Days 76-78 – Santa Fe & Taos

We’ve checked into the luxurious Inn and Spa at Loretta. Since it’s only two days since we left our luxury digs at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, it’s a bit decadent but since we’re still in the desert and the days are in the 90s, we’re still not in the mood to camp.

We didn’t know we were arriving during the annual Santa Fe Fiesta, apparently celebrating the reoccupation of the city by Spanish colonists after an uprising. So there’s even more vendors on the historic square than usual as well as musicians. Later there is a candlelight procession following a mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.

We’re up early the following morning for the 90-minute drive to Taos where we do a 6-mile hike. We’re a little disappointed that the Devisadero Loop Trail doesn’t top out at a bald peak. Devisadero, I read, means “lookout” and the mountain was used by Native American tribes as such. Maybe when it was named, the trees were bigger than these little scrubby ones that are all around us now blocking the view. It’s still a pleasant hike. We only see a few other people during the whole hike, there are some nice lookouts and we’ve chosen the shady side of the hike to do the “up” part. One of the few other people we see on the trail has stopped to watch a tarantula on a rock. We’d have never seen it otherwise. It was off to the side of the trail and I don’t look for spiders. The man says we’re sure to see more during our hike (we don’t).

We’re done in time for lunch before heading out to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. We’re driving along the plain and Walt keeps saying, “I don’t see the gorge.” I keep saying, “just wait.” The land looks flat until you get right up to the edge of the gorge when it drops off more than 600 feet.

We had planned to hike again, near Santa Fe, the next day but we decide to spend the day enjoying the city. After a quick breakfast of pastry and coffee, we head to the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. It’s not huge but it encompasses the breadth of her long life’s work. Even though I studied art history in college and have visited O’Keeffe exhibits before, I learned a few new things. She embarked on international travel late in life and some of my favorite “Cloud” paintings are a result of sketches she made from airplane windows during those travels. Also, we see a couple of works she did based on her travels in Peru. Walt and I were in Peru last year and can better appreciate her paintings of Saksaywaman, the Incan ruins at Cusco, having seen the ruins ourselves.

Afterward, I indulge in some Santa Fe window shopping – so many jewelry stores – while Walt heads back to our private patio at the hotel with a book.

We’ve eaten well while we’re here and we end with a very nice dinner at the Coyote Café. Walt orders the “gentleman’s vice” cocktail, which is aged bourbon served in a decanter of cherry smoke. We have no idea how they make the drink but it’s incredibly smooth and smells like fine pipe tobacco (and I mean that in the most complimentary sense). After elk tenderloin for me and a pork chop for Walt, we end with what the restaurant calls a “banana cream pie.” It is scrumptious but it’s really a small tart with carmelized bananas and toasted marshmallow fluff on top; not your typical banana cream pie in any sense. Yum.

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