Jack has been wanting to go to Santa Fe for a few months and we just haven’t had time, but we finally had a couple of days off together and decided to get away and take a trip down there for some R & R.
Santa Fe isn’t very far from us. It’s about five or six hours south and it’s a nice drive. We prefer to make it a three night trip, more or less, depending on what we’re planning on doing when we get there. We checked the weather to make sure we weren’t expecting any winter storms between us and there and it looked clear and sunny, so we packed our bags and Sami’s stuff, got a good night’s sleep, and left early in the morning.
We stopped in Salida for breakfast at one of our favorite breakfast places. The Patio Pancake Place has a really nice and diverse menu and serves breakfast and lunch. They’re open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. seven days a week and they’re always busy. The restaurant is large enough and runs very smoothly, so even though there are a lot of people being served, you never have to wait for a table.
After breakfast we continued on our way. Driving south on Hwy 285 we went through Alamosa and then continued down towards Santa Fe. As we were driving through Antonito, a very small town, I noticed somthing flashy a few blocks off the main street. Jack and I always enjoy finding fun, unexpected things on our trips, so we took a slight detour and headed toward it. “It” was a house (we think) that looked like the top was covered in tin foil and the rest was covered with an assortment of odd items that were probably found for free in various places. It was actually somewhat amazing and it would have been fun to see what the inside looked like.
We made it to Santa Fe early in the afternoon and went to an area that has a lot of art galleries and some restaurants. After a snack at El Farol, which says it’s the oldest restaurant and cantina in Santa Fe, we walked around the galleries for awhile and then went to find our hotel.
Jack and I enjoy staying at La Quinta‘s when we go places because all of the rooms in all of their hotels (as far as I know) are pet friendly, plus there’s no additional charge for having your pet with you. Other hotels/motels either don’t accept pets or accept them but charge a fee anywhere from $10-25 per night extra. Hotels that do accept them generally have limited rooms that are available for pets. La Quinta, however, is the exception and since Sami travels with us so much, we really appreciate staying there.
The La Quinta in Santa Fe is in a good area of town, is quiet, and is really nice. We like to get a king size bed when we’re staying at hotels so we all have plenty of room (Sami likes to take up a lot of space at night). Our room had the bed, a nice recliner, a large desk that had two chairs and plenty of USB and electrical outlets, plus a nice sized bathroom, closet, fridge, and microwave. There was plenty of room for Sami to run around. The parking lot was very well lit. Breakfast was included with our room and was a typical hotel breakfast. It included waffles, cereal, fruit, yogurt, muffins, coffee, juice and tea.
There’s a doggie day care in Santa Fe that we (and Sami) really like called Santa Fe Tails. The first time we ever took Sami there we were surprised that we had to make an appointment to have her “interviewed” before we could leave her. They want to make sure that all of the dogs have a good temperament, which is a really good thing because they can have 60-70 dogs at a time at their facility. They keep 10-15 dogs with each human and they have a lot of divided areas for the dogs. Every hour or so they rotate some of the dogs in and out of the groups so they get a lot of interaction with a large variety of dogs. They’re open from 7-7 on weekdays, so you can take your dog early, spend the day sightseeing, and still have time to go to dinner before picking up your dog. They’re also open Saturdays and Sundays from 9-5.
After dropping Sami off, we went to the Loretto Chapel. It took from 1873-1878 to build and when you’re there you can see why it took so long. It’s a really beautiful chapel with plenty of stained glass and marble and it has an interesting history about the sprial staircase that is used to access the choir loft and was added after the building was finished. I like to spend time just sitting in the chapel and enjoying the peacefulness of it. If you like taking pictures of architectural details, stained glass, historic buildings, and religious statuary, you’ll love the Loretto Chapel. Unlike many museums and historical buildings, you’re welcome to take as many photos, with and without flash, as you would like. If you’re ever in Santa Fe, you need to stop by this chapel. You won’t be disappointed!
The Loretto Chapel is on the outskirts of the Santa Fe Plaza and after we were done at the chapel we walked to the plaza to browse around. The plaza surrounds a grassy park and is a fun place to walk, shop, eat, and look at historic buildings. There are a lot of stores selling jewelry, art, clothing, and other items. There are also local native artists selling jewelry, weavings and art on the street and sitting under the Palace of the Governor portal. There’s plenty to do and you can spend hours there. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed our time at the plaza.
I needed to pick up a couple of things, so we stopped at a local store. We thought it was kind of funny that when we checked out the cashier asked if we wanted a bag for 10¢. Later we stopped by another store and got the same thing when we checked out. Really? I’ve never been anywhere where you had to pay 10¢ for a bag. It makes perfect sense since it would encourage people to bring reusable bags, which I generally do anyway, but I didn’t think to take them on our trip.I wasn’t a big deal, but just unexpected. It does, however, make you think about the environment a little more.
We picked Sami up from daycare and she was exhausted! As usual, she was also a little smelly after being with a bunch of dogs all day long. We got her cleaned up and we all settled in for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning we got up early, had breakfast, and were on our way home. We took a different route than the one we came in on for a change of scenery and because we wanted to go to a town that we like. Highway 84 north from Santa Fe takes you through the mountains, which were beautiful, and into Chama. The drive has several changes in altitude, so as you might expect, we went from dry weather to lots of snow and back to dry land several times.
Chama attracts a lot of hunters and it also has an old fashioned train station that still operates in the summer and fall for scenic tours. It’s a quiet little town with several restaurants and shops (many of which are seasonal), a hardware store, quite a few small motels, and a couple of other things. It’s pretty laid back and it always reminds us of old fashioned towns. We enjoy being there.
The Cumbers and Toltec Scenic Railroad is a narrow gauge train. Jack and I haven’t been on it yet because we always seem to go to Chama when the it’s “off season”, but we plan to go back some time during the summer when it’s operating. Even though it wasn’t running, we still have fun walking around the train station and looking at the buildings, the train cars, and the old wooden water towers.
From Chama we continued back. We passed through Alamosa again and stopped in Salida for lunch. It was sunny and warm out and even though there was snow in some places on the ground, it was nice enough that people were sitting outside having coffee or lunch while they were soaking up the sun. Jack and I decided to the Boathouse Cantina for lunch.
The Boathouse Cantina is right on the Arkansas River and it’s a fun place to go. The menu has a great selection and the food is good. We enjoy sitting inside watching people fishing, kayaking, and playing in the water. Even though it’s January and the water is pretty frigid at this time of year, there was someone practicing his manuevering skills in his kayak and another guy who was swimming with his dog. We ate lunch and then finished our journey home.
Although we were only gone a few days, taking small trips like this is really nice. It’s fun to get away and do something different and a change of scenery is always enjoyable. It’s amazing how different the landscape is when we go a short distance in one direction or another. It reminds us to appreciate our surroundings and we come home feeling refreshed and invigorated.