Our main destination for Saturday night was Santa Fe. By interstate it would take about an hour; but taking scenic backroads and making stops at several spots turned it into an all day exploration.
After checking out of our hotel we took I-40 (which felt strange since we drive the same highway everyday back home, nearly 1700 miles east) a few miles to the Turquoise Trail. More scenic than the interstate, but it took a few miles before we shook off the sprawl of Albuquerque. After about 20 minutes we started seeing the views we were expecting in New Mexico:
Part way up the route we took Hwy 57A – don’t be fooled by the name, it’s really a dirt road. However, it was a nice detour as the driving was necessarily slower which lead to some interesting sights, including a tarantula(!) crossing the road.
not bothered by us in the slightest
we saw lots of this along the road
As we approached I-25 we returned to pavement and continued up 57A past Cochiti Lake to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. The $5 entrance fee per car gets you views of the following:
We hiked into the canyon which had a gradual incline and became progressively more narrow.
view from the canyon
At the end of the canyon the trail turned sharply up, leading to some beautiful views of the hoodoos and the larger landscape.
view from top
click to see the full panorama
After enjoying the view from the top we made our way back through the canyon, then took the short cave spur through some beautiful countryside.
We really enjoyed the views at Kasha-Katuwe and would definitely return.
From here we returned to I-25 and visited Casa Abril Vineyards, located about halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Tasting was $9 (and included marcona almonds and chocolate covered raisins), so we decided to split one. We’ve visited vineyards all over the world, and this was one of the strangest tastings we’ve ever experienced.
The owner was pouring tastes at 15-20 minute intervals, and seemed rather put out that we asked to go faster. He also chided Leandra right away on how she was holding her glass (from the bowl rather than the stem)… bad move. Also strange, he insisted on starting with the reds and ending with the whites, definitely a first.
They seem to be putting a lot of money into the barrels and other components, but the wines themselves just weren’t that interesting.There were two reds that had good flavor, but their price points made them a mediocre value, so we left without buying any wine, a rarity for us.
After our tasting we headed up I-25 to the Alameda Inn in Santa Fe for the evening. The front desk suggested Rooftop Pizzeria for dinner, so we walked around old town Santa Fe before getting an outdoor table and enjoying a well-earned pizza.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi