On Day 8, we said good-bye to Jo Jo and Bubba and began our long travel day with an hour drive to Albuquerque followed by two flights. It all went pretty smoothly with Addie sleeping most of both flights again. We had a wonderful vacation, but it felt really good to be home.
Day 7 of our Santa Fe trip was our last full day. Mom and Dad treated us to a delicious breakfast at one of their favorite Santa Fe spots for breakfast - Tecolate Cafe. I ordered French toast which was delicious, but some of the locals at the table next to us ordered New Mexican breakfastswhich looked fantastic. I think I'd order one of the New Mexican selections next time. After breakfast, Mom kept Addie while we took the big girls to the Santa Fe Children's Museum. They had a great time there. It is a cute little place... just right for a morning of fun.
For lunch, we headed back to Tia Sophia's for one last meal of tamales and sopapillas before leaving New Mexico. In the afternoon, mom and I wandered around Jackalope which sells things like pottery, rugs, and folk art but has a little bit of almost everything under the sun. We didn't buy much but had fun poking around.
As the day came to a close we rushed outside to try to get pictures of the girls in their Christmas dresses before the sun set.
After that, we were treated to this amazing view off the back patio of our condo... nothing beats New Mexico for a gorgeous sunset!
For dinner, J.C. and I had a date night while Mom babysat the kids. I was mourning the loss of one of my favorite Santa Fe restaurants, Paul's, which closed a couple of years ago, so I asked mom for a recommendation. She suggested Il Piatto, an Italian restaurant, just a block or so from where Paul's used to be. Our meal was scrumptious! I definitely recommend this place for a nice meal. Reservations are a must though - the place was packed. We walked to dinner, so hopefully we burned off a couple calories on the walk back. Il Piatto was a nice way to end the trip.
For Day 6, we decided to take a day trip to Bandelier National Monumentabout an hour outside of Santa Fe. We couldn't have asked for better weather, so it was the perfect day for an outdoor adventure. Bandelier is home to ancestral pueblo homes, kivas (ceremonial structures), and cave dwellings which were inhabited from 1100 - 1550 A.D. We walked the 1.2 mile Main Loop Trail which includes several spots where you can climb wooden ladders into the cavates (combination of the word cave and excavate). The girls got a kick out of climbing up the ladders, and we sat in the cavate talking about what it would be like to live there. I don't think any of us could quite wrap our brains around that idea.
"Check out this great handle I found!"
When we arrived at Bandelier, the ranger warned us to keep our children near us because mountain lions are occassionally in the area. That had me completely freaked out, but fortunately the only wildlife we encountered were some sweet harmless deer.
On the drive to Bandelier, we stopped at a the White Rock Overlook near Los Alamos. It wasn't a planned stop but so incredibly worth it. I noticed the sign as we were driving down the highway and as a break from the drive, we decided to pull over. J.C. and I had both been to White Rock Overlook on a previous New Mexico trip, but I don't think either of us remembered how spectacular it was.
Day 6 of our trip was definitely a great day. I think all five of us really enjoyed both the overlook and the Bandelier trip. Sometimes it is hard to find activites that appeal to every person in the family, but I think we hit the ball out of the park with this one!
Day 5 of our trip brought the activity I was most looking forward to.... San Diego Feast Day at Tesuque Pueblo. Many of the Indian Pueblos (pueblo means "village") are closed to the public. On their ceremonial Feast Days once or twice a year though, the public can share in their festivities. The dances are essentially a prayer of blessing before the feast, so you have to be quiet and respectful when visiting a pueblo on Feast Day. The dance is not a performance, it is a religious event to be observed with respect. I do not have any pictures from the day because photography is strictly prohibited in the pueblos. There were signs every 10 feet or so reminding us that there was no picture taking, videotaping, or sketching allowed. Since pueblos have their own laws, you don't want to get caught sneaking a photograph. You might never see your camera again.
We weren't sure what time the dances were to start, so we arrived a bit earlier than necessary. We walked around the pueblo a bit, talking to the girls about what life must be like living in a pueblo. It really feels like a step back in time to another world, another era. Archeologists have determined that Tesuque Pueblo existed before 1200 A.D. It still has a population of around 900 Tesuque people to this day.
By all appearances, we guessed that every family in the Pueblo must own a dog, and the dogs roam freely all over the Pueblo. This was not good for our dog-fearing daughter, Elise. She rounded a corner the same time as a friendly lovable looking yellow lab and screamed in terror. It might as well have been a mountain lion based on her reaction... So much for quiet and respect. Thankfully, we were away from the main plaza and the dances hadn't started yet, so with any luck, we didn't bother too many people. Not five minutes later though, a tiny chihuahua came racing at Nina yapping his head off, and she shrieked in fear as well. I was about ready to give up and leave concluding that my children weren't cut out for the reverence of a Pueblo Feast Day. We decided to stick it out though, and fortunately, we didn't have any other major dog encounters.
I can remember going to a Pueblo Feast Day when I was a kid. I don't remember how old I was, which Pueblo we went to, or which dance was performed, but I remember going. I remember the elaborate costumes, the beating drums, and the metrical dancing. It has left an impression on me to this day. You become part of a ceremony for a people and a culture far removed from your every day life. When I found out there was a Feast Day during our trip, I knew we needed to go.
As we located a place to sit, we found out that the deer dance was the one we would be seeing. My mom got excited because she has seen the deer dance before and knew it was a neat one. The dancers' costumes include antlers, deer pelts, and short canes that they dance with to give the appearance of a deer's front legs. The costumes in this photo are similar to the ones that we saw.
The girls were really excited as they saw the drummers and dancers file out of the kiva and into the plaza. The dance was really neat, but repetitive and long, so after a while the girls proclaimed boredom. We exited quietly and returned to our car. Even though the girls' reaction was, "That was boring.", I'm still glad they were able to experience a Feast Day. Heck, I may have been bored when I went to one as a child too, but I don't remember the boredom. I remember the wonderment of the experience. Hopefully the same will be true for Elise and Nina.
After the dance, we headed to the San Marcos Cafe and Feed Store for lunch - a quirky little place with chickens and turkeys roaming around outside. Poor Nina had her second terrifying animal encounter of the day here. Somehow, a chicken got between her and J.C. as they were walking into the restaurant, and she had a complete panic attack. I wasn't sure the poor girl would ever calm down! My girls are NOT animal people. We have so many allergies in the family (Elise - cats,dogs. J.C. - cats, dogs. Ann - cats, dogs, rats, horses) that I don't think we've ever made our girls feel comfortable around animals, even household pets. As this day proved, we should probably work on that. We devoured hearty meat and potatos burritos and homemade pie (the chocolate pie was divine!) at the San Marcos cafe and then headed home for naps.
For dinner that night, we decided to check out Maria's New Mexican Kitchen which has won many awards for the best margaritas in Santa Fe and best margaritas in New Mexico. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. The food was delicious, but by my tastebuds, the margarita was too sweet. At least it was a good meal otherwise. After dinner, we got a good night sleep in anticipation of our big Day 6 destination. Stay tuned...
On Day 4 of our trip, we headed out to one of my favorite childhood places just North of Santa Fe, Shidoni. My family spent many summers and Thanksgiving vacations in Santa Fe when I was growing up, and every trip included a visit to the Shidoni sculpture garden. "Shidoni" is a Navajo word used as a greeting to a friend. The sculpture garden is a friendly place that greets kids and adults alike with all sorts of fun, funky, and interesting large scale sculptures. I can remember running from sculpture to sculpture as a child, climbing through them, pushing the mobile ones, and getting my picture taken with them, so it is really special for me to see my kids enjoying it the same way I did. Although the sculptures are constantly changing, the atmosphere hasn't changed a bit. Shidoni also offers visitors the chance to see bronze pourings on Saturdays. I've only attended a bronze pouring there once, but it was really fascinating, and I highly recommend it if you're ever in Santa Fe on a Saturday.
Here is Addie checking out my anniversary ring!
Nina, don't feed the animals!
And check out these great sculptures I came across!
After our Shidoni adventure, we joined my parents for lunch at a place one of J.C.'s friends had recommended, Harry's Roadhouse. It is a bit outside of town but clearly a very popular place. We had a short wait for a table, and there was a steady stream of people coming in. My salmon tacos were good, but not necessarily something I would order again. The pecan pie was fantastic. It is a cute, quirky little place with a lot of great options on the menu. I definitely want to try it again sometime.
Day 3 was a more relaxed day of eating, shopping, playing in the snow, and sitting by the fireplace.
We started the day off with the excitement of snow coming down! The girls were thrilled!
For breakfast, we hit one of my all-time Santa Fe favorites - Cafe Pasqual's. If you're ever in Santa Fe, it wins my vote for the best breakfast in town - chorizo burritos, breakfast quesadillas, Mexican hot chocolate - YUM! Go on a weekday when it isn't quite so crowded. Weekend breakfast at Pasqual's is extremely popular.
After breakfast, it was time for snowball fights! You wouldn't think there was enough snow to even make a snowball, but if you looked hard enough on the tops of cars or newspaper stands, you could find some.
For lunch, we walked down the hill to the plaza to one of my other favorite Santa Fe haunts, Tia Sophia's. The tamales are fantastic, and every meal ends with a sopapilla to fill with cinnamon sugar and honey. Here is Addie getting her first introduction to a New Mexican tamale! Hey Mikey! I think she likes it!
After lunch, the girls did some souvenir shopping. Elise ended up with a neat silver and turquoise bookmark that she purchased from one of the Indians selling her wares in front of the Palace of the Governors, and a little Navajo made doll who she named Poca (short for Pocahontas). Nina purchased a bag of rocks, a smooth rock with a dinosaur etched on it, and a rock necklace. Do you sense a trend there?
In the afternoon, we just napped and read by the fireplace... a great relaxing way to spend a cold day.
For our Day 2 adventure, we took a trip on the Santa Fe Southern Railway. We chose the "Hot Shot" 2.5 hour run to the rim of the Galisteo Basin and back. We all enjoyed it, but 2.5 hours was plenty long. I don't think I would want to do the longer 4 hour trip that is offered. The "Hot Shot" trip was just right - we learned a lot, came away with all sorts of trivia about the area, and simply enjoyed the ride. The open air flat car was especially fun. It wasn't a terribly cold day, so we spent a lot of time taking in the scenery from the flat car.
Day one was a travel day... all day... twelve hours of planes, buses, layovers, and automobiles. J.C. managed the big girls on the flights while I took charge of the baby. I definitely scored the easier end of that deal. J.C. juggled snacks, Leapsters, DVD players, crayons, stuffed animals, and blankets while I just occassionally inserted a bottle in Addie's mouth and caught up on my reading. I think I am the last woman my age to read the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers, so the long travel day gave me a chance to catch up. If you are one of the few women out there in the world who haven't caught the Twilight bug yet, read the blog post, Dazzled By Twilight, by my friend Mama at The Elmo Wallpaper. She has summed it up much better than I ever could.
Addie looked about like this for most of both flights (excuse the messy milk face).
She did wake up in time to take in the gorgeous view of New Mexico on our arrival.