You can easily get between Taos and Sante Fe via the freeway, but there is something special about the leisurely and scenic hi- road. You will find yourself winding through small quaint little towns, some with some history and some with little art galleries. And of course, the views!
Our first stop was Santuario de Chimayo. This holy place that many believe holds a miracle associated with a crucifixion and possesses curative powers. Two chapels, built in 1816 and 1857, are part of a yearly Easter pilgrimage site. It was started by U.S. soldiers as part of the Bataan Death March and is continued today by thousands.
As we continued onward, we were welcomed with the view of Trucha Peaks. In June, you can still see snow in the mountains.
Side note: I purposely left the wires in the corner of this photo. This was a “drive by shooting”, meaning I take pictures while my husband is driving. If we pulled over for every photo I wanted to take, we would never get to where we are going. 😆
The Town of Taos
Unlike many ski towns, the town of Taos and the ski resorts are not next to each other. The town is located in the valley and is easy to get around. Taos reminded me of Sedona, Arizona with its artsy vibe and good eats. Everywhere you look, there is an art gallery and restaurant. So, what do you do when you are hungry and there are 100 different choices for food? You ask a local, of course. When we asked one of the owners of a shop where to go, he said The Gorge Bar and Grill.
This place has something for everyone and did not disappoint. I’m a sucker for a good club sandwich so I passed on having a salad and went all out for their Club. As you can see, the portions are plenty and the looks do not lie. We were fortunate enough to sit outside on their balcony which overlooks the Historic Plaza. Check out their website to make reservations.
Just Outside of Taos
After leaving Taos, we drove a short distance to the Rio Grande Gorge. Water coming straight from Colorado sweeps under this amazing bridge. Coming from Taos, drive across the bridge to the other side to park. You can walk back to the bridge to look down from it or you can park on the left-hand side of the road in the rest area and walk a short distance to get this view. There is a lot less people with this option and it is a get chance to use the clean bathrooms. If you like geology, this is an excellent stop. You can read about the geology here, by Linda Thompson.
After leaving the picnic area and getting back onto the road, we were welcomed by this flock of Big Horn sheep. I had never seen wild ones before so it made for a fun surprise, especially seeing how easily they could jump right over the fence. I probably could have taken better pictures had it not been for the one tourist that started walking toward them. Please, don’t be that tourist. They are wild animals and you end up ruining it for everyone. Plus, you look dumb.
Not too far from the gorge is an interesting group of homes within the Earthship Biotecture. I had never heard of these types of houses before visiting this place. They are a group of private homes and nightly rental homes. Apparently, these types of houses exist all over the world. They are highly sustainable and use recycled materials such as bottles and cans to build. They also provide electricity, potable water, contained sewage treatment and sustainable food production. Truly amazing! We passed on the tour because of timing but the visitor center taught us so much about the whole process.
On our way back on the 285, we stopped off at Ojo Caliente, a resort and hot springs. I really wish we had done some planning and brought our suits because this place looks amazing. They have many different types of pools and the resort looks very nice. I could easily see making this place a separate weekend vacation spot. Girls trip anyone??
The last stop on our trip was Gabriel’s. Again, this place was recommended by a local. Just on the outskirts of Sante Fe, this lovely place offers wonderful Southwestern cuisine. Again, we were happy with our meal, especially the tableside guacamole. Be sure to make reservations because as big as it was, it was packed. Which is always a good sign, right? The only thing I was not impressed with was the tortilla soup. I admit I am used to Mexican tortilla soup which is more creamy resembling enchilada sauce. This soup was like actual broth soup and tasted nothing like what I am used to. Other than that, we left with full bellies and happy with our first tasting of sopapillas.
If you are needing a quick break from the art scene of Sante Fe, Bandelier National Monument is a great day trip worth a visit. It is an easy hour drive from Sante Fe and 30 minutes from the quaint town of Los Alamos. If you are traveling during the summer months, you will want to venture out to Bandelier first to beat the heat.
Bandelier National Monument
This area dates back over 10,000 years and has fantastic ruins from the Ancestral Pueblo people. You can see everything by taking the loop from the Visitors Center. Plan on hiking 1 to 2 hours, depending on your level. The one-hour hike will allow you to see the cliff dwellings and Big Kiva (as seen in the photo below). The two-hour hike will take you all the way out to Alcove House but requires you to climb some ladders. I did not climb the ladders because, well, I just don’t climb big ladders. My family did climb them however and thought it was really neat. Whichever hike you choose, bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen. For those of you who love camping, they have one campground near the park.
On the Main Loop Trail, you will see the ground level housing and Big Kiva, continuing along the mountainside will be two sets of cliff dwellings. While walking along, watch your step along the pathways as you will be walking along preserved pathways. If you look closely, you will also be able to see petroglyphs. There is one area, which is behind protection, that you can view original decoration painted on the wall of the housing.
On your way back to the Visitors Center, you will walk along the river and give thanks to the trees if you’re avoiding the heat. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife. I did not even see the deer until my son pointed them out to me.
Satisfying your Hunger
After hiking the morning away, you surely will be ready for some grub. We headed back to the town of Los Alamos, which is about a 30-minute drive. We kind of had a thing going for brewpubs so we chose to eat at Parjarito Brewpub and Grill. They have a great menu assortment and I ultimately decided to go more on the healthy side with tortilla soup and caesar salad, and a cold beer. OK, maybe that wasn’t so healthy. Everything was excellent and I highly recommend it.
The Town of Los Alamos
After filling our bellies, we ventured out to see the town of Los Alamos. This is the birthplace of the first atomic bomb. We visited the Bradbury Science Museum to learn all about the bomb and the Manhattan Project. Testing for these bombs was done in the town of Alamogordo. The museum is free so even if you are not a huge science nerd, it is worth spending at least a half an hour checking out the displays. They have a great interactive area in the back for kids to keep them entertained if they are not able to quite grasp the concept of nuclear physics. And by kids, I meant me.
We were lucky enough to enjoy a festival they had going on in town. It was spread out all across the downtown area and made for a nice afternoon. I love flower lined streets, don’t you? If you choose to have a picnic instead of eating out, Ashley Pond on Central Ave is a beautiful place to relax in a park like setting.
I loved visiting Bandelier and Los Alamos. Of course, I earned another patch for my blanket. Are you visiting New Mexico anytime soon? Is Bandelier National Monument on your bucket list?
In the southwestern corner of New Mexico lies a one of a kind type of sand dune, unlike any other type of dune. White Sands National Monument is the largest gypsum dune field in the world, providing miles of white grainy sand. White Sands has been on my “bucket list” and last week I finally had the opportunity to explore this area.
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The interesting thing about White Sands is that it is kind of in the middle of nowhere. You either live near here and day trip in for a visit, or you are driving through to go somewhere else. The closest town of Alamogordo is 15 miles away and provides ample eating and lodging sources. If you are planning a trip to the dunes, give yourself enough time to explore the dunes and the town of Alamogordo. Since we were driving through, we spent 24 hours in the area and felt that was thoroughly enough time to enjoy the sites.
The town and the dunes are nestled in between two sets of Mountain ranges, the Sacramento Mountains and the San Andres Mountains. This view is of the Sacramento Mountains. As you can see, they make their own weather. I knew I wanted to be at the dunes around sunset so first, we set off to check out the New Mexico Museum of Space History. I would highly recommend this museum, with or without kids. It has great space artifacts such as moon rocks and replicas of satellites and missiles. On the walls, you will see photographs of all the people who have been inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame. On one of the higher floors, there is an excellent overlook of the Tularosa Basin, including Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range. If you’re really into rockets, the Missile Range has a museum which is free.
White Sand Dunes National Monument
Before heading out to the dunes, be sure to grab any food you may want to bring because once you get there, there really isn’t much. Upon entering, you can get a map of the Dunes Drive when you pay the entrance fee. The fee is $5 for adults and free for children, or just show your Interagency Access Pass. **TIP #1: If you have kids and have the room, pick up a sledding disk at Walmart in town for $5. If you don’t have the room, I believe they may rent them at the Visitor’s Center. Although, if your kids are over the age of 8, I would pass on the disks. The dunes are not that steep and my kids (13 & 11) quickly lost interest.
As you could see from the first photo, the clouds were building up along the mountain ridges. I was hoping for a spectacular sunset but knew that I could also get nothing but cloud cover. As we drove out, we stopped along the Interdune Boardwalk. It is a short little walk and was good to stretch the legs. Here, you can view the vegetation and animal life such as this baby rattlesnake. I was told that snakes are not common, so some might say we were “lucky” to see this little guy. I’m not sure I would use the word “lucky” though. This is the closest zoom my husband could get without disturbing him.
After I ran back to the car, we proceeded to drive out to the Heart of the Sands area. The dunes are a touch steeper here and have less vegetation, providing the photography background I was looking for. It was beautiful hanging out and watching the clouds come in, the light going from light purple to deep blue. And although I did not get the gorgeous sunset I was hoping for, we witnessed an amazing thunder and lightning storm.
**Tip #2- Before you go, make sure you check out the notifications page on the White Sands website. It tells about heat advisories and road closures. The road to the monument will close if they are doing testing.
We had a great time visiting, as I am sure you will too. One last tip: the local Walmart offers great salads, fresh and ready to go. I don’t visit that many Walmarts, but I have never seen these large size ones before. They were perfect for bringing out to the dunes. We tend to eat large lunches and smaller dinners while traveling, so these were just perfect.
A few years ago I heard that a musical instrument museum was being built in the northern end of the city. I didn’t think much about it, I mean really, how could a museum of instruments be interesting? Boy, was I wrong! If you live anywhere near Phoenix or are planning a visit, this museum would be a wonderful way to beat the heat and simply enjoy a few hours.
The best thing they did with this museum is they made it highly interactive. Upon entering the museum, you are given a headset that allows you to fully immerse yourself. It is a completely wild experience! More on that in a minute. When you arrive, head for the middle of the museum, the stairs around the inlay map of the world (which I just love). Upstairs, you will find the galleries that allow you to put on your headset and visit different places around the world.
The galleries are broken up into regions and seamlessly continue from one to the next. My advice is to start on one end of the museum and go from there. As you put on your headphones, the music playing in your ears will change from exhibit to exhibit. You can go from screen displaying the drumbeats of Africa to Classical Austrian chamber music to Spanish Flamenco. It is truly extrordinary! It is not uncommon to see people dancing in front of the exhibit they are watching on the screens.
This is what makes the museum a special experience for any person of any age. Not only do you hear the music of the world but you can also see all the different types of instruments that are from that region. For those that want even more detail, there are placards next to the instruments that tell more about them. Throughout the museum, there are docents eager to instill even more knowledge upon you as they show you instruments that you can touch and interact with.
If you have little ones, be sure to take them downstairs to the hands on gallery where they can touch and play some of the instruments in that room. A warning though, it can get very loud in this room. Also downstairs, is the auditorium concert hall where they regularly have performances. It is a nice small venue in which I hope to see many more preformances.
From historical to modern, from common to unique, the instruments and the music housed in this museum are sure to be a great experience for all. For more information including hours and location, you can find it on their website.
I took to the streets the other day to capture some of the amazing street art that can be found here in Phoenix. I love street art! It is artists coming together to create something beautiful for the city. I just recently started photographing it and I knew that I wanted to show off some of the beautiful murals we have here in the city.
This post does not even touch on the total amount of murals we have here in the valley, but mostly concentrates on metro Phoenix. If I was able to find out any information on the artist, I have included it under the photo.
This mural was a nice surprise. I did not know about this one but it was pointed out by a friend of mine who accompanied me on the shoot. It is located uptown in an alley on Missouri and 7th Street.
Near Thomas, on 16th Street is a collection of murals by a multitude of artists. There are a lot of them on all sides of the building. It is best to park and just walk around to admire it all.
The murals are done by a collaboration of artists, most are vibrant and all are beautiful in their own unique way. My favorite one here is the woman with the Calavera face and peacock hair. Mainly because I have a slight addiction to Calaveras.
The Phoenix Mural above is right behind Barrio Cafe. It was completed by Colton Brock, Lalo Lota, Angel Diaz, Pablo Luna, and J.B. Snyder.
This Untitled mural on the south facing wall is an interesting mixture of black and white and color. It catches my eye every time I drive by it.
This piece is quite amazing. It is a collaboration between two artists. The wall is built up in places and gives a 3-D effect. If you would like to read more about the story behind the artwork, you can find it here.
This untitled bee by Sakoia is quite large. I just love the detail in the hair. It is located on 16th Street wall of The Hive.
This 80 ft mural resides just north of Mcdowell (Palm St) on 7th Street. I first saw this mural a couple of months ago and immediately knew I needed to pull over. I didn’t have my camera. But I did have my phone. So I snapped a quick pic, put a note of the location and started my list of murals to photograph. This tribute to the singer is fascinating and really cannot be captured in a photograph but must be seen in person.
Long, Silent Scream is a mural on the east wall of Giant Coffee. When you stand in front of it, it is quite powerful. Located on 2nd Street, off McDowell.
Roosevelt Row is the Arts district and murals are everywhere. This is also the major area of the First Fridays art walk. You can park anywhere around Central Avenue and Roosevelt and walk around.
An untitled art collaboration between Lalo Cota (figure) and Thomas Breeze Marcus (wings).
Find Your Direction is located on the south facing wall of the Fast Signs building on Central and Woodward.
If you ever visit Phoenix, I hope that you get a chance to see some of the art around town. And if you live here in the valley, going out on a Sunday morning and seeing these is a great way to spend a few hours. Lastly, I leave you with a haiku in honor of National Haiku Poetry Day
There is something about a sunrise. Everyone has a sunset picture but how many sunrises have you captured? A sunrise takes effort; many times having to rise at an ungodly hour or just take time out from your inveterate morning ritual.
Let me take a step back for a moment. This past summer I knew I needed a change with my art website. I had things I needed to add, some things I just didn’t want to do anymore. I needed a big change or to just plain start over. So I started over, and with that rebuilding process comes a new outlook, a new breath, a new beginning. And now that the site has taken the shape I envisioned, I decided to pay homage to that renewal and do a photo essay capturing the beginning of days from all over the world. And when you see these photographs, I think you will agree, it is truly a beautiful world.
This photo essay is a compilation of photographs from other bloggers as they have captured their sunrises, their beginnings. Below each photograph will find a photo description and the information about the photographer.
“I captured this sunrise at the overlook at Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe. I arrived in plenty of time to go from an atmosphere of trickling water to hearing the birds chirp in anticipation of a new day. This was my first attempt ( and certainly not last) at photographing a sunrise.”
“This was taken an early morning after spending the night under the clear sky by the Pulpit Rock in Norway. I felt happiness watching the sun rise over the mountains by the Lysefjord, and the rays of the sun warmed both the morning dew and the early birds.”
Linn from www.travellinn.net Her blog is about exploring the many different aspects of travel; experiencing different cultures and people, tasting the local food, and witness the diverse beauty along the way.
“I rolled out of bed and snapped this sunrise photo at a small park in Sanibel, Florida. I particularly like the bird soaring over the luminous reflection on the water, and how expansive the sky looks against the small buildings in the background.”
Alison blogs at Up&AtEm Travel, it is an award-winning blog that covers three continents and topics from culture to food and wellness, yet focuses on London and expat life.
“I took this picture on a balcony at sunset on an annual family trip to Myrtle Beach. I love how quiet the beach is in the morning and how peaceful it makes me feel.”
Aryn from www.arynpayne.com/blog. My blog covers lifestyle topics, focusing on fashion, food and my favorite things!
“You’re not just looking at a sunrise over a one-of-a-kind temple; you’re looking at the sun come up behind a nearly 900-year-old city.”
Becky from Trekking with Becky. It is full tips, tidbits, and treasures about travel and living in Japan and Russia. I have no choice but to work, so I do the next best thing – I live abroad and travel as much as possible.
“We woke up early to seize every moment of our last 24 hours in Belize. It wasn’t long before we saw a moment worth capturing – this sunrise over the second longest Barrier Reef in the world.”
Coleen from www.coursecoder.com She enjoys empowering other entrepreneurs to live with freedom and fulfillment by teaching what they know online.
“I was on my way to Seoul from Inhceon when I saw the most beautiful sunrise ever. I felt like I was in a dream- everything was touched with this hazy, beautiful pink, and it made the world feel calm and at peace.”
Angelica from Good Trip Bad Memory. My blog is my travel, food, and adventure diary so that I can remember and share some of the cool experiences I’ve had around the world.
“I was living abroad on a ship called semester at sea so it was literally taken in the middle of the Mediterranean.”
Danielle from The Witty Wife. It is a lifestyle and travel blog that shares travel tips and simple life hacks to its readers. Its purpose is to inspire people to travel, embrace life, and to try new things.
“The photo was taken in my first week since the big move. I emigrated with my husband from Jersey (British Isles) to the Caribbean. The mornings here are at their coolest and quietest and so we wake early to absorb it all. It’s at this time that we feel we can breathe it all in and savor how lucky we are to have the opportunity to move to such a beautiful part of the world. Makes us feel grateful for the life we have.”
Emma from The Blonde Tonic. I live in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. I write a travel and lifestyle blog with sparkling infusions of Disney, with photos, oh so many photos.
“This photo was taken a few months before the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which hit Kaikoura last November. On this trip I saw several beautiful sites including the seal colony which have since been destroyed by mother nature. This photo is a reminder to enjoy each day as it comes as you don’t know what’s around the corner.”
My blog Sarah Sees The World is about balancing international travels with full-time employment to get the best of both worlds and I hope to inspire others in the same position to make the most of their limited travel time and budget.
Emerging soft-colored sunrise captured as we were on a boat, leaving Bani Island, Samar, in the Philippines.
“This photo was taken on my last morning in Nicaragua on Little Corn Island. One of the most gorgeous sunrises I’ve ever seen!”
Lara’s blog is Find Your World Girl , and is about everyday women wanting to shake up their lives with adventure travel, all written with a sense of self-deprecating humor!
“This sunrise is from the deck of a 1970’s Taiwanese boat located in Key West. We found the anchored boat through AirBnB and thought it would be a unique experience. I would compare the experience to camping–but in the middle of a harbor.”
Kayla is a travel nurse exploring our beautiful world with her husband, Hubby Hobo, and preschooler, G. Baby. Her blog can be found at VagabondRN.
“I think this pic is too good to keep to myself. This is from the island of Dhigurah, in the Maldives, of the sunrise of 1 April 2017. I love how the sunrise was half dark and half light.”
Teja on the Horizon is a travel blog that introduces travel destinations through reflective and whimsical stories to invite slower, mindful travel – and give a glimpse of how it is that travel does that thing that travellers talk about: bring growth and wisdom.
“The best sunrise we’ve ever seen was in Bagan, Myanmar watching the hot air balloons soar through the sky as the sun was rising over the temples.”
Hannah and Adam from Getting Stamped. It is a blog about couple travel from around the world! They’ve been traveling nonstop since 2013 and have no plans on stopping.
Last, but certainly not least is a contribution from my husband. He wanted to add in his beautiful sunrise from his favorite spot. He doesn’t blog, but he helps me remember all the details about our travels.
I hoped you enjoyed these sunrises as much as I did. Like to pin, try this one.