It’s a great gift to have the opportunity for “do-overs,” as my Taos friend Kim says. I did finally make it to Santa Fe—a decade later—and it was love at first sight. I loved everything about the city—the adobe architecture, turquoise doors, mosaic tiles, and chile pepper ristras; the cobalt skies and brilliant sunshine; the mix of Pueblo Indian-Spanish-and Cowboy cultures; the winding streets lined with world-class art galleries, bronze sculptures, and shops filled with Native American jewelry and pottery; the unique New Mexican style of cooking laced with green chile; and the scent of pinon pine, juniper, and roasting chiles.
That was almost 30 years ago, and I’ve been back to visit at least a dozen times, several times now with Eric. Our favorite place to stay in Santa Fe is the Trailer Ranch RV Resort; it’s the closest in-town location and has a bus stop right outside the surrounding adobe wall. The bus system is excellent, and the drivers make sure that you get where you want to go. It was perfect for me because Eric doesn’t have the same stamina as I do for browsing art galleries. On two separate days, I hopped on the bus, went downtown, and had a great time wandering to my heart’s desire.
After so many visits to Santa Fe, you would think we would run out of things to do. Never. We settled in for a week (started with two days, and kept extending our stay two days at a time) and had a wonderful time, as always. Adding to our enjoyment was meeting Karen and Riley, our next door neighbors at the RV park. They’re also from Oregon, travel full time, and we had a great time sharing adventure stories over happy hour in the evenings. At one point, I asked Riley, “Isn’t it difficult to drive a really big motorhome? And then remembered that he had been the fire chief in Gresham.
Highlights of this trip to Santa Fe:
International Museum of Folk Art: Wild collection of more than 135,000 trinkets (the world’s largest collection of folk art) and special exhibits (Japanese Kites and The History of Chocolate during our visit). Best of all, we happened to be there for their Dia de Los Muertos celebration. The community turned out to participate in the Mexican tradition of remembering loved ones with beautiful dances, music, and crafts.
Canyon Road: This mile-long narrow street houses more than one hundred art galleries, silver shops, and restaurants with inviting courtyards. I spent the better part of two days exploring Canyon Road, and treated myself to lunch one day at The Compound (excellent Nicoise salad and a glass of New Mexico champagne). The only thing that would have made it better is if one of my girlfriends was along.
New Mexico History Museum: We went specifically to see the exhibit Cowboys: Real And Imagined (it’s headed for the Smithsonian). For two hours we were immersed in our country’s love affair with the cowboy mystique, with terrific exhibits of everything from branding irons to cookware to fancy saddles and dress. Eric had a cowboy outfit when he was growing up; so did I (didn’t everyone?).
New Mexican Cuisine: We went two days to the Farmer’s Market in the Rail Yard; it’s chile-roasting season, so we stocked up. Other memorable meals included a wonderful breakfast at Pasquale’s (potato cake with smoked trout, poached eggs, and green chile) and lunch at the Museum (a special menu to accompany the History of Chocolate exhibit; including poblano mole, corn custard, nopales salad (prickly pear cactus pads), and a dark chocolate torte). Yummy.
Nedra Matteucci Gallery: Spectacular gallery and gardens located a few blocks from Canyon Road. Beautiful and peaceful, with exquisitely selected artwork and sculptures. Bonus: Kakawa Chocolate House is right across the street, for a demitasse of drinking chocolate, the perfect pick-me-up for hours of gallery browsing.