paintedYesterday, Jon and I drove the three and a half hour drive from Roswell to Santa Fe—we understand New Mexico’s nickname: “Land of Enchantment”. It is truly one of the most rugged and beautiful places. For most of our drive, the land ran uninterrupted to the horizon. At the horizon there were rugged mountains, some snow covered, others not—all in shades of lavender and mauve as they met the sky. The landscape was peppered with scrub brush, tumble weeds, flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and the occasional windmill. All of this under the most incredibly open, blue and expansive sky.  I know this sounds uncharacteristically Pollyanna of me, but I am feeling really fortunate to be able to take this cross country trip and we’ve seen a full range of Americana, with more to come over the next few days. ☺

lisaAnyway, yesterday we arrived into Santa Fe around 1pm—and damn was it cold! I didn’t expect it to be so wintry (they had some serious snow fall around Christmas and it has not warmed up enough to melt it yet). It was beautifully sunny, but cold and covered in snow. I stayed with my friend Lisa and her husband Steve; Jon and Pilot spent an evening alone at a nearby hotel. During the day, however, we all hung out and Lisa showed us around beautiful Santa Fe. Both Jon and I had visited one time before, but both of us came during the summer, so it was interesting to see the town in winter—equally as beautiful, but really different than in the summer.

We started with a nice half hour walk along a nearby trail—Lisa and Steve live in an awesome place—their home has incredibly views of the mountains and valley below and we only had to go out their back gate and were on a great walking trail. After spending as much time as we have sitting in the car this past week, it was great to move around and get the blood flowing. After the hike we all went for a great lunch at a place downtown. When we finished, Steve went to play hockey and Lisa, Jon, Pilot and I went exploring Santa Fe in the cold. It was a great day, but we were all tired afterward! Lisa says that’s common when folks are not used to the elevation; (I say it’s also true when folks aren’t used to moving around much LOL).

We dropped Jon and Pilot off at their hotel and Lisa and I spent a couple of hours chatting and catching up. When Steve returned later on, the three of us went for Paella, Tapas, and live music at a great little place in Santa Fe—we ended our late dinner with figs and dates stuffed with Marscapone and drizzled with caramel. (oh my gawd! LOL).

This morning Lisa and Steve took us out for the most amazing breakfast burritos with green chili sauce—what a great send-off. (thank you Lisa and Steve for a great part of our trip).  So concluded our trip to Santa Fe—to me it was the antithesis to Dollywood. Both have been really great parts of our trip, but couldn’t be more different—and I am really glad to have experienced both.

Today was spent driving into Arizona. From Santa Fe we drove south on route 14 to Albuquerque. This route is known as the Turquoise Trail—there are a lot of small, rustic little “villages” along this route. Really village is too big a word—they are really little enclaves of artisans in the area.

“Although the modern Turquoise Trail route was only created about thirty years ago, the name comes from the fact that turquoise was mined in these mountains by Native Americans some 2000 years ago. The Spanish Conquistadores continued the mining, and turquoise was still being taken from the ground here into the 20th century. Later the quiet natural beauty of the area attracted artists and writers, and modern life still hasn’t intruded too much on what has been called the Turquoise Trail since the early 1970s.”

divideFrom Albuquerque, we tried to drive on historic Route 66, but as we discovered, there is not much of it left in New Mexico. Most of it has been replaced by Route 40, which we drove most of the way into Arizona, but did manage to drive a little on Route 66 when we could.  Early afternoon we crossed the Continental Divide. As the sign in the photo reads, water which falls on the East side flows into the Atlantic; water fall on the West side flows into the Pacific. Pilot “christened” the spot in typical dog fashion—Jon and I wonder to which ocean it will flow.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, until we drove to the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona—what an incredibly gorgeous place. The Painted Desert is so-named because of the “stripes” of color on the mountains, mesas, and buttes—different colors because of the differing composition of the different strata of rock formations. The Petrified Forest is part of this national park—as its name would imply, it features petrified wood strewn over a landscape of desert and badlands.

wigwamTonight we are staying at the famous Wigwam Motel off Route 66—yup, all the rooms are tee pees (made of concrete, not animal hides)—folks it doesn’t get more kitschy than this! And Jon and I are loving it! The room is fairly comfortable and we can’t wait to take more pictures tomorrow in the town of Holbrook—the next 48 hours are packed with kitschy stops to and from our drive to the Grand Canyon. Stay tuned and prepare to be enchanted.