June 2-5, 2022
Before we reached Albuquerque, we left Route 66 to head up to Santa Fe for a few days. Santa Fe is the state capital of New Mexico. We had heard that it was a lovely, chilled out city known for its Pueblo-style architecture as well as its culture, food and arts scene and that proved to be the case.
We stayed in a lovely motel, El Sendero Inn, a one star property but recently redecorated and with very spacious rooms. The cost of accommodation was rising though as we headed west and tourist destinations such as this cost a premium. In this case, it was a gulp inducing USD 200 per night.
Taos and the Rio Grande
After pottering around the lovely centre of Santa Fe, we spent one day driving a lovely scenic route which took in the town of Taos as well as the Rio Grande. Unfortunately, Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the USA was closed to the public due to Covid. However, we enjoyed the scenery in the region and the views from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. The bridge is the second highest bridge on the US Highway System and the fifth highest bridge in the country. On the way back to Santa Fe, we took a different (even more scenic) route. It looked like a surfaced road on the map (don’t they always!) but it was actually a gravel track which took us right down into the gorge with tight twists and steep gradients to keep us on our toes. Well, it wouldn’t be a road trip without a bit of peril would it?
That evening we went for sunset drinks with a wonderful view at The Bell Tower Bar on the 5th Floor of La Fonda Hotel.
We followed the sunset drinks with dinner on the balcony of the Thunderbird Bar and Grill overlooking the lovely Santa Fe Plaza. We had a wonderful evening on the town in Santa Fe sampling drinks at a number of local bars and more than one too many drinks meant that Jo was ‘under the weather’ the next day, so rather than leaving Santa Fe to continue with our journey we stayed an extra night. This gave us the opportunity to experience the extremely wacky Meow Wolf. Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return is a psychedelic interactive art experience. After a fun couple of hours we went for dinner at the Ruffina Taproom where Richard sampled the draft cider.
Finally, we had to leave Santa Fe and continue with our journey. We would love to return to spend more time in Santa Fe and also to visit Taos Pueblo and other areas in this beautiful region in the future.
Our route to Albuquerque was via the picturesque Turquoise Trail. We had planned to go up to the Sandia Crest, a 10,679 foot mountain ridge which is the highpoint of the Sandia–Manzano Mountains, but with it closed due to fire risk, we visited the Tinkertown Museum instead. Tinkertown is… totally hatstand…in a good way. The majority of the contents of this museum are the work of one man, Ron Wood. Over 40 years, he carved, collected (curiosities) and constructed the museum. The majority of the museum is a series of scenes (Western towns, Circus tents and so much more) made up of miniature wood-carved figures. Ron Wood died in 2002 and the family now maintains his legacy. One of the highlights of the trip is proving to be unique and eccentric museums – long may these quirky museums continue.
In Albuquerque we visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center which was a great place to learn about the history and culture of the pueblos in the region. As well as visiting the permanent exhibitions, we saw some of the cultural show and also a wonderful contemporary skateboard art exhibition.
That night we stayed in the very basic but acceptable Econo Lodge Downtown Albuquerque. In the evening, we went for a stroll in such of food but found that it was not so easy to find a suitable restaurant open on a Sunday night in Albuquerque.
We did have a drink at the lovely Canvas Artistry and watched the Lowrider crawl going down Central Avenue. A lucky coincidence that the Albuquerque Lowrider Super Show had taken place that day. Finally, we ended up in Sister, a rather excellent live music bar where we had some fast food which just about hit the spot and were entertained by a couple of thrash metal bands.
On the way out of Albuquerque the next day we drove past The Dog House Drive-In which featured in the series Breaking Bad.