We started in Frisco Colorado, and our first night we actually spent in Manitou Springs, Colorado. With the fires, I wanted to check it out plus spend a little money in the area. We had dinner at the Golden Bee at the Broadmoor the first night - a fun quirky little old English bar - with huge yards or beer, good mojitos, and fantastic meat pies. The next morning we started early and drove to the top of Pike's Peak. We had a good view of the fire area, and frankly it looks like darkened soil - hardly noticeable, and anyone concerned about visiting the area should not be. We then made our way over to Garden of the Gods - walked the circle, commented it was ok, and headed back to the main street for lunch. We had an out of this world yummy lunch at Sahara Cafe. Jumped in the car and headed south.
We drove to the Great Sand Dunes National Park to snowboard the dunes. We used an old heavy snowboard and it worked great, this was sooo much fun! If you do not have a board then bring a sled - it was well worth the visit and we commented we will return on a nice weather day to hike to the very top and board down. A storm was rolling in and we got some fantastic dramatic photos. A really fun afternoon. We headed out to Taos.
We arrived late to the Inn on the Rio - we stayed here several years ago. We returned because it is dog friendly, the breakfasts are yummy, and the rooms super cute/clean. We went into town, ate at Graham's Grill - all four of us had a great meal and our dogs were allowed to sit with us on the patio. Headed back to call it a night - long day.
The next morning we rose early, had a breakfast of homemade bread and veggie quiche on the patio. Afterward we headed south to new Mexico River Adventures to Paddleboard. We rented on our own so our two dogs could join us. $75 for a full day rental - totally reasonable, what a fun day, here is a quick review... tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60958-i228-k56156…
Afterward we made a pit stop at the jerky stand for some pine nuts, buffalo jerky, and puffed caramel corn - Yum! Showered and off to the Taos Pueblo. The Pow Wow was going on, so the Pueblo was a little quiet - but with stormy skies rolling in it made for some absolutely fantastic photos across the grounds. BTW pd a camera fee. Afterward we headed over to the Pow Wow for the Grand Entry.
Free parking at the Pow Wow, lots of authentic and delicious food choices for our late dinner. The Grand Entry started late, however the announcer was rather entertaining - we brought a blanket and should have had chairs, but we got a 'front row' spot so all was good! The traditional dress all the entries were wearing was amazing - I have so many colorful photos, with amazing movement. I enjoyed seeing the ethnic look of each entry - I am sure they were all different tribes, so many beautiful and unique individuals. It was a lively and long procession of men, woman, and children. We headed out after the grand entry. BTW pd a camera fee again.
Over to Doc Martins to watch the Flamenco Dancers - it was very crowded, but what we saw over the time span of one drink was cool - good energy! We then went over to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, my sweet tooth was kicking in - they have a chocolate that is only found in the Taos store - Lemon Pepper chocolate, unusual, but good, I could clearly taste the pepper.
I have to mention, we did have to return to the Inn, not too long after leaving, to pick up the dogs. The Inn is small and intimate - some guests were hanging out in the grass just outside the rooms and the dogs were barking at them. I did give the Inn keeper a heads up they would be left in the room, so he called and we returned to pick them up. I figured after a day of swimming they would be zonked out, but no such luck. For a longer stay I would rent a casita/house instead, so as to not run into issues like this again.
The next morning we had a breakfast almost the same as the previous morn, and on the road we went. We took the scenic high road to Santa Fe with a stop at El Santuario de Chimayo. Whoa! this place has changed big time over the years. It almost feels like a little tourist amusement park. It is still an amazing place to visit and the renovations to the church look lovely. Church was in session and set the tone for the visit - respectful and spiritual. There was shaded parking for us to park with the dogs. Off to lunch!
We stopped at Rancho Chimayo for lunch. My first time, and boy am I sorry for not having stopped here in the previous years. Wow, it is massive - like 20 rooms - I exaggerate, but it was big! There was a lovely sunroom, but we choose to sit on the Patio. We had to wait 20 minutes in order to have drinks, as they do not start serving alcohol until noon - but we had Prickly Pear margaritas and they were well worth the wait! They sold Prickly Pear syrup in the gift shop and I was glad we bought it; oddly it was impossible to come across it again the rest of our trip. The Red Chili Carne Asada was delish! On toward Santa fe...
We stopped at the Tesuque Flea Market to catch the last few hours on Sunday - I love it here! I enjoy looking at all the artists’ works, picking thru finding that special something, and I quite enjoy the haggle too! We all left with lots of goodies. No dogs allowed :-(
Onward to our Casita - once again we stayed at Chapelle Street Casitas. We were two couples, so we had two casitas. My husband and I rented 317 Mackenzie Street D (my cousin stayed in the darling 2nd floor studio - Unit E.) As soon as we pulled up the drive I was delighted, it was a true adobe casita! It had a fenced little yard with darling gardens. I opened the door to cool air and an adorable kitchen. The floor is concrete with a green oiled look - very nice IMO. Rounded archway to a living room with several seating areas and cable TV. Another archway to a cute king bedroom, the bathroom was plenty big for both of us to be in there doing our thing. I loved our room - i loved our last room and was disappointed it was not available this time - now I have a new favorite for next time! Best thing... totally dog friendly - this casita was basically freestanding so if the dogs barked, I am pretty sure no one heard it.
We feed our dogs a raw diet, so we needed to load up on food again. Just around the corner was a great dog store called pooch pantry http://www.poochpantry.com/ They had huge dog beds for a good price too - lucky big boy got a new bed for the rest of the trip! They also gave me a printout of all the dog friendly restaurants in the area - bonus!
We explored the area, including the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (fantastic at sunset for photos!) window shopped, just wandered, and ended up at the La Fonda Bell Tower for cocktail hour. The views are lovely and the red and white Sangrias are good! We went to a late dinner at the Plaza Cafe - Wow, that was sooo delicious! I had the green chili meatloaf, and I could have had it for every meal. We got it to go and sat out on the plaza, pretty setting and good food. Oh and the deserts, I had coconut flan – oh my! Off to bed - the beds in each casita were super comfy, clearly they had upgraded since our last visit!
The next morning we woke early to have breakfast at Café Paris, I was super excited for this as it was my favorite place on our last Santa Fe visit – I remember the chocolate croissants were very good. I am sad to report it was not the same, the croissants were not good – like an egg washed bread with chocolate in the middle – nothing like their flaky buttery predecessors. Plus our breakfasts were all just average – I was soo disappointed.
Today we started at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. $24 for two adults or $26 for two adults plus 2 audio tours – I almost paid the $24, when I saw a little sign stating this bonus – you would think the museum receptionist would mention this deal? Now YOU know! It was a great little museum full of art/photos/stories, and IMO a must-see when visiting Santa Fe. Afterward we went to the New Mexico Museum of Art – there you could buy a single pass for the museum, or a two museum pass, or a four museum pass. We choose two, since there were only two in the Plaza area, the second was the History Museum at the Palace of the Governors. The Native American Vendor program right outside the Palace of the Governors also received a bit of our money – some really talented artists there! I haggled for a gorgeous ring, don’t be afraid to ask for a better price. We truly enjoyed the art museum and felt happy to have had a discount for the history museum. Then we walked to the oldest church in the US, the San Miguel Mission Church.
We scheduled a Dog Walker, who I found via Tripadvisor to meet us at 2pm this day, so I headed back to the Casita. We did a meet and greet for her and the dogs to be prepared for the next day. We had a late lunch at the Ore House – I was sad to see it had moved, I like the old Plaza location, but the new little alleyway was quaint and suited us just fine. The chicken asado La Taquiza dish was fantastic! My husband had the pork La Taquiza and thought it was very good also. Then we headed over to the Marble Brewery, after a good four rounds of tasters, we moved on to find a good margarita. As we walked we contemplated the saying “is it is liquor before beer – or beer before liquor never sicker“ oh well, doesn't matter!
A local on the plaza recommended we try Del Charro for big margs, so off we went. The setting was very nice – we sat in big comfy chairs by the fire, however the margaritas were just ok – HUGE, but I think they used sour mix, eh. After our drinks we headed back to the casita to change for dinner. Tonight was La Casa Sena, and as always it did not disappoint. My cousin’s quest to find the best Green Chili Burger ended here! My mushroom tamale was really good. The best thing of all – the dogs were welcome to join us for dinner. I did have to add them to the reservation as we were seated at an outer table.
The next morning we rose very early and headed to the Tecolote Café for some breakfast – I had the pinion pancakes – I ordered two, that was waaay too much, however they were absolutely delicious! It appeared to be all locals, a really cute café! Afterward we drove to the Santa Fe Opera House for a backstage tour. There was no opera playing while we were in Santa Fe this time, so the backstage tour was our fix. Sadly no cameras were allowed. We thoroughly enjoyed this tour – what an amazing place, we saw the costume shop, prop shop, actors green rooms, backstage, orchestra, and many other spots. It was educational to hear about the history of the opera house and how it came about. Personally I did not realize as soon as the season ends in August they immediately start work on the next season’s operas, building props, making wigs, etc – this place is buzzing year round! I highly recommend the one hour 9am tour!
The we headed to Los Alamos for the Bradbury Science Museum to learn about the Atomic Bomb making and ‘the town that never was’ that cropped up because of the bomb. It was a great museum for adults and children alike – plus it was free. Grabbed a quick lunch at Subway and off to Bandeiier National Park. Unfortunately our larger dog decided the dog sitter would not be allowed into the casita. I thought Dawn was a nice person and would recommend her services to someone else; it just did not work out for us. That meant no Bandelier :-( so we needed to head back. However we decided to make a quick pit stop at the Puye Cliff Dwellings and did a one hour tour in 120 degree heat – 1pm tour, what were we thinking??? Then we quickly headed back to the dogs.
That evening we ate at Café Pasqual’s. This is the second time in a few years I have eaten here, and again sadly, I was not all that impressed. The horrendous B.O. the waiter had – especially as he reached across our table – did not help the situation much either. Honestly I am going to skip dinner there next time we are in town – maybe breakfast instead? Oh well! After dinner we hustled to the La Fonda Bell Tower and watched the sunset. Back to the casita for drinks in our yard – perfect end to a lovely day!
The next day would be our last day. We packed up and headed over to Tia Sophia for breakfast – darn it why did we not eat here more!! We all agreed it was the best meal the whole vacation! We hit the road and headed north on 285!
Just to finish out the TR, I’ll include the Colorado conclusion – we did stop at the Colorado Gator Farm – interesting. It appeared to need a visit from an inspector IMO. Everything was really run down and dirty – however with that said – it was unique and the children there did seem to be in awe by all the animals. Next we stopped at Crestone to check out this notorious ‘spiritual town’ UFOs, Ashrams, Stupas, Zen Center, etc – We went in to this a little uneducated and somehow missed the visitors center. (found this out once we were home and spoke to someone who knew the town) We drove to the top of Camino Baca Grande road – WOW – the view is incredible worth the drive just for that. We stopped at a few places, eerily there was no one around – lots of cars, but no people. We chalked it up to alien abduction and headed home! Another fantastic Southwest road trip!