Tag Archives: Santa Fe

Four Corners – The Largest Beach in the United States

5 Aug

My family loves going to the beach, and I decided to take them to the largest beach in the United States. After a walk around Santa Fe to see the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, we hopped into the car and headed north to Colorado. We passed through Espaniola, New Mexico and past San Antonio Mountain, which was mesmerizingly beautiful. We spent a lot of time driving toward it, and, as along every mile, I became more amazed by it.

Eventually, we made it to Antonito, Colorado, which is a neat little town. Then, there was Alamosa, Colorado, the home of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Before we could get to the sand dunes, we made a detour to Arby’s. Then, it was on to the beach. Yep, they wanted to go to the beach, so I found one in Colorado. However, it is not just a beach. It has sand dunes over 700 feet tall. It is a never-ending beach.image-32

Our only disappointment was that the snow melt stream was not flowing. The Great Sand Dunes are usually a natural water park, but the water was only a trickle.

One would think that climbing the tallest dunes in North America would be the end of the excitement for one day. However, this was not a normal day. We found the nicest IHOP any of us had ever seen. The service was not that great, but the building was great. A bunch of the Amish even showed up.

An exciting day. Start with the works of Georgia O’Keeffe. Play on the largest beach in the United States. Eat fancy pancakes. Then, break into a hotel room.

We got separate rooms for us and for the girls. The rooms were next to each other with those doors in between to allow us to walk from room to room. The girls locked themselves in liked they were supposed to do. They turned the deadbolt and put on the chain. Then, they came into our room and shut their door behind them. There was no way to get in.

We got the front desk clerk, and, with her help, we broke into the room. We used the special key that worked on the hidden deadbolt keyhole. We also used the special instrument that unhooked the chain. I try to learn something new whenever I can. On that day, I learned that when you lock yourself in your hotel room you are not really locked in. My family learned that you do not have to go to the beach to go to the beach.

Four Corners – Up and Down Tent Rocks

2 Aug

There are a lot of things to do in Santa Fe, but there were a few that we wanted the girls to experience. One was Maria’s. The other was Tent Rocks, a hike that takes you through a slot canyon and to the top of a mesa. This is all while being surrounded by some of the most interesting rock formations in the Southwest.

We woke up early and made our way to a hike that my wife and I have both completed. However, I have to give everyone credit. This was the toughest day that I have seen at Tent Rocks. It was hot, and the air was thin.

The hike started easy enough, and everyone was in the mood for pictures.image-25

However, it was not long before we were all looking for an excuse to stop. Sitting on this rock looked like a good excuse.image-26

Of course, the scenery was beautiful. I think I have taken this shot each time I have passed it.image-27

Oh yeah, there were more pictures to take.image-28

After a lot of huffing and puffing. After a lot of stopping and starting. We made it to the top of Tent Rocks and a great view of northern New Mexico.image-29

Then, it was time to go back down. The way down is always easier than the way up, but there still needs to be some pit stops along the way.image-30

There are also those people who wander around looking up at the wall of the canyon.image-31

After the hike, we had lunch at Santa Fe Bite, another one of those things that must be done is Santa Fe. I do not know about everyone else, but my green chile cheeseburger and chocolate milkshake was awesome.

We rested. We lounged by the pool. We bought a painting by Jessica Garrett. Then we ate at The Shed, a place that I have spent years trying to get into. We made reservations a week in advance and arrived to find that they had erased it. However, they got us in quickly, and it was worth the wait. Not the 10 minute wait. It was worth the years wait.

 

Four Corners – Maria and Lipbone

30 Jul

There are miracles in this world. That was proven when I convinced my family to go on a road trip. They had never been on an excursion that called for nights in different hotel rooms and days driving through different landscapes, which is exactly the kind of traveling that I was raised on.

When our trip to Europe was cancelled, we knew that something had to be done. Going an entire summer without traveling was not an option. We debated. We studied. We debated some more. Then, we put together an adventure through the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. It is part of the country that I wanted my family to see, and the next several posts will chronicle our journey.

Before daybreak, we made our way to the airport for a typical flight on Southwest Airlines. Except, our layover was not at a typical airport. We spent a few hours at Love Field, the place where John F. Kennedy started his tour of Dallas in 1963. A few hours later, Love Field witnessed the swearing-in of Lyndon Johnson as president of the United States.

Our second plane landed in Albuquerque. We got off the plane; got our luggage; and got our rental car. As we pulled out of the parking lot, my wife read that Southwest had a system failure and people were stranded all over the place. Our timing was perfect.

We drove to Santa Fe, where the Inn and Spa at Loretto awaited. However, that was not the only place on the agenda. When we started talking about the trip, my wife and I knew that we would definitely go to one place in particular.

Maria’s – the best New Mexican cuisine in Santa Fe. We wanted to make sure that the teenagers on the trip got some real food.image-24

After the meal, we went back to the hotel and to the first of thousands of pictures of the teenagers.image-23

I think we broke a record for pictures. My stepdaughter’s friend sent a ton of pictures to her mom. Then, her mom said she wanted some pictures of the scenery, too.

Taking the picture must have been tiring because my wife went to the room. I, on the other hand, took the girls to the plaza. They needed to see the real Santa Fe. I did not expect to walk onto a plaza filled with people dancing and listening to the music of Lipbone Redding.image-22

Eventually, we made our way around the plaza and to more spots to take selfies. The next day would start our real adventure.

 

Shadow Horse – Man, Myth, Legend

15 Jun

Long time visitors to this blog have read about the Shadow Horse Gang, a pack of desperadoes that roamed northern New Mexico. The gang was legendary but has dwindled in recent years. Trader Dave tired of the trail and disappeared into the hills of Tennessee. Doc Pete settled down in Santa Fe but can still be enticed into the occasional adventure.

However, Shadow Horse, the legendary leader of the gang, has not given up his life of outlawry. He is rarely seen, but, last month, there were several sightings of Shadow Horse. It made people wonder.

Were there patterns in his movements?

Is he building a new gang?

Only time will tell.

One of the first sightings of Shadow Horse was at the end of the Tent Rocks Trail. After making his way through the slot canyon, he performed the Medicine Wheel ceremony. Using the knowledge of his Indian heritage, Shadow Horse called upon the spirits to protect those who were traveling with him.image-20

Next, he was spotted in the vast reaches of Chaco Canyon, home of the Ancient Ones and the perfect hideout for a gang of outlaws.image-21

It was in Chaco Canyon that Shadow Horse was seen conversing with others who had made their way to that distant locale. Was he trying to recruit them?image-15

Shadow Horse is afraid of no man, but, at Acoma, he ran into conditions that were almost unbearable. It was raining, and high school kids were everywhere. As I wrote, Shadow Horse is afraid of no man, but rain and kids make him extremely uncomfortable.image-16

For years, Frijoles Canyon has been a place of refuge for the Shadow Horse Gang. Old habits die hard. Almost as hard as old outlaws. Visitors saw someone who looked like Shadow Horse in one of his favorites haunts. They did not want to get close, but they swear that it was him.image-17

Shadow Horse may have thought they were too close. It was not long before he fled the canyon and made his way to Tsankawi, a side trail that only he and a few others would know about.image-18

The last appearance of Shadow Horse was at Pecos. He made his way through the Pueblo ruins along the old Santa Fe Trail.image-19

Shadow Horse was not seen again. Some say he left northern New Mexico under the darkness of early morning. Others say he remains in the area and is trying to rebuild his gang. The certainty is that he will make an appearance next spring. Doc Pete might be riding by his side. The Kid might be leading the way.

All I know is that the good people of northern New Mexico need to stay on the lookout for the return of Shadow Horse and the reemergence of the Shadow Horse Gang.

The Faded Dreams of Kit Carson and Cactus Slim

23 Oct

My wife and I just returned from a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and it was fun to experience with her the things I usually experience with students. It was also fun to visit Santa Fe in a more relaxing way. We hit a bunch of the cool spots that I have written about before.

Acoma Pueblo

Tent Rocks

The Santa Fe Plaza

We also ate at some fantastic restaurants.

Maria’s

Horseman’s Haven

Santa Fe Bite

Along the way, we found time to go to an awesome movie theater, and my wife spent some time in the spa at our hotel, the Inn at Loretto. We also visited a former member of the Shadow Horse Gang.

Oh yeah, we also bought a piece of Native American art that dates back a couple of thousand years.

It was a great trip, and I am glad that my wife and I spent some time in one of my favorite places. Two people driving around in a regular vehicle allowed us to do some things that are not possible with a bunch of students in a 15 passenger van, and a couple of those things led me to some deep thinking.

On Saturday, we made our way to Madrid, an abandoned mining town that became home to some people who wanted to get away from the bonds of society. I have been there many times, but this time was different in one respect. We got to sit and have a beer. While drinking that beer, we listened to a band called Cactus Slim and the Goat Heads.image-3

As we listened, I realized that the band was made up of locals who had, as I wrote earlier, made their way to Madrid to find freedom from the stresses of our world. One table was filled with other locals who had done the same thing.

The table in front of us was filled with people who looked for freedom in another way. There were two couples who had ridden their motorcycles to town. Madrid has become a destination for those weekend riders who want to spend Saturdays and Sundays on the roads with the wind in their hair. After all, helmets are not required in New Mexico.

Listening to the music and watching the people made me think about the larger city down the road. Santa Fe has also become a place where people want to be free to pursue their dreams without society getting in the way. Artists come from all around to be inspired by the environment and make a living off of that inspiration.

On Monday, we went to Taos and explored the town. The stop that I had to make was at Kit Carson’s home. He is one of the great characters of the American West, and I wanted to walk in his footsteps. Before going into the house, we watched a movie about him, and one scene struck me to the core.

The narrator said that Carson went into the West to escape American civilization and society. However, the trails he blazed would be used by others to bring that civilization and society into the West. In essence, he could not escape the bounds of his world because he brought them with him.

That made me think of Cactus Slim and the citizens of Madrid. Like Carson, they moved there to be free of society and the stresses that go with it, but that same society followed them there. My wife and I brought it with us. The man in the blazer who my wife thought was Robert Redford’s brother brought it with him. The bikers at the next table brought it with them.

Madrid is no longer an escape from the outside world. It is an attraction to the outside world.

The same can be said of Santa Fe. It was a place for artists to live a life unnumbered. Now, it is a place of art galleries filled with expensive pieces. It is a place of nice hotels with spas and fancy restaurants. It is a place for people like us to walk around the streets and find our own sense of temporary freedom.

The dreams of Kit Carson and Cactus Slim were to escape the world. Those dreams were shattered by the fact that it is an impossible feat. No matter where they go the rest of us are going to follow.

There is one other sad part of those broken dreams. The people who went into the corners of the West to left one society and ran into another. Madrid, Taos and Santa Fe sit on land that was once the domain of Native Americans. Now, those Native Americans are on reservations and come to those towns to sell their wares.

The dreamers looked for freedom by taking that freedom from the people who were already there. Then, the freedom they thought they had achieved turned out to be temporary.

Kit Carson and Cactus Slim come from different times, but their dreams turned out the same.

 

 

New Mexico Days

26 May

Another trip to New Mexico has been completed, and it is time to write about our adventures in the Land of Enchantment. For those who do not know, a few members of our faculty teach a field trip course in northern New Mexico. With Santa Fe as our base, we take students on daily excursions.

The days were packed with various activities and learning experiences, but I am not going to write about all of them. That would take a week’s worth of posts. Instead, this post will be about the thing I liked most about each day.

Friday – The morning was spent in a ghost town and at a national park. However, lunch at Horseman’s Haven was the highlight of the day. I saw the restaurant on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show and asked that it be added to the dining list. My burrito proved this choice to be a good one.image-30

Saturday – We went to a few places that are on the itinerary every year. Then, we went to a place that was new for the trip. I have been told that Taos is a great place to visit, but the trip organizer has a bad opinion of the place. Due to months of badgering on my part, he agreed to take us there. He got more grumpy with every mile closer we got.

Unfortunately, it was raining in Taos, and we did not see much. However, it was not raining when we crossed the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which is 565 feet above the river. It was cool to walk across it and take a peak at the bottom of the canyon.image-31

Sunday – This day brought the highlight of the trip. We had lunch at the home of Josephine, a lady who lives in the Santo Domingo Pueblo. It was a feast of Native American food prepared by her and the other women in her family. Everything was delicious, and the tamales topped it all.image-32

While we ate, Josephine talked about growing up in the pueblo and about the problems facing her people. She mourned the slow disappearance of her native language and lamented the effects of alcoholism on her community. Hopefully, the students were as touched by her hospitality and honesty as much as we teachers.

Monday – As a historian, I should pick a historic site as the highlight of this day, but we visited a site that I have seen many times. Instead, I am picking a hike up one of the volcanoes that helped create the northern New Mexico landscape.image-33

Three ancient volcanoes sit on the edge of Albuquerque and serve as sentinels over the city. I climbed one of them with a former colleague who retired and moved to Santa Fe. It was great to walk with him and rekindle our friendship.

Tuesday – Have you ever been to a town that died from its evil and was reborn through love? When I first went to Madrid and asked about its history, that was the story that I heard. We jokingly call Madrid a hippie colony, but it is an old ghost town that, in the 1970s, became inhabited by people who wanted to escape the rat race and live a simpler life.

I did not take any pictures of Madrid, but you have seen it if you have watched Wild Hogs. In fact, that movie became part of this year’s experience.

Madrid has become a destination for motorcyclists who have seen that film. As we stood in front of the building featured in one of the pivotal scenes, I explained to a student that the building was part of the movie set. An old biker overheard and got mad because he had ridden a long way to eat in a fake diner.

Unlike him, I am never disappointed in Madrid. I always wonder what it would be like to escape to an old town and live a life without worry. Of course, I would probably get tired of it after two days.

Wednesday – Chaco Canyon is an amazing place to visit. It is even worth the long journey to get there. The canyon was home to a people who disappeared, and archaeologists have been trying to figure them out ever since. The conclusions often change, and some are scoffed at with ridicule. The questions may be hard to answer, but the beauty of the canyon leaves no doubts.image-34

Thursday – This was another day of national parks and historic sites. However, they did not compare to our visit to Santa Fe Bite, home of the city’s best green chile cheeseburgers. The restaurant used to be in another location and go by a different name. The important thing has not changed.image-35

Friday – Our last day in New Mexico was spent at Ghost Ranch, where dinosaur remains have been found and artists have been inspired. We hiked the high mesa trail and looked over a landscape that can be found in the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe.image-36

Like I did on all of our hikes, I looked over the land and listened to the theme of Centennial, the 1970s miniseries about the American West. Everyone else thought I was insane, but the music inspires me. I knew that listening to it would add something to my experience and offer something to visualize when I hear that music in the future.

As always, we had a great trip filled with great experiences. These were just a few of them.

On the Way to Santa Fe

12 May

Within the next 36 hours, I will be heading west on Interstate 40 with a few teachers and a bunch of students. It is our annual field trip class to Santa Fe and other parts of northern New Mexico.BB-New Mexico 104

There are several archived posts about this trip, and those of you would have been around for a while may have read a few of them. If you have, then you know that this is a great trip that gives students an opportunity to explore an interesting part of our country. It also gives the teachers an opportunity to eat some great food.

Upon my return, I will certainly have stories to write about. Until then, I will be checking in on the blogs that I follow to see what great things everyone is writing about.