Tuesday, August 25, 2015

24 Hours in Santa Fe

"Auntie Gwen Goes to the Opera"

August 25, 2015

We woke up this morning ready to explore Santa Fe with our host/tour guide/chauffeur Alan. Our first destination was up in the hills where Alan and Sue have purchased land to build their dream retirement home. The house is not yet started, but Joe and I could imagine it through Alan’s descriptions—as well as appreciate the view from the top of their property. The vista was stunning! The air was crisp and there was not a sound to be heard except the breeze. It was absolutely glorious. We are hoping that the next time we return, the house will be finished and we can stay for longer than an hour.

The view from Alan and Sue's property
Our next stop was at the Shidoni Foundry and Sculpture Gardens. The foundry is open to the public at certain times, including on Saturdays when they do the pouring. The pieces in the sculpture garden were all for sale, and they were wonderful—diverse and interesting. I saw more than one which I would have liked to own—I kept telling Alan that he should consider buying this one or that one for his property. I did find one artist whose work I could have found room for in Highland Park—both at home and in front of Joe’s office. They were quirky and entertaining! But the entire park was great—we love sculpture gardens and this one did not disappoint.

Shidoni Sculpture Garden
By the time we left, we were all feeling a little faded from the heat, since we’d been outside for several hours. Alan headed for the center of Santa Fe again—this time, the street where his grandfather used to live! It is now in a very desirable part of town along the Santa Fe River, which is not large but was delightfully rushing along its rocky bed. We parked next to it and crossed it to Canyon Road to eat on the patio at El Farol, Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant. We all had cups of soup and selections from the tapas menu—my “flash fried” avocado with salsa and lime yogurt was fabulous! Joe had a tapas sampler,and Alan had a dish of olives and anchovies. We made a big mistake by not taking photos of the dishes before we attacked them, because they were each a small work of art. Plus totally delicious!

After lunch, we all agreed we were ready for a siesta. So we drove back to Alan’s and agreed to meet at 3pm for more adventure. Joe and I both fell asleep, but after we woke up, Joe told me that he was concerned about the RV’s systems. Although we’d gotten as level as possible, the refrigerator was having difficulty cooling our food. In addition, it was quite hot out, but because we had not stopped for gas on our way into town, and we were quite low, our generator couldn’t work. As a result, using a fan to cool off the RV was draining our battery. We realized that we were going to have to move to an RV park in order to hook up and restore our battery and let the refrigerator cool down appropriately.

We found an RV park about 15 minutes away from Alan’s apartment, so we called and they had room for us for tonight. We let Alan know what was going on; then we packed up and drove down to the RV park, filling the gas tank on the way. The people at the park were very nice—it has lots of amenities which of course we won’t use, but it’s nice to know they are there. We hooked up to the electricity and turned on the air conditioner for Cassie to wait for us, and Alan drove in 10 minutes later to pick us up so we could continue our sightseeing tour.

We were all noticing how hot it had gotten, so we escaped the heat by driving up into the mountains to the base of the ski resort. This drive took us through the forests, where eventually we left the pinon pines behind and began seeing ponderosas instead. We drove past Hyde Memorial State Park and state forest, and stopped to admire the Tesuque River (the sculpture garden was right near the same river, but thousands of feet lower down) as it tumbled over a small waterfall at the side of the road. We were at more than 9,000 feet when we turned around. There is a pull-out for a view of the valley and surrounding mountains, but it was a bit hazy today—Alan told us that he had read that smoke from the wildfires in the northwest has actually been blown south as far as Santa Fe, and the air is not as clear as it usually is. We all agreed it smelled "delicious, however,
Perfect for Joe's office!
and was cool and refreshing after the hot afternoon. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my camera, so I couldn’t take any photos of the waterfall.

We noticed as we drove down the mountain again that the temperature did go up, but by the time we reached the center of Santa Fe, it was cool enough to be comfortable. We decided it was time for dinner, but on the way to the restaurant we couldn’t resist going into the local “cheesemonger”, an establishment which Alan recommended to us and Joe jumped at the idea. After lots of tasting, we left with a bag of cheeses and an assortment of interesting crackers to go with it. Then we went to Il Piatto, an Italian restaurant near the center of town. The food there was wonderful—I had pumpkin ravioli, Joe had a wild mushroom gnocchi, and Alan had squid-ink noodles with seafood. We were seated next to an open door so the breeze came in, and it was just delightful.

After dinner, we strolled around a little bit, and hearing the music coming from the Plaza, we went to investigate. All summer there have been free concerts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and tonight was a sort of funk rock band. The music was eclectic, and the musicians even more so, with names like Helena Handbasket, Saxsquatch, and Sweat Stain. The Plaza was crowded with people of every age, many of whom were dancing to the music. I saw a woman who looked a little older than me, with white hair, dancing away, and nearby, an adorable little girl who must have been around 2 years old at the most, wearing a silver tutu, silver glitter boots (rain-boot style), and a pink and white hoodie. She was bopping to the music, as were most of us. Joe was drinking in the scene—he didn’t love the music, but the people-watching (which he loves) was excellent! The entire ambience of the place was just wonderful—everyone having a great time in the cool air. 

Joe and Debbie at lunch
After 30 minutes or so, we strolled back to the car, and Alan returned us to our RV. We passed so many interesting-looking shops and restaurants along the way, it was so tempting to just want to stay for a week at the least. I definitely want to come back—I told Alan that next time, there’s no question that Sue and I will have to spend an entire day just shopping! All those tempting shops with the fabulous clothing that I didn’t get to even walk into! I’m sure Joe was just as happy that we were there both nights after closing time.

As he dropped us off, Alan pointed out that it had been almost exactly 24 hours since we’d arrived in Santa Fe. We seem to have packed so much fun into that time! We were so happy to see him, and even though we missed having Sue there, we did have a great time. Alan's family has lived in Santa Fe for generations--so his roots are deep here and he had plenty of interesting things to tell us about the history of the area, as well as family anecdotes. We are most certainly hoping to come back soon! Meanwhile, I have GOT to decide where we are going tomorrow! It is very tempting to head back up into the mountains, but I *really* want my Arizona sticker for our state map! I guess we’ll see how we feel in the morning.

1 comment:

Bobbie Turniansky said...

Great timing for a post about what sounds like a great trip. I had just finished reading the last 3 posts when this one popped in.
From our vacation to yours - drive safe and continue enjoying.