Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gosney Summer Vacation - First Blog

In August Sharon and Matt went on a week-long vacation to Northern New Mexico; Santa Fe and Taos. It was a beautiful trip and a much needed break! Anyone who reads this blog knows one thing about the Gosneys, they love good food! So the trip will be broken down into two blog postings, the first will be about the trip and the second will be about the food! And yes, silly as it is to pull out a camera and take pictures of every meal, Matt and Sharon do not regret it for a moment. At the bottom of this blog I'll include the slide show with all of our pictures. I'll just plug in a few of the more memorable pics in the blog itself.

Traveling ...
We took off early Monday after dropping the dogs off at the doggie day care. Auggie and Penny were not pleased with their lack of invitation to participate in the family vacation. Once we'd dropped them off it was on the road to New Mexico! Driving through Western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle isn't exactly "scenic," unless you enjoy tumbleweeds. But we ensured we had excellent road trip food (no photos were taken of the bologna sandwiches we had at a rest stop in Oklahoma, don't worry.) It was really the first time we had been able to take a true "all day" road trip together and it was great! Lots of time to talk and see new things. Sharon is convinced that she does not fall asleep in the car. If that's the case, then she really needs to explain the long stretches of silence with her mouth slack-jawed and open (and a little bit of drool.) I think I'd just admit to sleeping.

Santa Fe
We decided to stay in Bed & Breakfasts in both Santa Fe and Taos, which turned out to be a great idea. The first Bed & Breakfast was the El Farolito in Santa Fe. It was beautiful! As you can see, we had our own little "casita" with a front porch to enjoy. Everything in Northern New Mexico is built in the "adobe style," which was fun. The El Farolito was within easy walking distance of the Plaza in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe is an old, old town with lots of history. It was established back in the 1600's and has been a Spanish settlement, Mexican, as well as American. So lots of history. But it is also a thriving artistic community. So we were able to entertain ourselves our first evening and all day Tuesday simply by wandering around the various shops as well as stopping in at the occasional historic site. Santa Fe is at about 7000 feet in elevation, so it is easy to get winded those first couple of days. But Sharon is quite convinced that higher, dryer air is better for her hair than muggy old Arkansas. She's probably right. Anyway, we loved being up in the mountains, walking up and down the streets and smelling the pinon and mountain wildflowers. The Plaza itself is amazing, with hundreds of little shops and restaurants to check out, and live music to enjoy in the evenings.

Sharon had one goal in mind on her trip, and that was to purchase some authentic turquoise jewelry. And boy was there a lot of turquoise! And you can pretty much spend as much on it as you'd like. Fortunately as we walked into town each day we'd pass some shops just off the plaza. Should any of you ever be in Santa Fe, definitely find some shops off the beaten path. Prices are much more reasonable when you get away from the craziness of the Plaza! Sharon was successful and found a beautiful Zuni broach that she will wear as a necklace. It's a vintage piece, most likely made in the 1950's. She picked up a bracelet to go with it (not vintage) and now she is quite decked out in the turquoise.

We decided on Wednesday to sneak down to Albuquerque and take in a temple session. The temple is actually only about an hour's drive from Santa Fe and is really beautiful. Afterwards we came back and toured the Palace of the Governors, the original capital of New Mexico built in 1610. It's a beautiful adobe building filled with artifacts from the Spanish colonial era of New Mexico. Really, it's just amazing to be in a 400 year old building made of mud and straw. We finished the day wandering the streets and enjoying the sites and sounds.

The Train Ride
Thursday we checked out of the El Farolito bright and early and made our way up to Chama, NM. In the late 1800's gold and silver mining was the big business in the Southern Rocky Mountains. The Rio Grande Railroad intended to extend all the way to Denver but with the discovery of silver in and around Chama they decided to head the railroad south to be able to pull it out of there more efficiently. So in 1880 a narrow-gauge (narrower track than a standard railroad) line was built between Chama, NM and Antonito, CO. Now, of course, it is no longer used for mining. Instead the states of NM and CO jointly own the railroad and train and run scenic tours along the route. The train is a legitimate steam engine. It smells like coal and being having the window open means you'll probably get soot on you. But it's also one of the last, truly authentic steam engine experiences left in America. It's also America's longest, highest-altitude narrow gauge line, the train climbs up to around 11,000 feet elevation. As you can imagine, there were some spectacular views!

We rode for a few hours and then the train stopped in Osier, an old mining town, for lunch. Instead of continuing on to Antonito we got back on the train headed back where we came. What a beautiful trip! We only included a few photos here, but lots more down on the slide show.

After our train ride we drove the couple of hours in to Taos. Right before making it to Taos you cross the Rio Grande Gorge, and it is impressive! As you can see from the photo, storm clouds were brewing which made it all the more impressive. There were also gale-force winds, so you felt like you were about to get swept off the bridge and into the abyss. So we didn't stay long to admire it.

For our Taos Bed and Breakfast we stayed at the Adobe & Pines, and it was amazing! The Adobe & Pines is a 200 year old adobe hacienda that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. Our walls were quite literally two foot thick adobe. We were lucky and got a room with a little balcony. The grounds were really beautiful and it was easy to forget the rest of the world as we wandered around. Everything looked and smelled wonderful, lots of colors, lots of beautiful flowers. We liked the El Farolito in Santa Fe, but the Adobe & Pines was really something else entirely (and less expensive!) It was truly one of the most tranquil, beautiful places we've ever stayed.

Our Friday was originally going to begin with a horseback ride. However, those storm clouds you saw in the gorge photo developed into a downpour on Friday morning. And, being the city slickers that we are, we decided a horseback ride in the rain wasn't our idea of a fun vacation. When it cleared up we did make it over to see the Taos Pueblo. The Native American tribes that make up most of Northern New Mexico are "pueblo" Indians, meaning they build permanent pueblo structures to live and worship in. The Taos Pueblo community, and main pueblo, was over 1000 years old. Several thousand Native Americans still live in the Pueblo and abide by the Pueblo rules, meaning no running water or electricity. As you can imagine, one of the rules for visitors was to absolutely not throw anything into the stream running through the middle of the reservation. Most of the residents of the Pueblos had Native American art of some sort to sell, it was really a fascinating trip. And then, on our way back into town, Sharon decided we needed a picture of something a little less historic than the Taos Pueblo: the Adobe-style Taos McDonalds.

We were back up on Saturday and, after laying around far longer than we should, we got back on the road to head home. We took a different route, this time through the Oklahoma panhandle, hoping for more engaging scenery. Alas, no luck. The Oklahoma panhandle is just as forelorn as the Texas panhandle. But we enjoyed our drive back home and were so extremely grateful for the chance we had to spend a week together. It certainly re-charged our batteries. And now Sharon is absolutely ready to move to New Mexico. But that may be because of the food more than anything, but that's the next post!

Below is the slide show from the vacation.