When: October 2017
Where: Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Chimayo, New Mexico
I’m huge Wilco fan. One of all-time favorite songs from the band is called “Hummingbird.” In particular, I adore the line “a fixed bayonet through the great southwest.”
Whenever I hear that I’m inspired to make the trek from the mighty Northeast to the great Southwest. I finally get that chance in October of 2017.
My cousin was just one of the few individuals who graduated from the Air Force Pararescue team in Albuquerque. I was fortunate enough to attend the ceremony, which also gave me a chance to get a little taste of the Land of Enchantment. On a side note, my cousin went with me during my first trip to Italy. It was his first flight and he was beyond nervous. Now he’s jumping out of planes. I’m extremely proud of how far he’s come along.
I traveled south on 95 and departed from BWI. The reason? There were direct flights to Albuquerque. This made the short hour and half drive totally worth the four-hour flight. As an added bonus, it had been dreary and grey at home, so when I got off the plane the abundant sunshine was a warm welcome.
After picking-up our sweet Dodge Caravan, we headed to our hotel in Midtown. There wasn’t a whole lot going in this area, but I quickly noticed that everything was 15-20 minutes away. The best part of the hotel was that when you walked outside first thing in the morning you could clearly see the hundreds of hot air balloons at the Balloon Fiesta.
Since I was spending time with my family, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to explore Albuquerque. I did, however, do a mini, DIY Breaking Bad tour where I saw Walt and Skylar’s house, their car wash, and a couple of other filming locations like Taco Sal. There are several Breaking Bad tours, so I highly recommend you do that if you’re a fan of the show – and honestly, who isn’t?
I also recommend to go check out the city’s beautiful biological park. I know that every city has a park, but Albuquerque did this right. And I think it should become a law that every city adds their own BioPark.
There’s also plenty of microbreweries in the city. I tried out a newer one called the Abbey Brewing Co. at Monk’s Corner, which is affiliated with the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert. This means that each beer was brewed by monks. And, yes, they brew was good.
After a couple of days in Albuquerque we headed north on route 25 to Santa Fe. We have a family friend who lives here, so obviously we were going to make the short hour drive to visit.
Santa Fe is an awesome little city that’s rich in Native American and Spanish history. It’s also known for it’s bustling art scene. Just take a stroll down Canyon Road and will be greeted by gallery after gallery. There’s also the interactive Meow Wolf art exhibit – which is unique only to Santa Fe.
While in downtown, you have to check out the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Palace of the Governors, and the Miraculous Staircase at the Loretto Chapel. The unusual, spiral staircase was such a feat to construct that it’s said to have been built by St. Joseph.
Santa Fe is also home to several museums like the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Museum of International Folk Art. I visited the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture that focuses on the Native American cultures of southwestern Native Americans. Here you’ll find everything from artifacts to replicas of shelters throughout the generations to some modern artwork.
I also enjoyed that wherever I went, I could try out a refreshing brew from the Santa Fe Brewing Co. There’s also an oxygen bar in town, but I didn’t find that nearly as fun.
About an half an hour north of Santa Fe is Chimayo. This little town is known internationally for its chapel that was built in 1816. Word is that the dirt found in a back room has healing power. In fact, there dozens and dozens of crutches hanging on the wall from people who claimed that the dirt healed them. You’re actually allowed to take some dirt with. Since I’m known to be on the clumsy-side, I took some with me for a rainy day.
I was also told that on Good Friday, somewhere around 100,000 people make the pilgrimage from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe to Chimayo. No wonder it’s been dubbed the “Lourdes of America.”
Since we took the scenic route from Santa Fe, we also stopped by Shidoni and checked out an impressive sculpture garden.
What to Eat
New Mexican cuisine! This is pretty much a delicious blend of Mexican, Pueblo Native American, and Cowboy Chuckwagon influences. My favorite dishes were the Sopapillas, carnitas at Little Anita’s, and the Carne Adovada Pequeña at the Rancho De Chimayo. That last dish was my fav and I washed it down with a prickly pear frozen lemonade margarita because that’s how I roll. Expect must dishes to come in a green or red chile sauce – personally I prefered the green.
I’d say expect to spend around $2,200 ($600 for the flight, $600 lodging, and $1,000 for the car rental). Of course, that could fluctuate when you go. Prices will be higher if you’re there during the Balloon Fiesta, for example.