Archive for May, 2008

New Mexico – Day Two: Santa Fe

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

After spending the morning in Madrid, my uncle and I headed up the road to Santa Fe. We were both hungry, but didn’t know where we were going to go for lunch. Our rental car came equipped with a GPS unit, and we had a lot of fun playing with it. I have a GPS in my car, but each one is different and has their own personality. By the end of our trip, we had truly bonded with our GPS girl and were having a great time mimicking everything she said – even before she said it. She verbalized every command on the screen, so if the selection was “Yes” or “No”, she would say those words. You wouldn’t believe how many times she would say “Yes” or “No” at just the right moment in our conversations. I’m telling you, she just wanted to be a part of our crowd. I think she fit in well, too.

However, she wasn’t much help in finding a place to eat. My uncle didn’t want Mexican because he had it the day before and his stomach was still bothering him. Woopsie! I wanted to make sure we found a place that had everything I needed, so we couldn’t stop at just any old place. We finally came into an area with shopping malls and restaurants and decided on Furr’s Cafeteria. When we walked in, I glanced at the lineup of food to see if they had something for me and I thought it looked okay. It wasn’t until we were halfway through the line, though, did I realize there was no chicken or seafood that wasn’t fried or coated in some sort of sauce. I had to settle on a hamburger steak. It had been about 6 months since I ate any meat, so I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty afterwards, and I was right. Pepto Bismol tablets were my friend the rest of the day.

Anyway, after lunch, we headed into Santa Fe proper and found a parking lot to park for the day. And then we walked. And walked some more. After that, we walked. Did I mention we walked? So much walking. It probably wouldn’t have bothered me if I had on better shoes. I bought two pairs of shoes before the trip – both Skechers. One was a more traditional sneaker and the other was a sneaker, too, but the flat slip on ballet type. They were just a bit too narrow, and I had blisters on my toes by days’ end. It was also very apparent that I’m entirely too sedentary – my uncle is 13 years older than me and he was walking circles around me. My legs were sore at the end of every day on this trip. It’s convinced me that I absolutely need to get more active. I felt so good getting that exercise in every day while I was there. I want to continue doing it.

ChurchSantaFeSo yeah, Santa Fe. Santa Fe is adorable. It is such a pretty town filled with art and great architecture and picturesque scenery at every turn. I didn’t take enough pictures of Santa Fe, I’m realizing now. Our first stop was at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi where we encountered the bride and bridesmaids from a wedding party getting their pictures taken.

RestaurantSantaFeAfterwards we headed down one of the main roads in the center of town to visit some art stores and touristy shops. My stomach was really killing me at this point, so I was mostly nursing an Americano coffee and Pepto while my uncle browsed inside the stores. Once we headed towards the older section of town and stopped at the visitor’s center, I started feeling better. I was loving all the luminaries on the tops of buildings everywhere I looked, not to mention the shapes and colors of the adobe buildings themselves. We had some gorgeous weather for walking – clear skies, about 65-70 degrees with a light wind. I still would have preferred it to be warmer, but that’s just because I’m a heat ho.

Besides all the beautiful architecture and visible history of the town, one of the highlights of my visit was finding an artist in one of the high end galleries that I just fell in love with. I wanted to buy every single piece she had on display. Of course now I can’t remember her name, but I have a card of hers at home – I’ll try to remember to update this post with her information. She painted mostly landscapes – in a style similar to my uncle’s work.

PerfectBuildingSantaFeEven though my feet and stomach were killing me, I still had an enjoyable visit to Santa Fe, but I was definitely ready to call it a day by 4 PM. We had been in at least 30 art galleries by that time, and it had all started to run together for me. My uncle was on a high, as he was getting really inspired by a lot of the artwork he was seeing, as well as being amongst the New Mexico landscape. I loved seeing him getting all worked up – and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he creates as a result of this trip.

We decided to eat in once we got back to our room that night, I think. I was so grateful we had a full kitchen to do so, since I definitely wanted to have my own safe food after the stomach ache from earlier that day. We stayed in and bought a movie On Demand – Vantage Point. I hadn’t ever heard of it, which is surprising because it was extremely good. We both enjoyed it and were ready for bed soon after it was over. My first full day in New Mexico had come to an end. I was satisfied, peaceful, and oh-so-tired.

Here’s a link to the rest of my Santa Fe pictures.

New Mexico – Day Two: Madrid

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Since I was still on east coast time, I woke up pretty early for a Saturday – around 6 AM. Thankfully, my uncle was also still on east coast time, and he was up as well. We had coffee and breakfast and chilled out for a little while before heading off on our first big New Mexico adventure together – driving along the Turquoise Trail to Madrid and Santa Fe!

MadridHillsThe drive up the Sandia Mountains was incredible, although I expected it to be a bit more grand. Because it’s early spring, the landscape wasn’t as gorgeous as I’ve seen it on TV and in movies. Don’t get me wrong, parts of it were still breathtaking, I just thought the whole thing would be. I was also unprepared for how small the town of Madrid is. I don’t think the main road that goes the length of the town is more than half a mile long. There’s a lot packed into that half mile, though.

SmokeStandMadridWe parked towards the end of town (headed north) near a guy with an old-fashioned smoke pit going full force. The chill of the morning air combined with the smell of the smoke pit and look of the small town nestled in the mountains really made me feel like we’d stepped back in time. It reminded me somewhat of visiting my elderly great-grandmother in the mountains of southwest Virginia when I was a young girl. There’s something about a sleepy mountain town that remains universal no matter where you are I think.

Our trip through Madrid lasted a few hours. There are a lot of small art galleries here, as the town is now a sleepy community of artists who revived the place in the 70s and never left. I was just beginning to get a taste of how prevalent art is in New Mexico. I’m not in the art circle at all, so it took me some time to get acclimated. I do believe I have an eye for good art, though, and it was interesting to see so many eclectic styles as we passed through each store.

BikersMadridTowards lunch time, the bikers came roaring through town. They were loud, plentiful, and black. My uncle said they reminded him of a colony of ants swarming – I thought that was a perfect optical analogy. I stood in awe with a huge smile on my face as they noisily made their way into the parking lots of the Mineshaft Tavern and Engine House Theater. My uncle wasn’t nearly as enchanted as I – when I turned around after a few moments, he was gone. It didn’t take me long to find him inside one of the small shops nearby, though.

MaggiesDiner2I loved being able to see all of the stuff from the movie Wild Hogs through out the town. I didn’t realize the diner Marisa Tomei worked in was made for the movie. It’s still standing, but it’s a prop and wasn’t open for us to go inside. I thought that was pretty wild. I also got a good picture of one of the shops that was featured as a house in the movie. The big fight scene was shot outside this store and the diner next door to it. I don’t think all of those mailboxes were in the movie – I’ll have to look again. In this picture, the diner is to the left and the fight scene was filmed in between that building and the yellow & blue one that is in the forefront.


We encountered a Native American medicine woman in one shop. The funny thing was, when we first walked into the place, we both smelled pot. I was like, “Wow, the hippies sure are blatant here. Guess it’s cool to just smoke one out in the open here in Madrid.” We noticed the shopkeeper in the back of the store talking to some customers. I glanced at him and thought – more power to you, dude. After the customers left, he approached us to let us know the smell we were smelling was a mixture of sage and some other herbs. And it was then that we both realized he was a she. Ha! After going farther into the store and talking to her, we also noticed she was a medicine woman. How funny that this lady who looked like a dude dressed in faded denim biker’s garb turned out to be a holy woman of sorts. She told us how the herbs she was burning warded off negativity and a bunch of other stuff. My uncle bought a baggie of it – it truly looked like he had copped about a quarter ounce of weed. We got a big kick out of that.

Shortly after we got our faux contact high, we decided to head up the road to Santa Fe. I was getting hungry for lunch and my uncle didn’t want to eat in Madrid, so off we went.

Here’s a link to all of my Madrid pictures.

New Mexico – Day One

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I was up at the crack of dawn on a Friday morning, anxious to get to the airport for my flight to New Mexico. This was a new state for me and I was looking forward to the adventure that lay ahead. As it turns out, I had good reason to be excited.

My flight from Philly to Chicago went off without a hitch, but there were nasty storms in the Chicago area when I arrived that extended my layover there. I wish I would have known about the delay before I ate such an early lunch at Harry Caray’s, but whatever, it all turned out fine in the end. I was on the plane and landing in New Mexico before I knew it.

My uncle was waiting for me at the airport when I arrived. He got there the day before and rented a car for our use – we spent our trip riding around in a sporty little Ford Fusion. I would have never suspected the Fusion was such a great car. It was really comfortable and roomy, and got great gas mileage to boot.

Our first order of business was hitting the grocery store to stock up on food for the week. We stayed at a Residence Inn in the Penthouse Suite which was pretty much an apartment. We had two floors, two bedrooms, two baths, a living room, fully-equipped kitchen with bar seating, and a dining area. Very nice accommodations that completely spoiled me when I moved to the next place a few days later in my trip. I went a little crazy with the food shopping at Whole Foods. My uncle asked me how long did I plan on staying exactly – I think I was worried about not having enough of my good foods and I was hungry, too. Not a great combination for me.

After buying enough groceries for two weeks, we went out to dinner at the Black Angus Steakhouse and had a wonderful meal along with superb service. If you’re in Albuquerque, I highly recommend this place! The seating was spacious and spread out, so we weren’t right on top of other diners and they offer a free appetizer coupon for people who haven’t been there before. We had a nice talk here that really set the tone for the rest of our trip. I knew right away that we were going to have a very memorable experience.

I got my first taste of Old Town Albuquerque that night, too. We headed down there for a brief look around – not many stores were open by 8 PM, but a few were and I got a little feel for what the rest of the trip had in store. I loved the architecture of the buildings and all the tacky tourist crap in some of the gift shops we went into. It reminded me of the stores in Virginia Beach on the boardwalk – filled with souvenirs and local kitsch.

By now I was approaching about 18 hours of being up and I was pretty wiped out. We headed back to our hotel room where I had my snack for the night and crashed. I was extremely excited for the next day – we were headed to Madrid and Santa Fe!

New Mexico was incredible

Monday, May 12th, 2008

I’m finally home after 11 days in New Mexico. I had such a wonderful time and I doubt I’ll be able to do the trip any justice here in writing, but I’m going to try. I think I’ll break it up into separate posts because there is a lot to recount and so much happened in such a short amount of time.

Some highlights before I begin, though:

  • The visit with my uncle for four days was simply amazing. We visited Madrid, Santa Fe, the Acoma Pueblo, and Sandia Peak and we drove along historic Route 66, saw some spectacular New Mexico sunsets, and bonded in a way that we haven’t been able to before. We also had dinner with a woman who runs an art gallery in Old Town Albuquerque, her Phd. educated geologist husband and their hydrologist friend. That made for a most interesting and intellectually stimulating evening, even if I did feel completely out of my element.
  • I walked so much every single day – my legs were sore every night when I went to bed. It has inspired me to start a long-needed exercise routine back here at home because I felt so good being so active.
  • I attended my first business conference with 200 other compulsive overeaters from all around the world. The experience was enlightening, tiring, and rewarding all at once.
  • I met Courtney!!! She is the sweetest, cutest thing ever.
  • I met a half-aunt and half-cousin for the very first time. No one in my family has met them before. We had a great visit – I hated to see them leave, but I plan on keeping in touch with them in the future and hopefully meet the rest of my extended half-family. Story on that to come.
  • A friend and I met the nicest guy on the flight to Chicago coming home. The three of us talked the entire 2 1/2 hour flight – it was over before we all knew it. I realized once I got off the plane that we never even exchanged names, but we talked about some pretty deep and personal things. Fascinating experience!
  • I observed that the people in New Mexico are so freaking nice and friendly. I miss that here on the east coast where most people don’t dare to make eye contact with strangers. That was one of the driving forces for us wanting to move to Virginia last year, too. I do believe that when we leave this area, a big part of it will be in search of a place with kinder, gentler, friendlier people.

Coming up – I’ll start with my flight to New Mexico, and my first full day there which included driving along the Turquoise Trail to Madrid and Santa Fe.

New Mexico, Here I Come!

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

I’m off work for 11 days starting tomorrow – celebration time! I’m headed to beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ll be doing some road trips while I’m there with Santa Fe on the agenda, as well. I’m so excited. I’ve never been to this area of the country before – I get to add a new state to my list!

My laptop is coming with and I plan on updating Twitter & Flickr via my cell, so you can follow along if you like. I’ll probably do a full recap once I get back. Let the good times roll, baby!