Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Santa Fe, New Mexico - Sightseeing

Most of my vacations involve sleeping in tents and outdoor adventures like hiking or biking.  Every once it a while it is nice to have a more relaxed break, stay in a hotel, and enjoy some luxuries like great restaurants and other more touristy activities.  Roger and I decided to spend the Memorial Day holiday weekend in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area checking out some of the local sights and culture.

After the quick flight to Albuquerque from Salt Lake on Thursday afternoon, we grabbed our first New Mexico-style meal at El Patio before making the one hour drive up to Santa Fe.  New Mexico is all about the red and green chili, and we started the trip off right.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe

After a great breakfast on Friday morning at the Santa Fe Baking Company, we headed north to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa for a full day of relaxation.  The hot springs were wonderful and there were several pools of varying temperature to enjoy.  They offered a "mud area" where you could cover yourself in mud and bake dry in the warm sun and I took the opportunity to get my first professional hot stone massage at the spa.  The day started off sunny and warm, but storm clouds were building as we were finishing up for the day.  The drive back to Santa Fe was a stormy one and the thunderstorms continued throughout the evening.

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs

Mud bake at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs

Food is an important part of New Mexico culture and we enjoyed a fantastic New Mexico-style breakfast at Cafe Pasquals on Saturday morning.  The weather was looking stormy for most of the day, so we decided to walk around Santa Fe and check out the local farmers' market as well as some of the many galleries and museums that the city is known for.  The worst weather of the day hit as we were exploring the Canyon Road galleries, but this gave us an excuse to linger and enjoy the art.

Breakfast at Pasquals

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Santa Fe Farmers' Market

New Mexico State Capitol

 Canyon Road

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

New Mexico Museum of Art

We headed north on Sunday morning to check out the town of Taos and see some other important sights along the way.  We took the scenic "high road" on the way up to Taos and made our first stop at El Santuario de Chimayo, one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in the United States.  The church was built in 1816 and the dirt from a small hole within the building is said to have healing powers.  After leaving Chimayo, we continued north through Taos and on to the D. H. Lawrence Ranch where the author made his New Mexico home.  The ranch is normally closed to the public, but it was open for the holiday weekend.

El Santuario de Chimayo

Truchas, NM on the High Road to Taos

 D. H. Lawrence Ranch

D. H. Lawrence Memorial

After leaving the D. H. Lawrence Ranch, we traveled back towards Taos and made a stop at the Taos Pueblo.  The Taos Pueblo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States and is believed to be nearly 1,000 years old.

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the historic town of Taos and checking out some of the many art galleries.  Before heading back to Santa Fe on the "low road", we made a side trip to the Rio Grande River Gorge.  It was an impressive sight and definitely one of the highlights of our day trip to Taos.

Taos Plaza


Rio Grande River Gorge

Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge

After a lot of sightseeing and indoor activities, we decided to spend Monday hiking and exploring at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.  Before making the one hour drive south to the monument, we made a quick stop at the Loretto Chapel to see the famous spiral staircase that some believe was built by St. Joseph himself after the Sisters of the Chapel prayed for nine days for someone to help them.

Loretto Chapel staircase

The weather was perfect when we arrived at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and we spent the rest of the day hiking around the unusual rock formations.  The trails were short and offered some spectacular views of the surrounding landscape after climbing above the "tent rocks".  Before heading back to Santa Fe, we drove on a gravel road for a few miles to a quiet, less visited area of the monument where a Veterans Memorial can be found.

Slot canyon

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

View at the Veterans Memorial in
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Before flying out of Albuquerque on Tuesday, Roger and I spent the afternoon driving around to some of the locations used in the Breaking Bad television series.  It was a fun way to finish up a great trip.  A big thanks to Roger for a fantastic time in New Mexico.

White Family house

aka Los Pollos Hermanos