Even though our 20th anniversary was 5 months ago, we decided to wait and celebrate it in February. We had never been to Santa Fe, New Mexico and thought a little thaw from the Minnesota winter during February would be a perfect way to celebrate. In theory, it was an awesome idea....going to the desert in winter should be a no brainer. We figured it would at least be warmer than we were in Minnesota. However, what we couldn't anticipate was the freak mid-winter warming trend of MN and the freak cool front and snow in the desert on the very weekend we had our trip booked for. It makes the story and the adventure that much more exciting. Here we are still looking half asleep as we wait for our 6:30 a.m flight. This adventure started at 4 a.m. like any good adventure should.
However, even before the adventure began, I already started taking pictures. This beautiful mural comes to you complements of the Minneapolis St. Paul airport bathroom. Is it not beautiful?! So you can understand why, when I went to the bathroom before boarding the plane, I was forced to take a picture of such a beautiful scene before me - even though it was a public restroom. Trust me, it only got better from here (the trip, that is...the bathroom was sparkling clean too).
Within less than 2 hours of disembarking the plane, we were hiking. Obviously, we had to find food first. After eating the best salsa and chips at Sadie's, we booked it straight to our first adventure: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. This particular part of the hike was aptly named, "Split Rock Canyon". This was the one perfect day of our entire trip. The weather hovered around 69-70 glorious degrees. The sun was out. Life was perfect.
Breath-taking. I don't know any other way to describe this scene. After some very strenuous hiking and climbing up the equivalent of 65 flights of stairs on the side of a mountain we reached this glorious vista. I've never seen anything like it.
Chuck finding himself in a pickle (as usual) while hiking. He realized (too late) he was up too high to jump and was unsure which side of the cliff side to continue his trek on.
The Bureau of Land Management states: The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a “pyroclastic flow.”
The view from the top. I highly recommend acclimating oneself to the region and the altitude before immediately setting off on a 4 mile, 3 hour hike at a 5,000-6,000 foot elevation. We learned the hard way.
The La Fonda - our gorgeous, historic hotel on The Plaza in downtown Santa Fe. We didn't get to explore much of it due to our aggressive hiking earlier in the day. We were exhausted, sore, and couldn't keep our eyes open - even to watch tv. We were asleep by 8:30 on our first night of adventuring. We are so old.
This is the famed St. Francis Basilica on The Plaza in Santa Fe. It is an active church and a lovely building. However, I found the two other historical chapels also in The Plaza to be even more beautiful and serene.
This is called the Loretto Chapel. It is now a museum and wedding chapel. When this structure was built in 1878 it was lacking a staircase to the second floor balcony. A mysterious carpenter showed up one day to build what is now the famous spiral staircase.
It is an engineering wonder. There is no center post. The side rails were added much later. It is sturdy and holds weight. It is stunningly beautiful.
The entire chapel had a peaceful aura about it. The architecture alone was inspiring. The mosaic work on the ceiling left me in awe. The beautiful details in this chapel simply amazed me.
This is the San Miguel Chapel. It is known as the oldest church in the U.S. It's thought to have originally been built around 1610 by the Tlaxcala Indians from Mexico. Unfortunately, it was damaged during several battles over the years. This current structure dates back to 1710 although there have been many structural changes since then.
This is the inside of the chapel. It is stunning in it's simplicity, lack of ornateness, and rough-hewn architecture. It is still an active chapel where parishioners come to worship each week.
As we roamed The Plaza, we took pictures of random beautiful buildings. I think this is the outside of an art museum.
This is a small alley-way we found ourselves walking down. Just another example of the simple yet beautiful architecture of the area.
Then I realized I had a "thing" for doors. I'll spare you all the door pictures I took, these are just a small sampling.
Technically this is a gate, but I'm adding it to the door pictures since when you open it, it leads somewhere, like to a gorgeous courtyard.
Don't you just feel invited to check out this place? The red door. The vines overhead (which must look and smell beautiful the rest of the year). The textures and colors draw me in.
As we were aimlessly walking through town, we stumbled upon the Chuck Jones Gallery. I knew nothing of him, but Chuck was super excited. Come to find out, he was the creator of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wily Coyote. Chuck has a deep affection for all things Looney Tunes. This gallery was a must see. It really was a spectacular exhibit. The curator was very generous and explained so much to us. He was having a Dr. Seuss special exhibit the following weekend and so had much of his art and sculptures also about the gallery.
This was my favorite artwork of the exhibit. "Fox In Socks" was one of the first Dr. Seuss books we read with Gavin when he was still a mere 3 months old. He grew up on Dr. Seuss since we were diligent parents and felt the need to join the Groiler Book of the Month Club upon having a newborn. This particular book is a complete tongue twister and had us in stitches for years.
The next gallery we came to was the Monroe Gallery of Black and White Photography. This particular display featured the works of Steve Shapiro. It is called "Eyewitness" as he was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s photographer. These images were haunting, depicting the stark reality of the life and times of being black in America, especially during the racially charged 1960s. It was beautiful work.
This is what it looks like when you're 44 and tired of walking for 6 hours around a city. We had just finished our tour of the History Museum when Chuck found this couch and collapsed. It's hard getting old and having so much fun.
This was the night we decided to go out for our belated anniversary dinner. We made reservations for 6pm at this fancy French restaurant called Chez Mamou. It was a little embarrassing to be the first and only customers at the restaurant at 6 pm. On the plus side, we had our choice of seating and fast service. On the down side, 2 other couples came in shortly after us - but they were old. Yes, we now eat at the same time as old people apparently.
One of our favorite discoveries were the two fireplaces located throughout the hotel. We used these to our utmost advantage. We read our books by the fire. We played cards by the fire.
And we warmed our cold bodies by the fire.
The third day we woke up to snow on the ground. It was cold. We had to document the winter weather while on our walk to breakfast. But as you see, nothing could dampen our spirits. We were happy because snow is pretty and we came prepared...just in case.
This was our view while driving back to Albuquerque for our return trip home.
We arrived home on Valentine's evening. Chloe planned a super special dinner for us. She even dressed up as an Asian hostess to give us a hint as to what our meal would entail. It was soooo sweet! We had sushi, a palette cleanser of lemon-lime sorbet, fried rice and cookies.
Lastly, the evening came to a perfect close when Bennett showed us what he creatively made for us with the materials we had available in the house. He got a cookie cutter, poured sprinkles inside it, then removed the cookie cutter to reveal this work of art. He had them waiting on our place mats when we arrived home. I love our kids so much!