Our B&B 100-year-old Casa del Toro was beside an ‘Adobe Abode’ up for sale near Santa Fé’s central plaza and road to the ski resort.
This beautiful house also made of adobe clay bricks was around the corner.
Our host Paul Phillips outlined an enchanted walking tour amid the atmosphere, architecture and friendly people of the Old Town. Tom was enthralled by the adobe buildings. They are a rosy sand colour, with rounded corners and slanted uprights such as we just don’t see in the northeast. We were also fascinated by the shrubby, stunted evergreens we passed driving in to Santa Fé. Some are pinyons which produce pine nuts, and others are junipers which produce berries.
On Saturday night after business hours we admired soft-looking, curvaceous buildings, the Governors’ Palace, the old Cathedral, museums, artists’ galleries and artisans’ shops full of beautiful wares. Santa Fé is the world’s biggest art market after Paris and New York. We quite liked our first encounter with New Mexican cuisine, especially when the waiter at The Shed Restaurant suggested we were ordering too much and brought just one order and an extra plate.
The gourmet breakfast we enjoyed next morning with other guests at the Casa was cooked by a woman who used to live in Ottawa. Perhaps she was a diplomat’s wife.
Sun., Jan. 24 Santa Fé, Albuquerque & Grants, NM
The 16-mile drive up the mountain to Ski Santa Fé was breath-taking. We parked and a shuttle bus took us on up. Loads of skiers, particularly families, were there. Tickets cost $40 but — surprise! — anyone over 72 doesn’t have to pay a cent.We rode the chairlift up to an elevation of 11,250 ft and I was feeling pooped just from getting there. However, the snow was beautiful and conditions not difficult. After two runs we had lunch and then did two runs more, feeling better. We figured it takes time to get used to the thinner air. This is a fabulous resort, an almost hidden jewel known only to the locals.
We reluctantly said good-bye to Santa Fé but prolonged our new love affair with New Mexico by stopping in Albuquerque to walk amid the Old Town adobe architecture and churches. Everything closes at 6 p.m. I left my black gloves in the public washroom and when I came back to claim them the cleaning woman protected her child in fright of me. We window-shopped outside beautiful artists’ studios, walked through sinister alleyways featuring posters of outlaws and dined at La Hacienda. They call the separate red and green hot pepper sauces ‘Christmas’ and the waiter took our picture.
Then we drove on to Grants, an old uranium town, to sleep at the Comfort Inn.
Day 9, Mon. Jan. 25 Grants & Gallup, NM to Flagstaff & Williams, AZ
We shopped at the Continental Divide Indian Village gift shop. That wasn’t enough so we also stopped in Gallup at Richardson’s Trading Post on Rte 66, where a very friendly retired banker, Mark King, served us. It’s a marvelous store and I suspect their pawn shop dimension does well in these times. It was his 61st birthday and he says he usually goes out with his metal detector but this year was too cold – 20 degrees below normal temperatures. He just works three days a week because of business slowdown. He was very appreciative we bought three silver butter knives (for hostesses) and four beaded bookmarks (for grandchildren) and in turn offered us the use of his ‘very clean’ washrooms. An employee guided the way through a stockroom containing 23,000 saddles.
Mr. King advised us to look at the painted earth and petrified forest in the National Petrified Forest Park as we drove on, which we did and took pictures.
Flagstaff motorists were in a cranky mood because the traffic was a terrible mess due to all the snow that had fallen the week before. We went up the road towards the Grand Canyon but after 20 miles had to turn back because it was closed.
We knew that we had to give up on this part of our trip or else be late for our next visit. We drove and spent the night at the Travelodge in Williams. The room heater didn’t work, since it was pulling in outside air, but the owner provided two space heaters and extra blankets. We had dinner at Pine Country and looked at their art gallery of pictures of the Grand Canyon and their craft items for sale. This is really cowboy movie country. Nearby was another Gunsmoke St and ‘Miss Kitty’s’ steak restaurant.
Day 10, Tues. Jan. 26 Williams & Kingman, AZ to Needles, Barstow & Bakersfield, CA
We put away our ski clothes and left the ice and funny snowbanks (they were drying slowly in craggy shapes) of Williams. The hwy had potholes but the big transports had a lower speed limit (55 mph compared to 75 mph for cars) and a separate lane so we came quickly, looking at the unusual rock formations and ‘high and dry’ plants. First it was semi-desert, then the full-blown. We took pictures of the San Bernardino County and Mojave deserts.
Always with mountains in the distance, we passed small dark gray corrugated ones, peach-colored, pink and red ones, straight-cut or slanted ones, huge piles of stones – you name it, and the shapes, shades and sizes were all awe-inspiring and new to us. The desert is ugly and pathetic but the temperature rose to 59 degrees,
At Needles the scenery improved with the addition of palm trees. We took pictures at McDonald’s, where we stopped for coffee. The sun was shining and we were in California!
Driving along, we saw the pavement turn purple.
Around Barstow, on route 66, we saw some very poor shacks and not much mining activity. We crossed a high bridge over the Colorado River. Barstow is not doing well economically now. It is trying to live in the past because of its rte 66 prominence and the fact that it was the locale for many, many movies.
We saw black hills and fields, but not black earth. We figured it had to be oil shale. In the desert we encountered the first rain we have had since leaving home. The clumpy grass was brown and dry.
The last 40 miles before reaching Bakersfield was an absolutely stunning drive, up and down from very high elevations. We felt the pressure in our ears. Getting close to the city, the huge, rolling hills were all covered with green, green grass with not a tree in sight.
At the Red Lion Inn we had dinner, set our clocks forward another hour, did our bag of laundry by walking a mile back and forth outdoors to the laundry room five times and went to bed tired.
Happy Reading & Traveling from Cozy Book Basics and Bliss on Wheels!
We are octogenarian writers who like to travel by car and share our adventures. We hope you enjoyed our notes and pictures of this cross-continent road trip as much as we enjoyed it on wheels six years ago.