I was invited to Santa Fe for a 6-day mini-vacation to visit with friends it hadn’t seen in years! And did I ever have fun!
My long-time friend Ellen, after years of planning, finally moved from St. Louis to Santa Fe where she is building her dream home with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and countryside.
Ellen and I had visited Santa Fe twice before, once when I was living and traveling around the West in my 30-ft Winnebago, and once to attend Santa Fe’s famous Indian Market. This time I got to see the progress of the house I will get to stay in the next time I visit. They had just poured the slab floor over the radiant heat wires the day I arrived.
And I was so happy to learn that my good friend Olga, who I know from my years in Chicago, has daughter and grandchildren living in Santa Fe and would be in town for her annual visit.
I got to spend lots of time with both!
While Ellen worked, Olga and I spent my first full day in Santa Fe running those much-needed errands I have to run whenever I return Stateside. We had a wonderful lunch in the Plaza at The Shed, poked our heads in quite a few of the wonderful and expensive shops and I snapped photos of the colorful and interesting, including an artist caught napping in the park!
After lunch we headed up to Museum Hill and took in an amazing antique Indian silver jewelry collection and the fabulous art glass exhibit by Native American artisans at The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture before strolling over to the Museum of International Folk Art for a tour of their completely mind-blowing and overwhelming collection. (Don’t forget, you can click on and enlarge each photo to original size.)
The next day, the three of us drove to Las Vegas, New Mexico. This quaint little town had its heyday during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when it became the end-of-the-line for the Santa Fe Railway – before it up and moved further south to Albuquerque.
The railroad brought to town developers, gun slingers, cowboys, old time movie stars, murderers, robbers, thieves, gamblers, gunmen, swindlers turning Las Vegas’ western side of town into a lawless brawl. It was one of last of the truly wild western towns.
Las Vegas, like many small towns, is built around a central square where Teddy Roosevelt hosted a Rough Riders reunion in 1900. It boasts a Carnegie Library, the Duncan Opera House, and is now the home of the New Mexico Highland University, several very nice art galleries and antique stores.
Also well-worth a visit is the beautifully-restored Castañeda Hotel, which was one of the largest and most famous Harvey Houses. The dormotory built for the Harvey Girls (think Judy Garland movie) who worked at the hotel and restaurant is still standing across the street. The rooms are lovely and the rates are quite reasonable. The remodeled train station, located beside the hotel, houses the town’s Visitor Center
We had a delicious lunch on the hotel’s patio, overlooking the tracks where twice-a-day the Amtrak’s Santa Fe Chief still stops on its way between Los Angeles and Chicago. Their restaurant had just won a big award for Best Restaurant in Central New Mexico. We felt it was well-deserved!
(I rode The Chief from LA to Chicago several years back but must admit I don’t remember stopping in Las Vegas!)
But what has really brought life – and tourists – back to Las Vegas was the must-see Netflix hit show Longmire, a modern-day western crime series, which filmed here for 7 seasons.
Downtown Las Vegas, the surrounding area and the beautiful caldera were stand-ins for the state of Wyoming in the series. The building that was Sheriff Longmire’s office still has the sign on the door stating it is in Durant, Wyoming and photos of the very handsome Walt Longmire/ actor Robert Taylor can be found all over town.
The next day, which was Saturday, Ellen and I hopped in her cute little sports car and took the High Road to Taos. It was the weekend of the artist studio open houses. We circled on the tour map the ones where we wanted to stop – and perhaps shop!
The weather cooperated and it was a beautiful day. The scenery on the High Road drive is breathtaking.
Native American rugs, arts & crafts dolls and large steel bells were among the many offerings we saw along the along the art trail.
We had a very late lunch (it takes a lot of time stopping and shopping) at the ‘quaint’ Sugar Nymphs Bistro in Peñasco before finally making it to Taos at 4:00. Ellen drove all that way just so I could shop at one of my all-time favorite fabric stores, Common Thread, which closes at 4:30. In 30-minutes I managed to add to my stash and found a gorgeous silk scarf to take to Italy.
On Sunday Ellen had arranged a lovely brunch so I could meet her wonderful, engaging and fun new Santa Fe friends and neighbors. After a stop for steaks to cook on the grill that night and my annual senior flu shot (love grocery stores with pharmacies) we spent the rest of the day just relaxing. (Just disappointed that I was one week too early to get my Covid booster shot!)
Early Monday morning we headed back into downtown Santa Fe to pick up the ring I had bought at the Indian Market 14 years ago and was having repaired. Also to purchase a lovely pair of mustard-colored leather boots I had seen in a shop window to take on my trip to Italy.
Big decision was after much thought – and lifting – was putting a much-needed but extremely heavy Dutch oven in my suitcase just wasn’t worth the weight and I would pay the duty and shipping and let Amazon deliver one to my front door in San Miguel.
After lunch we walked along the very high-end, gallery-filled Canyon Road before taking the winding road almost to the peak of Ski Santa Fe, stopping for photos along the way.
I requested a good ol’ pizza for my last night’s dinner and we were joined by Ellen’s good friends at the Rooftop Pizzeria & Bar overlooking the large park in Santa Fe’s Plaza. We had a great view as a group of ‘lighted’ and costumed bikers gathered for a night time ramble around town. As I was told, there is always something fun and interesting going on in Santa Fe!
And what never disappoints are the beautiful New Mexico sunsets – and the one on my last night was truly magnificent.
Until next time…….when I will be posting from my house and pet sitting location outside of Siena, Italy….unless something new and exciting happens in San Miguel.
Stay safe and well!