At first, I considered writing two versions of this journal: one for my private journal, and one for my web site. I thought some of my more private thoughts were not worth sharing. However, by the time I got through it all, I realized that those ideas were what made this story worth telling. So the only thing I have cleaned up are a few (though not all) references to specific people and places to protect their identity.
We flew out of Maryland and had a reasonable direct flight into Albuquerque on Southwest Airlines. Jeff was fighting a sinus cold, but otherwise we were in fairly good spirits. Audra and I had just gotten back from Maine, which was extremely relaxing – if a bit rainy and cold – and the excitement of going to a new place on the other side of the country was keeping us going.
Kristy got up early to go ballooning while the rest of us stayed at the hotel. Since she had the car, we didn’t have much choice, but I definitely welcomed the chance to just stay in one place for a little while and get my bearings. Once Kristy returned, we explored Taos.
The Santa Fe School of Cooking was our primary reason for going to Santa Fe, about an hour south of Taos. Well, to be clear, Jeff wasn’t interested in the cooking class, but he came along for the ride and hung out in town while we attended the class. The cooking school, now in its 20th year, is also attached to a market where you can purchase just about any form of regional chile ingredients and cookware. The menu for our class was labeled “Traditional New Mexican” and included:
Chicken or cheese enchiladas
Green chile sauce
Red chile sauce from pods
Posole Pinto beans
Capirotada (pecan bread pudding)
Wednesday was the eagerly anticipated “Taos Box” branch of the Rio Grande with the Los Rios River Runners. Jeff had done some rafting before, and Kristy had recently done a rafting tour of the Grand Canyon, but Audra and I hadn’t been rafting since 2006 when we rafted the Lehigh.
We all agreed that a trip to a spa would be a good experience after a day of rafting. Taos Spa & Tennis Club – right across the road from our hotel – was an easy choice. I chose the 50-minute massage with a basic facial. This was my first professional massage. My masseur put on some new-agey music that immediately set the tone. What it lacked in musical integrity, it made up for in terms of creating an atmosphere that went with the land and the general vibe of the area we were visiting. The basic facial, while not the full treatment, seemed to help clear up some of my acne, at least temporarily.
The local papers were advertising a balloon festival in Angel Fire. On the way, we came upon the small shop of one Harry Coca, a local drum crafter, at 630 Pasos De Canon. We pulled up and the place looked like it was closed. I called the number posted on the door, but before anyone picked up, a truck pulled in and Harry got out and welcomed us warmly. Apparently he was watching us on camera from a spy satellite or something. He opened the shop for us and welcomed us in.
Jeff arranged for a pick up in the morning to go rock climbing and was away for the bulk of the day, so we took the opportunity to see Taos Pueblo, the oldest dwelling in North America. They make you pay for a camera permit, which is totally worth it in terms of capturing the memories, but it makes you feel a bit dirty. You aren’t allowed to take pictures of any people without their permission, and you need to be careful in some places (like the chapel, where cameras are not allowed). This wasn’t much different than some of the protocol we saw in Rome.
Audra and I returned to hit the ground running with a BU Alumni theatre production (Laffing Room Only) and my summer internship with Greenwood. We also had the additional joyful task of filing a complaint with the owners of the ranch in Las Vegas to see what they could do for us in terms of a refund. They responded with an offer of a week in one of their other properties, but we declined because we simply couldn’t take a chance again. We had some discussion amongst ourselves about reporting the problem to the New Mexico tourism board, but I really wanted to keep things as low key as possible and move on as quickly as possible. In fact, the money was secondary at that point. Moving on was very important.
Most of our NEW MEXICO trip journal and pictures for the trip have been posted.