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Trip Report 10 days June 2018

San Antonio, TX
Level Contributor
764 posts
38 reviews
Trip Report 10 days June 2018

We have been fortunate to have visited NM several times, taking in the many notable attractions: museums, native American culture, Santa Fe opera, golf courses, and yes, the delicious cuisine. This trip we re-visited some sites and experienced new ones as well.

We drove from San Antonio, TX, stopping for the night in Lubbock before entering NM at Clovis. Fort Sumner was our first stop seeking out Billy the Kid's grave. On to a late lunch in Santa Rosa at Comet II Drive-Inn on old Rt. 66, enjoying Enchilada de Carnitas and Chicken Quesadillas. Husband toyed with the idea of a dip in the Blue Hole in which he had cooled-off years ago, but in the interest of travel time, we got back on the road.

Next town of interest: North on Hwy. 84 to Las Vegas, NM, and the downtown plaza featuring the Plaza Hotel. This historic 1882 hotel, one of the fanciest hotels in the Southwest, was decorated in the Victorian style and featured in the Netflix "Longmire" series, set in Durant, WY, but filmed in New Mexico. The hotel has hosted guests from Doc Holiday to Tommy Lee Jones and has been a film star herself featured in "Tom Mix," "Longmire," "Easy Rider," and "No Country for Old Men."

The glass insert door leading to Walt's office is still inscribed with, "Absaroke County, Durant, Wyoming, Sheriff's Department."

The Plaza Hotel itself is worth a visit. Two couples were checking in while we explored the lobby, saloon & restaurant. Rooms range from $79 to $149, They welcome pets; about 1 hour north of Santa Fe on I-25. www.plazahotellvnm.com.

From Las Vegas we picked up 518 to Mora with a couple of businesses advertising weaving. Victory Ranch offers Alpaca tours and shopping at their gift shop on select days. In season, you can pick raspberries at Sallman Raspberry Ranch.

Lots of construction on 434 North from Mora to Black Lake where we had rented VRBO 288211, a former Ranch headquarters 8 miles south of Angel Fire. This two bedroom (one King and one Queen) home constructed of logs harvested off the land, was to be our home-base for the next 10 days. We were joined by my sister and her husband from Kentucky. The views were stunning and the wild life abundant. We saw an elk herd, counting 16 females, deer (even some young males complete with velvet antlers),rabbits, chipmunks. heard coyotes at night, and feisty hummingbirds!

Early on my husband played in the Holy Angels Golf Tournament (annual - June) benefitting the Holy Angels Catholic Church in Angel Fire. Big fun with 120 participants.

Another day we drove to Cimarron through the devastation of the Ute Park Fire. Fortunately no lives or homes were lost, although there was damage to some buildings on the Boy Scout Philmont Scout Camp. In Cimarron, we visited, yet, another hotel, the Historic Express St. James Hotel established in 1872.

Located on the Santa Fe Trail, the St. James has 13 rooms, some said to be haunted, all named for historical persons who stayed there: Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley & Zane Grey to name a few. All 13 rooms had been occupied the night before and as the cleaning crew finished-up each room, the door to the room was opened and cordoned off with a velvet rope so that visitors could see what the rooms looked like. The hotel staff was welcoming to all who stopped and wanted to explore the premises including a dining room and saloon complete with ceiling bullet holes, where at least 26 people lost their lives in the past. Built by Henri Lambert, a Frenchman & personal chef to President Abraham Lincoln, {Lambert moved out West when the President was assassinated) this beautifully renovated hotel with its annex buildings, will not disappoint. Rooms ranged from $115 to $200 in the original hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served in the dining room. www.exstjames.com.

The Enchanted Circle was on our agenda next. Driving counter clock-wise from Angel Fire, we

went through Eagle Nest, checked-out Red River, saw the remnants of the Questa Molycorp Molybdenum mine near the confluence of the Rio Grande and Red River. Molybdenum has been mined for 36 years since 1921, its greyish ore, a metal used in high-strength, light-weight alloys found in mountain bikes and wheelchairs. The area is now in environmental remediation.

In Questa, we visited the historic San Antonio del Rio Colorado Catholic Church which itself has undergone an extensive restoration. The church was open to visitors, its cool adobe interior a welcome relief on a hot day. The stained glass Saint Anthony was particularly beautiful.

We took a side jaunt to Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and had a picnic at the Little Arsenic Campground. The handicapped La Junta Overlook where one could actually see the Rio Grand and Red Rivers merging together was spectacular. This fairly new "park, almost empty of visitors, had a ranger station with restrooms and overnight camping facilities.

Onward towards Taos, we made another side jaunt to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, an engineering feat of grand proportions. Driving through the scenic Taos valley, we made it back to Angel Fire and our Ranch house. accommodation.

I had made reservations at the Santa Fe Cooking School for the once monthly "Cooking Inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe" class for my sister and me. We did not allow enough driving time from Angel Fire to Santa Fe and were ten minutes late to the class, but were welcomed by Margaret Wood, Miss O'Keeffe's companion in her later years and co-author of "A Painter's Kitchen, Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O'Keeffe. Margaret Wood delighted all in her descriptions and memories of her five years with Miss O'Keeffe: a favorite lunch - garlic slices on whole wheat bread and a side dish of sautéed chilies and onions. A chef from the cooking school demonstrated recipes of a typical meal and we all enjoyed a delicious lunch. Classes are on-going for the public on a variety of NM culinary topics. Reservations recommended.

Since we drove the faster low road from Taos of Santa Fe, our plan was to take the high road back in a more leisurely fashion. A must, first stop was the Nambe Trading Post, one of the last real trading posts of the Old West. Recently purchased by Cathy Smith and her daughter, jewelry designer, Jesse Smith, the Nambe is a dessert jewel. Only high quality, authentic goods are sold.

Cathy Smith grew up on her grandparents' ranch near Deadwood, SD, where she got to know the people of the adjacent Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. As a teen she was "adopted" into a Native family introducing her to traditions like beading and porcupine quill work. She has turned this artistic gift into a career as a movie costume designer, working on films such as "Dancing with Wolves," designing costumes. Most recently she was the designer on the "Longmire" series, designing the "Soldier Dog's" costume. It is on display at the Nambe Trading Post.

Ms. Smith has published a 2017 book, "The Demise of Tonto or Hollywood Meets the Sioux," featuring her costumes from several movies and series, earning her an Emmy which is also on display. Imagine our delight to find Ms. Smith and her daughter present on the day of our visit. I purchased a book and she graciously signed it, You don't want to miss this stop on the High Road to Taos. www.nambetradingpost.com.

An inspirational stop on the High Road was El Santuario de Chimayo in Chimayo NM, also known as the Lourdes of the Southwest. It is the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States, It is reputed to have healing powers in its "holy dirt," with discarded crutches and canes left behind.

Close by was the Rancho de Chimayo Restaurant where we picked up a menu for a future visit, as we were still full from our O'Keeffe lunch., Back to our home-base Ranch house.

Angel Fire- What we liked:

Great grocery store

Not crowded

Cool temperatures at night

Scenic chair lift in summer

Wonderful library with book sale while we were there

Monte Verde Lake - fishing & picnicking

Friday night free concert

Sunday Farmer's Market

Angel Fire Golf course

Holy Smoked Bar-be-que (closes at 2 pm)

I read all of the Trip Reports for the past several years in planning our trip. Thanks to all of the posters and to the New Mexico "experts" for making this trip so enjoyable. Back to Albuquerque next summer 2019 for the Senior Olympics in Golf!

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1 reply
Aurora, Illinois
Destination Expert
for New Mexico, Santa Fe, Albuquerque
Level Contributor
2,672 posts
159 reviews
1. Re: Trip Report 10 days June 2018

Thanks for a fantastic trip report, especially the areas that don’t always get coverage!


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