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Holy dirt and horse riding in the Land of Enchantment

Holy dirt and horse riding in the Land of Enchantment

Oct 2nd, 2009, 08:03 AM
  #1  
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Holy dirt and horse riding in the Land of Enchantment

We had a fantastic time in NM but in 5 days we barely scratched the surface; so much to do so little time. We'll be back!

Day 1. Friday Sept 25th.
We arrived in ABQ around 3pm and loved the view from the plane! The Sandias are very impressive set against a clear blue sunny sky; as first impressions go this was wonderful!

After a non eventful FULL flight on AA we quickly found the shuttle to the car hire. I really liked the fact that all the main car hire companies shared the same shuttle.. makes sense environmentally too.
We rented an economy car with Enterprise which was fine for the 3 of us (if my son had been with us we'd have needed an upgrade as there would have been no space for his luggage in the boot or room for his legs in the back.) This was our first trip without DS and although we missed him and his sense of humour we also appreciated the extra space and the ease of early starts without a teenager in tow!

First 2 nights at the Hyatt Place Uptown @ $100 a night inc. tax. We really like this relatively new addition to the Hyatt chain and this is our second stay (Last month we stayed at Hyatt Place NJ) Very large comfortable rooms. The link is below.

http://albuquerqueuptown.place.hyatt...lace/index.jsp

Great breakfast included with fresh fruit (pineapple/melon/grapefruit), bagels etc; pay extra for cooked to order eggs.

So we dropped our bags and decided to take a walk to the Uptown mall across the street. This was the newest looking mall in the area and we walked through it checking out the stores and restaurants to get to a restaurant recommended by the hotel staff; Gardunos.
We arrived during happy hour on Friday afternoon and sat outside for margaritas, great $1 tacos, with free chips and dips.

Gardunos link. http://www.gardunosrestaurants.com/

We enjoyed our tasty snacks and sat for an hour or so soaking up the late afternoon sunshine by which time the little patio was buzzing and this seemed like a very popular after work spot.
We headed back to pick up the car and drove up to the Sandia Peak Tramway.
http://www.sandiapeak.com/

I think ABQ is at around 4,000ft and the cable car takes you up to over 10,000ft! The temperature dropped to 47F at the summit so we were glad of our jackets. Great views and we stayed until sunset. It was lovely riding the cable car down as the lights of Albuquerque twinkled below.

Although we were unaffected by the altitude we all had either sinus pain or ear ache after the descent probably due to the pressure changes after flying and the cable car couple with the fact that we had colds. I had a slight headache by the time we got back to our room (probably due to the decent margaritas at Gardunos!).
So we decided an early night was in order and went to bed at 9pm (it felt more like 11pm for us due to the time difference).

Day 2. Saturday and early start.
We headed out after breakfast into downtown ABQ which was deserted at 8am. We walked around checking out the Plaza, the pretty church, etc.
The Navajo code talkers were sat at a table signing books and we eavesdropped for a minute or two (understanding zero of course!).
We did a little shopping and picked up the Tour NM card when the tourist info.place opened at 10am.

More later...
sassy_cat is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 08:08 AM
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Sounds great so far, can't wait for more. FYI, ABQ is at 5312 ft - it does effect people, some more than others. Of course, a long travel day and margaritas don't help/hurt either!

Deb
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Oct 2nd, 2009, 10:43 AM
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Thanks Deb!

Day 2 continued. We had a 1 hour horse ride booked with Broken Saddle at 2pm and were asked to arrive by 1.30pm so we picked up some coffee to go and headed for the Turquoise Trail.

Once we got past some very slow traffic leaving Albuquerque (an apple truck had apparently tipped most of its load onto the highway!) we enjoyed the scenic drive and arrived in Madrid around 11.30am giving us plenty of time to shop before and after lunch .

My DD and I both bought inexpensive earrings from a shop called Color and light. Mine were made of feathers and DD chose a pair made with bright green marbles, very cool.
I also got another pair of rare Cerrillos turquiose earrings at Gypsy Gem. We bought a few sepia postcards after lunch (including one of Geronimo in his advancing years!).

Lunch was at the Mine Shaft Tavern and we all chose New Mexican dishes which were all good.

Our horse ride was the highlight of the trip for our DD and we enjoyed it too. The views were stunning ( wide open land with distant mountain views up to 150 miles away). Our guide had been working at Broken Saddle for 8 years and was very knowledgeable about the area.
After lots of photos at the top we rode down and my DD got to canter for a while.

It was a hot sunny day and I got a bit sunburnt due to poor application of sunscreen around my neck.
We drove back to ABQ on the Turquoise Trail stopping briefly in Madrid to look at some gorgeous carpets that were handknotted in Oaxaca, Mexico. Tempted but determined not to blow our budget on day2 we drove on!

After a swim in the outdoor pool at our hotel we drove to downtown Albuquerque for dinner at the Church St Cafe. The chicken and green chile soup was delicious and declared the best meal of the trip. DH had a burger that was good.
Before dinner we watched a Native American Indian dance in the plaza and listened to a drum group (part of the State Fair).

Day 3. Early start... and a long day!
We left after breakfast for Taos but with many stops on the way.
First we headed west to the Petroglyph National Monument and did a short hike and took several cool photos of the petroglyph images plus a bunny or two!

Next stop was Coronado State Monument to see the murals but we made a slight detour into Jackalope in Bernalilo where we bought some playing cards, a table runner and browsed.

Coronado....This was very interesting and the little museum has some very well presented artifacts.
We had a well earned slice of berry tart each on a picnic bench before moving on (forgot to mention we'd stopped at the brand new Trader Joes in uptown ABQ the night before for essential supplies!)

Fortified we drove on to Santa Fe which we more or less bypassed with a brief stop at Chocolate Maven for a late brunch... yum... everything was good, Mayan chile hot chocolate went well with the chocolate ganache torte. My dd tried the posole chile soup and was surprised it was so good. DH had coffee and shared my torte.

Our next stop was Tesuque where we stretched our legs walking around the Shidoni Gallery outdoor sculptures and we also checked out the glass blowing gallery opposite.

Time was getting on so we made tracks for Chimayo.
We'd been asked to pick up some Holy dirt from the shrine at El Santuario de Chimayo for our friends in Santa Fe so we arrived at the beautiful little church around 3pm. Wow, these were the only crowds we'd encountered but I guess Sunday is the busiest day here!!

My DD shoveled a scoop of dirt into a paper bag and we were about leave when she asked if this was HOLY dirt or HOLEY dirt as the stuff is in a hole.... hmmm, not sure I said.. I guess we're sceptics!

more later
sassy_cat is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 10:48 AM
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You hits so many of my favorites! More, please!
D
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 03:15 PM
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Day 3 continued.
So we carried on along the High Road to Taos stopping off at a few places along the way. There were many galleries/studios open to the public for the weekend labeled with yellow numbers but we didn't buy anything. The scenery was impressive.

Eventually we got to Taos just as the art fair in Kit Carson Park was packing up. We had a quick look and I bought a couple of handmade stone drawer pulls. I'm very pleased with my impulse buy but now I have to redo the bathroom in order to show off my purchases!

We'd driven past our hotel (Comfort Suites) as we wanted to eat dinner before checking in for the night so we drove on a little further to Orlando's
http://www.taosdining.com/Taos-Eateries/orlandos

The food was excellent but alas no traditional margaritas (they serve a version made with wine which I didn't fancy).
I had tres colores enchiladas (one cheese, one chicken and one beef) with 3 different chile sauces, all delicious.
My DD wanted to return for lunch the next day but with our jam packed itinerary I knew we'd be miles away by then!

We watched the sunset and headed back to soak in the hot tub at our hotel. Outdoor pool was a little chilly in the evening but we enjoyed our dip.

The Comfort Suites, Taos was a good choice as we had a huge room. One king bed, one queen bed plus a sitting area with a sofa, dining table and chairs, microwave, mini fridge etc.
The hotel is showing signs of wear and tear but it was very clean and the beds were comfortable $90 per night with our tour NM discount card.
Breakfast was included and was fairly good. There was some fruit available and all the usual staples.

We headed out early to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge... more later
sassy_cat is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 03:25 PM
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Just wanted to add our TOMTOM GPS was wonderful throughout the trip. We relied on it and 90% of the time it was accurate... how we ended up in a trailer home park in Espanola comes next.. not intentionally I might add!
sassy_cat is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 05:51 PM
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Wow, you all packed a lot in! Great trip report so far.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 08:21 AM
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Thanks Lee Ann! We had great advice from you, Deb and BeachGirl.

Monday Sept 28th (day4)
We had breakfast at the hotel and drove about 12 miles to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. I was quite chilly at 8am and we didn't linger; just a brisk walk to the centre of the bridge a few photos from each side and back to the car. Great views (totaled car on one side...) but too windy to hang around for long so we high tailed it back towards Taos and stopped at The Bean coffee shop that we'd passed on the way out.
http://thebeantaos.com/
Great coffee, some beautiful photos of horses (for sale) and a nice ambiance. We sat for about half an hour writing postcards and warming up.

We drove back via Taos Plaza and window shopped a little. Decided to skip Taos Pueblo as we were ready for some serious hiking today so back to the hotel to pack up and check out.

We drove the low road to Espanola and were surprised how scenic it was as we'd assumed it wouldn't compare to the High Road but it's very pretty and we stopped at a few look out points for photos.
sassy_cat is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 08:54 AM
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Oh, too bad you didn't go to Taos Pueblo - it is really interesting to see, especially due to all the pictures that have been painted, photographed etc.
This trip sounds a lot like our first visit to NM, the one that convinced us to move there. Be casreful or you might move too!
Deb
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Oct 3rd, 2009, 09:00 AM
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We arrived in Espanola and decided we'd probably prefer to get lunch before Bandelier but it seemed there were slim pickings around the general area.

I saw the sign for Chimayo so we entered it as our destination on the GPS, searched for restaurants in the area and Rancho de Chimayo came up. DH called and we were told they'd be open at 11.30 and there was no need to book.
This was were we got lost for a while as the GPS sent us off into a loop through a trailer park... from unpaved roads to oops no road at all! We back tracked to the Chimayo sign I'd seen and almost stopped at La Paragua for lunch but it was too early so we drove onto Chimayo ...GPS condescended to accept our route after a short distance!

We just had time to take some photos at the restaurant before being shown to our outdoor table. The place looked pristine and had obviously been completely refurbished after the fire but my outdoor chair started to give way as soon as I sat down and when I lifted up the cushion I found that the actual chair seat was charred. How did they miss that?

Food was very good. I had the blue corn shrimp enchiladas which were delicious. The place was very busy by the time we left around 12.30.

Bandelier was the next stop and we really enjoyed our hike here. We took the main loop 1.2miles through Frijoles Canyon and then the extra mile or so to Alcove House. We climbed up the ladders and sat in the shady caves,looked out on the kivas and imagined what life must have been like here centuries ago.
http://www.nps.gov/band/index.htm

We realised we wouldn't have time to do the Falls Hike as well as time was getting on and we were staying with friends in Santa Fe so we reluctantly left.

We arrived in Santa Fe earlier than expected and called our friends to invite them to have dinner in town with us but after a major home renovation they were tired of eating out (even in SF!) and told us to come over for a glass of wine after dinner.

We sat on the balcony at the Ore House for a much needed margarita and nibbled some chips and salsa. The Plaza below was almost deserted on a quiet Monday evening and we could just see the cathedral up the street. Dinner discussion revealed that we wanted something spicy to eat....

We ate at Thai Cafe... delicious! We all needed a break from New Mexican cuisine and this hit the spot. The green chicken curry was excellent and my tofu salad was tangy, fresh and delicious.
http://www.fodors.com/world/north-am...ew-198391.html

I noticed this link claimed the restaurant was closed on Monday but that's when we ate there...!

It was dark by the time we arrived at our friends' house and we'd never have found it without the GPS. They live up in the hills above SF. It was about a 7 minute drive.
R's house is beautiful (she's an architect and designed it herself). They'd just replaced all the floors as the original concrete had cracked and the new pale wood floors were spectacular.

We were promised great views in the morning and after a glass of wine or two we retired to the guest house.

Next
Day 5 .. sadly our last full day!
sassy_cat is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 09:02 AM
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Ha, Deb... we were looking at Real Estate magazines on Day2!
Our friends have no children but warned us that the school system isn't wonderful though...
sassy_cat is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 09:05 AM
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There are several areas in ABQ that have pretty good school and some private ones that are also very good. Not sure about Santa Fe, I personally wouldn't live in SF. But this is another thread, don't want to hijack.

Deb
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 04:39 AM
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Thanks for a great report, next time you're at Bandelier, go to the part called Tsankawi that is 5 miles east. Great hike through unexcavated ruins with paths through grooves in the rock made by people walking there for years.
emalloy is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 06:47 AM
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emalloy, Tsankawi was on my to do list and the Falls' hike at Bandelier but we ran out of time!

Day 5. Tent Rocks

It took about an hour to drive to Tent Rocks from our friends' home and we arrived about 10am. We drove past the trail head to the look out point about 3 miles further down an unpaved road. Great views and we also noted the road we were told goes from here to Bandelier (4 wheel drive needed so not for us...)
We returned to the trail head and started on the Slot Canyon trail. This was fantastic! The narrow sections were cool and shady and we needed a break from the hot sun. There is a section that involves a little scrambling but it's very short. The trail climbs about 630ft over the end section and the views are awesome.
This was my favourite hike.. the rock formations were stunning in the sunlight. Many striations of colour.. they looked like those glass jars filled with layers of different coloured sand.
We cooled off at the top as there was a breeze blowing over but didn't stay long as there was a large school party there and they'd settled in to eat lunch so all the available shade (very little!) was taken.
We hiked down taking more photos as we went and took the trail to the cave loop at the bottom. This was over mostly flat ground but no where near as interesting as the first trail.

We finished both trails by about 12.30 and decided to drive back to Santa Fe for lunch. We'd brought a few snacks with us but we were hungry and wanted more than a couple of cereal bars!
Indian Palace http://www.indiapalace.com/
We had the buffet lunch here and it was excellent.

We spent the afternoon wandering around Santa Fe. It was another beautiful sunny day; the weather was just perfect and we'd been told that we'd just missed a cold snap... good timing!
We saw the Loretto Chapel (modeled on Le Sainte Chapelle in Paris but smaller) and sat in the Plaza etc.

Our friends were cooking dinner for us so we returned around 5pm to get showered, packed and enjoy the views from their deck (wow!). Dinner was shrimp with pesto tagliatelle.

It was a lovely way to end our trip.

The next morning went smoothly and we were on the plane home @1pm. My DH thinks he left his digital camera in the rental car (we have to call back to check if it turned up today...)but otherwise everything was wonderful.
Looking forward to going back!

I'll try to add a photo or two...
sassy_cat is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 07:08 AM
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Bravo! A an excellent trip report on what sounds like an excellent trip.
Deb
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Oct 4th, 2009, 08:22 AM
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DD at Tent Rocks
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Oct 4th, 2009, 08:22 AM
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Oct 4th, 2009, 08:23 AM
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oops..try this
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Oct 4th, 2009, 08:28 AM
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horse riding
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