Category Archives: New Mexico

New Mexico Part II: Caballo Lake

We had already spent a full month in New Mexico when we departed Santa Fe, but we decided to make one more stop as we traveled south. Our ultimate plan was continue down I-25 until it intersected with I-10, then head west and begin our Arizona month near Tucson. Caballo Lake State Park was about 1/2 the distance to that goal: about three hours from Santa Fe and the same distance again to Tucson. We weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere in particular, other than a destination that was a little warmer. We had been in the thick of snow and ice since the beginning of November and winter wasn’t looking like it was going to let up anytime soon. We planned to tackle Utah after Arizona, and we didn’t want to venture that far north again until at least late March. Since it was only mid-January, it wasn’t going to hurt anything to spend six more nights in The Land of Enchantment. After all, the weather was warmer in the southern part of the state, Mike would have a lake to fish on, and there were seven full-hookup spots for $18 per night – as long as they weren’t all taken. Reservations were not an option for the targeted spots at the state park, they were only available on a first-come first-served basis. We made a bet that at least one of those spots would be available on a Tuesday and took our chances.

The drive was easy and our hunch was correct; the campground was wide open when we arrived. We selected spot No. 5 because it was the easiest one to enter and exit in the Monaco. We were set up in no time and I was looking forward to the next few days. The lack of campers made our spot very private and quiet. The lake offered a great view for us to enjoy, and I was guessing that the night skies were going to provide for some great star gazing. Since we were basically in the middle of no where, light pollution did not seem like it would be a problem. The temperatures were only in the sixties, so we immediately set up the grill and loaded it up with ribs and potatoes. The only drawback was that there was no grass anywhere. The dogs kept looking at us like “where the hell are we supposed to pee”?

The closest town to our campsite was Truth or Consequences which was about 20 minutes to our north. The town of about 6,000 sits on the Rio Grande River, but was a little underwhelming overall. One interesting thing is that it had hot springs in the area, and there were about ten different spas in town where people could go to soak. Another neat thing was that the Spaceport America complex was located about 30 miles to the east of town. I did go soak in a hot spring tub one day, but for some reason we did not get over to see the Spaceport America outfit. I’m not sure why we didn’t… Mike would have really liked to see that.

The weather was very agreeable each of the six days we were camped at Lake Caballo, which meant we could have the windows open during the day and a campfire roaring at night. Heaven. The Australian Open was also on television that week, so we spent lots of hours sitting outside in front of the tv watching tennis and reading our books. Mike was also super happy because he got to go fishing each day. He only caught one fish that was not worth keeping, but he enjoyed his time by the water none-the-less.

Our one and only daytrip was to Las Cruces and Hatch, both to the south of us on I-25. We accidentally stumbled upon a Saturday Market in downtown Las Cruces, which was a real treat! In Hatch, we had world famous chili cheeseburgers at Sparky’s. They were so good they made the food page of this blog! We also drove over to Elephant Butte State Park one morning. That state park was larger than the one where we were camped and a little closer to T or C – on the north side of town. We walked the dogs on a good walk but didn’t find any grass there either. The highlight of that outing was the quail we spotted running through the desert.

Even though we only made two stops in New Mexico, we both still felt like it was a state we knew well.  The area is very familiar to Mike (and consequently myself). The reason is because he had been coming to New Mexico annually since he was about twelve to go hunting on public lands in many of the national forests located there. The state has a lottery. People submit their applications for hunting permits and are chosen at random each year. Every year his dad submitted applications for himself, and his two sons. Most years they were awarded a license and went on camping/hunting expeditions in the Gila or Lincoln National Forests in search of mule deer. In case you do not know… venison is a good thing to have in one’s freezer. The meat is healthy and yummy to this Texas girl. Most years his mom went too. When Mike and I were first dating, he asked me to go. I said yes and joined in the family tradition. The excursion was always an intense trip. When I learned that my mother-in-law didn’t go EVERY year, I happily scaled myself back to about every third year.

So a month amidst the culture, history, architecture and subdued glitz of Santa Fe, contrasted with a few nights in a rural community next to the Rio Grande, provided us a thorough understanding of New Mexico. With some background knowledge from our previous travels, we confidently scratched The Land of Enchantment off the list of Lower 48 and didn’t look back as we headed to Arizona.

Our spot at Caballo Lake State Park - Number 5.

Our spot at Caballo Lake State Park – Number 5.

The view from my bedroom window. There were only seven spots in our section of the campground. Another couple arrived for the weekend, but we had the place to ourselves other than that.

The view from my bedroom window. There were only seven spots in our section of the campground. Another couple arrived for the weekend, but we had the place to ourselves other than that.

The wind was totally still the first day we arrived, so this was our first view of the lake. We were impressed!

The wind was totally still the first day we arrived, so this was our first view of the lake. We were impressed!

Red rocks at sunset.

Red rocks at sunset.

I've never seen so many solar panels as we did in New Mexico. This Walmart parking lot had all of its spaces covered. Shade for the customers and power for the building. I like it!

I’ve never seen so many solar panels as we did in New Mexico. This Walmart parking lot had all of its spaces covered. Shade for the customers and power for the building. I like it!

Mike didn't catch any keepers in Lake Caballo, but he did snag this 20-lb Buffalo - similar to a Carp. It is mostly a bow fishing target.

Mike didn’t catch any keepers in Lake Caballo, but he did snag this 20-lb Buffalo – similar to a Carp. It is mostly a bow fishing target.

The closest town to Lake Caballo was Truth or Consequences (the locals call it T or C). It was originally named Hot Springs because of all the natural hot springs in the area. In 1950, as a publicity stunt, it changed its name to the name of a popular NBC radio show at the request of the show's host, Ralph Edwards. The city has voted three more times to keep T or C as its name.

The closest town to Lake Caballo was Truth or Consequences (the locals call it T or C). It was originally named Hot Springs because of all the natural hot springs in the area. In 1950, as a publicity stunt, it changed its name to the name of a popular NBC radio show at the request of the show’s host, Ralph Edwards. The city has voted three more times to keep T or C as its name.

The mountains across the lake from us turned all kinds of colors depending on the weather and the time of day.

The mountains across the lake from us turned all kinds of colors depending on the weather and the time of day.

We drove about an hour south on I-25 to Las Cruces to see what their downtown looked like. When we arrived we were excited to find out we were in time for the weekly Saturday Market. The streets are closed to vehicle traffic and vendors set up tents with all handcrafted art, food and other treats. A couple of weeks later, I learned that Mike had secretly bought me a beautiful necklace for my anniversary present!

We drove about an hour south on I-25 to Las Cruces to see what their downtown looked like. When we arrived we were excited to find out we were in time for the weekly Saturday Market. The streets are closed to vehicle traffic and vendors set up tents with all handcrafted art, food and other treats. A couple of weeks later, I learned that Mike had secretly bought me a beautiful necklace for my anniversary present!

Downtown Las Cruces had many pretty restored buildings like the Rio Grande Theater.

Downtown Las Cruces had many pretty restored buildings like the Rio Grande Theater.

The reviews said to expect a wait in line if we wanted to eat at Sparky's in Hatch. Since they recently won First Place in the People's Choice Category at the New Mexico State Fair for their world famous Green Chili Cheeseburger, we didn't mind. It was totally worth it.

The reviews said to expect a wait in line if we wanted to eat at Sparky’s in Hatch. Since they recently won First Place in the People’s Choice Category at the New Mexico State Fair for their world famous Green Chili Cheeseburger, we didn’t mind. It was totally worth it.

The owners of Sparky's love to collect signs and other statues from iconic food establishments. I thought I'd sit with The Colonel a bit while we waited in line.

The owners of Sparky’s love to collect signs and other statues from iconic food establishments. I thought I’d sit with The Colonel a bit while we waited in line.

Inside Sparky's.

Inside Sparky’s.

Full moon over the lake on a clear night.

Full moon over the lake on a clear night.

You have to look very closely, but there is a dove and a quail in this picture. Mike was about to hyperventilate.

You have to look very closely, but there is a dove and a quail in this picture. Mike was about to hyperventilate.

New Mexico Part I: Santa Fe – Second Half

The second half of our Santa Fe stay was more of “the usual” mixed with a bit of abnormal. I continued to fall in love with the area and never stopped telling Mike “I could live here if something happened to you”. In fact I uttered that sentence to him so many times that I finally had to add a clarification that went something like “Now, I don’t really WANT anything to happen to you, I love you very much and I like sharing my world with you… it is just that IF something happened I could see myself coming here to start fresh. But don’t worry, I’m not plotting to poison you or anything…”. Evidently I am not the only person who has developed a deep love affair with Santa Fe. I learned from a local that “they don’t call it the Land of Entrapment for nothing”!

For Christmas Mike gave me a gift certificate to the famous Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa  (one of the reasons I don’t really WANT anything to happen to him), and I redeemed it as soon as I could get a reservation. I booked myself the Nippon Nirvana package that included a private hot tub, a facial (which I upgraded to 80 minutes), a face and scalp treatment, and a foot treatment. Nirvana, I’ll say! On the day of my appointment I arrived early so I would have time to sit in the sauna and envelope myself in the serene environment. When it was time for the services of my package to begin, the soak in the hot tub was first on the list. A nice spa lady led me outside and up some steps into an open-air room that had solid walls on three sides for privacy. The fourth wall was an airy fence that opened out onto a pristine view of an eerily quiet snow laden mountain side. The setting could not have been more ideal. The spa lady told me I had the tub reserved for 50-minutes and they would call me over an intercom when it was time to make my way back to the spa lobby. The water was steaming hot and a light snow was floating around me so that I sort of felt like I could be the character in a fairy-tale. When she left me in my ‘room’ she gave me a key and told me to lock the door behind me if I had to leave for any reason. I never left, so I never locked the door.

I spent the first portion of my time floating in the warm water and trying to memorize everything about the experience. As I was concentrating on “being in the moment” and wishing I had brought my phone with me to take a few pictures, the door to my room flew open and in dashed a lady slightly older than myself. She was obviously also a spa guest because she wore a cotton kimono similar to the one for which I myself had traded my driver’s license. She was very nice and it was sadly obvious she had spent a lot of money on face and body work. The doctors had done better on her boobs and tummy than they had on her face, in my opinion. I knew this because as she was complaining about being late, she shed her robe and took off her panties before slinking into the warm water. I kept thinking to myself: didn’t they say this part of the package was a PRIVATE tub? Oh well, I had never been there before and I didn’t want to act like a prima donna, so I went with it. What does one do when they meet a stranger for the first time and both people are naked? Well, just go through basics of polite conversation, I guess. I learned she had grown up in Italy and France as a child, had lived in eastern locations such as Singapore and Australia, and now spent her time in the States with houses in Del Rey Beach, Florida and Hilton Head, South Carolina. Although I’ve not had any plastic surgery, I have been to Australia, France, and Hilton Head… so we had that in common. We talked about how we loved Santa Fe, and how we would love to have a home in the area. Now Mike and I don’t even have ONE home, much less two or three – but I acted like the respectable Texas woman I am and rose to her level. She also told me that she had been shopping for a hat in a store near the plaza when she watched a customer purchase a $30,000 straw cowboy hat. At that time, I neglected to tell her that I had probably NOT been shopping inside that same store. Anyway, more time passed and she finally jumped out of the hot tub, grabbed her robe and ran off to the massage she had scheduled. The poor lady never knew she was in the wrong place, and she would probably never dream she would be the subject of a section in my blog! I still had about fifteen minutes of my soak left after her departure, so I went back to focusing on the solitude and flawless surroundings until the voice on the intercom came through to tell me my time was up.

The rest of my day at Ten Thousand Waves was just as I expected. The face, neck, face, foot treatments were wonderful – aside from the fact that the aesthetician talked a lot too much. Never-the-less I felt beautiful after I emerged. I concluded my spa day with a wonderful late lunch at the resort’s only restaurant before making the drive back home… wishing once again that I lived in the area so I would qualify for the local’s discount.

Another notable thing that happened during the second half of our stay in Santa Fe was that we had a visitor! My friend Amy made the 5-hour drive down from Denver to spend a couple of days hanging out! We offered our sofa bed for sleeping purposes, but she opted to stay in the quaint Hotel Chamayo just off the plaza in Santa Fe. It was a charming establishment and I would recommend it to anyone. She and I shopped and ate until there was nothing left in the area to taste, and nothing left in the universe to talk about. Well, not really – since we are of the female gender and have been friends since our teens – but the point it that it was a great visit.

We have invited countless friends and family to visit us during our tour and three entities have taken us up on the offer: My cousin Kevin and his wife Claire met us in Morgantown, West Virginia to attend a Texas Longhorns football game (they also traveled to meet us for the day in Princeton, NJ); Mike’s parents came to Rapid City, SD; and Amy came to Santa Fe! Gold Stars all around for the people who love us!

As usual, I will let the pictures below tell you the rest of the story about our final days in Santa Fe. However, the final “interesting” occurrence deserves a few paragraphs designated to something that has not happened to us yet on the tour (and hopefully will not happen again before we sell this Monaco).

The weather wasn’t GREAT every day we were in the New Mexico Capital, and although we were always able to get out and about in the city, daytrips to the north into the mountainous areas were often bypassed because of icy roads. We have a little Honda CRV with baby tires and zero horsepower… so when the roads were iffy, we chose to stay close to home. A day finally came where the skies cleared and the temperatures were warmish. We quickly decided to get in our car and drive to somewhere north of us. Our final decision was to visit Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument. We spent a wonderful day driving and exploring to our hearts content. As the early afternoon approached, we looked at each other and at the same time decided to head back home where we could build a campfire and enjoy a sunset from OUTSIDE our rig – for a change.

Upon arriving back to the campground, we built a campfire and decided to fry some potatoes and grill some burgers after the sun went down. We were enjoying a glass of wine and admiring the sunset when some new campers arrived. Seems the management had assigned them a spot near us at #26. Usually when new campers arrive there is a bit of commotion as everyone gets settled. Understandable, of course. Then things get back to normal and everyone minds their own business. In this instance, we had a new Lexus SUV (looked it up: just under $89K – loaded), pulling a new little camper (about 15-20 feet max) trying to park their toys in a PULL-THROUGH spot somewhere near us. I do not say ‘somewhere near us’ in jest. After about 15 minutes of maneuvering, I could not even tell which site they were actually trying to conquer.

Mike is the driver in our family (y’all all know I don’t even know how to START the engine of the Monaco, right? Well, I don’t. Never will. Don’t try to talk me into it). When he and I are having trouble, the last thing he wants is a stranger coming up and offering assistance. So we abided by our own personal family rule and let the new campers languish in their own family misery without posing an interference. We were completely embarrassed for them and we didn’t want to make it worse for us. At one point I did get up from the campfire to take a look. My deduction upon returning to our quaint patio was that the poor man was not the outdoorsy type. He had obviously not even owned a boat before, or he would certainly be able to back up his little camper. To make matters worse, the skinny wife with the perfect bouffant hair and designer exercise/camping clothes, was trying to direct the retired nimrod into their PULL-THROUGH spot. (in case you don’t get the nuance… there  is no need to back into a pull-through spot. there, I said it). Their conversation went something like this “NOOOO, GO THE OTHER WAY. OH MY GOD, TURN THE OTHER DIRECTION! NOW LOOK AT WHERE YOU ARE”. My advice to the bouffant lady… your poor husband is clueless. He obviously just retired and is trying to live some sort of post-career fantasy where y’all get back to the basics and live like the ‘normal’ people. For Heaven’s sake woman, take it easy on the duffus, he has no idea what he is doing!

More yelling, more embarrassment, and soon the SUV and camper were lined up with NOTHING that made any sense. It was getting dark around that time, so I decided I would go inside and prep our potatoes for the fryer. Home grilled hamburgers and fresh made fries – a wonderful end to  perfect day. Just as I rose from my chair, I heard the newly retired man’s camper hit and knock over a metal chair behind him. The bouffant lady really let him have it with an extra loud “OH MY GOD, YOU HIT…”. I was shaking my head in pity as I entered the inside of the rig. Then I heard a HUGE LOUD crash, boom, bang, SPLASH. I looked out the window in time to see the $80+K Lexus SUV crashed into our site with a 6-foot tall fountain of water spewing out of the water connection of the spot next to us. My first thought: They are gonna flood our site and we will be slugging through mud for the rest of our stay! After that, I wondered if anyone was hurt. I ran out the front door on the way to the office just in time to see Mike running to the front of our patio – facial expressions full of images related to shock, awe, and WTF???

I booked it to the office to tell them to turn off the water, someone had just crashed into our site. Then I ran back to our spot. As I approached, I noticed the dude has also taken out the electrical box in the site next to us. Water + electricity = not a good mix. I turned around and ran back to the office to tell them to shut off the electricity too. Looks like dinner was going to be postponed a bit. After I voiced the appropriate emergency messages to management, I was walking back toward the chaos (sucking air because I have not run that hard in EVER) when the stupid driver was walking toward the office. Don’t worry sir, the owner will meet you at  your wreckage. I could only imagine how mortified he must have been, so I tried to make it better. Him: “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done”. Me: “oh well, don’t worry, I caused my husband to wreck our coach when we arrived here. Well, not quite like that… Well, actually, it was nothing like that. But anyway, what happened”? Him: “I got out of the car while it was still in drive”. His answer had me thinking he should possibly think of another story before he told anyone else.

I felt so sorry for him until he kept talking. He willfully admitted to anyone who would listen that he did not know how to back up with a trailer in tow. Turns out that this was only the second time he had ever taken out the camper. When they tried a trip the first time he demolished a fence at the last campground. DUDE. Practice backing up in a parking lot until you get a handle on this retirement fantasy of yours.

So we postponed our dinner because we didn’t have electricity to heat the fry daddy anyway, and besides, there was too much excitement happening around us to concentrate on a meal. We did, however, enjoy a couple of more glasses of wine, and snap a few shots with our cameras.  In the end, the water was turned back on, the electricity was reestablished, and the car was removed from our patio. We did finally eat a little later than expected while we thanked our lucky stars (and divine intervention) that our vehicles were not wrecked and our dogs were not killed (we had JUST moved them from the spot where the SUV landed about 20 minutes prior to the excitement).

The last abnormal thing that happened during our stay in Santa Fe was that my dear friend, Patty, died of a quick and surprising bout with the dreaded cancer. I flew back to Houston for 40 hours to attend her funeral. Although the reason for my return to the homeland was heartbreaking, it was good to see many of the friends that I cherish so deeply. Bittersweet. Life goes on, but it sure sucks when your loved ones are not in the picture any longer.

Sandia Mountain (out the window at my desk), with clouds above and below.

Sandia Mountain (out the window at my desk), with clouds above and below.

I sensed I was in for something special as I made my way up the walkway to the entrance of Ten Thousand Waves.

I sensed I was in for something special as I made my way up the walkway to the entrance of Ten Thousand Waves.

The spa at Ten Thousand Waves was glorious, and I think the snow made the setting that much more spectacular.

The spa at Ten Thousand Waves was glorious, and I think the snow made the setting that much more spectacular.

My view during lunch at Izanami, the restaurant at Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa.

My view during lunch at Izanami, the restaurant at Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains never looked the same twice.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains never looked the same twice.

Our campground was full of art.

Our campground was full of art.

A trail from downtown Santa Fe leads to the top of a hill where Fort Marcy was located in the mid-1800's. It was built when the United States declared war on the Republic of Mexico after a dispute arose over the location of the southern border of the newly annexed State of Texas.

A trail from downtown Santa Fe leads to the top of a hill where Fort Marcy was located in the mid-1800’s. It was built when the United States declared war on the Republic of Mexico after a dispute arose over the location of the southern border of the newly annexed State of Texas.

mary shrine

Solar panels are everywhere in New Mexico. These were next to the dog park at our campground.

Solar panels are everywhere in New Mexico. These were next to the dog park at our campground.

Dina and Amy selfie over a glass of wine at the Inn of the Anasazi.

Dina and Amy selfie over a glass of wine at the Inn of the Anasazi.

When my friend Amy was visiting me, the three of us went on a night time excursion with an outfit called Astronomy Adventures. We followed detailed driving instructions to a plot of land off of Highway 14 where there was very little light pollution after dark. Our guide, Peter, educated us with an Astronomy 101 lesson and we got to look through a large telescope to see things like planets, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. It was COLD outside, so we kept warm by going inside a small shed with a space heater. The lights were red so that our eyes could stay adjusted to the dark. It was a very educational evening, and the three of us felt like we had just attended a college level lecture when it was all over. The good news was that there was no test at the end.

When my friend Amy was visiting me, the three of us went on a night time excursion with an outfit called Astronomy Adventures. We followed detailed driving instructions to a plot of land off of Highway 14 where there was very little light pollution after dark. Our guide, Peter, educated us with an Astronomy 101 lesson and we got to look through a large telescope to see things like planets, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. It was COLD outside, so we kept warm by going inside a small shed with a space heater. The lights were red so that our eyes could stay adjusted to the dark. It was a very educational evening, and the three of us felt like we had just attended a college level lecture when it was all over. The good news was that there was no test at the end.

The road into Los Alamos hugs the side of a canyon as drivers ascend.

The road into Los Alamos hugs the side of a canyon as drivers ascend.

We arrived in Los Alamos at the same time this Piper landed on the runway. I expected to see cars traveling beside us on the main road into town, so I was surprised to see an airplane out my window instead.

We arrived in Los Alamos at the same time this Piper landed on the runway. I expected to see cars traveling beside us on the main road into town, so I was surprised to see an airplane out my window instead.

We have explored a multitude of downtowns since we started our tour. This is the first time we have ever encountered a screen on Main Street that features images from the Mars Rover.

We have explored a multitude of downtowns since we started our tour. This is the first time we have ever encountered a screen on Main Street that features images from the Mars Rover.

 A view from Los Alamos.

A view from Los Alamos.

A view of Frijoles Canyon at Bandelier National Monument.

A view of Frijoles Canyon at Bandelier National Monument.

Tuff is compacted volcanic ash that was formed from two massive volcanic explosions that occurred over a million years ago!

Tuff is compacted volcanic ash that was formed from two massive volcanic explosions that occurred over a million years ago!

The road out of Bandelier.

The road out of Bandelier.

Infrastructure from an ancient Pueblo community.

Infrastructure from an ancient Pueblo community.

The view from inside one of the dwellings of the Ancient Puebloans.

The view from inside one of the dwellings of the Ancient Puebloans.

Ancestral Pueblo condo.

Ancestral Pueblo condo.

Can you spot the petroglyph on the side of the rock? Ancient Indian graffiti.

Can you spot the petroglyph on the side of the rock? Ancient Indian graffiti.

The adobe houses in Santa Fe and Los Alamos look pretty much the same as they looked for this ancient civilization from around 1150 CE.

The adobe houses in Santa Fe and Los Alamos look pretty much the same as they looked for this ancient civilization from around 1150 CE.

No dogs allowed on the paths at Bandelier National Monument - mainly because of the deer and other natural wildlife that hang out next to the trail.

No dogs allowed on the paths at Bandelier National Monument – mainly because of the deer and other natural wildlife that hang out next to the trail.

If you retire and want to do something crazy like buy a new toy and start camping... I suggest you practice driving in a parking lot until you know how to back up and stuff.

If you retire and want to do something crazy like buy a new toy and start camping… I suggest you practice driving in a parking lot until you know how to back up and stuff.

A front view of our spot so you can get a perspective of exactly where they plowed into us. (And how lucky we are that they did not hit our car, our rig, or our dogs)!

A front view of our spot so you can get a perspective of exactly where they plowed into us. (And how lucky we are that they did not hit our car, our rig, or our dogs)!

What do you do after a moron camper crashes his car and trailer into your site? Try to enjoy the campfire you had already built while watching the commotion happening 10-feet away. (And take lots of pictures, even though that must have been totally embarrassing for the numnut and his wife).

What do you do after a moron camper crashes his car and trailer into your site? Try to enjoy the campfire you had already built while watching the commotion happening 10-feet away. (And take lots of pictures, even though that must have been totally embarrassing for the numnut and his wife).

The campground owners had to get creative when they extracted the camper and Lexus from our patio. First they had to disconnect the camper, lift it, and turn it 90 degrees away from our site. Then they hooked the camper up to one of their trucks and moved it to a spot on the other side of the park. Then they had to lift the back end of the Lexus and turn the vehicle 90 degrees to get it off the boulder it landed on after it crashed into the water faucet and electrical box. I was amazed that the engine started and he was able to drive it away instead of it being towed.

The campground owners had to get creative when they extracted the camper and Lexus from our patio. First they had to disconnect the camper, lift it, and turn it 90 degrees away from our site. Then they hooked the camper up to one of their trucks and moved it to a spot on the other side of the park. Then they had to lift the back end of the Lexus and turn the vehicle 90 degrees to get it off the boulder it landed on after it crashed into the water faucet and electrical box. I was amazed that the engine started and he was able to drive it away instead of it being towed.

Drinking coffee with my buddy Jerry, the maintenance man at Santa Fe Skies RV Park. We bonded early during our stay. You might remember we arrived in Santa Fe a day early in order to beat a forecasted snowstorm. When the skies cleared, I was out trying to clear our cement patio and the campground owner saw me. He immediately asked Jerry to come over and help me. Jerry had a homemade contraption that he used to melt the ice from the patio (it was a propane tank hooked to a torch). He would light the torch and melt the ice with the heat of the flame, and then I would sweep away the water. We had the entire space cleared after about an hour. As we were finishing he paid me the highest compliment: "you're a hard worker". We were fast friends from that point forward!

Drinking coffee with my buddy Jerry, the maintenance man at Santa Fe Skies RV Park. We bonded early during our stay. You might remember we arrived in Santa Fe a day early in order to beat a forecasted snowstorm. When the skies cleared, I was out trying to clear our cement patio and the campground owner saw me. He immediately asked Jerry to come over and help me. Jerry had a homemade contraption that he used to melt the ice from the patio (it was a propane tank hooked to a torch). He would light the torch and melt the ice with the heat of the flame, and then I would sweep away the water. We had the entire space cleared after about an hour. As we were finishing he paid me the highest compliment: “you’re a hard worker”. We were fast friends from that point forward!

My sweet friend Becky who has hosted me both times I have had to return to Houston for funerals. She and her husband Dan have always been able to shed some bright light on those sad occasions.

My sweet friend Becky who has hosted me both times I have had to return to Houston for funerals. She and her husband Dan have always been able to shed some bright light on those sad occasions.

We all wanted to spend a little more time comforting each other after our friend Patty's funeral, so we went to the club where we play tennis and toasted her with a glass of wine.

We all wanted to spend a little more time comforting each other after our friend Patty’s funeral, so we went to the club where we play tennis and toasted her with a glass of wine.

Another giant and brilliant sculpture outside the Museum of International Folk Art.

Another giant and brilliant sculpture outside the Museum of International Folk Art.

A beautiful sculpture outside of the Museum of International Folk Art.

A beautiful sculpture outside of the Museum of International Folk Art.

 

 

 

 

New Mexico Part I: Santa Fe – First Half

When we looked at our future route and determined we could be in Santa Fe for the Christmas holidays, I suggested to Mike that we make reservations in the Land of Enchantment’s Capital City for a whole month! Why not? So we did. It has been great!

We found a campground on the south side of town called Santa Fe Skies. We are a 20-minute drive into downtown, but Santa Fe is actually a small town (with a population of only 70,000 within the city limits and 150,000 in the county), so the route is no problem at all. We are situated up on a shallow ridge with beautiful views of the skies in all directions and the city lights at night.

Since there is so much to do and see here, I decided to break this blog post into two parts. I still have over fifty photos to share in this first half, so I think it will be less of a burden to the nice folks that visit this blog if I don’t overwhelm them with more tidbits than I’ve already chosen to share. The following pictures start when we arrived on December 14th and go through the weekend of January 3rd. I’ll post the second half after we leave here on January 18th. It is cold here, but we aren’t buried in snow or anything like that. I think I tell Mike that I could live here about three times each day. He just nods and smiles. They don’t call this place “The Land of Entrapment” for nothing!

We had a fairly long day of travel getting from Colorado Springs to Santa Fe. We had originally planned to break up the trip, and boondock in a Walmart parking lot in Trinidad. However, the weather forecast was calling for a snowstorm so we drove the route in one day. After we checked into our campground I was in charge of leading us to our spot #26. I read the map wrong and led Mike through a tight space with a retaining wall. The muddy ground caused him to slide at the wrong minute, and now the side of the rig was scratched. Yuck. (The good news is that we both acted like mature adults, avoided the blame game and got past it).

We had a fairly long day of travel getting from Colorado Springs to Santa Fe. We had originally planned to break up the trip, and boondock in a Walmart parking lot in Trinidad at the half-way point. It would have been a good opportunity to make the drive(s) short and stress-free, plus we could help our rental average by paying no fees one night. However, the forecast was calling for a snowstorm so we drove the route in one day so we could get situated before the weather turned bad. After we checked into our campground I was in charge of leading us to our spot #26. I read the map wrong and led Mike through a tight space with a retaining wall. The muddy ground caused him to slide at the wrong minute, and the side of the rig was scratched. Yuck. (The good news is that we both acted like mature adults, avoided the blame game and got past it).

The back of our spot #26.

The back of our spot #26.

The view out my kitchen window.

The view out my kitchen window.

The exterior of the famous Loretto Chapel near the Santa Fe Plaza. It was once a Catholic Church, and is now a museum and wedding chapel.

The exterior of the famous Loretto Chapel near the Santa Fe Plaza. It was once a Catholic Church, and is now a museum and wedding chapel.

We were lucky to attend an intimate Christmas concert one evening inside the Loretto Chapel. The Santa Fe Pro Musica Baroque Ensemble performed a collection of music by Handel, Vivaldi and Bach.

We were lucky to attend an intimate Christmas concert one evening inside the Loretto Chapel. The Santa Fe Pro Musica Baroque Ensemble performed a collection of music by Handel, Vivaldi and Bach.

The Miraculous Stair, a helix-shaped staircase mysteriously built by someone the Sisters of Loretto believed to be St. Joseph. The banister was a later addition.

The Miraculous Stair, a helix-shaped staircase mysteriously built by someone the Sisters of Loretto believed to be St. Joseph. The banister was a later addition.

I loved this tree outside of Loretto Chapel, adorned with hundreds of rosaries.

I loved this tree outside of Loretto Chapel, adorned with hundreds of rosaries.

I bought a Christmas ornament from the vendors at the Palace of the Governors across from the Plaza.

I bought a Christmas ornament from the vendors at the Palace of the Governors across from the Plaza.

Some public art in downtown Santa Fe.

Some public art in downtown Santa Fe.

Ristras

Ristras

Saint Francis Cathedral.

Saint Francis Cathedral.

Inside the basilica of Santa Fe.

Inside the Cathedral.

The Lensic Theater in downtown is beautiful!

The Lensic Theater in downtown is beautiful!

Mike's birthday was on December 18th. I ordered a cake for him from a local place called Cake Odyssey. I was beyond pleased when I picked it up... and it tasted delicious too.

Mike’s birthday was on December 18th. I ordered a cake for him from a local place called Cake Odyssey. I was beyond pleased when I picked it up… and it tasted delicious too.

The bar at the Palace in downtown Santa Fe.

The bar at the Palace in downtown Santa Fe. Everything was red. The furniture, the walls, the lights. Red. We did a pub crawl on Mike’s birthday and ended up here eating hamburgers after we had visited Coyote Café and The Agave inside the Eldorado Hotel.

I went to a performance called A Celtic Christmas at the historic Scottish Rite Masonic Hall. The show started with Christmas carols by bagpipe. There were also irish dancers, fiddle players, and other musicians.

I went to a performance called A Celtic Christmas at the historic Scottish Rite Masonic Hall. The show started with Christmas carols by bagpipe. There were also Irish dancers, fiddle players, and other musicians.

The exterior of the Masonic Temple.

The exterior of the Masonic Temple.

A view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from our campground at sunset. Many say they are called "blood of Christ" because of the red color they turn when the sun sets opposite them.

A view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from our campground at sunset. Many say they are called “blood of Christ” because of the red color they turn when the sun sets opposite them.

A typical sunrise view from my office window. Good Morning!

A typical sunrise view from my office window. Good Morning!

We took the train into downtown on Christmas eve. It was so convenient and we didn't have to worry about parking or crazy drivers!

There is a RailRunner Station about 1/2 mile from our campground. We took the train into downtown on Christmas eve. It was so convenient and we didn’t have to worry about parking or crazy drivers!

The Farolito Walk along Canyon Road on Christmas Eve is a Santa Fe tradition. Its a big deal!

The Farolito Walk along Canyon Road on Christmas Eve is a Santa Fe tradition. Its a big deal!

We stopped to have a drink and take a selfie during the Farolito Walk.

We stopped to have a drink and take a selfie during the Farolito Walk.

The almost full moon and the luminaries atop a building on Canyon Road on Christmas Eve.

The almost full moon and the luminaries atop a building on Canyon Road on Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning at Camp Martin.

Christmas morning at Camp Martin.

The Christmas altar at our neighborhood church Santa Maria de la Paz.

The Christmas altar at our neighborhood church Santa Maria de la Paz.

I had originally wanted to have a nice Christmas dinner at a fancy restaurant somewhere, but when I started investigating our options it became clear we were going to spend a minimum of $250 if we made an attempt to book a table somewhere. We opted to save that money and distribute it among several restaurants on multiple meals during our stay. Instead, we had home-made roasted duck, potatoes, dressing, gravy, horseradish spinach salad and cranberry salad. I was not displeased with our decision to change our plans.

I had originally wanted to have a nice Christmas dinner at a fancy restaurant, but when I started investigating our options it became clear we were going to spend a minimum of $250 if we made an attempt to book a table somewhere. We opted to save that money and distribute it among several restaurants on multiple meals during our stay. Instead, I fixed roasted duck, potatoes, dressing, gravy, horseradish spinach salad and cranberry salad. I was not displeased with our decision to change our plans.

Mike's view from his seat on the couch.

Mike’s view from his seat on the couch.

A blizzard came through during the first few days of our stay, so we waited it out inside the Monaco... except when the dogs insisted we visit the dog park.

A blizzard came through during the first few days of our stay, so we waited it out inside the Monaco… except when the dogs insisted we visit the dog park.

Just us on a leisurely walk to get some fresh air and clear our heads.

Just us on a leisurely walk to get some fresh air and clear our heads.

We found a great walking trail located a short drive from our campground.

We found a great walking trail located a short drive from our campground.

Cactus on the trail.

Cactus on the trail.

Two snuggling bears on Canyon Road.

Two snuggling bears on Canyon Road.

Frozen fog.

Frozen fog.

Another view from the walking path we found.

Another view from the walking path we found.

The view never disappoints.

The view never disappoints.

We also attended a performance by the Santa Fe Pro Musica Orchestra of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos in the St. Francis Auditorium at the New Mexico Museum of Art.

We also attended a performance by the Santa Fe Pro Musica Orchestra of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos in the St. Francis Auditorium at the New Mexico Museum of Art.

The Santa Fe Plaza all decked out for the holidays.

The Santa Fe Plaza all decked out for the holidays.

During a brief weather window when the snow melted, the sun appeared, and the temperature reached into the high 30's... you can bet we headed outside for a campfire!

During a brief weather window when the snow melted, the sun appeared, and the temperature reached into the high 30’s… you can bet we headed outside for a campfire!

The Santa Fe Farmer's Market is open all year on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. I bought some delicious chocolate mousse from one vendor and some amazing green chili cheese bread from the Intergalactic Bread vendor's booth.

The Santa Fe Farmer’s Market is open all year on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. I bought some delicious chocolate mousse from one vendor and some amazing green chili cheese bread from the Intergalactic Bread vendor’s booth. It was out of this world!

The San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe is regarded as the oldest church in the United States. It was built around 1610, and had been rebuilt and restored several times over the last 400 years.

The San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe is regarded as the oldest church in the United States. It was built around 1610, and has been rebuilt and restored several times over the last 400 years.

The beautiful altar inside the San Miguel Chapel.

The beautiful altar inside the San Miguel Chapel.

Sunset over our campground. Every night is different, yet no less spectacular.

Sunset over our campground. Every night is different, yet no less spectacular.

The Martin Martian from Madrid (New Mexico).

The Martin Martian from Madrid (New Mexico).

Mike playing along with me at Connie's photo park in Madrid (the oldest town in New Mexico).

Mike playing along with me at Connie’s photo park in Madrid (the oldest town in New Mexico).

Cessna LOVES a road trip. She sits in the back and watches the views pass by outside the window with a big grin on her face.

Cessna LOVES a road trip. She sits in the back and watches the views pass by outside the window with a big grin on her face.

We took the Scenic Highway 14 drive to Albuquerque and the vistas were very beautiful.

We took the Scenic Highway 14 drive to Albuquerque and the vistas were very beautiful.

The spires of San Felipe de Neri Church on the Plaza in Old Town Albuquerque.

The spires of San Felipe de Neri Church on the Plaza in Old Town Albuquerque.

The altar inside the church that was founded in 1706.

The altar inside the church that was founded in 1706.

Cute Christmas mariachis on a restaurant roof top in Old Town Albuquerque.

Cute Christmas mariachis on a restaurant roof top in Old Town Albuquerque.

Old Town Albuquerque.

Old Town Albuquerque.

After we left Old Town, we drove over to central - which is also the original Route 66. It was a Sunday afternoon and the only other people we saw along the street were homeless people.

After we left Old Town, we drove over to Central Ave., which is also the original Route 66. It was a Sunday afternoon and the only other people we saw along the street were homeless people.

Can you read the titles on the books in this sign? Gone with the Gin, Tequila Mockingbird, A Midsummer Night's Drink, Lord of the Onion Rings, Partying 101. Hahahaha.

Can you read the titles on the books in this sign? Gone with the Gin, Tequila Mockingbird, A Midsummer Night’s Drink, Lord of the Onion Rings, Partying 101. Hahahaha.

 A gorgeous marble building in downtown Albuquirky.

A gorgeous marble building in downtown Albuquirky.

A view of the Mountains along 1-25 as we drove back to camp from Albuquerque.

A view of the mountains along I-25 as we drove back to camp from Albuquerque.