Sunday, November 28, 2010

LATEST TRICKS: We're Home. But Wait...There's More!

After 80 days, 28 states, and 10,538 miles, the Old Dogs have returned home. What a trip it has been! We have so much to share and we WILL be doing that. This trip was about learning, growing, discovering and sharing. As you've seen by the gaping holes in our blog entries, one of the things we learned was that it was much more challenging than we expected to publish a detailed daily blog in addition to all that comes with a trip of this magnitude: Driving; exploring; socializing; meeting up, and sometimes traveling with, friends and family; taking care of personal "housekeeping" and life details; planning; sleeping; and making sure that there was space for "down time". 

So, we thank you for your interest, your support, and your patience as we continue to bring our expedition to you little-by-little over the next few weeks. We will be filling in all of the gaps as well as adding our insights and observations. We look forward to your feedback and ideas as a part of this ongoing journey.   


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ROAD WISDOM: Wandering

Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Not all those who wander will keep their blog up-to-date.
Ted & Laura

Not all neglected blogs are lost. 
Wanderers eventually return home and write about their wanderings!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Taos, New Mexico
Thursday, October 28, 2010

While relaxing beside the fire in our room at El Pueblo Lodge this morning, we paid bills, posted another blog entry and enjoyed a tasty breakfast from the Dragonfly Café. Their spicy pumpkin-chili bread and sweet raspberry and pear tarts were simply delicious.

With business and breakfast taken care of, we returned to the Taos Pueblo for a little more quality time. It was another crisp and sunny fall day and the pueblo seemed full of life and good cheer.

We stopped at Sonny Spruce's shop and were glad to see Zoe again. She was so friendly and helpful to us, answering all our questions about the various handcrafts and the artists who created them. We really enjoyed our experience there.

We also enjoyed seeing Sunflower paint exquisite, finely-detailed pottery and purchased some of her and her daughter Plum Blossom's work. In addition, we admired the creative artistry of Jacqueline Gala.

After the pueblo, we walked around Taos' historic square and stopped into several interesting shops. We enjoyed the many fine crafts at the Artists Co-op and were fascinated by the fabulous Day of the Dead displays at Dwellings Revisited.

Looking to warm up as the sun went down, we stopped into The Adobe Bar at the Historic Taos Inn. Known as "The Living Room of Taos", it was a lovely space to relax in, with a large kiva-style fireplace in one corner and wooden beams supporting a two-story arched ceiling.

Further enhancing the mood, Teresa Storch was playing guitar and singing jazz, folk and blues. Theresa is traveling the United States and has brought her music to 33 states over four years.

The Adobe Bar's signature margaritas were outstanding and the green chili stew and quesadilla appetizers hit the spot. Our waitress, Merilee, was friendly, personable, and always there at just the right moment. She made us feel truly "at home".

Before moving on, we added our departed loved ones' names to the community Day of the Dead alter at the Inn. It was so nice to remember those who have passed on before us and left their imprints on our lives and our hearts.

We then headed straight for an encore dinner at The Love Apple. Jen and Marianne greeted us with enthusiasm and we had the pleasure of meeting Rachel, also a waitress at The Love Apple. The place was bustling, but, to our delight, a table for two had just opened up.

Once again, our dining experience was exceptional. From the beet, avocado and grapefruit salad to the ribeye with roasted yam and potato au gratin (not to mention the tamale, pecan pie, and apple crisp) the flavors, presentations and service were unparalleled.

It was another exquisite dining experience thanks to Jen, Chef Andrea Meyer, Marianne, Rachel and all of the staff. We cannot praise you enough for the culinary paradise you have created. A thousand "Thank You's"!

We wrapped up the evening cozy in the glow of the fireplace back in our room at the El Pueblo.  Ahhhh....
-- Ted and Laura

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

LASTEST TRICKS: Ancient Roots in Taos

Taos, New Mexico
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This morning, Laura proposed the first major alteration in our itinerary since our decision to forgo visiting Michigan at the start of our trip.  She suggested that we stay in Taos an extra day, add an extra overnight somewhere between Taos and Oklahoma City, and make up the two days by forgoing Vicksburg.  This schedule change made great sense since it would give us more time in Taos, split up the 9-hour drive to Oklahoma City, and allow us to route through areas of Mississippi that were more in keeping with the themes of our trip in that state (namely, the blues and civil rights).  The important Civil War history of Vicksburg would be better suited to another trip.  Ted heartily endorsed the proposed change in itinerary and a small flurry of phone calls and online activity ensued.  Happily, our reservations were easily rescheduled and Plan B went into effect immediately! 

Our new itinerary secured, we set out to visit the Taos Pueblo.  On our way, we stopped at the Dragonfly Café and Bakery for some lunch and baked goods to go.  What a darling place!

The adobe hearth and warm yellows and reds beckoned us to stay, but we had our sights set on eating our lunch at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains amid the snow-capped peaks and late autumn splendor.  The bison burger and curried chicken salad were even more delicious when eaten roadside al fresco in such a spectacular setting!

After lunch, we entered Taos Pueblo--the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.

These adobe buildings have been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years. Here the People of the Red Willow maintain a way of life and faith that honors their past. 

The community has adapted over time to many outside influences--the Spanish Conquistadors, the Catholic Church, the United States Government, and Modern Society--yet it has continued to live and practice its traditions. 

We felt honored, privileged and humbled to be allowed into their village, dwellings and church, and deeply moved by the sometimes devastating, sometimes triumphant history of these courageous people. 

Our thanks to Winona for guiding us through the pueblo and to the many shopkeepers and villagers who warmly welcomed us to their home. It was an experience we will not soon forget.

From the pueblo, we drove out to the Rio Grande Gorge and Bridge to watch the sunset over the mountains. 

It was spectacular, and the phrase "purple mountains majesty" never seemed more appropriate. 

After running a few errands in town, we went to The Love Apple (la pomme d'amour) for dinner. And what a dinner it was! 

Not only was it the best meal we had enjoyed in New Mexico, but it was one of the best meals we had enjoyed anywhere!  The food (all locally sourced and organically produced wherever possible), the atmosphere (think gently aging adobe chapel), and the service (impeccable) all blended into a dining experience that was intensely romantic, deeply sensuous and fabulously delicious. 

The Love Apple is a destination unto itself.  Owner/Manager Jen, Chef Andrea Meyer, our waitress Marianne and everyone in the kitchen are a wonderful team that creates an experiential and culinary masterpiece.  We vowed to return tomorrow for a sequel.
-- Ted and Laura

Monday, November 1, 2010

LATEST TRICKS: The High Road to Taos

Santa Fe to Taos, New Mexico
Tuesday, October 26, 2010  (Happy Birthday Ted!)

Three months on the road requires some periodic "household maintenance" and we were definitely due. So, we started off the day doing laundry at the motel, hauling much of the contents of the van out onto the pavement, and repacking the whole kit-and-caboodle. Perhaps the staff found it a bit odd to see hot pink plastic bins, tote bags, shoes, cans of Diet Coke, fresh-washed clothes, and books strewn about their parking lot, but it all made sense to us.

Content with our reorganization, we took a stroll around the beautiful grounds of our motel, the El Rey Inn, before a cheerful check-out with Sylvia at the front desk.

Now it was time for fortification and the Tecolote Café was the perfect spot. We had a hearty and delicious southwestern lunch of Huevos Yucatecos with fresh-baked biscuits, blueberry muffins and flour tortillas.

The Café was celebrating 30 years in business and we can understand why they have been successful. The food was wonderful and everyone there was friendly, hospitable, and excited to hear about our journey. They shared several good recommendations for some of our upcoming destinations and wished us safe, happy travels.

Pleasantly stuffed, we set off on The High Road to Taos, a recognized scenic byway. As much as we enjoyed Santa Fe, it felt good to get back into nature. The views along The High Road were breathtaking.

One memorable stop along the way was El Santuario de Chimayo. Built between 1813 and 1816, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. El Santurario is known locally as "The American Lourdes" because of its reputation for miracles and healing. It felt like a "sacred space" because of its beauty, serenity and the reverence that it embodied. It was inspiring to visit this special place.

Arriving at Taos, we checked in to the El Pueblo Lodge and headed out to dinner. Finding most of our original picks closed on Tuesdays, we followed an old traveler's trick--look for the place with the most cars in the parking lot. That place was clearly the Guadalajara Grill North. Inside we found a cheerful, casual Mexican restaurant. We shared their Chicken Monterrey and Camarones Veracruz with sides of rice, beans, corn tortillas, guacamole and salsa fresca. What a feast! Ted tried the Mexican beer Carta Blanca and absolutely loved it. He said it reminded him of the refreshing light beer Medalla that he enjoyed so much in Puerto Rico. I think he'll be stocking up on Carta Blanca from the local grocery store!


After dinner, we returned to our cozy room at El Pueblo Lodge, lit a fire in the kiva-style fireplace, and relaxed with some American Indian flute music. Sublime. Ted said it was a perfect birthday.
-- Ted and Laura