4 days and 600 miles through New Mexico in a cherry red VW Beetle. From Santa Fe, the highest state capital in the United States, to the untouched wilderness of the Gila National Forest…all the way down to Silver City, first stop on the Continental Divide trail. A night in Truth or Consequences with a dip in the natural hot springs, an afternoon at Ladder Ranch and at long last, a return trip to Albuquerque for a well-earned Cinco de Mayo party. I brought my Mum along for the ride; a pre-Mother’s day trip that we’ll never forget. Today, and in two more upcoming posts, I’ll share our stories from the road.
We were invited to visit New Mexico as part of a food tour that brought me together with some of my peers in the food blogging world. I asked my Mum if she’d like to join and she answered a resounding “yes!” before we knew the itinerary; before we learned, for instance, that we’d be trekking through mountains and valleys and desert and rain in a car that could fit inside of our family’s SUV.
Living in New York City means that I’m not much of a driver, and when I do drive to our lake house, it’s an hour door-to-door; nothing like the open road in New Mexico where mirages form and tumbleweeds blow.
This trip – never mind the meals we’d tackle, booze we’d guzzle, hills we’d hike, and art we’d view – would be a navigational feat in and of itself.
But we had the right ingredients: enthusiasm and a sense of adventure.
We drove long hours, passing a changing landscape, each view more beautiful than the last. We met restauranteurs, chefs, winemakers, distillers, tour guides, biochemists, and hoteliers. We learned their stories and marveled at the deeply-rooted history that so defines this region.
Two kinds of people live in New Mexico – those who are born there, and those who visit and never leave.
The state is filled with transplants – people who came in search of solitude, beauty, inspiration, and the great outdoors. Others came by accident but never looked back.
“Don’t ask me how I ended up here”, we often heard.
“It’s a long story.”
There were tales of ex-lovers, work assignments, destiny and fate.
“I feel more at home here than I did in Florida…Arizona…Texas…Ohio.”
It’s easy to understand – after just four days, I felt a similar pull. The food was surprisingly sophisticated – from the nuanced molé that we ate at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, to the bubbling dry ice-encased custard at our hotel, The Sierra Grande, in Truth or Consequences. The locals were salt of the earth – generous with their time, eager to answer questions, passionate about their state.
There are too many images to include in one post, so over the course of the next few weeks I’ll share more images from our adventure.
We started out at the Albuquerque International airport after picking up our Beetle. My Mum’s confidence in my driving skills dropped sharply after I fumbled with the keys, lost them for several minutes, and needed help unlocking the trunk. All of this happened before I’d placed the key in the ignition. We kept talk to a minimum, both of us sensing that this would be a very. long. trip.
It didn’t help that just off to the south was a fast-approaching wall of rain; mountains and indigo clouds illuminated by the occasional bolt of lightning.
My mind churned. Both of ours did, guiltily. Our families were safe in their routines; and here we were getting ready to tackle this stormy terrain in something other than a 4-wheel drive off-roading machine.
That is, until a rental attendant pointed out that Santa Fe is due north. We sped out of Albuquerque and one hour later, pulled up to our hotel on a hill: The Lodge at Santa Fe.
After a brief tour of the hotel, we hopped in a cab and headed to Santa Fe’s historic center: a cluster of blocks brimming with artwork, turquoise jewelry, and green chile everything.
Our first event of the trip was a cocktail party at the Hotel St. Francis, a heritage hotel located in downtown Santa Fe. We met the makers of locally-based Santa Fe Spirits and sipped cocktails made with their award-winning gin and tequila. My favorite cocktail was a smoked sage margarita, crafted with tequila, orange liqueur, fresh lime juice and smoked sage leaves…the perfect mix of booze and theater to kickstart the trip.
Next up was dinner at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. There, alongside a set of savory dishes, we drank award-winning wines from Estrella del Norte and beer from The Santa Fe Brewing Company (be sure to check out their barrel-aged sour porter). Our meal started with a silky corn chowder sweetened with nothing but local corn, and progressed to a molé so complex that I could isolate the flavors of chocolate, apricot, and spice. Dessert was poached pear, blackberries and goat caramel, topped with a pastry crust that crumbled when nudged with a fork. In delicate terms, we hoovered it. I considered wrestling the plate away from my Mum before she put the family’s good name to shame by finger-swiping the last few drops.
After a solid night of sleep, we ate salsa-topped eggs in a sunny breakfast nook, and mustered our strength for day ahead: 6 hours en route to Silver City.
Fortunately, 6 hours goes by quickly when you’re on the road in New Mexico. Even highway driving is enjoyable when you’ve got blue sky above, mountains on either side, and a great companion in the mini seat next to you.
Addendum: two of those hours don’t go by quickly when you’re traveling through the Gila Forest at the base of the Rocky Mountains.
The drops are sheer, the far-sighted visibility low. One of us loved it, the other white-knuckled it. I won’t hold it against the person who installed an imaginary brake on her side of the vehicle.
And to the people at Avis, I do apologize if we wore out the passenger side leather armrest.
But both of us would agree: the experience – every bit of it – was spectacular.
Second addendum: except for the nearly-empty gas tank.
A suggestion if you’re considering a road trip through New Mexico: load up on gas. It’s possible to drive for hours through wilderness, with very few signs of life. And when you do encounter that nice old lady in her rocking chair at the side of the road, be prepared for this:
“Gas? 18 miles behind. 60 miles in front.”
Which doesn’t seem so bad until you realize that your top speed through this terrain is 15 miles per hour.
But we made it; even if “making it” means puttering into your destination on fumes. Silver City, city of vibrant food and colorful characters is up next. More to come from our visit to New Mexico, stay tuned…
A quick side note, the New Mexico Tourism Department who sponsored this lovely visit is giving away a trip to Santa Fe to enjoy some of the same experiences that we had on our tour. You can learn more about the giveaway by following this link.
Considering a trip this fall from TX. WIll maybe follow this route. Sounds like you had fun so far. Thanks for sharing.
Wonderful! Yes, you’ll have to stay tuned then for the upcoming posts from Silver City and Truth or Consequences, it was such a great time! Thanks for stopping by….
How fun to explore a new state with your beautiful mama, J! Loved seeing your pics—can’t wait for more.
Thanks so much Lily, it was a fabulous trip!
Wow! What an amazing time for you and your Mom! Photos are amazing and it sounds like it was an incredible experience!
Yes, total fun!
What a terrific post. I loved reliving the trip through your wonderful travel photos, food photos and anecdotes. Definitely a trip to remember. I really loved New Mexico in all its splendid variety and hope to visit again soon. xo
What a great trip, I really enjoyed your beautiful photos and I want some of that food heheh!
Have a triptastic week 🙂
What a great trip. The school of cooking looked right up my street! You’ve tempted me to add this tour to my wish list. I too have posted a travelblog this week as I returned from a journey across Turkey just a few days ago.
Visit Keith’s Ramblings!
I love the necklace photo – what a great perspective
So many fabulous photos! LOVE that first one and the one with the Gila National Forest sign. Makes me want to plan a trip to Santa Fe.
Yes, it’s worth a trip, hope you get to visit soon 🙂
Your photos are amazing!! Have a great day, co-host Evija @Fromevijawithlove
What an amazing trip. Love all the pics. I have always wanted to go to New Mexico. You are making me want to go more.
What a fantastic amazing trip!!!! For me… the best part was that you did it with your mom!!!! loved it!
This is so awesome! The colors of the place and the company that you have! I cant stop looking at your photos =)
Thank you Merlinda, glad you enjoyed!
Jessica, so glad you’re enjoying my beloved state!!! Most people don’t even know we’re a state so shhhhh, keep it a secret. 😉 We’re the only state in the Union that has an official state question “Red or Green?” At some point in your journey, order a traditional New Mexican dish “Christmas”. Hodge’s in T or C has great breakfast burritos and Huevos Rancheros! And Los Arcos (also T or C) has the most amazing ka-bob’s. Enjoy your stay here!
Very nice photos, good catches with exquisite desert light !! Beautiful scenery !!
Wow! It looks and sounds like an amazing experience. It certainly took guts and it’s probably good you didn’t know exactly what you were getting yourself into. I’m so glad you could spend mother-daughter time together. Fabulous photos as always. Take care!
We went there last summer! It’s so neat! They certainly have great taste in art and music! I wish I could go back.
Looks like a great trip, your pictures are gorgeous!!!
What an amazing place (or places or state)! I am ready to learn more of New Mexico thru your posts. Not sure if I am going to resist the torture of so many food photos.
Oh my! I love New Mexico. We go there for the amazing rocks. Hope to go there soon!
Thanks for this lovely post!
Yes, it can be a long stretch to the next gas station…quite a departure from NYC! Thanks for adding such beauty to Oh My Heartsie Girl Wordless Wednesday!
What a gorgeous collection of photos! It sounds like y’all had a great trip. My mom and I took a trip like that up the northern California coast, into Oregon and up to Seattle probably 10 year ago now. We had the best time wandering and exploring. I’ve made a few very quick road trips through New Mexico – always in a hurry to get to another place, but it’s one of my places to get back to and spend a whole bunch more time in.
I host a Photo Friday link-up every week – I’d love to have you join us for it this week. It goes live late tomorrow evening 😉
Oh how I love your photography! It reminds me of what my husbands see when he looks through the camera.
Consider staying a spell in Hillsboro. http://www.HistoricMillerHouse.com http://www.Pinterest.com/goldddusthome
Wow! Interesting and great pictures!
What an adventure!
Wow, pictures are worth a thousand words, and your pictures are worth a bazillion. That food looks extremely delicious. The dessert with the blackberries is making my mouth water.
Thanks for coming by Dagmar’s Home and leaving a comment! Your photos are stunning! Amazing. What a lovely trip with your mom.
Just FYI, there is something going on with your font. All the “e’s” seem to have a little part missing. I don’t think that is a style decision? I’ve never seen this before. Just thought you might want to know 🙂
What a fun trip to take with our Mom! Memories that will last a life time. Ohhh the possibilities I could do with those cow skulls!!
Wow – what an incredible trip! Can’t wait to hear more about it.
So many beautiful pictures, looks like an amazing time 🙂
Those pics were amazing! I feel like I was there with ya!
Won-der-ful! What I would give to go road-traveling like this, again – sigh. Cannot wait for your next installment of your journey
Thank you for sharing all of these STUNNING photos with us! Its almost as good as going myself.
wow! how beautiful… you made me want to go there!
This is an excellent collection of photos. Guess what..this is funny I know the Lodge Hotel . xx years ago I had a 3 night stay. it was so enchanting. The area around Albuquerque is beautiful. Have a good day.
Looks like a fabulous trip – would love to visit there – thanks for sharing 🙂
Such a lovely visit! Love to see all the colors of the city..I wish I could visit Santa fe one day..