in the land of enchantment…. a [mostly] santa fe pictorial

This week… a much-needed break for some rest and relaxation as Erin and I hit the road and headed south to New Mexico – the Land of Enchantment – to spend a few days in Santa Fe, my old stompin’ grounds. I was fortunate enough to live here for a couple of years in the mid-80’s – it’s one of my favorite places and over the years I’ve come back for visits when I need to get away for a while.

So, the last few days in pictures and occasional words…

At 10,000 Waves, a unique mountain spa in the Japanese onsen tradition with hot tubs, massage, and lodging in a beautiful setting on the way up to the ski area…
Interior of Caffe Tazza coffeehouse in Taos….

The first stop on the drive down was a short stop in Taos. It’s the more scenic route coming down from the north once you get off I-25 and go through Cimarron Canyon, passing by Angel Fire on the way.

From Taos, you continue south on Highway 68, dropping into the Rio Grande canyon at Pilar.

Back in the land of D. H. Lawrence and Georgia O’Keeffe….

Window and courtyard, Caffe Tazza, Taos….
Adobe archway, Taos….
Wood beams, wrought-iron chandeliers….
Wind sculptures in front of the Inn of the Governors….

One thing that was immediately noticeable when we drove in this time was how hazy and how dry everything looked. Santa Fe and Taos sit on high desert plateaus above 7,000 feet and it is an arid land with water at a premium, but I hadn’t ever seen it look this dry this early in the summer before; we didn’t see a single cloud in the sky for the first 3 days we were here. Hopefully there will be rain soon with those daily afternoon thunderstorms that always came through and cooled the air down.

The haziness was due to a wildfire in another part of the state. When it’s this hot and dry this early in the summer, both here and in Colorado, the fire danger runs very high to extreme. In fact, driving back to Golden yesterday I was shocked to see how little snowpack was left on the high mountains and we could see the smoke from a new wildfire up by Fort Collins. We have smoky skies again here today; we need RAIN! And hopefully we don’t see a repeat of the ‘Summer of Fires’ we had here in CO in 2002.

The restaurant courtyard at the Hotel St. Francis, Santa Fe….

When you come to Santa Fe, 10,000 Waves Mountain Spa Resort is definitely a must visit. I’ve been coming here since 1984 and it is by far the best place to relax and unwind in town when that’s what you’re looking for.

At the entrance of 10,000 Waves, the beginning of the ‘goat path’….. As the sign tells you, 91 steps, 60 vertical feet gained (and 47 calories burned)….
The entry way to the main building at 10,000 Waves….
Our private hot tub for the afternoon…. this is ‘One Wave.’ Surrounded by piñon and cedar trees…. Tip: If you book a private hot tub, you’ll want to book one for at least a couple of hours if possible, because, believe me, one hour here won’t seem like nearly enough. Take your time…. enjoy!
Go ahead, take the plunge…. the cold plunge, that is. Water temperature in the hot tubs averages 102-104 degrees – the water here is about 40 degrees. Brrrrr…. but it’s invigorating!
Back down the ‘goat path’ at dusk….
Evening arrives on Canyon Rd…..
El Farol on Canyon Rd…. the oldest operating restaurant and bar in Santa Fe – the building dates back to 1835 – with a tapas menu (all of the food is excellent). There’s live music in the bar on most nights and occasionally, flamenco dancing…..
On the Plaza, downtown Santa Fe….
Chili ristras in the courtyard….

We didn’t go to a lot of art galleries on this trip but we did make it over to the New Mexico Museum of Art. This is a separate museum from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum which is a couple of blocks away, but it has several of her paintings in its collection.

The Plaza of course, is the central hub in downtown Santa Fe that everything was built around dating back to the early 1600’s, and it makes for great people-watching. For a great view of the whole Plaza, try the balcony at the Marble Brewery on San Francisco St. Great craft beers and specialty pizzas from the Rooftop Pizzeria (in the Santa Fe Arcade). It’s a great place to hang out in the early afternoon.

Upstairs at the New Mexico Museum of Art….
The balcony at the Marble Brewery, overlooking the Plaza….
Downtown, mid-afternoon….

Love Margaritas? Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen is a must visit as well. It’s been a fixture in Santa Fe since 1952. The food – mostly authentic Northern New Mexican cuisine – is always excellent, especially the carne adovada. But the real reason to go is the Margaritas – over 100 varieties. They’re the best in town… and the best anywhere. Personal favorite: The Moonglow and the Grand Moonglow.

Santa Fe bills itself as “The City Different”…. that’s true – it is a totally unique place and a different world here. It’s a world with its own different pace of life, one that’s still a little slower, even in the age of wi-fi and Android apps.

More Canyon Rd. at sunset….

I also like the fact that, even though I haven’t been a ‘local’ here since 1986, I still always feel like one whenever I visit. A lot of my old haunts are still here and don’t seem to change… too much. There’s a definite routine – probably due to the fact I’m a creature of habit much more than I care to admit, but also because I just plain love these places I’ve come to know over the years. There’s just a unique, one-of-a-kind vibe here you don’t get anywhere else, and I never get tired of it.

Other places to check out when you come for a visit: the Loretto Chapel (with its famous staircase), the Palace Restaurant, Tomasita’s (restaurant), the Ore House (where I used to tend the bar), the Shohko Café (great sushi), and the Técoloté Café – great breakfasts, always crowded, so sit at the community table… you never know who you’ll meet. Bookstores: The Ark bookstore and also the Collected Works downtown.

“Dos Gatos Grandes”….. outside a downtown gallery

Be sure to bring some extra cash-ola, because you never know what you’ll be bringing back home for the house, decor-wise.

Best time to visit: If you’re planning a trip here, the best time, imho, is between Thanksgiving and Christmas… less crowded, cooler, and with luminarias on most adobe structures, a more magical time to visit. We’ll be back then, when the Nights on Venus EP is completed later this year.

To round out the trip – and for the full ‘road-trip experience’ – a few pics from Salida, Colorado on the way back to the Front Range….

At Benson’s downtown Salida, CO….
Art gallery and kayaks…. downtown Salida….
“The Vic”…. the Victoria Restaurant and Bar in Salida…. live music here every weekend…
Hey, great title for a song…..
“In 4 the Evening,” the new album (no. 2)…

In 4 the Evening” is the second album from Nights on Venus and is now available as a digital download on CDBaby,  iTunesAmazon.mp3,  Bandcamp eMusic,  and other fine online retailers, and now also available on CD.

Purchase the full album through Bandcamp or CD through the NoV website and you will receive the 4-song EP (slated for release, Dec., 2012) for free as a bonus.

Follow Craig and NoV on Twitter (@xlntsky) and Facebook.

Author: nightsonvenus

Musician and producer with the band Nights on Venus.

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