.e. cherry tart salad with chile pecans, Swiss chard and feta cheese and half tuna melt followed by flourless chocolate cake.  I do love my chocolate!!!

Spent a couple hours in the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History which was fabulous.  There was a special folk art exhibit from a collection previously owned by a New York couple, Elie and Viola Nadelman and it was fascinating.  Also enjoyed the paintings by local artists and a room filled with old artifacts, i.e. adding machine, old irons, toasters, etc.  Wandered around Old Town until everything closed and then regrouped in my nice little b&b.

Drove up to Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Rancho de Albuquerque for dinner.  It is a rustic restaurant in an Inn and Spa where they grow much of their own produce.  I ordered an eggplant dish with feta cheese and tiny crisp onions rings, potato gnocchi with mushrooms and red onion and “death by chocolate”, i.e. chocolate ice cream bar with fudge cake pieces and toffee – all wonderful.

Took a walk to town to see where Mas was located (where I would have lunch) and then had a nice breakfast at the b&b.  Drove up to the balloon museum north of town and it was excellent.  Exhibited were not only balloons from the annual balloon festival but balloons which has crossed the Atlantic and Pacific, been used during the war, flown around the world, etc.  Walked around the sculpture gardens of the art museum and old town and then drove to Mas for lunch.  Had baby artichokes with goat cheese, Nicoise salad with crisp potato wedges and steamed chocolate cake for dessert.  Returned the car and caught the flight home.  I really enjoyed my trip, i.e. the sights, the food, the interesting museums and especially the Cumbres & Toltec train ride.


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