Taylor and I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Land of Enchantment to celebrate our five year wedding anniversary. I was excited from the moment I learned about the destination, but what I didn't realize was how charmed we would be by the land and all it contains...
Day 1: Santa Fe
We landed in Albuquerque on a Sunday afternoon and promptly hopped into a rental car and drove the hour to Santa Fe. The moment you arrive, the landscape feels transportive - the dryness of the air, the expansiveness of the horizon, and the groundedness of the mountains are anchoring and a bit other worldly - especially for an East Coaster.
We walked from our Airbnb to the downtown square area and decided to peek into the Loretto Chapel on the way. Little did we know we had stumbled into a place that houses both architectural feat and mystical legend. It's a quaint chapel with a mysteriously and expertly constructed staircase - and the recorded origin story (complete with dramatic musical emphasis) - is actually quite strange and wonderful. It was great.
We then wandered though local shops in downtown Santa Fe and enjoyed viewing the work of many local and indigenous artists, as well as playing at the oh-so-fancy O'Farrells. After all the appreciative window shopping, we ate dinner at famous Cafe Pasquals. Pasquals feels like a party at your awesome neighbor's house. It's bright but comfortable, fancy yet approachable. You definitely need a reservation but it's worth the hype. The mole enchiladas, tacos, and everything else we ate were delicious. Tay caught me on camera mid-mole-sauce-scraping bite so you can get the gist.
Day 2: Road Tripping
Coffee every morning in Santa Fe was procured at Iconik. It's got great ambiance, local vibes, a lot of space, and most importantly a really well made cup of caffeinated (or decaf!) coffee. Also of note, they make their own almond "milk," which always seems to make me absurdly excited.
And with drink-in-hand we decided to road trip around some recommended haunts for spiritual, artistic, and physical expansion and entertainment for our first full day in NM. Stop number one: Sanctuario de Chimayo - a catholic pilgrimage church and a place rumored to have holy dirt that is imbued with healing powers. As I'm a big fan of the healing of the land, and my curiosity was piqued by a client who had recently visited, we decided it was a must see. The reverence, love notes, gifts, and pictures people have bestowed upon this place from far and wide are moving. The church itself is also quite beautiful - folk-art adorned and really a different feel from a "traditional" Catholic church.
Then came the sanctuary of the dirt. We entered the room with a group of older folks who had driven from Texas and came equipped with empty gallon milk jugs to fill with the hallowed ground. As all we had at this point was a now empty coffee cup, we experienced a random act of kindness as one lady gifted us an extra-large ziplock. After filling it with a few scoops (I didn't want to overdo it), she inquired where we were from, and upon hearing D.C. almost shouted, "Oh honey, you need to take more! At least half a bag, fill it up!"
It was hilarious, moving, and a good story for years to come.
Last stop on the day's trip was the Ojo Caliente mineral springs. It was actually my first hot springs experience and despite forgetting a bathing suit (which was quickly remedied thanks to a nearby WalMart) we had a blast. The pools are quite warm but the mineral waters have all sorts of refreshing properties - some are good for the skin, others great for digestion and still others have a high iron content which was super healing for me at the time. Plus there's a mud pool which is just amazing and I learned that the word "S.P.A." comes from the Latin "salus per aquam" or "health through water."
Day 3: Georgia
This day was Georgia's day. I have always been a big fan of Georgia O'Keefe's sweeping drama of oft-overlooked or even forgotten things - flowers, bones, etc. But her work in and inspired by New Mexico has captivated me since I was a little girl. We started the day at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe. I got to see a few favorites like Pelvis IV and her sweeping NYC city scapes, but was looking forward to the day's main event -- a tour of her home in Abiquiu (pronounced - Ab-i-"Q"), about 60 minutes outside Santa Fe.
We actually had to reserve the home/studio tour in advance so definitely triple check there is space AND it's open (as there are some days tours are not held). After having a quick (and lovely) lunch next door at Cafe Abiquiu we boarded the shuttle bus to the house of this epic creatrix.
Among the many stunning things I learned about Georgia that day, the highlight was probably that she moved to New Mexico permanently when she was sixty two - yes sixty two! And that is when she began to translate her myriad inspiration into her work - the new, styled landscapes, the juxtaposition of bones, flowers and sky, and the inexplicable magic of the desert. How incredible. Her home was perfectly minimal, extremely modern in it's utilization of huge windows and skylights for extra light and everything I wanted it to be and more. This woman was a creative powerhouse and her legend and legacy still hold that impact today.
Day 4: Albuquerque
Our last full day in New Mexico was spent in the lap of historical-inn-and-modern-farm luxury. We stayed at the Los Poblanos Inn and really soaked up all the interesting amenities of the property. They include - a large sunflower field, secret flower gardens, a group of grazing alpacas, two peacocks, some guinea fowl, and an assortment of fruit trees. After sufficiently enjoying a late evening and early morning "on campus" we decided to explore a bit of Albuquerque.
We had breakfast on the rooftop of the Hotel Chaco as I had a major hankering for some blue corn pancakes and both they and the view did not disappoint. We drank some delicious coffee and good conversation with a native ABQ barista at Prismatic (who shared that RBG was just in town for the Opera). And we enjoyed wandering around the sublime Spurline Supply Co. and the neighboring gem shop. *Also of note (though sadly we didn't get a chance to go this time) are the two museums nearby - both the museum of natural history and the Albuquerque art museum are supposed to be spectacular. It will be top on the list next time!
Will full bellies and tired feet, we retreated back to the Inn to enjoy an (amazing) farm dinner, and continue to soak up the little slice of heaven this inn embodies. Time at the pool, journeying to a secret little lotus pond and rose garden and I wasn't so certain we'd be able to leave. Though of course, Theo beckoned us back to Washington.
It was a getaway that had a bit of everything -- incredible history of native peoples, spectacular art, breathtaking views, and incredible food. There's also the opportunity for far more nature-adventuring with hikes, bike trails, and other extraordinary journeys. In the land of enchantment the sky really is the limit.