Things I did not see coming after finishing my last post on my southwestern trip in June: a) The Delta variant’s arrival in the United States, and subsequent rapid rise in cases and deaths, and b) Getting a tenure-track political science post, after years of working as an adjunct and in temporary “visiting” positions. Both these hit at the same time. The mix of bitterness–or something making to that–about the pandemic getting so much worse, largely due to low vaccination levels, and excitement over the new job? It was an odd combination. And then I was busy or agog at whatever horrible news the day brought. The trip seemed like a brief, manic little dream–well, manic, if you exclude the mix of strenuous (to me) hiking in hanging out in a ’60s trailer and eating ice cream and such in Taos.
Now that the worst of the pandemic is seemingly over, or over for now, and I’m planning a new trip out west for December, a different sort of west this time (more later), my thoughts have returned to the trip. Will I be fine with eating inside restaurants more often now, like last time? Will going into stores and museums seem like fun again, or too stressful and odd? I’m not sure yet.
Even without all the COVID insanity and the new job, writing about Santa Fe and Taos was going to be harder, especially the former. The above two are the best I really have of Santa Fe, aside from photos I took at sunset from Fort Marcy Park outside of downtown.
I spent most of a day-and-a-half otherwise in museums and galleries, stores for everything from top-of-the-line, custom-made cowboy hats to vintage clothing to records and books, the amazing state capital (aka the Roundhouse) with its multi-million art collection, the local farmer’s and artists market in the Railyard District, and on and on. I enjoyed the much-ballyhooed Meow Wolf (where taking photos is verboten), but what will probably stick in my most over time is having Roundhouse galleries all to myself, spending all day exploring an unfamiliar city when I hadn’t even gone out much in a familiar one in so long, and one stop in a record and bookstore, where I picked this graphic novel up for a ludicrous $8 or so. A few more shots anyway, below!
Next it was off to Taos, where I spent two largely blissful (although for a couple of hours on the second day a bit too hot) hiking, largely cooking on my own inside of a stationery 1960s RV, exploring a few local places here and there (including the stellar Millicent Rogers Museum, with its extensive collection of southwestern Native American art and crafts), and fairly strenuous hiking to 11,000 feet, then having a mix of pistachio and Mexican chocolate ice cream.
Of all the places I visited, Taos had the most varied landscapes, from flat and dry to high and wet, with even some leftover snow pack around, all within 30 to 40 minutes of each other. Also, did I mention that I stayed in a 1960s RV? I think I had that in an intro post, right? Well, yes. Go to Taos and stay at the Hotel Luna Mystica, if you ever have the time.
And then those sunsets. I had never seen a sky at sunset or dusk (or sunrise or dawn) this big and varied anywhere, ever.
The two nights at Luna Mystica and hanging out in Taos were so much slower paced than my Santa Fe visit, or really the rest of the trip. Going there toward the end, then, ended up being nearly perfect. It’s a beautiful area, and I want to return at some hopefully not-too-distant point.
From there, it was back to Albuquerque, snapping photos along the way to Santa Fe, and then the scenic Turquoise Trail between Santa Fe and ABQ. Then I took a few Breaking Bad location photos for my own fun and giggles, bought a Gus Fring votive candle, and headed to an airport hotel. That was it.
Next on the travel agenda after this and, if it counts, Clarksdale MS in October? The Bay Area and Big Sur, in early December 2021. With a booster shot, it’s on. How different it will be than last time out? Who knows? Who knows anything now? Just enjoy the moments. We’ll all end up being unable to enjoy more on this planet, just like the man below found out. (I bet he would have worn a mask and been vaccinated, though. Too many days of work to miss otherwise.)