I’ve written here before about Martin Rutte, consultant, author, husband of Islander Maida Rogerson, and resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico. When I knew that Mike and I would be passing through the Santa Fe today, I emailed Martin and asked him what we should be sure not to miss. Among his recommendations was a tea house called Maison & Tea, on the art gallery-drenched Canyon Road downtown. It was a good recommendation: a beautiful, open space with truly outstanding staff and a jasmine tea the drinking of which rendered me feeling like I’d been pleasantly hit with a gelatinous brick. The owner, who I met briefly, has plans to show black and white movies outside on the patio, projected against the adobe walls, come summer. Cool.
Our introduction to Santa Fe was rather more Scarboroughesque: the unfortunately traditional miles-long strip with multiple Burger Kings, a mall or two, a power center with the usual big boxes, and innumerable auto dealers. We stayed at a Fairfield Inns halfway up the strip from I-25, which was as you might expect (but for a fantastic innovation in the breakfast room: make your own waffles).
Much of our morning was occupied with various car-related matters, the centerpiece of which was four new hub-caps for Mike’s VW Golf for $24.99 from Pep Boys. The car looks 100% better.
Next we headed into the downtown plaza of the city, which reminded me of many of the towns and villages I visited around El Paso a decade ago: a central open plaza surrounded by low-slung adobe buildings. We had fresh, tasty fajitas from a street vendor, toured many shops and a couple of museums, had a great visit at a store that sells Zuni fetishes, a great lunch at the O’Keeffe Cafe (beside the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum), a blasty tonic at the Longevity Cafe, and then headed north towards Denver.
After the rugged and somewhat mountainous terrain through Hopi and Navajo territory on the way through Arizona and New Mexico towards Santa Fe, we were surprised to, thwack, hit a dead-flat desert from Santa Fe up to the Colorado border. At Raton, NM, this all changed as we headed over the Raton Pass, 1000 feet up, to enter Colorado.
Our dinner, at the Trinidad Diner, up the highway in the small town of Trinidad, almost completely erased the food halo that surrounded us in Santa Fe: the menu consisted almost exclusively of various fried items combined with various other fried items. Mike opted for the “healthy” turkey on a croissant, which turned out to be turkey, bacon, cheese and tomatoes lathered onto a soggy croissant. He might as well have deep fried his head. I didn’t do much better with a hamburger and pencil eraser-like french fries. The iced tea, however, was excellent. The Conoco gas station across the street where I stopped to try and find some sort of purgative tonic to help me get over this meal was, alas, also a Churches Fried Chicken outlet, so the smell of deep fried gack filled its air as well. Needless to say, we high-tailed it out of Trinidad.
As I type, I’m sitting in a Hampton Inns property about 13 miles south of Denver. We’ve got a full day in Denver tomorrow before I fly JetBlue to Boston overnight. Expect muddled grumpiness on Thursday.