Black Mesa Winery
We arrived at the Black Mesa Winery in Velarde, NM early Friday afternoon. As this was our Harvest Host for the night, we had plenty of time to sample the wines - all made with New Mexican grapes. The owners, Linda and Jerry Burd, have about 4 acres in cultivation which they use to make their Burd and Velarde wines. The very talented Linda designed all their labels. We managed to sample over 12 wines by sharing our tastings and restocked our wine cabinet with several bottles. While we were enjoying the wine, a dynamic lady entered leading a tour group. Turns out the Dynamic Cindy owns New Mexico Wine Tours. Obviously we had a lot of stories to share about our love of wine. Scott and Murphy were very knowledgeable about the wines and the area. Scott knowing that we were Jeepers told us about a short cut over the mountain to Ojo Caliente.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs
Scott’s directions led us to a crossroads town of Pilar where we spotted a little BBQ joint called Train Wreck. We were going to eat dinner at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa but this place smelled so good we had to stop. It did not disappoint. Mike said the ribs were To Die For! The owner said they should be since he smoked them for 16 hours. Fortified with BBQ, we tackled the switch back climb over the mountain to Ojo Caliente. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to the hot springs for their famous mud bath, however, there were plenty of unique pools to experience including a soda mineral water pool. As the sun set and the stars emerged, we soaked in silence letting the tranquil mineral waters wash over us.
Blue Mesa Alpaca Farm
On Saturday we settled in at the Blue Mesa Alpaca Farm just outside of Santa Fe. This is also a Harvest Host site and Bob, the owner, gave us an in-depth tour of the farm. With over 60 alpacas and half a dozen horses this was truly a working farm. Alpacas are a curious bunch. They all gathered at the edge of their pens to see who we were, and were especially interested in Lyra. The older males were kept in their own pens while the young males were put together in another pen. The females seemed to have the run of the place (as they should!). The mothers would “hum” to their babies. To our delight, a day old alpaca was awkwardly trotting after his mother. Too cute! Check out Lyra’s blog to read about her adventures on the farm.
Santa Fe Churches
A quick drive to Santa Fe gave us plenty of time to explore. Throngs of tourists blocked the downtown Plaza and countless vendors packed into the city center park. Being Labor Day weekend, we did expect crowds but nothing like this. Our first stop was to see the staircase at the Loretto Chapel. After shuffling through the long line, we finally stepped into the tiny church. The staircase is a mystery. The chapel needed a new staircase but there was no money to build one. A stranger came into town and built it without any nails or screws. He never gave his name and he didn’t accept any payment. He was never seen again.
Just down the street is the San Miguel Mission. It is the oldest continually active church in the country. We have visited many California Missions and we love getting a chance to visit one. An Original beam that held up the loft dated back to 1710.
The last of the churches we visited was the Catholic Basilica St. Francis of Assisi. Mike decided to skip this church and take a seat outside. As I walked through the large ornate doors, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A gift shop packed full of religious trinkets! I was flabbergasted! The main church was very beautiful but the whole experience was tainted by the tacky gift shop.
The famous Canyon Road is an art lover’s heaven. The road stretches for just a mile but it would take days to visit all the galleries that lined the street. We abandoned the Art Scene at the half-way point and met fellow full-timers, Chris and Rachel of “Itsawonderfulrvlife” at the Second Street Brewery. It’s always fun to meet other full-timers like us. After a few beers and swapping stories of the ups and downs of the road life, we said good bye and true to form – hit the road.
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Sunday was the day that I, Kat, had been waiting for: it was Georgia O’Keeffe museum day! As we turned down Grant Street my steps quickened and my heart raced. Finally! I was going to see HER museum. O’Keeffe is one of my all-time favorite artists. I have had the privilege of seeing her works at other museums but this place was special. As the doors opened, I left the world outside and entered hers. I thought of nothing but the works hanging before me. I transcended into O’Keeffe’s world and even though it was only for a little while, I will always cherish the experience. Mike liked it, too.
Downtown Santa Fe
The streets were packed and our bellies were grumbling as we wended our way to the Thunderbird Restaurant. This is the only restaurant on The Plaza that has a dining balcony. Fortified with margaritas and lunch we joined the throngs on the plaza. Let the shopping begin! We spent the afternoon popping in and out of vendor tents looking for unique gifts and Indian jewelry. Then we spotted the Santa Fe Honey Salón. The Honey Guy was handing out honey tastings as fast as he was talking. The choices seemed endless. The best part, all the honey was locally created by Colorado and New Mexico bees. With a couple of jars tucked away in our bag we continued our search for Indian jewelry. At Sissel’s, on Lincoln Street, we met the owner who knew her stuff. She knew exactly which stones came from which mine. The store wasn’t a flashy tourist store nor was it fancy but it was packed with amazing authentic Indian jewelry. We settled on a few Navajo bracelets that we are sure will make a few of our family members happy Christmas morning.
Back at the alpaca farm, we ran into Bob. We spent the evening listening to his stories about the area and places to go the next time we visit. Our favorite story was about the classic Argentina tango. He tells it like he is dancing it.
Traveling isn’t just about seeing new places.
It’s also about the people who live there.
We do not receive any compensation for the products or places we recommend.
Mike & Kat
Kat left teaching after 18 years to travel throughout the USA with her husband, Mike, who is an engineer for a Power generation company.