Well, we're back from Santa Fe. I can't say we got a warm welcome home -- it was more of a scorching welcome. The weather here was completely out of control, with temperatures soaring into the 100s and humidity in the high 90% range. Now that DC isn't completely exploding, I'm out of my post-vacation funk, and I've got loads of pictures and bits to share.
Santa Fe is nothing like DC. The days are hot but dry, the evenings cool and breezy. It's weather that calls for linen pants and light, airy sweaters. That's what I wore for 6 wonderful days.
The weather and surroundings in Santa Fe were, without a doubt, the highlight of the trip. Not since I lived in Israel have I been in a place with such beautiful scenery everywhere you look. Desert in the background, mountains in the distance, a hot, dry haze in the air, but the promise of cool breeze in early morning and evening. We took advantage of those cool evenings to eat outdoors, and restaurants in Santa Fe have beautiful outdoor seating. At one restaurant, Aqua Santa, we ate under wooden beams laced with vines and supporting a beautiful sour cherry tree. A couple plump, red sour cherries were the perfect end to the meal.
Not surprisingly, Santa Fe had a beautiful farmers' market that sat adjacent to an artists' market in the center of town. We strolled through both on our first day there, and came home with the motherlode of produce, bread, and some great marinated feta. Two of the loaves we bought were focaccia-style rounds, topped with onions, potatoes, and green garlic scapes. That, the feta, and a heaping spoonful of raspberry jam made for an easy lunch on day 1. Full and powered up for the day, we went back into town to visit the Georgia O'Keefe museum and check out a couple of galleries.
Day 2 was July 4th. Santa Fe has a sweet tradition of serving a citywide pancake breakfast to any and all of its 70,000 residents, as well as all tourists, who show up. I've never seen so many pancakes in my life! We actually didn't eat the pancakes -- we had plans for something a little more spicy -- but we passed by a truck that had some mostly empty pitchers of batter, and I couldn't resist snapping a couple shots.
New Mexico's specialty is chiles -- hatch chiles, in particular. They're green and spicy, but not too spicy, and they most often get turned into a pale green sauce that's just delicious atop enchiladas, flautas, burritos, huevos rancheros, and pretty much anything else. I'm just as much a fan of the dusky red chiles as I am of the more piquant and tangy green ones, so I asked for "Christmas" atop most every dish I ordered, and received an equal portion of each.
To top of the 4th celebrations, our crowd had a full-out barbeque at home. After grilled chicken and whole fish, small pieces of salmon wrapped in banana leaves, corn on the cob, roasted peppers and zucchini, and probably more, we were stuffed.
The best day by far, for me at least, was our last day in town. My respiratory infection had abated and I was finally able to hike, so D, her stepbrother Adam, and I drove out to Bandelier, about 45 minutes out of the city, where we hiked down and back up a mountain, then ducked into some old-school cave homes that, given the heat ourdoors, stayed surprisingly cool. Toward the beginning of our second hike, we saw the most adorable Texan women strolling along the path. How great are their outfits?
We spent one of our most bizarre days in a small town called Taos, just over an hour outside of Santa Fe. Taos is an artists' colony, and the folks who live there march to the tune of their own drums. Even their mailboxes smack of free-spiritedness.
Santa Fe is also a free-spirited place. Fresh juniper berries grow on the trees, tablecloths have the funkiest patterns, and everyone wears bright colors all the time. It may not be my style, exactly, but I loved it. I loved the breeze and the dry heat, the spicy food and the funky art. If I could go again, I'd do it in a heartbeat.