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Trip Report A solo, snowy weekend in Santa Fe

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A solo, snowy weekend in Santa Fe

Enticed by Southwest Airlines’ low prices ($149 RT, total), I booked myself a weekend in Santa Fe, December 2-5. I used to live in the area, but hadn’t been back in 14 years. None of my friends, nor my mom were inclined to travel, so I chose to go it alone.

Dec. 2
A strong winter advisory was in effect in New Mexico, so I wasn’t sure if I would get there, but we landed only 10 minutes late in ABQ, not bad.

My rental car was from Advantage, a full size for $11/day. As I exited the rental car center to go find my car, I was blasted with cold air. If I wasn’t awake, I was now!

I really like the rental car center concept. The communal shuttles were continuous, much better than the usual situation of waiting for your individual company shuttles at other airports.

The drive to Santa Fe was uneventful. While it was cold, thankfully there was no precipitation. I went to my hotel first, the Super 8 on Cerrillos Road, to get rid of my luggage. I had stayed at the Super 8 during my last trip, and am sorry to say, it’s gone downhill. The price was right, but it came at another cost, my sleep. The mattress was really old and worn out, the tag indicated it was 10 years old. I don’t know what the industry standard is for replacing beds, but surely it’s more frequent! Other negative components of this hotel are: toilet lever had to be held down until the flushing was complete, damaged/unworking smoke detector, and dark, unlit parking lot. I know I was trying to save money, but next time I’ll spring for an extra few bucks and hopefully get a better night’s sleep.

Enough about the hotel!

En route to the downtown area, I stopped in Sage Bakehouse hoping for a snack. By this time it was 1:30 and they didn’t have much left from the lunch crowd. I just grabbed a sourdough roll to tide me over.

The purpose of this trip was just to meander and escape, nothing intense and no agenda. As I said above, I used to live in the area and have done a lot of things in the region.

I first visited St. Francis Cathedral. It’s a pleasant, light church and I always enjoy visiting it. The docent was really nice and I had an enjoyable conversation with her.

I moved on to San Miguel Mission, a place I had not previously seen during my time in NM. I don’t have my notes in front of me, but I believe this is the oldest church in the USA. It was really, truly neat.

Onward to the Loretto Chapel. This is a beautiful cathedral in miniature, home of the miraculous stairway. I met a nice couple who had me take some pictures of them with the staircase in the background.

By this time, I was getting quite hungry. I was determined to have a burger at Bobcat Bite in the outskirts of the city. This is a popular place, but I went in the middle of the afternoon when it was quiet. It’s really, really tiny! I sat at the bar, but I could have sat anywhere since there were only three other people dining. I got a basic cheeseburger and it was really good.

I noticed snow flurries while I was dining and thought, ok, the winter storm is about to get started!

I headed back downtown. I puttered around the plaza area, visiting shops and the Native American vendors in the plaza.

At 5 pm on Fridays, the Palace of the Governors is free, so I took advantage. The place was nearly empty. I think I saw only one other person inside, not counting the staff. Heck, the whole downtown area was nearly empty! I took my time looking at the art and artifacts, moving at a very leisurely pace.

Once done, I wandered around a bit more and then decided to call it a night.

Dec. 3

After a very uncomfortable night on that old, old mattress, I awoke to see about two inches of snow on the ground outside. The news stations were saying the roads were icy and slick, so I decided to take my time getting ready. I worked out in the small hotel gym, had breakfast and then finally got going. By this time, the roads were slushy, but seemed ok. I told myself to just drive slowly and carefully.

I went to the farmer’s market first. There was actually a flea market in the neighboring building, so I checked that out too. Inside the farmer’s market, I found a really nice ristra for my mom that incorporated wheat. That was the only thing I bought there. I really didn’t buy much over the weekend. Prices were very high and I didn’t think they represented a fair value for the most part.

I also visited the Spanish Winter Market at the convention center. There was nothing I could afford here, so I didn’t spend much time. As an example, I was interested in a pair of earrings that I thought would make a good Christmas present for a friend. I figured they would be about $50, but when I inquired about price, I learned they were $125! I love my friend, but we don’t exchange presents at that price level.

Time to head off to Chimayo! When I lived in NM, I never made it to Chimayo and I felt compelled to go visit this time. Nobody was on the road, which was nice. In the church, there were just a few people inside. I went into the little room with the holy dirt and took some to bring back for a friend’s sister who is trying to recover from a very serious operation. In the neighboring room that holds the crutches of healed people, there was an elderly lady in a wheelchair praying. I hope she finds healing and peace.

I had thought about going further up the high road, but it sounded like there was a lot of snow in that area, so I chose to go back to Santa Fe. I decided to have a late lunch at Harry’s Roadhouse, along the same highway as Bobcat Bite. The food was good at Harry’s, but the service was slow.

I headed back into town, and just puttered around for the rest of the day. I did get a pretty decent big cookie from Santa Fe Baking Co. for a sweet treat.

A place I enjoyed when I lived here was Jackalope’s pottery. It seems really different from my memories. I wasn’t impressed at all.

It was super cold at this point with the sun gone, so I brought my day to a close and headed back to the hotel.

Dec. 4
This time when I woke up, it seemed like there was a coating of about 3 inches of snow on the ground. I repeated my routine from the day before, working out at the gym and taking my time getting ready. The roads seemed more slick than the day before.

I checked out of the hotel and proceeded to the artisan’s market which is held at the same location as the farmer’s market. There wasn’t much to look at and I moved out of there pretty quickly.

I headed to Los Alamos, enjoying the drive. I drove around the town, North and Barranca Mesas, and had wanted to go to Bandelier, but the weather seemed to be changing, looking very ominous in the direction of the park, so I decided to hit the road and make my way for ABQ for my final night. I probably should have gone ahead and visited the park, but the forecasters had made a big deal about the weather turning bad, I didn’t want to take my chances since I was alone and had to fly out of ABQ the next morning.

After I dropped off my stuff at the Days Inn and Suites near the airport, I drove over to Old Town. There were cop cars blocking some streets. I didn’t learn until later that evening that there were two dead people found in the area and I assume that’s what the cop cars were about. Anyways, I found a free parking lot and took off to wander the stores. Of course, I had noticed “Candy Lady” right away and went in to check it out. I made note of the offerings in case I didn’t find anything more appealing elsewhere. I probably spent an hour walking up and down the couple of streets, shopping in the stores, although there was nothing exciting to be found. I did pick up some lapis earrings and a silver necklace to give as Christmas presents.

Since I didn’t find any other treats, I went back to Candy Lady and picked up a chunk of fudge. It was very good.

For dinner, I stopped in the pizza parlor on Rio Grande Rd and ordered a pizza to bring back to the hotel.

I give the Days Inn a thumbs up. It was very clean and the bed was comfy (much to my relief after the Super 8). I appreciated having both a microwave and refrigerator. By the time I had gotten to my room with the pizza, it needed a little heating up.

Watching the news, the forecasters were predicting bleak conditions for the next day. Great, maybe I won’t be able to get home tomorrow.

Dec. 5

I woke up throughout the night, peeking out the window to see what the weather was doing. It sure looked cold!

The entryway and parking lot were very icy. Happily, I navigated the safe return of my rental car and my flight back home was on schedule.

While it was a very low key, low activity trip, I enjoyed getting away from my routine at home.

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