Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Madrid, Taos, Santa Fe, Great Hotels & Yucky RV Parks!
Ellen winged her way home on Sunday, 9/6, after a fantastic week of sightseeing. I told her I would never have seen as much without her egging me on to go see this and that! She didn't tell you about seeing the Caldera, driving through snow on the top of the Jemez Mountains, touring the pueblos at Bandalier National Park or stopping at a 1900's hot springs bath house and indulging in 184 degree waters and a massage - heaven.
We left the very deserted Big Sky RV resort in Acoma, NM on Sunday morning, 8/30, and decided we would take The Turquoise Trail (very wiggly Hwy 14) UP to Santa Fe. This road takes you through the old ghost mining towns of Golden & Cerillio, and brings you right downtown Madrid (pronounced Mah-drid). Porta-potties line the street as they have no sewer system, fantastic boutiques and bars abound and this is where the last half of the movie "Wild Hogs" was filmed (John Travolta, Bill Macy, etc.) And it really is a 'bikers' town with great people-watching. Ellen and I spent 5 hours wandering the streets, meeting and even having lunch with one of the local jewelry makers at Mama Leesa's wonderful restaurant, before heading UP further to Santa Fe.
We had done our research and by location and description, we were parking Winnie at Santa Fe's #1 RV Park - Los Campos RV Resort - NOT! Very low-class, lots of long-termers, no WiFi, pool was cinder block and overlooked the highway, even the parking spaces weren't level. Not worth the top dollar we paid to just park Winnie here for 5 nights. But we locked up, unhooked the Jeep, and headed to Taos and what a wonderful place it still is.
We took the 'low road' up, driving along the the Rio Grande River (which gets it's start just above Taos at the NM/CO border). We stopped to watch some rafters float down and just gaze at the beautiful mountains. Drove into downtown Taos and found our hotel, the El Monte Seragdo (check out the picture of the bar!). Marvelous, glorious piece of property. We had cow-hide covered armour doors, a turquoise-nugget covered pillow on the bed that took both hands to lift, a fabulous spa tub and rain-shower, with a balcony overlooking the mountains! I never wanted to leave.
But we did - leave - and wander into the Village to enjoy another fabulous lunch at a well-know local joint and then through the all the galleries and shops lining the winding streets of this very quaint and beautiful little town. Exhausted, martini's in that fab bar seemed in order before heading out for a late dinner at the best pizza joint in town.
The next morning we arose to sun shinning and we were anxious to go explore the surrounding countryside. Since Taos is a huge ski destination, the scenery, even in summer, is massive. We decided to skip a visit to the pueblo as we had seen a bunch already, and instead went to see the bridge that crosses the Rio Grande at the Royal Gorge. This structure, built in 1964, really opened up northern Mexico, as it was the first and only way to cross this very deep, wide schism in the landscape.
After viewing the gorge we drove to a little town north of Taos and toward the ski area called Arroyo Seco. We had been told this was the 'newest, up-and-coming arts community.' And they were right! We ate in the neatest little place who had just been ranked by Bon Appetite as one of the 10 best hand-packed ice cream shops in America! They also do a great breakfast! We then wandered in and out of some great galleries, shops and stores, talking to the locals, learning abou the recent dedication of their 200-year-old church, how they handle the winters, etc. Both Ellen and I were thinking this would be a great place to live!
Next we drove out of Taos in headed DOWN the High Road back to Santa Fe. What a beautiful drive - weaving, winding, through tiny villages (most with galleries or 200-year old churches) clinging to the side of mountains, huge thunder clouds coming in over the mountains - it was spectacular. We arrived back at Winnie and spent the night and the next morning we packed up and 'moved' to The Inn of the Governor's in downtown Santa Fe for 2 nights. FYI, Cody the Cat, is not happy, has not been happy and continues to not be happy with all the extra people, being deserted and being left for days on end. I won't go into detail as to how he is showing his displeasure, but he's almost ready to find himself another home!
Back to Santa Fe - lovely. First time I had been there in 16 years and it was great. We wandered out and had a delicious breakfast at one of the best-known restaurant's - Pasquale's. Then we wandered around town, in and out of museum, churches, etc. (The Bascillica, The Georgia O'Keefe, The Loretto Chapel) and more art galleries than we could count. Then it was time to get 'gussied-up' and head to the Santa Fe Opera to hear Roberta Flack & Shawn Colvin preform. What a stunning venue, perched on the hill overlooking the mountains. Shawn Colvin really was good - and a wonderful guitar player. But Roberta Flack was a hoot! She's 72 (we had to look it up on Wikipedia when we got back to the hotel). At first we thought she was 'flyin' as she was just acting really strange and her hair was all over her face and she really had the most awful outfit on. Her sound system was off, she would wander around the stage 'directing' her band and singers, and then just stop in mid-song and start again because it was 'too fast'. But she can still sing! She sounds exactly like she did during the 70's & 80's and put on an hour and a 1/2 show that was really good.
The next day we visited with Bryan & Artie, a wonderful couple who live in Santa Fe we had met when I was living in Mexico. They gave us a tour of their beautiful home and fantastic Mexican art collection. We had dinner our last night at a tiny, Italian restaurant and then a good night's sleep before Ellen headed to the airport and I started the next leg of my trip - to Kansas!
To be continued - Until then, take care of each other.