Navigating New Mexico

Last I left off, Rachel and I were comfortably ensconced in a tipi in Taos, NM. I wish I could say that of more places.

The next morning, October 3rd (HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAKOTA), we got up and headed back in Taos to browse the shops and see some of the famed art galleries. Rather indifferently we sat down at Graham’s Grill for breakfast. We left in a food fervor! The menu was extensive, my mouth watered at most all they had to offer. A decision had to be made.

I gorged on the eggs benedict, one of the best hollandaise sauces I’ve had yet. Since I was so torn between trying the hollandaise and trying the biscuits the waitress was kind enough to bring me a side of biscuits. Cute and scrumptious they were quality comfort food. Somehow I found room for it all! Rachel ordered a unique type of benedict where instead of an English muffin and Canadian bacon the eggs lay on roasted tomatoes and artichoke bottoms with an added pesto sauce over the whole thing. Drool.

Taos had certainly livened up from the night before, we took some time meandering through the idyllic streets and plaza, visiting cute shops and hip galleries alike.

Content with our taste of Taos, we hit the road again. We needed to make our way to Albuquerque to get Rachel’s bag. She had braved it one night, no need to torture her anymore 😛

Again we followed meandering backroads which took us through Los Alamos where the atom bomb was developed and Jemez Spring which had a charming saloon. Along the way we saw large swaths of forest that had burned and numerous signs for closed areas. We learned later that fires had raged in the mountains. While the grass has already begun to grow back the charred trees still leave quite the impression.

Luckily we had no problems securing the bag and then making our way into Santa Fe. Despite our initial plans to camp the forecast resulted us in staying at the only hostel in Santa Fe. It was nice because our cheapest option was to share a private room and we could repack our bags and the car, and start getting use to traveling together.

Unfortunately Santa Fe’s weather simply did not fit our mood! Overcast skies in the morning became intermittent showers that then drenched us as a torrential downpour set in for the evening. What the heck New Mexico?! Far sooner than I would have liked we broke out our rain jackets, no Northwestern goes anywhere without one.

We didn’t let a little rain slow us down thought. We visited the Santa Fe Farmers Market, the Second Street Brewery, Mission San Miguel, the oldest church in the U.S., the Loretta Chapel, home to the mysterious spiral staircase, and the exterior of the St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral as it was closed early for the saint’s feast day.

Before we even ventured far from the parking lot we stepped in to Kakawa Chocolate House and sampled some of their drinking chocolates. It was so fascinating. They served traditional Mesoamerican and European/American style elixirs some of which have recipes that date back centuries. I enjoy a mix of the Aztec and Modern Mexican drinking chocolate while Rachel opted for the Marie Antoinette concoction. They perfectly complimented the dismal weather.

Although the Loretta Chapel was pretty the highlight was by far the staircase. Fun fact: I LOVE spiral staircases, I think they are so cool and get overly excited when I spot one. When I get to go on one, whoa, watch out for new levels of enthusiasm.  Now I was not aloud to go on this spiral staircase that lead from the sanctuary to the choir loft BUT it was almost as exciting as if I had gotten to because the staircase is TWO COMPLETE SPIRALS. Its all mysterious because no one knows who built it and its debatable how it is even structurally sound, that’s neat. What is even neater is looking at the thing. You see the normal spiral you expect but then it keeps going and seems to just float there, a holy stairwell, its quite a mind trip.

Like in Taos we wandered through the main plaza where all the tourist distractions lay including (drumroll please) the Marble Brewery Tap Room. Again, food was an issue so after lunch we wandered into the Tap Room. Partially because the rain had reached a new level of pouring and mostly because we couldn’t wait to try the next brew!

Rachel ordered their Wildflower Wheat which is unfiltered and sweetened with honey, nummy nummy. I ordered their IPA which is listed as their trademark brew. This is pretty much what happened in my mouth/brain: Marble Brewery IPA, I would like to introduce Ninkasi Total Domination, you guys are soulmates. (In addition to my passion for spiral staircase I would like to make a disclaimer that I am unnaturally passionate about the following items: Ninkasi brewery, hammocks, Rainier, pepperoni pizza, Mumford and Sons, recycling, sweaters and Scottish nationalism.)

We very much enjoyed our stop in at the Marble Brewery Tap Room, the beer was great and the staff was incredibly fun and friendly too. Time to trek through the rain. As cute as they were my red flats seemed a disaster waiting to happen and Rachel’s sandals didn’t seem pleased with the abundant puddles in downtown Santa Fe. So, we hoofed it bearfoot, jeans rolled up, and rain jackets snug. “Don’t look at us like that good sir!”

The weather decided for us, camping was out again. We returned to the hostel, worked on these blogs that are our main ties to back home, then cleaned up for a nice dinner!

The Cowgirl BBQ grabbed our eye when we first read about it in the guidebook and its menu only sealed the deal. Our little table was covered: Margaritas, Five Pepper Nachos with Salsa Diablo, and a Pulled Pork BBQ sandwich with sweet potato fries AND French fries (they brought those on accident). The food was good and we felt nothing short of gluttonous. The décor was as full as our table. Photos of cowgirls all of the walls, which were painted with glitter paint. We stayed for one more drink after dinner and enjoyed some banter with a…quirky inventor who works at the National Lab in Los Alamos, his friend who plays “Indians” in movies, and the inventor’s dog. Rachel and I could hardly stop laughing as the inventor stole the show retelling his great deeds with a hint of social awkwardness and a helmet with a built in light on his head. All that laughter helped work off some of dinner. After saying our goodbyes we returned to the hostel as we planned to take off early the next morning. Some initial googling confirmed that the inventor from Cowgirls was not actually making it all up, he was just bragging that much haha.

This morning we got up as planned, packed up and entered the vastness of central New Mexico. We’ve already driven through one practical ghost town. The place we are stopped now is only slightly more promising. I do love the older signage in these places, even though it often graces the front of an empty building.

Just about an hour now until Roswell and provided we aren’t swept away by some aliens we’ll be in Carlsbad by tonight!

With love from the road,

Cara

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