Monday, September 8, 2014

Taos and Santa Fe

IBA InterNational Meet is over and the hotel parking lot was rapidly emptying out as I brought my luggage out to my car.  It's Sunday and it was time to move on to Taos NM for the night, before continuing on to Santa Fe NM for a few days.

I didn't have too far to drive, so I took my time leaving the hotel in Denver.  Along the way on US 160 to Taos I passed a produce stand so I did a U-turn and returned to pick up this bounty - $5 for as much as would fit in a large bowl, and common sense over-rode my ability to completely fill that bowl.  Corn, apricots, nectarine, plum, apple, tomato, zucchini, summer squash, and a cucumber.  Worth the U-turn!

In Fort Garland, I turned south onto 159 but not before stopping for lunch at a really great little place!  I had one of their enchilada plate good!

Much of  159/522 runs through open range country, but I was surprised that it wasn't the usual cattle open range but horse open range.  Miles and miles of high country pasture land, a bit hilly, but mostly a very long flat valley between two mountain ranges.  I could see herds of horses off in the distance and then, as I came up a slight rise, I saw a half dozen horses standing very near the road.  A pretty brown and white paint horse, a black horse, and a few brown horses.  The lead horse began to make a move for the road so I slowed way down.  The other horses looked like they were starting to follow the lead horse.  But then they all stopped and stood near the shoulder, on a little knoll, watching me drive by.  I so wished that I had a camera handy and then kicked myself for not pulling over.

I continued on into Taos NM and the Historic Taos Inn.  Beautiful old historic hotel just a couple of blocks from Taos square.  The Inn itself is more of a compound of buildings pulled in tightly against the backside of the original hotel structure.  When I made my reservations, the choices were dizzying.  But I'd decided on a room in the courtyard section, a low adobe structure surrounding lush shady gardens in the center.   My room was so beautiful!  Very upscale, with luxurious furnishings and a wonderfully comfortable bed.  The front desk woman walked with me to show me how to get to my room and then showed me the evaporative cooling device and how to use it, but even though it was 90 degrees out, the room was very comfortable and cool without it.  I was beginning to regret that I'd only be here one night.

the courtyard rooms

Courtyard rooms walkway
Last time I was here was on my BMW motorcycle.  I had booked the same timeshare in Santa Fe and a friend joined me on his BMW.  We rode up to Taos and then did the enchanted circle and some national parks in the area, stopping along the way for lunch.  I remembered a chocolate shop on the square in Taos and how decadently good the truffles were.  So once I'd unloaded my car, I walked over to the square to find that shop.  To my delight, it was still there!

These are the best truffles I've ever had!
I found a shady bench on the square and sat there just enjoying the afternoon and nibbling on some chocolate bark I'd also purchased at the shop.  A woman - an artist whose works were for sale at that shop - was checking in with the store clerk when I finished my chocolate purchase.  A few minutes after I sat down on the bench on the square, she came over and asked if she could join me for a bit.  She was about my age, dressed every bit the role of an art colony resident, and we had a delightful chat.

Sitting on a shady bench on Taos Square
See the Welcome to Taos sign?

Taos Square

Taos Square, dominated by a veterans memorial

Taos square, shops barely visible in background

That evening I had dinner at the hotel restaurant - Doc Martin's - and then stepped into the tiny little lobby/lounge area to have a glass of after dinner wine and enjoy the little two person combo playing delightful easy jazz music.  It was a great day!

Duo playing in lobby area of Historic Taos Inn

I slept in, and then had breakfast in my room before loading my things back into the SUV and continuing south to Santa Fe NM.  I thought I'd stop at Bandelier National park along the way, spend some time walking the grounds and taking photos.  But when I got to the town of White Rock, I saw signs directing all traffic for Bandelier into a brand new visitor center in town.  Private cars are no longer permitted to continue to the National Park entrance on Hwy 4, but must park at the visitor center and take a shuttle.  I really didn't want to do that, since my car was filled with valuables, two cases of wine, and my luggage.

I found a grocery store in town and picked up a snack and some bananas to eat in the car while I considered my next move.  It was too early to arrive in Santa Fe, since they probably wouldn't let me check in until 3 PM or later.  Then I decided I would just take my chances.  I planned to stop at the Albertson's beforehand and do some major grocery shopping to stock the kitchen at the timeshare, so this would kill some time, as would a stop at the Starbucks for a much needed cappuccino.

I stopped at Starbucks first, then brought the coffee into the grocery store with me as I shopped for additional vegetables to augment my roadside purchases for a salad, some additional fruit, cereal, fresh fish, steaks, crackers, and sandwich meats.

By the time I got to the Villas of Santa Fe Resort, it was 2:30 PM and surprise!  My unit was ready to check in.  Good news!

Monday evening dinner...a bottle of Malbec from my Denver stash

Tuesday morning walk to Starbucks
Tuesday I woke up late, still getting caught up on rest and sleep apparently.  I took a stroll down to the Starbucks, a nice mile or so walk, then continued on into town and found a great place for lunch, where I had my tacos, washed down with a draft beer.  Then it was on to dessert:

Tuesday stroll to Santa Fe Square
Tuesday evening I had baked tilapia for dinner, along with a nice salad and another glass of that Malbec wine.

Wednesday morning after breakfast I returned back to Santa Fe square and continued onto side streets to wander through some of the great little shops that are tucked back off the street, venturing down hidden alleys that open up into little courtyards lined with shops.  A few minutes were spent on a shady bench in front of the cathedral, just enjoying the morning and the views and people-watching.

The beautiful Cathedral that dominates the center of town,
just off the town square
I had lunch at a delightful little Italian restaurant tucked a couple of blocks off the main square, with very good food and service.  A bowl of out-of-this-world minestrone soup made with all fresh vegetables and a small carpaccio plate, one of my favorite Italian antipasti dishes.  I found Senor Murphy's chocolates again, still there.  His chocolates are beyond delicious!  Mostly dark chocolates with a hint of chili pepper!  Several of these chocolate bars came home with me from this trip.

I spent another pleasant little while sitting at these tables.  A couple
with a gorgeous bull mastiff sat next to me and I enjoyed their company
and their beautifully trained and docile mastiff
I wanted to spend more time wandering around the town, revisiting the things that I'd seen and done when I was here three or four years ago.  So many cute shops, so many great restaurants...but I was really beginning to get homesick and shopping or eating out just weren't doing it for me anymore. I decided to leave a day early and to drive straight through to home - 886 miles - in order to be home by late Thursday night.  I returned to my villa that afternoon and began pulling things together in preparation for packing the car for home.  I had one last dinner in the villa - steak, salad and wine - and then finished packing.

The trip has been wonderful, but long, and I was starting to feel the pull towards home.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you sure stayed at some beautiful places. I've never been to those areas so I love the photographic tour your provided. The veggies and chocolates look delightful too.