In a strange turn of fate, I have discovered the upside of coronavirus. First of all, my tour business, Santa Fe Footprints, has been destroyed. At least for now. All bookings from March 14th through the end of April have been cancelled. One hardy group with a booking for May 1st is still hanging on. Hang in there guys!!! The dark night will pass! Morning will come! Easter may bring resurrection in more ways that one!
Start of the Upside
You may be saying; Bob I’m not quite seeing the upside. Once I accepted the situation I found I was sleeping like a rock. My mind had been full of tour issues. How to schedule the bus. New bookings for the historic walking tour. Arrange transportation for the shopping tour. What shops will the ladies enjoy most? Which trail is best for a group of hikers? Now all of those issues are gone. At least for now and hopefully not for long.
Now I must admit I am luckier than many. I will survive without the income from Santa Fe Footprints but it did provide a very nice supplement.
Now for the real upside. Being unable to just stay inside I have begun taking long walks. I have hiked and walked the city before but the coronavirus has given me time to discover much more of the city. It appears many others have been unable to stay inside and have taken to the trails. I pass many others, at a safe distance of course, on these trails.
The River Walk
One of the most enjoyable city trails that I have discovered is the El Comino Real Walking Trail. This is a paved trail along the Santa Fe River. The pavement is wide enough for good social distancing. Bikers are generally courteous and let you know they coming. I enjoy watching the big machines working in the river bed setting up dikes and falls to repair the damage from the thousand-year flood of a few years back.
I found the most enjoyable and surprising part of the trail was heading east from Ricardo Rd. Murals have been painted on the walls along the trail. They were painted by a youth group and they are incredible. I discovered John F Ray Griego Park with its moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A little further down the trail is Bicentennial Alto Park. A lovely place I plan to visit more even after the coronavirus is just a memory.
The coronavirus panic has caused much pain and loss but it has force me and I hope others to reconnect with the little pleasures of life. Remember, morning will come.
Calling all ski bums! The road trip from Santa Fe to Durango and Purgatory is a must. Do not take route 550. This is the route everyone from Albuquerque takes and it will get you there a bit faster. But the journey is a big part of a road trip and the 550 route does not offer much. So you may ask, what path should I take? Head north on 285, through Espanola, Abiquiu and Chama. Up over the continental divide and into Pagosa Springs. The road, the views and the mighty rockies make for an incredible journey. Head on over to Durango and you have arrived in a unique little western town.
On arriving in Durango you must stop at the historic Strater hotel and have lunch in the Diamond Bell. The waitress are dressed in period tight little corsets, fishnet stockings with a feather in their hair. Oh, and the food’s good too.
The drive to Purgatory ski area will continue the impressiveness of the road trip. Massive mountains rise up on both sides of the road. The Sangre De Christos around Santa Fe seem puny in comparison.
Now for the skiing.
Purgatory is a big ski area and I will be honest, I was a bit intimidated. I have skied many big areas but not for several years. This was my first road trip to Purgatory and I was totally unfamiliar with the mountain. But I gave it a go. The snow was hard packed which is not my favorite but you take what the mountain gives you. The sun came out, I was on the mountain and life was good.
Two hours of skiing and it was time to call it a day and find a good Durango brew pub. The Steamworks proved to be the perfect place. Good food and good beer. Just a short walk from the Stater down charming Main Street so no bothering with parking and driving back after sampling a variety of their excellent brews.
Full Ski Day.
The next day was a full ski day and the final day of the Durango road trip. The sun was out and the sky blue. A great ski day. The only down side was the hard packed snow. I had planned to ski all day but by 2:00 my legs were telling me ‘It’s time to call it a day’.
Back to Santa Fe.
The next day my Durango road trip came to an end. The drive back to Santa Fe was impressive as always. A herd of Pronghorn Antelope close to the road added an unexpected bonus to the incredible mountain scenery.
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When a friend asked if I would like to do a road trip to Death Valley this past January, how could I refuse.
This was the best time to experience Death Valley due to the temperatures. In the summer it is the hottest place in the USA. Temp should range from 38 to 65 so we had to bring warm and light clothes. We weren’t sure what to bring, but we are guys a pair of jeans, hiking pants, couple of shirts and warm jackets were all we needed. No need for four or five pairs of shoes !!
Off to Death Valley
We fly from Santa Fe to Las Vegas then our road trip begins as we drive toward Death Valley. The Nevada town of Pahrump was the last stop in Nevada before California and Death Valley. You just have to love a town called Pahrump!
We are in Death Valley. The lowest, hottest and driest place in the USA. This is truly a unique and odd place. I expected interesting scenery but I was taken aback by the incredible and uniqueness of the place. Only the pictures of the Artist Plate, The Devils Golf Course and Bad Water Basin can do Justus. They are in the slide show. It is a truly incredible place.
We had dinner at the Ranch Steak house which is quite the place. Lots of old west stuff on the walls. We were both a bit shocked at the prices. This is the only place for miles around and everything has to be shipped in but still, $48 for an ok steak. Well the beer was cold.
Day 2 in Death Valley
Today we started out on the Salt Marsh and it was cold. 30 some odd and windy. The little salt stream is supposed to have puppy fish. We saw none.
Next was the Keane Wonder Mine. A gold mine from the early 1900s. Fun to visit with an old mining engineer.
Then the Ubehebe crater. This is a volcano and the landscape is amazing. I was surprised that there were about 8 cars in the lot because we had seen none on the drive out. We hiked about half way around and up to Little Ubehebe. We had our lunch, PBJ sandwiches made in the morning, as we sat overlooking this amazing sight.
Next stop was Darwin falls, the only water in Death Valley. We hiked up to the falls, which are not big, maybe 12 to 15 feet but still nice. We found a photographer from Santa Fe there with a pro camera. His studio is in Santa Fe but I have not stopped in to see his work or the picture he took of the fall. On the way back, I wondered what happens to the river, stream actually. We followed it and eventually is just disappears into the sand.
Day 3 in Death Valley
The Mosaic Canyon trail leads up a canyon with many colored rock formations. A nice hike up a fairly flat canyon. We climb a bit then decided that it was late and well we didn’t want to climb the big rocks. One interesting thing is we kept running into the same groups of people at each stop. All nice folks and we all headed to the Mesquite Sand Dunes for a sunset docent tour.
The docent pointed out various tracks of the little critter that live on the dunes. Beatles, Kangaroo rats and other stuff. We saw a bug but no rats. We stayed until after sunset. With the setting sun the mountains become purple. Purple mountains, majesty.
Final Day in Death Valley
The final stop in Death Valley was the Golden Canyon trail. Again, we run into several groups from the day before. The trail leads up a canyon to the Red Rock Cathedral. Impressive sight. We got to the base and climb up a bit but decided we didn’t have time to go to the top. Also, it looked really hard. All the young kids did it so more power to them !!!!
An excellent road trip. It was colder than I had expected and I sort of would like to experience Death Valley in July when temperatures can reach 120 degrees. Then you would know you were in Death Valley !!!
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‘You take what the mountain give you! You must enjoy the experience’.That is a quote from a guest on one of my Santa Fe Footprints ski tours. The mountain was angry that day. The fog was thick and the wind was high. We did the lower mountain and it was not bad. As always, the runs at Ski Santa Fe are fun and can challenge you. I saw a small patch of blue sky and we decided to go up top. We rode the lift to Tesuque Peak. The view from the top is normally magnificent. Not today. The fog limited visibility to 20 feet. The wind blew me over. With skill and care we all made it down.
When I apologized for the mountain a guest set my mind at ease. This is skiing and you take what the mountain give and enjoy the experience.
I took guest up several days later and the mountain was much kinder. This day was what a Santa Fe ski experience normally is all about. No lift lines. Sunshine. 100 mile visibility. The mountain was still holding back. A bit of wind. I found the snow a bit hard. Not the normal white fluff that is Santa Fe’s calling card.
As I look out the window the snow is falling. The mountain is saying, ‘Come on! I got what you need!’
Don’t miss the Experience !!!!!
What to do after the great tours in Santa Fe
For those of you who have had a great time on one of the wonderful Santa Fe Footpirnts tours the question is what to do next? You have had a great experience, be it the Historic Walking tour, a Hiking tour, fun on the mountain with a Ski Santa Fe tour or a fascinating tour of a local Pueblo. You must experience the Sandia Tram. Most of you either arrived in New Mexico via the Albuquerque Sunport (ABQ) and or will leave the Land of Enchantment from that excellent airport. Please add a little time in you travel plans to take the ride on the Sandia Tram to the top of Sandia Peak. I recommend taking the tram just before sunset. You will not regret it.
My Sunset Ride on the Tram
This Sunday we did and Albuquerque afternoon. Part of this experience was checking out the new restaurant at the top of the Sandia Tram. The ride up the Tram is impressive no matter what time of day. To achieve the maximum experience you must do the sunset run. As the sun set the clouds turned pink and red. Venus was shining bright just above the silver crescent of the moon. The lights of Albuquerque began to twinkle. It was an Incredible sight !
The Ten 3
The sun set and the light came on. It was time for us to check out the new restaurant called Ten 3. The name Ten 3 refers to the altitude to Sandia Peak, 10,378 feet. I was impressed with the space. Fantastic views both north and south. The bar is very cool. I had a good local craft beer. We shared an appetizer board, which actually substituted for our dinner.
The twinkling Lights
The ride down was just as impressive because the lights of the city, the moon and the stars were shining bright. Let me conclude that either before of after you take your memorable tour with Santa Fe Footprints, you must experience the Sandia Tram.
Farolito Walk on Canyon Road on Christmas Eve.
Christmas in Santa Fe is one of my most favorite times of the year. Christmas in Santa Fe is magical. The trees in the plaza are filled with beautiful lights of many colors. There are free performances in the Cathedral by such groups as the Apprentices of the Santa Fe Opera. The famous Desert Chorale performs and numerous locations around town. Loretto Chapel, home of the miracle stairway, has a Christmas concert on Christmas Eve.
On of the most beloved events is the Christmas Eve walk up Canyon Road. The road is lined with farolitos. Not the plastic ones with electric lights but real ones. Paper bags with sand in the bottom and a candle burning in the middle. Many of the art galleries are open with bond fires out front with hot refreshments.
Of course, there is the shopping. Shopping in Santa Fe is unequaled. But, Christmas in Santa Fe is magical and for the reasons above and many more it should not be missed.
When you need to take a day off from the fantastic skiing or the incredible shopping, consider a tour of this historic city. Click here for more information about a great Historic Walking Tour.