Sunday, September 6, 2009

September Santa Fe Siesta

For many years I would visit my seventy-something-year-old mother in Santa Fe in September. She didn't live there, but would annually load her dogs into her Toyota and drive west from Michigan to satisfy her hunger of all things Indian and Georgia O'Keefe. I've been there several times with my husband as well, but my favorite month to visit this town is definitely September. The days are still long and warm, but cool at night - one year there was even a snow storm that covered the mountaintop. And it's a fun city to visit for those short on dollars and time, there is no surcharge on viewing the beautiful buildings and mountains, only the Pueblos do that.

Everyone is on a budget these days, and the great thing about Santa Fe is that it is a drivable distance from Dallas, if you enjoy a beautiful 9 hour road trip (well the first hour and the last 3 hours anyhow). While there are some wonderful hotels on the square that charge top-dollar, there are many others in the city that are very inexpensive. Shopping on a budget can be satisfied at Jackalope or try the downtown Five and Dime, they have some very unique mementos you can load in the car to take home. If you're willing to splurge a little more, check out the jewelry being sold by the Indian vendors on the square, or in Ortega's which also has some delicious clothing. Or as an alternative, the Museum of Indian Art & Culture is having their annual book sale on September 12th this year, they sell donated art and antique books at incredibly good prices.

If you're looking for a more cultural tour, then plan for a gold rush of food, art and architecture. If you're driving out to Santa Fe, along the way listen to the CD of 109 East Palace by Jennet Conant, a recounting of the development of Los Alamos and the founding of the nuclear bomb. When in Santa Fe, you can actually enter the store that now occupies this address, it's pretty much untouched by time. The drive up to Los Alamos is one of the most beautiful, winding steep drives you'll ever experience. While Santa Fe has a Farmer's Market, the one at the top of the mesa in Los Alamos is much, much better. You can visit many of the sites in the book while there too. On your way out of town, the main street looks like it drops off the edge of the earth, you can look across the valley and see Santa Fe tucked up against it's mountain.

Another wondrously beautiful drive is down the Turquoise Trail to Madrid an artists enclave and home of an incredible honky-tonk bar (on the bend in the road, look for all the Mercedes in the parking lot). Next to their parking lot is a row of little houses, each has a different boutique shop, it's a great place to shop for birthday gifts.

Food? Well I've previously recounted my experience of dining at 8 restaurants in one day. All I can say is if I can do it, you can too - it doesn't have to be exactly the same way. There are a multitude of small, local places like Maria's where you can enjoy a strong margarita and freshly made tortillas. Or enjoy a homemade pizza and an inexpensive glass of wine at Piccolino in remodeled fast food building out on Agua Fria, another local favorite. Just remember small bites at each place, limit your alcohol if driving, and take a siesta mid-day, after all this is Santa Fe!

So lets say you can take off in the early afternoon on a Friday, you could be having dinner in Santa Fe! Then spend all of Saturday and Sunday enjoying the city and it's culture, leave for Dallas after brunch on Monday and still have time to relax at home before returning to work.

It could happen.

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