Friday, October 21, 2011

New Mexico 2011 - Day 3 & 4

When we woke up bright and early on Day 3 of our trip, it would be a busy and our first destination was Taos Pueblo. Yes, another place we've been to a few times before, but it's also another fascinating stop so we couldn't help ourselves. It's just a few minutes drive from the town of Taos. 
Taos Pueblo is an Indian Reservation that is about 1,000 years old. Native Americans still live there, in relatively similar conditions as their ancestors did -
A THOUSAND YEARS AGO.
That's what's so cool about this place. 
It is a small village that you can walk around, many of the residents own and run their own shops. The shops target tourists like ourselves, selling hot fry bread right out of their clay ovens and handmade beaded jewelry or other Native American crafts.
One of the residents was delighted to show the girls her puppy.
Most of the Native Americans that live here are very friendly, but also reserved. 
There goes our little photo-bomber again...
Since I've been to Taos Pueblo a couple times before, I had seen their church, most of the village, and there's a small stream that runs through the reservation. I hadn't seen the cemetery before, though.
Again, with the mountains in the background, the crisp fall air, and the changing leaves - it all makes for a beautiful trip. If you go, plan your trip during autumn!
After visiting the reservation, we decided to hit the road again for a day-trip of sorts to Abiquiu {AH-bee-kee-oo} and the Ghost Ranch. The drive was longer than we'd anticipated, but full of gorgeous scenery. I wish we could have gotten a closer look at that canyon in the distance {above}.

But there was plenty of scenery to be enjoyed in the near-distance as well. 

When we arrived at Abiquiu, we stopped at Bode's General Store & Kitchen, which, we had heard through the grapevine, has the best green chili burger. It was indeed quite good, but huge. If you go, share one with your friend. 
Bode's is one of those small town/road trip joints. You know the kind, part gas station, part restaurant, part general store, part tourist shop.
It was a welcomed rest before hitting the Ghost Ranch...

Ahh, the Ghost Ranch!
Georgia O'Keeffe called it home.
They've filmed many movies using this scenery {Cowboys vs Aliens, one of the Indiana Jones films, etc.}
That's it???
No, this old abandoned house is just ONE of the many things to see at the Ghost Ranch. Most of the amazing things to see, however, can be found if you just look up & out:
and about:
There is a small museum on site, you can get a look at Georgia O'Keeffe's house, learn about the dinosaur fossils they've dug up here. But really, I thought it was just amazing to see. To just take in the scenery.
Eisley stopped to smell a flower outside the museum with the dinosaur exhibits.
Ladies were painting the scenery. I sort of wished I could join them...



Good place for family portraits, no?

 Can't...stop....posting...pictures...
 I love the American Southwest.
Okay, moving on!

After leaving the Ghost Ranch, we detoured back to Chimayo.
The Tuttles had something they wanted to pick up.
:::cough:::Sugar de Chimayo:::cough:::

Then it was back to Taos for another night at the Kachina Lodge. 
I love this hotel! 
As I stated before, when my family travels, we don't spend big money on the hotels. It's just not our style. But we still find very nice places. The Kachina Lodge is awesome.

Yes, we are about to get whipped by that statue...
My dad remembers staying here as a boy. 
The rooms are roomy, they have nightly Kachina Dancing shows for guests, and rooms include a free hot breakfast at their cafe. Though rates certainly change, we were able to book two nights here for under $100. You cannot. Beat. That.
It's kitschy and cute.
Do you know what a Kachina is?


So here starts Day 4.
One of our last stops is yet another Taos/New Mexico favorite of ours. 
Michael's Kitchen for breakfast.
And apparently we're not the only people who love Michael's Kitchen, because their walls are adorned with awards for all sorts of things like best red chili, best green chili, etc., in Taos. A sign on the outside labels them part of the "Best of Taos 2011"
Eisley started a trend with her posing style. 
She's a ham.

Anyway.
I ordered the Poor Man's Egg Benedict. 
Of course I did. This is what I always order at Michael's Kitchen {the two times I've been there now.} And everyone tries it and says how delicious it is, and then for weeks after we get home Justin and I try to replicate it, but we never can...
So that's my recommendation. If you should find yourself in Taos at Michael's Kitchen anytime soon. Poor Man's Egg Benedict. Or of course, there's also the traditional breakfast burrito.
Or...
You could order this.

 Our last stop before leaving town and heading home was to visit the Taos Plaza. It's just slightly smaller and less busy than Santa Fe's, but still fun to shop & browse. I would recommend At Home In Taos and the most darling toy shop you've ever seen, Twirl.
 I love these girls. 
 Our drive out of Taos was a new route for us. It took us through a National State Park that made for a gorgeous drive in fall time. 
This is the road that took us back to Denver...

Back to real life. 

Bye New Mexico, until next time...

For more on The Erickson's Guide to New Mexico:
See my sister's post, The Restaurant Saint of Santa Fe

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Mexico 2011 - Day 2

This is probably my favorite picture from the whole trip, New Mexico is amazingly beautiful. This was taken on our way from Santa Fe to Taos {rhymes with mouse}.
But for day two, we have to start back in Santa Fe...

We woke up bright and early to browse a few more shops before leaving Santa Fe. This town is full of touristy shops.
It's also full of art, like these new sculptures just arriving fresh to be displayed somewhere. 
And it's a known fact that when traveling with my dad, artist that he is, if he spots an art show you WILL stop and see it. Thankfully, there was a Starbucks across the street.
 Here is another one of my favorite Santa Fe shops, Doodlets, it's full of wonders and charms.  
{Like a good blogger, I always ask permission to photograph a shop.}
 This is the best shop to pick something up as a souvenir or a gift...
 I wish I could take everything home with me.
 Like this adorable table and chairs, seriously, how cute is this?!

Back to the Plaza, we took pictures in front of the Palace of the Governers. 
Eisley has a thing for photo-bombing my sister's family pictures. I think she'd rather be a Tuttle...
That's better.
Get your own photograph, lady!

So then we left Santa Fe, and the beloved Trader Joe's, behind and headed for Taos. But we always love to take a detour and stop in Chimayo {rhymes with Ohio} on the way. 
Here's my best advice for when visiting Santa Fe and you head for Taos & Chimayo: {And you WILL head for Chimayo. You simply must.}
Take. The. High. Road.
To Taos, that is. Chimayo is a detour, but you will still see the most gorgeous views New Mexico has to offer. 

 Such as this one. It was taken on our drive to Chimayo.
First stop in Chimayo, El Santuario de Chimayo {translation, The Sanctuary of Chimayo.}
This place is sacred not only to locals but the thousands of people who pilgrimage here each year, hoping and believing in the miracles the sanctuary has to offer. 
But the first thing you will see from the parking lot is a fence with thousands of make-shift crosses attached to it. People come here to pray, meditate, and ask God for miracles.
This one touched me, it had an ultrasound picture attached. 
And if you stop to look at the crosses, you will be greeted by the horse. I remember him from last time we visited a couple years ago. 
He likes to come say hi. Probably hoping for his own miracle, that you will have an apple or something for him. 
You will also be greeted by all sorts of interesting displays before even getting near the santuario, such as this statue. Any idea of what this represents? I'm not quite sure...
If you turn around from the fence, you will see the seven stone crosses. People attach their photos, treasures, notes, etc, to the crosses, too.
With the mountains in the background, and especially in the fall when the leaves are changing, it is really a beautiful place. 
A few other things to be seen on your walk up to the santuario...
I wonder if they let people hold weddings here, because it would make a gorgeous location.
This is one of the most recent additions to the grounds.
From this courtyard area you walk up a steep paved walk...
the sanctuary is up there.
Along the way is a shrine.
Are you starting to get an idea of just how many people make the pilgrimage here?
Finally here is the sanctuary, the Santuario de Chimayo.
Here's the thing about this place, it doesn't look like much from the outside...

Typical New Mexico church, right? The inside, however, is incredibly ornate and fascinating. This sanctuary was built in 1816. It is nearly two hundred years old, and the inside shows it's age, but in a beautiful way. Hand-carved wood rafters, a very old, primitive looking crucifix. Primitive paintings on the walls. There is a peaceful, serene feeling inside the church. Though I think that's mostly because despite all the people visiting, you rarely experience such silence and reverence, it adds to the experience. 

I was not allowed to take pictures, as this building is considered sacred and guests are prohibited from photographing the inside. At the front, near the alter, is a doorway to a side room. In there you find a small room filled with pictures of loved ones that visitors have left, crutches hanging on the wall {from those who felt healed through their visit}, and all sorts of ornate adornments. Another small room off of that room has a hole in the floor, and garden shovels are provided. Guests can take a small amount of the "holy dirt" for themselves. It is believed by many to be healing and holy.
\
You are allowed to take your pictures outside, and so we did just that.
{I still can't believe how well our girls travel.}
That's my ma & pop.
And pardon the excess of photos of these two, but I just can't get enough.

Eisley and her cousin, Indy.

Darling.
And another darling...

At the top of the Santuario de Chimayo, near the sanctuary, is an exit where you can walk into the rest of town. It's a tiny little village, but it's got some curiosities to see.
Part of why I adore road trips to New Mexico is that it is relatively so close to Denver, yet you feel like you're in a whole other world when you're there.

 Chimayo is a cute town, to be sure.
There's another church just a stone's throw away from the Santuario.

 Basically, there are churches all over this part of the country. Each one is unique.
I love the adobe, especially with the beautiful shade of turquoise you see all over New Mexico. 
That would be Sugar. "Sugar de Chimayo". The sweetest dog I've probably ever met, she wanders the town and greets the guests. Signs were posted, they were looking for a new home for her. 

...my sister & her family may or may not have taken her home with them...

With the Santuario seen & visited, we headed down the road to another family favorite, the Rancho de Chimayo. Where the atmosphere is quaint, the food is pretty good (not amazing, like Guadalupe), and the margaritas are strong. 

My mother dined here back in the 70s. It's just the place we go when in Chimayo.
 If you can get a seat on the back patio, do, because it's lovely between the adorable building and the mountainside {which there are stairs on, leading nowhere, and don't ask me how I know that...}


They seated us in a small room of our own, which probably had something to do with the 4 small children with us. 
Me & Bea at the Rancho!

And here's the one picture we got of our entire group:
Here come the pictures of food...
 It is hard to get good pictures of food.
 Does this look at all appetizing??? 
When we were done dining it was night, and time to head for Taos, our final destination.
A good day in Chimayo, but the day wouldn't end as well...

Our drive included wrong turn toward the RIO GRANDE GORGE.
That was an interesting experience.
One that involved waking up an entire camp site with our honking
and asking a sleeping camper for directions after getting lost...

But after some mild drama, we made it to the Kachina Lodge, where you can get a nice, large room for two nights under $100. My dad stayed at this same hotel when he was a little guy.

Tomorrow, Day 3, will include highlights from the Ghost Ranch, a visit to Abiquiu, and Taos Pueblo.

My blogs tend to be photo-happy, but if you want to read about some of our experiences in New Mexico, you should head over to my sister's blog.
She's the most talented writer I know. 
I guarantee you will have a laugh or two while there.
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