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New Mexico
New Mexico

Another amazing post contributed by our ultimate happy wanderer, Jean Devlin

There are many places that I travel to that I enjoy thoroughly but when it’s time to leave, I feel satisfied that I’ve seen and experienced what I came for. New Mexico is one of those places that I could return to time and time again. The quality of light, the clean air, stunning pueblo architecture, spectacular sunsets, fine art and natural beauty are just a few reasons to explore the area.

Santa Fe, founded as a Spanish colony in 1610, is the capital of New Mexico and retains much of its history and charm.  Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the historic downtown features a traditional plaza surrounded by shops and restaurants. Choose from the numerous restaurants and sit on a second story veranda, enjoy a cocktail and watch all of the very entertaining activity in the plaza. The city features pueblo style architecture and the numerous shops sell artwork created by local artists. There is a plethora of beautiful Native American pieces as well as pottery and sculptures from Mexico.

This is a very walkable downtown and be sure to stop in to the cathedrals and historic building that dot the downtown.

The Virgin of Guadalupe

Santa Fe is a great destination for anyone who appreciates fine art. Wander down Canyon Road, the epicenter of the Santa Fe artist culture. The Georgia O’Keeffe museum, also in the downtown area, is a must visit and has a permanent collection of over 3000 of O’Keeffe’s work. It is big enough to hold your interest without being overwhelming and I found it difficult to leave there.

I’m never content to stay in one place when I travel, and am always happy to take out a good map and explore the surrounding areas. Hop in the car and venture out!  Some of the best discoveries when you travel are the unexpected surprises!

Road trip! As we were driving to Ghost Ranch, we spotted a sign to El Sactuario de Chimayo Shrine. It sounded intriguing and we made this little detour.

The sanctuary is referred to by locals as the “Lourdes of America” because of the healing powers of the soil.  The prayer room is filled with discarded crutches and braces and handmade shrines.   Beautiful in it’s simplicity and serenity, you could feel an otherworldly quality while there.  Handmade wooden crucifixes were placed in fences throughout the sanctuary.

After a short stop, we headed to Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch is a 21,000 acre retreat and education center, located near the village of Abiquiu, NM. It was the home and studio of Georgia O’Keeffe and the subject of many of her paintings.  There are walking tours that take visitors into the countryside where O’Keeffe got her inspiration for her paintings.  The Cerro Pedernal is a stunning geographic feature often appearing in her paintings.

Ghost Ranch is a great place to wander and observe the natural beauty of the area.

Hiking in Ghost Ranch

Another reason why road trips are the best!  This view was just off the road heading towards Abiquiu.

Just down the road is the natural formation called the Echo Amphitheater. This is another place we discovered just by driving around., seeing where the road took us. There are beautiful picnic areas and clean bathrooms. The amphitheater would be a great stop for kids to hear their voices reverberate off the canyon walls but it is also stunningly beautiful and serene.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I love a good road trip!  Santa Fe is a fun place to stay but it is also a great jumping-off point for some pretty spectacular day trips.

Taos is a great spot not to be missed. Located in northern New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos is another thriving artist community with a charming downtown. The Taos Pueblo was our destination this day and is just outside of the downtown. A UNESCO world heritage site, the Taos Pueblo has been inhabited by Native Americans for centuries. There is a nominal admission fee to wander the complex and a small additional charge if you would like to take photographs.  In my opinion, the privilege to capture the magnificence of this pueblo was money well spent.

Taos Pueblo is a multi-storied adobe built of either side of the Rio Pueblo.  Homes usually consist of two rooms, one generally for sleeping and living and the other for cooking, eating and storage. Electricity, running water and indoor plumbing are prohibited.

In the warm summer months, cooking is done outdoors in these ovens.

The contrast of the adobe against the stunning blue sky and those turquoise doors make this a photographer’s paradise!

Driving back to Santa Fe from Taos, we chose a different route so we could take in more scenery.  Our time was limited and we passed many places advertising natural hot springs and mineral springs, known for their healing qualities. We did stop by the roadside and purchased a great variety of red and green chili powder and homemade hot sauces that locals were selling from their cars and trucks. I’ve never been able to find chili powder as tasty as the ones we bought there, packaged in humble baggies but packing serious heat and flavor! It was nice to return to icy cold beer and chips and spicy salsa awaiting us in Santa Fe but I would go back to the Taos area any time!

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