State 4, and off to New Mexico! I love this whole south west area, and even came back after the slight downs of Missouri and Kansas inspired by such good times in neighbouring Arizona. Again, it’s the colours that really connect with me. The endless blue skies and delicious cheap Mexican food helps too.
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM | Brilliant exhibition in Santa Fe. O’Keeffe is from Wisconsin but loves the area, and it’s inspiring to see the surrounding landscape so expressively captured in her work.
OJO CALIENTE SPA | With a car at this point, I’d driven from (very quiet) Las Vegas, NM, on to Taos and charming El Pueblo Lodge. I splurged on a day at this great retreat nearby, followed by a night of live music at Taos Inn. Also check out: Bob Cat Bites, where I had a good celeb spot – Hilary Swank!
ALBUQUERQUE | Home of Breaking Bad. Stayed at the nice enough Route 66 hostel, conveniently located near the quaint little old town. Stumbled on the ‘first annual Elvis festival’ complete with crooners of all shapes and sizes (and abilities). Great Mexican food, of course.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
SANTA FE | the state capital is just an hour from Albuquerque. There’s loads to see: downtown is The Plaza surrounded by adobe buildings and lovely St Francis Cathedral, plus the Loretto Chapel and its famous staircase nearby. Also check out: brilliant Silver Saddle Motel (I had the Calamity Jane room) and African Jamboo café for a different twist on dinner.
CHIMAYO | is a cluster of plazas, and close to Santa Fe if you have a car. It’s tiny and religious, the latter of which is not normally my thing at all, but it was calming to look around. The name derives from a native name for a local landmark, the hill of Tsi Mayoh.
PUYE CLIFF DWELLINGS | between AD 900 and 1580, up to 1500 pueblo Indians lived lived here in the Santa Clara Canyon. The remains are amazing, but unfortunately a lame compulsory tour really let’s the experience down! Also check out: Kachinas, colourful hopi indian models.
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
CANYON ROAD | is an Arts district in Santa Fe, commanding a half mile length road of art galleries and the odd restaurant. It’s predominantly large, expensive outdoor sculptures though, so nothing in the ‘souvenir’ category!
TESUQUE FLEA MARKET | I drove to this twice, as the first time it was only just opening. I don’t remember being that impressed with the wares. Have a poke around Santa Fe Railway Flea Market instead: again, didn’t think it was anything special, but a bit more going on.
BLIZZARDS | I had a car in this state (essential) and drove to Abiquiu, aka Georgia O’Keeffe country. Unfortunately Cerro Perdernal – the mountain often featured in her paintings – was completely shrouded in mist. I drove further to Cuba and eventually Durango, amidst a growing blizzard. Not recommended driving conditions!
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
CARLSBAD CAVERNS | and the main attraction of the same name, where the force of water has decorated the cave in an almost endless array of spectacular limestone formations.
AND KNOW THIS: so apparently dancing while wearing your sombrero is illegal in New Mexico. Honestly!