Not Taos, as the Cow would proclaim, nor San Cristobal, but Arroyo Seco here. We had a New Mexico itch in need of scratching, planned ages ago because we are prescient like that. Goodness, I do not believe we could have timed it better, either. The weekend prior was a wild tumult of wind, more wind, and snow, but for our brief sojourn, the weather was positively glorious. Sun and more sun, nary a breeze, and during the daylight hours, that earthly quiet my heart craves. Splendid dear friends, splendid.
We did go into town, buying a bracelet at MoMo (such a fine selection!) and devouring rellenos and chimichangas at Orlando’s.
Back to the Taos Cow, may I recommend a Cherry Ristra cone. For those not in the know, a ristra is a string of chiles, hung as you would a wreath in warm welcome. This particular welcome was, surprise, cherry, no chile, but delicious nuggets of dark chocolate and pinon nuts. Muy bien!
Here now is San Cristobal. We have zoomed past countless times, coming and going from Taos, this time deciding to stop at the Taos Goji Eco Lodge. It’s a delightful spot, with charming owners and care takers, cabins old enough to have hosted D.H. Lawrence, and Aldous Huxley. The rather fetching D.H. Lawrence cabin had all that we could ask for, but most cherished was the outdoor setting. So beautiful, and the stars, the stars! I cannot wait to have those skies availed to me on the daily.
The Lodge has forty acres, made for a wander, and is adjacent to beautiful trails. There are animals galore – sheep, alpacas, chickens, goats, and a sweet and very protective donkey named Doris Day. What fun we had making their acquaintance!
Our sweet girl had an equally good time, awake and asleep.
Views from the road to Westcliffe. It was the first leg of a Southern Colorado mini-break and early birthday celebration for my favorite human ever (Greg is 52 today!), with two nights in Trinidad as our final destination.
We had a fine lunch and wander in Westcliffe, enjoying stellar sandwiches at the Sugarlump and a cinnamon licorice treat from their sister shop, Lollypop & Co. A fun time in a cool town.
On our way to Trinidad, we stopped along the Huerfano River Valley, where my Williams, Serna, and Casias ancestors were among the first permanent settlers. There’s even a creek named for the Williams side nearby. As is my wont, I visited the cemetery and brought some sweet decor. Handsome Louis is my Great Uncle times three.
The land in the foreground was owned by my family. The first time we visited, there was a house just down the road that was also on land they owned, and we considered buying it before deciding a forty minute one-way to the grocery or a hospital was not our jam. It was, however, quite tempting to imagine waking up to that stunning view on the daily!
Buried just outside Aguilar, Colorado (where Al Capone once lived) is Esquipula Maes, my Great Grandmother times four. We stumbled amongst a sea of Italian headstones in 100 degree heat to find her. Boy was I happy when we did!
p.s. the dates on her headstone were wrong, so I erased them.
Trinidad is just a hop, skip, and a jump over the pass from Raton, New Mexico, so we did just that. I do not recommend arriving on a Monday at lunch time, however, as the town is pretty much closed. The theater did look quite nice though.
My Great Grandma Tillie lived in Trinidad in 1900. She’s looking every bit adorable (that wisp of a curl!) with her equally handsome older brother, Henry. They lived on Convent street in a house that no longer exists.
Up until this trip, Trinidad was only ever a stopping place on the way to New Mexico. I am so happy to have spent more time here now, enjoying its beauty, both natural and architectural (with a little bit of cheek!), friendly people, great food, and fun shops.
Mutiny, in addition to a superb service and a nook of black light posters (!!), offers used books, comics, and music, along with every child in an adult’s body (aka Colleen and Greg) superb coffee, a sugar cereal bar, the ultimate selection of lunch box pastries, and pop tarts! We chose strawberry and a hardcover book about Mongolia.
So many sights for sore eyes! Many of these buildings were here when my Grandma Tillie lived here, which made my heart so happy to expereince it somewhat through her eyes.
Definitely not present during her time, but surely worthy of her approval were the Indian Fry bread delights at Three Sisters.
Same goes for the margaritas at the Las Animas Grill. History lessons from the kindly owner are also on offer! Also worth noting, but totally without a photo because we ate them too quickly, were the wonderful pastries from Colie’s. We had a sticky bun cinnamon roll and an almond croissant. Yum.
We literally chose the hottest day of the year to hike, and my red face shows it. Yowza!
In addition to wanting to see the streets where my Grandma Tillie toddled about as a child, Greg and I were keen on vising Colorado’s newest state park – Fisher’s Peak. It’s about a five minute drive from downtown, and could not be easier. Worthy of note is the fact that dogs are not allowed at the park. No fretting needed, Juniper napped in the security of her crate and the air conditioned luxury of our rental while we hiked.
This was our longest and most difficult hike in ages, the first section 900 feet in elevation gain in the first mile, so yeah, steep. Not gonna lie, our legs and my right knee did some complaining, but it was certainly worth the incredible views of its namesake, the Sangre de Christos, and Spanish Peaks. Most definitely!
For our return trip home, we found a cool casita just a “block” away from our Taos land. We know the neighborhood, but this was the first time we actually set foot on the property, having bought it at the height of the pandemic, and walked the gorgeous views.
We also had a wonderful breakfast (how excited I am to have New Mexican style food I won’t have to make myself!) with our delightful realtor and equally kindly person, Yvonne Trujillo and her husband David, talking land and concrete and wells and everything in between. How real this is all becoming, thrilling and frightening, too. Please think good thoughts for us!
I am ridiculously content, sitting in the wood stove warmth of the Sugar Nymphs Bistro in Penasco. We love this place, as the service (our sweet server was named Colleen!!), all the food, and especially the desserts, are top notch. This is my absolute favorite seat in the house, right by the stove and with a great view of the art lined walls.
We also, for the first time, made a couple of wine and cider tasting stops at Black Mesa and La Chiripada. Both were marvelous, with super friendly staff. We bought quite a bit for two people who don’t drink on the regular!
Taos Mountain from Picuris Peak and zoomed from our neighborhood. We’ll have a view of this stunner from our back porch. Huzzah!
Hi! I’m listening to a super chatty tour guide. Completely unrelated, my very cool necklace charms are Gemini and Cancer constellations (for me and my star crossed love) from the delightful Kayla at Fox and the Fawn. They have the most wonderful jingle! I am also wearing her rings. Here’s to supporting hard working metal smiths.
Greetings from Taliesin West, stop number two on places of architectural interest in Arizona. As you know, if you’ve been with me for a while, I am rather fond of Frank Lloyd Wright structures, and this is no exception. We visited Phoenix in part to see this great place, all stunning angles and sublime views, unlike the hordes of suitcase rollers we encountered post Super Bowl. We didn’t know it was even happening, which gave Cynthia (see below) a good chuckle! The pair of us are impossibly out of touch when it comes to sports and absolutely without apology.
No visit to the Phoenix area would be complete without a visit with Greg’s awesome cousin, Cynthia, who picked up her Texas stakes for Arizona at the beginning of the pandemic. We enjoyed tacos on an eye wateringly hot heated patio, walked in the rain, and caught up on stellar, in-person conversation. We are super proud of all she has accomplished and what is happening next. All the things, indeed.
She and Greg are not only looking good (seriously!) in the wee slice of afternoon sun, but standing in front of one of her multiple citrus trees in her beautiful back garden. She gave us a bag of fruit, and I made marmalade, no surprise. It is all the more delicious knowing the origin.
Our final full day in Cave Creek was a cold one, rife with mist and fog, with our cozy Valentine lunch sandwiched midway. It was as delicious at it looks.
Juniper and I cozied up with sweaters and books while Greg did some fast typing. Have I ever told you about this? He is the fastest typist I know. So much so, I often call it fake because he sounds like a child hammering willy-nilly at the keys. He absolutely is not.
Boy howdy, the photos, save maybe the last one, absolutely do not display the horror of being on the roads of northern Arizona on February 15, 2023. We have never seen so many smashed vehicles: lying on their side, heading the wrong direction, upside down. We found, quite literally, the one artery to I-40 that was not closed and inched along at 20 miles per hour. The final photo is a mere smidgen of the at least three-mile long chain of vehicles stopped overnight and hoping to get moving westbound to Flagstaff. Yikes!
Our friend Mary said we must be living right to have such good fortune. Thanks for saying so and big hug.
Another lovely drive, westward along I-40 to Gallup. If you may recall this is where Juniper was found all those years ago. One day we will time everything right to buy some moccasins for Greg (my feet are too poorly now) and some jewelry for me, as we keep arriving on quiet Sundays, when all the shops are closed. The eye candy is still worth a stop, oh, and lunch at Blake’s Lotaburger. Yes, yes.
Navajo Nation Land
Oh, yes he did!
From mountains to desert, and so quickly! My heart was aflutter at the geologic wonder.
Arcosanti has been on our list of architectural places to visit for ages. There is a certain hesitation knowing the whole history of the creator, Paolo Soleri, but for the countless others responsible for the magic of the place, we could not miss it.
A place of solitude and contrast to the desert landscape, yet wholly of it, it is quite remarkable.
So many gorgeous details and stunning views. This is a window to a private residence.
I spy with my little eye…Greg Cooper!
The bells! We did not take a tour, for reasons of timing and thrift, but did by a couple of the exquisite bells. The gallery is church-like, a perfect hall for bouncing sound. We tiptoed through, ringing each that caught our fancy, and after much discussion on size and shape, chose the perfect tones.
The view out our window!
We stayed in a super modern getaway in Cave Creek, well away from the hullabaloo of Phoenix and positively surrounded by saguaro of every height and armature. It was quiet with people and alive with birds and insects. Juniper was wild with excitement at the scent of every new step.
When we arrived, I worried a bit at the temperature. It was in the mid-seventies, and we packed long sleeves and pants for for cooler temperatures. My fretting may have jinxed the whole situation, as the weather took a drastic turn, feeling more like the Pacific Northwest than the desert, with rain and more rain, even a little hail. We made the best of it, however, as you’ll see in the next post!