We entered New Mexico via I-40 east after our travels through Arizona on Monday, January 2. We passed Albuquerque, and my eldest let her American Girl doll, Saige, wave out the window to her hometown, but our destination was Santa Fe. Dinner was at Sazón, which I only found because after we checked into our bed and breakfast, I used the Yelp app to find something still open for dinner that was close. We arrived at 8:30pm, and it was immediately apparent that it was a nicer place than what the 5 of us had dressed for, but the food and presentation were excellent. It was the best meal we had on our 9-day trip.
As much as I loved the days in Arizona, I’d been looking forward to our time in Santa Fe quite a bit, too, because it was, in a sense, a pause in the pace of our trip. Our lodging was at the Don Gaspar Inn, a bed and breakfast where we had an entire house to ourselves (with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms!). So, for the first time since we left, my bride and I had our own room and bathroom, and for 2 nights (the only place we didn’t leave after 1 night)! We were able to sleep late, too, as we had no set plans the next day, and the breakfast the innkeeper made us was excellent (and didn’t start until 8).
During breakfast on Tuesday the 3rd, we were told we must visit a place our server the night before had recommended: Meow Wolf, a sort of artistic “fun house” in an old bowling alley financed by writer George R. R. Martin. But, there was a problem: it was closed on Tuesdays, and we were set to leave the next day. So, we decided it was too good to skip and figured we’d visit from 10-noon the next morning before shoving off. After breakfast, we drove to Bandelier National Monument (named for an archeologist, not Chewbacca’s carrying strap).
The main reason I was excited about this park is that when my parents took me out west 25+ years ago, they didn’t let us climb up the tall ladders leading to cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, and I’ve resented it ever since. Mesa Verde is closed this time of year, but Bandelier also features cliff dwellings and tall ladders to climb. So, this time, I got to climb them.
We hiked about a mile and saw multiple dwellings along the way, as well as about 10-15 mule deer. At the end of the trail were the 4 or so ladders up the side of the cliff to the “Alcove House” at the top. My bride was scared of the climb (and especially with 3 small children), but up we all went. All believed the climbs were worth it.
After our hike, we ate in Santa Fe again (where I had the city’s signature meal: a green chili cheeseburger) before exploring some of the many art galleries on Canyon Road, which was great, until my littlest dropped her Ranger Reagan doll somewhere among some outdoor art and didn’t realize it was gone until we were about to go to bed a couple hours later and cried about it for a good hour, before the two of us got back in the car to search for it in windy 20-something degree temperatures and darkness. We found her, though.
The next morning after breakfast and packing up the car, we arrived at Meow Wolf about 40 minutes before it opened, so I took our borrowed Kia Sportage to a nearby car wash, as it was disgusting from the snowy/salty roads in Arizona. Then, we entered Meow Wolf, and we spent the next hour or so with the children sprinting through passage ways and squealing in delight at all they discovered.
Like laser harps.
Or giant white rabbits.
Or chimneys that lead to new worlds, or a refrigerator that revealed a secret passageway. It was awesome.
After a couple hours, however, we knew we’d better head east, as were slated to sleep in Oklahoma City that night.
To be continued(er)…