Thursday, October 28, 2010

LATEST TRICKS: Historic Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Monday, October 25, 2010

We took care of some personal business details in the morning before heading out for an unusual Monday brunch at Chicago Dog Express.  (Yes, we are still in Santa Fe).

This place gets awards year after year for the best Chicago-style hot dog and we have to agree.  The quarter pound Vienna Beef was cradled in an ultra-fresh hoagie roll with relish and mustard and then overflowed with crisp cucumber & tomato chucks tossed in a light, delicious oil and vinegar dressing.  This was a truly delicious meal-on-a-bun.

Moving on to the Old Santa Fe Trail, we visited Mission de San Miguel, Originally built in 1610, it is reported to be the oldest church in the United States.  The handcrafted religious folk art adorning the church was beautiful. 

Across the tiny street alongside the Mission was La Casa Viejas de Analco, initially built in 1200 AD, it is considered to be the oldest house in the USA.  This was a hidden gem with much to offer.  There was an interesting video as well as historical displays and some curious lore. 

Just as delightful was the adjoining coffee, tea and bake shop, Tiendita del Barrio, and its proprietor, Evelyn Roybal.  The cozy adobe setting embraced us and we had a wonderful conversation with Evelyn, who is also the Historic Properties Director for both the House and the Mission.  Her prior experience with radiology marketing paralleled Laura's story exactly. It was if they were kindred spirits, separated at birth but still living parallel lives.  What an amazing connection!  Evelyn has done a marvelous job of curating and restoring the old house and adding the lovely little shop to the reception and lobby area.  And we must say, her baking is spectacular.  We tasted one of her Bizcochito (the official State Cookie of New Mexico) and ended up buying all that she had left; they were exceptional!  We wish Evelyn all the best in her new role!   

The area around the Oldest Church and House is known as Barrio de Analco.  It is the oldest part of Santa Fe and its spiritual center.  We strolled along the narrow streets and peeked into the exotic courtyards of the Inn of the Five Graces. 

After peering in the windows of  The Pink Adobe Restaurant, we stopped into the adjoining Dragon Room Lounge to escape the blustery cold weather.  Behind the massive carved wooden doors we found a romantic hideaway filled with lanterns, cushioned banquets, and a glowing kiva fireplace at one end.  We took the table right in front of the fireplace and enjoyed some hearty beverages (thanks Monica!) while writing postcards and reminiscing about our time in Santa Fe. 

We were hesitant to leave the oasis of the Dragon Room, but we wanted to do a bit more exploring before dinner.  Our first stop was the Stan Natchez Art Studio.  We were warmly welcomed by Viento Natchez whose father's work was exhibited throughout the Dragon Room Lounge and gallery.  Viento was preparing pieces for the upcoming Day of the Dead celebration, which he invited us to experience the next time we were in Santa Fe.  We look forward to taking him up on that offer! 

For dinner, we headed to La Choza, a restaurant we had spotted earlier in the day.  The adobe building looked cozy and reviews said that the food was delicious.  It certainly was!  We tried a combination platter of Carne Adovado, Tamale with Green Chili Sauce, and Chicken Taquito, all served with pinto beans, posole, and sopapilla.  Oh my!  This was true southwestern home cooking and the flavors, while spicy, were terrific.  Galen, our server, was attentive and personable, and the host at the front desk was a hoot!  Sort of a cross between Gene Wilder and Frank Zappa.  He certainly made sure that we came and left with a smile. 

After dinner, we returned to the El Rey Inn for a soak in the sublime outdoor hot tub and then prepared for tomorrow's trip to Taos.
-- Ted and Laura

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

LATEST TRICKS: Art Immersion in Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sunday, October 24, 2010

We took some time this morning to get our blog back on track and then headed to the Sunday New Mexico Artisans Market.  There was an interesting variety of handcrafted goods ranging from paintings to soap to blown glass.

There were two artists that we met whose art, as well as their personalities, captivated us: Paul FourHorns Tenoso, a Lakota stoneknapper, and Cathy Veblen, an imaginative potter, both of Anthro Pottery Studio and Gallery in Corrales, New Mexico.  Paul is an excellent teacher and craftsman; he shared a wealth of information about the traditional methods and tools for creating arrow, knife and spear points from stone.

Cathy shared her own experiences of traveling the country and introduced us to her friend Carol, a Santa Fe resident from Portland, Oregon and self-proclaimed foodie. We all had a delightful conversation and left with many ideas and recommendations.

One of those recommendations was the Tune-Up Café.  Since it was just down the street and it was about that time, we headed there for lunch. This place was a cheerful, casual delight.  They’re particularly well known for their El Salvadoran pupusas and with good reason: Yum!

Afterward, we drove to the famed Canyon Road and strolled among the many beautiful art galleries.


As the sun set over the mountains, we stopped by El Farol on Canyon Road for drinks and a dinner of Spanish Tapas accompanied by the gentle acoustic sounds and mellow vocals of Macha Mendez, Latin Soul.  It was a romantic and delicious way to greet the evening!

Stuffed and serenaded, we returned to our motel for a luxurious soak in the outdoor hot tub.  It is tucked away in a private Spanish courtyard complete with a kiva fireplace.  What more could you ask for?
-- Ted and Laura

Monday, October 25, 2010

LATEST TRICKS: Savory Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Saturday, October 23, 2010

This morning we went to the Farmer's Market at the Santa Fe Railyard.

The aroma of roasting chili peppers, the sound of Mexican folk songs, and the vibrant colors of fruits, vegetables, marigolds, sunflowers and dahlias tickled the senses.

Vendors proudly displayed their produce and wares, offering a friendly "hello" and often a sample or tidbits about their products.

Signs of autumn were everywhere: pumpkins, gourds, squash and ristras (arrangements of drying chili pepper pods) and the fanciful skeletons that signal the upcoming El Dia de los Muertos or "Day of the Dead".  It was a festive, fall day at the market.  

We enjoyed spending time chatting with vendors such as Lisa Fox of Southwest Chutney and Les Crowder of For the Love of Bees.  Of course we had to buy some of their delicious chutney and honey, as well as Lisa’s beautiful book, Artisan Farming: Lessons, Lore, and Recipes.  Surrounded by all the lovely produce, breads and cheeses, we longed to cook; if only we had a kitchen!

Hungry after all that temptation, we stopped in to the Second Street Brewery right there at the market and Railyard. Ted sampled a flight of their beers (thumbs up to the Kolsch, ESB, and Schwarzbier) while Laura sipped Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc.

We shared a bowl of Chicken and Green Chili Stew and a Farmers Lunch of locally-produced lamb sausage, artisan cheeses, toasted bread and field greens--all beautifully presented, fresh and delicious.  During lunch we had a delightful conversation with two members of our Air Force who were visiting Santa Fe on a weekend break from a training program in Albuquerque.  We thoroughly enjoyed their company and expressed our appreciation for their service to our country.

After lunch, we spent some time strolling the grounds of our Santa Fe home, the El Rey Inn, and planning the rest of our day.  We headed to the heart of the historic district, the Plaza.  There we browsed and chatted with the American Indian craftspeople outside of the Palace of Governors and peeked into a few of the many shops and galleries.

We had a lovely conversation with Brooke Williams in her shop, Posters of Santa Fe; she made us feel truly welcomed and offered many helpful suggestions.  Just before sunset, we took a break at the Marble Brewery Tap Room so that we could lounge on their balcony overlooking the Plaza and listen to the live music that filled the square.

As sunset turned to dusk, we walked over to the very popular Café Pasqual and put in our name for dinner.  Two seats opened up at their Community Table in the center of the restaurant, so we soon found ourselves enjoying a sumptuous southwestern meal with four other couples: one couple lives in Santa Fe, one in Los Angeles, one in Pacific Palisades, and one in San Diego.  We had the most delightful time sharing stories, experiences and ideas.  We were reminded what a small world it is as we learned that one of the couples shared the same October 20th wedding anniversary as us and one used to live in our home area and worked with a mutual acquaintance.

Near the end of our meal we also had a chance to meet a man from Sweden who is an Information Technology Consultant working in Vancouver and Chicago.  It was wonderful to meet such interesting people while sharing a delicious meal.  It reminded us of our “Dinner Club” back home. We'd love to see more restaurants offer a Community Table option.  It made for a very special evening!
-- Ted and Laura

Sunday, October 24, 2010

LATEST TRICKS: Learning As We Go

Sunday, October 24, 2010 

We are over half way into the Old Dogs, New Tricks expedition!  As we hoped, this journey is bringing with it discovery, exploration and thinking outside-the-box.  But what we are learning is not always what we expected—indeed, looking up the definition of discovery we find the words “uncover, reveal, unearth, disclose”.  We are grateful for each and every aspect of this journey, especially the unexpected discoveries. 

Some discoveries are more personal, others are more practical.  We’ll let those personal discoveries keep percolating for now, but on the practical side, we’ve discovered that keeping a blog up-to-date is much more challenging than we expected!  When it was just the two of us traveling in the north central states, we could stay on top of our entries pretty well.  But, when we added in traveling with friends, visiting family and friends, and the fatigue that comes from high altitude (yet another discovery), blogging regularly and creatively became more challenging.  So, while we have our notes, memories and photos, we find ourselves about a month behind on the published blog entries.  That’s a lot to catch up on without sequestering ourselves in a motel room for a couple of days!  Meanwhile, trying to get caught up none-the-less, we haven’t been posting current entries. 

So that we can once again provide you with a near real-time travel experience, we have decided to temporarily set aside the catch-up process and start moving forward with blog entries starting today.  This was a difficult decision because…
-- We’ve met some marvelous people this past month and we want them to know how much they have touched us. 
-- The time we shared traveling with our friends was precious and we want that experience reflected on the blog so that we can all share it with others.
-- The visits with friends and family in Nevada and Arizona were so special and we want to share the love.
-- And, we’re organized people that like chronological sequencing. 

But, “on-the-road and off-the-leash” is teaching us about flexibility.  We WILL get that missing month filled in but that may come much later or after we have returned home.  There is much to tell about our experiences in South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.  (Oh yeah, we made tracks in that missing month!)  In the meantime, hop on board once again.  We’re in Santa Fe, New Mexico and we’ve got things to tell you!    
-- Ted and Laura

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Mitchell, South Dakota
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We had a great night's sleep at the Holiday Inn Express, then drove into Mitchell to see the world-famous Corn Palace.

First, we enjoyed a tasty brunch of corn chowder, corn dogs and corn-on-the-cob (what else?) on the patio of The Scoreboard Pub and Grille with a great view of the Palace.

We then walked up and down Main Street marveling at the brickwork and architecture.

During our stroll, we popped into Jackpot Gamblin's Saloon, Casino and Western Museum. What atmosphere! They have the tiniest casino we've ever seen: just 6 or 8 video slot machines.


At the Corn Palace Gift Shop, we had delightful conversations with Troy and Mavis. Troy offered to have us join a tour he was giving to a bus group from Missouri, so we tagged along and received an excellent guided tour of the Corn Palace (thanks Troy)!

It's a sight to see both inside and out, with photos of ALL the Corn Palaces from the first one in 1892 to this year's 2010 theme of "Travel and Transportation Through The Ages".  An appropriate theme for our journey around the country!

Having had our fill of corn, we hit the road once again. The broad, flat plains west of Mitchell dropped off dramatically to the Missouri River at Chamberlain. On the west bank, the terrain became rippled with rolling mounds, presaging the Badlands yet to come. The mounds eventually gave way to broad, undulating plains silhouetted against a tricolored sunset. So many beautiful vistas!

The dinner bell rang as we approached Kadoka, about 48 miles east of Wall. We heeded the call and pulled in for dinner at Club 27. Keri, our waitress, was so nice and introduced us to Finger Steaks: strips of sirloin either breaded and deep-fried or grilled. We had ours grilled with onion rings and breaded mushrooms. Yum!

After one last stretch on the road, we called it a night at the Sunshine Inn Motel in Wall. Lorna, who checked us in, is quite an artist. We bought two packs of notecards featuring her work.

The Sunshine Inn Motel is a classic; nothing fancy, just neat, clean and cozy.  We tumbled into bed tired and happy, looking forward to an exciting day tomorrow.
--Ted and Laura