As we began our route back east toward Orlando, where I would begin training for my new position with Thousand Trails, we planned a short stopover in Santa Fe where we would cross paths with Shaun's parents as they travelled west. They had just purchased a new RV in Florida and were making the maiden voyage home to Oregon with their new rig. A few days in Santa Fe seemed like the perfect place to meet and enjoy the area.
Our homebase was at the Santa Fe Skies RV Park, the perfectly Santa Fe style spot complete with funky artwork around the property surrounded by vast high desert. The campground was clean and well-kept with a dog park and nice walking trails around the perimeter of the property. Plus, the sunsets and sunrises here were incredible!
On our first night in Santa Fe, we made our way into the downtown area and happened upon Cafe Pasqual's. A quirky cafe and art gallery with a collection of art, plants, and native pottery adorning every square inch of the space. The dinner menu is an extensive list of unique mexican fare using local and seasonal ingredients. Every dish seemed to have a twist and we tried the pupusa (corn and zucchini cakes) and the carne asada, which were amazing. I was already in Santa Fe heaven.
The next day we headed into Santa Fe to get a lay of the land and to explore the downtown area more. My heart was set on finding some handmade jewelry and pottery. The heart of downtown is a collection of adobe buildings and plaza's with chapels overlooking each block. We made a stop at the visitor's center first to get some recommendations for places to visit while in the area. Then we meandered the streets, admiring the artwork and jewelry offered by the various Native American street vendors who made their wares at the neighboring artist Pueblos.
One of the must-see places in downtown Santa Fe is the miraculous staircase in Loretto Chapel, just blocks from the main plaza. The staircase was finished in 1878 as a way to access to upper choir level of the space without disrupting the interior of the small chapel. The finished staircase is an architectural marvel with no visible means of support and is constructed of ornately carved wood completely free of any nails. It really is a site to see!
The next day of our visit took us out on the High Road to Taos. A beautiful stretch of two lane highway connecting the two mountain art communities. Along the way, we made a pilgrimage to the 19th-century Santuario de Chimayó, where thousands of believers visit each year to take some of the miracle dirt rumored to have healing powers. We took our photos, admired the adobe structures, and procured our dirt. Then onto Taos.
Taos is another small art village with a Pueblo we didn't realize was closed. So, we had a great mexican meal for lunch and a few margaritas at the town square, then back to Santa Fe via the Low Road.
Our last day in Santa Fe took us south along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway to the tiny mining town turned failing ghost town turned artist community, Madrid. But first, there is a must stop for breakfast. For on the road to Madrid there is a charming little feed store and cafe that even google doesn't seem to know about. San Marcos Cafe and Feed Store doesn't have a website but they do have a facebook page and they know how to make an excellent cinnamon roll. We would highly recommend anyone make this a planned breakfast stop during their stay in Santa Fe. The charming cafe is protected by a group of peacocks, turkeys, ducks, and chickens that wander the yard among the many large lawn ornaments. The inside of the cafe has a beautiful adobe and terra cotta fireplace, with rustic wooden furniture arranged around the eclectic space. The staff is friendly and the food is awesome, what more could you want?
Now onto Madrid. While in this quirky, random community we learned that Madrid was voted as the best town for hippies by some publication. I believe it. The main street is made up of about an eighth of a mile of small 50's style bungalows turned artist studios and a few restaurants and bars lining the Turquoise Highway. At the end of town, you'll find a little shopping center fully adorned in bright colorful murals. Here is a cute women's boutique where Nancy and I found some fun tops and right next door is a creative chocolate shop that sells chocolate like lavender and lemon peel or chili peppers and vanilla. Unfortunately, there was a line to the chocolate each time we popped our heads in, so I snapped a pic and vowed our return. After we were done shopping, we made our way to the ole Mine Shaft Tavern to have a beer and enjoy the New Mexico sunshine.
There are so many things to do in and around Santa Fe, we will definitely be back to explore more of the surrounding parks and pueblos.