Featured Touring 3 States, 4 Friends, 9 Days, 1800 Miles, And Countless Smiles! Our Annual Tour Of The Southwest

Discussion in 'Rideouts, Trackdays, Touring & Spotted' started by Sandi T, Jun 18, 2023.

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  1. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #1 Sandi T, Jun 18, 2023
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2023
    Mr. Sandi and I and our riding buddies, Ron and Russell, recently returned from our annual motorcycle tour of the American Southwest. We combined roads and routes we know and love but this time around we also explored some new routes and towns. We also decided not to move on to a new destination each day so stayed in four locations total rather than eight. For two of the destinations (Santa Fe and Durango), we stayed three nights at each, allowing us to unpack and unwind for a bit rather than repack and move on each morning.

    When we arrived home at the end of our adventure, my odometer read 1,856 miles, only 250 of which were on interstate highways (thankfully!). These two maps display our whole tour and I'll also share maps for the post about each day. If you decide to follow along with our travels, my goal is to post two days or three days worth over the next several days. Hope you enjoy traveling with us vicariously!:):sun::cool:

    Days 1-5
    Whole trip maps #1.png

    Days 6-9
    Whole trip map #2.png
     
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  2. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #2 Sandi T, Jun 18, 2023
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2023
    Day #1: Tucson, Arizona to Quemado, New Mexico
    Daily trip odometer reading = 303 miles


    Day 1.png

    We met up for gas at our our "usual" QuikTrip station which FINALLY has gas consistently! For the past few months they've evidently had "supply chain" problems and have either had no gas at all or low octane as an only choice. And Tucson had the highest gas prices of any place we filled up on our entire trip! :eek: Highly unusual.

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    A bonus on our first day and the first part of our second day was the addition of our friends, Shelly and Roe, to our riding group. They were riding two up on their 1984 H-D FXR, loaded to the gills and heading all the way across the U.S. to Massachusetts to see Shelly's mom. Here they are along with Ron (BMW guy) outside Charlie Clark's in Pinetop, our restaurant of choice when we head north into Arizona's White Mountains.

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    Charlie Clark's
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    Once we got to Pinetop and the White Mountains, the weather cooled down considerably. Itt also brought a bit of rain but not enough to even don our rain gear.

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    The tiny little town of Quemado, New Mexico (Pop. approx. 200) is about 45 minutes east of the Arizona-New Mexico border. It doesn't have a lot going on (understatement) but we love to stay at the Largo Motel. The proprietress, Phyllis, is a hoot and she always remembers us and takes care of us. We've stayed there the last three years in a row. And at $110 / night, it was the least expensive hotel on our trip.

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    We were sad to learn that Phyllis had to euthenize her cat, Annie, since the last time we were there. But she has since become a cat mom to new young kitties, Zoey and Chloe. Zoey is the 7-week old calico kitten and Chloe is the "tuxedo" cat. Phyllis also informed me that she turns 79 this coming July and is trying to convince the hotel owner that she'd really like to retire. So this may be the last year we see her...but I think the odds are pretty good that she'll be there one more summer.

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    Russell and I had each purchased some checkerboard Van's sneakers a month or so prior to our trip. So Mr. Sandi (Steve from here on) thought it would be fun for all of us to exchange our riding boots for Van's during our time off the bikes. :joy: Turns out a lot of folks noticed and smiled at our feet!:joy: Steve's shoes are missing from this photo because he was napping when it was snapped. But stay tuned for a photo that includes all four of us...plus some young folks who joined in the fun and photo snapping!

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    Ahhh, there's something about riding a big Harley touring bike for several hundred miles that makes me craze a chair on a porch and a beer in my hand.

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    Tomorrow...onwards to Santa Fe! :D
     
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  3. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #3 Sandi T, Jun 19, 2023
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2023
    Day #2: Quemado, New Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Daily mileage: 294
    End of the day trip odometer reading = 597 miles


    We departed Quemado under sunny blue skies and the temperature just under 60ºF. :cool::sun:Our aim was pie in Pie Town 30 miles to the east. Alas, the two remain pie shops were closed when we rode by. I was hoping they were just closed because it was still relatively early in the day and not because they are closed for good. Ever since Covid, the pie shop situation in Pie Town has been pretty shaky with one closing for good and two others changing ownership. Disappointing but we had agreed among our group that we'd find breakfast in Socorro if Pie Town was a bust. So on we rode.

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    The riding from Quemado through Pie Town and Data to Magdalena is beautiful, much of it forested with meadows sprinkled at intervals. Once past Magdalena the landscape becomes much more open and flat with a lot of pastureland. In the past we've seen antelope herds but none were to be seen this year.

    We rode past the VLA -- Very Large Array -- home of the "listening devices" (telescopes actually) run by the National Science Foundation. If you saw the movie "Contact" with Jodi Foster years ago, you will know what I'm talking about. I wasn't leading and no one stopped to snap a pic of the giant dish near the road but here's one from a trip we did in 2019 so you can get a sense of the size of the telescopes as well as the beauty of the surrounding landscapes and New Mexico skies. The bike in the photo was my 2017 Road Glide Special which I traded for my current touring bike, a 2020 Street Glide Special. As you can tell, I like orange. For a touring bike at least!

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    If you read the Wikipedia piece you will see that we were just under 7,000 feet in elevation as we passed through the VLA area. When we rode into the White Mountains yesterday, that was the first day of being at least 6,000 feet in elevation or high--some days much higher!--in elevation. Fortunately none of us has or had any issues with altitude sickness.

    We found a funky, interesting place for breakfast on the main drag in Socorro the El Camino Family Restaurant. Russell had actually eaten here in the past because he and another ride buddy of our have stayed at the hotel next door on their way back from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It looked like it had seen better days but it was busy and the food and service were very good.

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    Here's our group at breakfast before Roe and Shelly broke off from our group and went their own way about 20 miles later.

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    At this point we were about halfway to our destination for the day, Santa Fe. We had to hop on the I-25 freeway for about 20 miles before turning back off on U.S. 60. After turning north/northwest in Mountainaire, we traveled some of our favorite roads on this trip. These little roads go through tiny New Mexican towns tucked away in the landscape and seemingly tucked away in time, too.

    As we rode from the outskirts of Albuquerque on Old Highway 14, also known as The Turquoise Trail, there was no more dodging the rain that had been threatening since Mountainaire. I was very happy that I'd opted to put on my rain jacket at our last gas stop of the day--but none too happy I'd not added the pants because the skies cut loose and it absolutely poured on us for about 25 miles. I was not looking forward to arriving in Santa Fe and riding in traffic in rain and wet conditions but when we turned off the road and headed into town, lo and behold, the rain stopped and the street were completely dry! Before we knew it we were at our hotel, a lovely and unique place called the Santa Fe Motel and Inn.

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    The hotel was warm and inviting as were the staff who greeted us and took care of us for our three day stay. And there were lots of nice and fun touches throughout the property, including these resident rubber duckies on their pond by the hotel office.

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    We were all looking forward to three evenings of "New Mexican" Mexican food! Santa Fe is known for wonderful food and deservedly so. We had reservations for this evening at a famous place called Cafe Pasqual. Steve and I love the place and were happy to introduce it to Ron and Russell, neither of whom had been there before.

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    Ron and I both had the chicken enchiladas in molè sauce served with rice, jicama cucumber salad, and the best corn bread I've even eaten. Russell had beef fajitas and Steve had the seafood soup. :yum

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    Day #1 continued in my next post......
     
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  4. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Day #2 continued and concluded:

    After a relatively early dinner we walked around the Plaza and then back to our hotel. The hotel was perfectly situated in a quiet area of the city but only about a 10 minute from the Plaza, the heart of downtown Santa Fe. There always seem to be interesting motorcycles parked on the Plaza. This one certainly caught out attention. It's an example of a vlcla style motorcycle. AND it has "Santa Fe" airbrushed on the tank! :D

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    A link with more info about vicla motorcycles and culture if you're curious.....

    https://www.dailychela.com/viclas-motorcycles-chicano/#:~:text=Once a beacon of pre,to mean lowrider-inspired Harleys.

    And we happened on this older BMW and sidecar as we neared our hotel to retire for the day. I asked the rider what year and model it was but didn't write it down and forgot. Sorry! Some of you may recognize it, though. He was happy to tell us about the bike and also happy to allow me snap a pic of his bike and himself. BTW, check out Ron's Van's. Those black and white checkerboard sneakers are a v-e-r-y rare concession to him wearing gray-colored everything! :joy:

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  5. FellZebra

    FellZebra Noble Member

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    Enjoying your ride report @Sandi T , thanks for sharing.
    Look forward to reading the next parts
     
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  6. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, @FellZebra! :kissing_heart: I've got Day #3 all ready to post tomorrow. For now I'm heading for bed. More adventures to come! :D
     
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  7. learningtofly

    learningtofly He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!
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    #7 learningtofly, Jun 19, 2023
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2023
    Ah, another of your epic trip accounts, Sandi. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into them, they're always a highlight for me.
     
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  8. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, @learningtofly. I'm glad you enjoy my trip accounts. It's fun to share a bit about our adventures! And posting about those adventures allows me to relive them a bit. :) I hope you are healthy enough soon to be out having some adventures of your own. :heart:
     
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  9. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Day #3: Santa Fe, New Mexico to Las Vegas, New Mexico round trip
    Daily mileage: 140
    End of the day trip odometer reading = 737 miles


    Day 3.png


    Our first of three mornings in Santa Fe began with the simple yet delicious breakfasts provided by the hotel. It included lots of fresh fruit, the best oatmeal I think I've ever eaten along with numerous toppings, and some excellent yogurt. But the best part--well the TWO best parts--were the piñion coffee and the patio and beehive fireplace where we could relax and enjoy our delicious breakfast. It actually was chilly enough in the mornings to be glad of the fire. The logs for the fire were piñion wood A piñion fire is one of my favorite smells in the world! From www.firewoodnm.com

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    Our plan for the day was a day ride over to Las Vegas, New Mexico. Staying a night there was on our itinerary for last year's Tour of the SW but a massive wildfire nearby caused us to changes our plans. None of us had been there before and we wanted to see not only the town but two renovated historic hotels, the Plaza Hotel and the Castaneda Hotel. Las Vegas is only about 65-70 miles from Santa Fe so our day ride would allow us time to poke around the town and the hotels but still have time to spend in Santa Fe, too.

    Our friend, Russell, had decided to stay half a block down the street at the Motel 6 to save some money. We agree to meet up at our hotel and depart for Las Vegas at 9:00am. But when Russell showed up, we came out of our rooms to see him sitting on the hotel lobby wall with his bike connected to a portable tire inflator. He said that his tire felt low and his gauged indicated he had measly 6 psi in it! :scream: The rear tire on a Street Glide is supposed to have 40 pounds! Steve and I tried to help him figure out what was what and we realized the he was going to have to figure out how to get a new tire. The Harley dealership is closed on Monday and this was a Monday unfortunately. But after asking Mr. Google to do his magic, we found a place that not only was open on Monday but had a trailer to come get the bike, a good quality tire that would fit his bike, and a very fair price. We offered to stick around with Russell but he insisted we go on with our day ride as planned. The serendipitous part of it all is that Russell wound up spending his saved hotel money on a very cool (and very expensive) silver belt buckle he found in a shop near the square while we were away. :joy: So after knowing that Russell's bike would be cared for, Ron, Steve, and I hopped on our bikes and hit the road to explore Las Vegas.

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    Las Vegas is fairly small so finding the square in the center of town wasn't too difficult. And finding the Plaza Hotel was rather simple once we found the, well, the plaza! :) From the Plaza's web site:

    The Plaza Hotel opened in 1882 as “The Belle of the Southwest”, the fanciest hotel in all of New Mexico Territory. Lovingly restored and overlooking beautiful Old Town Plaza Park, your hotel is today a favorite destination for historians, film crews, locals and travelers from near and far. For 125 years the Plaza Hotel and Plaza Park have been the heart of Las Vegas, New Mexico – the original Las Vegas! With our beautiful Ballroom, meeting rooms, dining room and saloon, the Plaza is your home for meetings, parties, conventions and other important events in northern New Mexico.

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    And for any of you who have watched the TV series, "Longmire"....

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    The plaza park was lovely with several wooden sculptures by local artists gracing the grounds. Here are two.

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    After checking out the interior of the Plaza Hotel and wandering around the square and looking into several galleries, we got back on our bikes to find the other hotel we came to see, the Castaneda. It was only a mile or so away located on the rail line going through Las Vegas.

    Both the Plaza Hotel and the Hotel Castaneda were bought and renovated by the same couple that renovated one of our favorite hotels in Arizona, La Posada, about which I've posted here before. Steve and I have gotten on a bit of a historic Southwest hotel kick in the last several years...although "historic" means something a bit different here in the U.S. than for many of you European members. :joy:

    From the Castaneda's website:
    The Castaneda is a historic Fred Harvey Hotel located in Las Vegas, New Mexico along Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line. The hotel opened in 1898 and closed in 1948. In 2014 it was purchased by Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion, the owners of La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona (www.laposada.org). In 2018 Allan and Tina transferred title to their public-benefit 501-c3 corporation – the Winslow Arts Trust – though they remain responsible for the restoration, operation and financing.

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    Continued in my next post......
     
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  10. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Day #3 continued:

    The Castaneda was beautiful but very, very quiet. All three of us commented that we hope they can remain open. We certainly would book a stay at either of or both of these beautiful hotels in the future!

    This is the bar area.

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    And the bar itself. Evidently the mural above the bar was "buried" under a layer of paint, found during renovation, and painstakingly restored.

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    The railroad station is directly next door to the Castaneda. The hotel is one of many hotels with restaurants built in the 1800's by Fred Harvey to serve train travelers. At the La Posada in Winslow, AZ (our last stay during this trip), the train station is in the hotel.

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    After a beautiful ride back to Santa Fe with a few raindrops, we found Russell quite happy with his day--including a new Dunlop American Elite rear tire on his bike for less than he expected to pay and a new "trophy" belt buckle!

    For dinner we went to a locally famous New Mexican restaurant called La Choza. It's one of our favorite places and the green chili blue corn chicken enchiladas with pinto beans and posolè is one of our favorite dishes!

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    La Choza on the periphery of an area known as The Railyard. We decided to walk off our dinners by strolling around the area and seeing what there was to see. There were a couple of local breweries and restaurants along the (yes) railroad tracks but most were closed as it was a Monday.

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    But there were some rather unique passenger trains in action!

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    There was an REI store there which is a chain of outdoor and adventure store with things for hiking, boating/rafting, cycling, etc. that we decided to check out. Just as we entered the store we ran into a group of several young women who immediately noticed our Van's! So we all decided it was "photo op" time. They got such a kick out of a group of oldsters in our hip Van's...and we got a kick out of them noticing. It was amazing how many people noticed and commented on our Van's during the week. :):joy:

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    Just wandering through Santa Fe neighborhoods is interesting. Just wandering down a side street you're likely to see something interesting like this walll mural. Santa Fe is a town in which I'd choose to live if (1) it didn't cost so much! and (2) if I didn't love Tucson so much. ;)

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    Back to the hotel for the evening with my bike all tucked in under his Nelson-Riggs 3/4 cover in case it rained overnight--which it did.

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    For tomorrow's adventure we're off to explore Los Alamos!

    To be continued with Day #4.......
     
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  11. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #11 Sandi T, Jun 19, 2023
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2023
    Day #4: Santa Fe, New Mexico to Los Alamos, New Mexico round trip
    Daily mileage: 73
    End of the day trip odometer reading = 810 miles


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    With Russell's bike ready to roll, the four of us set out for another day ride out of Santa Fe, this one to the town of Los Alamos about 35 miles to the northeast. None of us had been there before and having recently read a book about Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project and the origins of Los Alamos, we were mighty curious and eager to see the place for ourselves.

    I saw this book when I was in Santa Fe last December with some graduate school girlfriends for a weekend. I wasn't sure why there was a book display in a little shop called "Cashmere & Chocolate" but the book caught my eye and I bought a copy of it to give to Steve for Christmas. He found the book fascinating as did I when he handed it off to me to read. And then in anticipation of our trip, our friend Ron had read about 2/3 of the book as we hit the road to "The Secret City". There is a movie called "Oppenheimer" being released in July that's based on this book and another that I just bought called "The Triumph and Tragedy of Robert J. Oppenheimer".

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    The first thing that struck us was the nature of the road up to Los Alamos which sits high on a huge mesa. I can't even imagine how thousands of people and supplies and vehicles navigated the trip up the mountain on dirt roads next to precarious cliffs. Now the first half of the road up is two paved lanes in each direction. As you near the top of the mesa it becomes two lanes total--one lane in each direction--with several 15mph hairpin curves. Fun riding! But I wouldn't want it as a daily commute. And we cut our day a bit short when some massive wicked looking thunderheads began to build up as we ate lunch.

    This old photo that's in the Museum is from the days that homesteaders settled land on this mesa in the 20's so a couple of decades prior to the Manhattan Project commandeering the area for the development of bombs during WWII.

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    One of the first things we saw after parking and locking up the bikes were these statues of Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves, both leaders of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos--the former was the scientific leader and the latter the military chief.

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    We spent the bulk of our too-short time at Los Alamos in the Los Alamos History Museum which was fascinating!

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    And in one of the houses that was a living quarters for some lead scientist was this display containing an ACTUAL Nobel Prize that was awarded to Frederick Reines in 1995.

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    One of the things the book addressed is "Why Los Alamos"? This display in the museum summarizes the whys and this aerial photo (thanks, Wikipedia) adds an explanation point to the desired need for secrecy through geographical isolation. The photo is from recent times. Note the air strip which is right next to the road that we rode in on.

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    Here are the guys relaxing in front of the house in which Robert Oppenheimer and his wife, Kitty, and their two kids lived. The house is currently closed to the public and funds are being raised to renovate the house "up to spec" so that it can be opened for visitors.

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    Day #4 continued in my next post
     
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  12. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #12 Sandi T, Jun 19, 2023
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2023
    Day #4 continued:

    Before heading back down the mountain to Santa Fe we stopped for lunch at the first place we saw, The Blue Window. Turns out this place is also 1st place on TripAdvisor for Los Alamos dining options! It was delicious! We ate on the patio because the day was sunny and just cool enough and just warm enough like Baby Bear's Porridge--just right. :) The photo in no way does my lunch justice but here's a photo of the best green chili cheese fries (chips?!) that I've ever had. :yum And I have them every time I see them on a menu. I opted to have a fried egg on top. Gotta get a little protein. ;)

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    We arrived back at our hotel early afternoon and decided to stroll into the downtown area since this would be our last opportunity to do a bit of sightseeing and shopping. Dinner reservations at The Shed, another of our Santa Fe faves, were set for 6:00pm.

    We began by going to The Loretto Chapel where Steve and I got married 8 years ago this past June 17th (last Saturday!). The chapel is now a museum open to the public but also available for a limited number of events, primarily weddings. It felt very special being in this church together again and to share it with our riding buddies, too.

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    Here we are just after our wedding eight years ago. :):heart:

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    As we wandered around seeing what their was to see on this beautiful sunny day, we saw this gentleman playing his guitar with his new pup, Dotty, at his side.

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    There's lots of great art and creative art in Santa Fe which makes for fun window shopping! I thought you all on the forum would get a kick out of this armadillo.

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    And we confirmed that the reason that the Cashmere & Chocolate Shop had the book display was because the store is located at that very address! 109 E. Palace which is a half a block off Santa Fe's Plaza.

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    And to top off a wonderful day in the saddle and on foot, we had another delicious dinner, this time at The Shed. The Shed is just two doors down from 109 E. Palace. Eight years ago our family and friends joined us there for dinner--and copious amounts of tequila--the day after our wedding. Both Steve and I loved what we had at La Choza last night that we ordered pretty much the same dish tonight! La Choza and The Shed are "sister" restaurants owned by the same family. Great food--and great atmosphere!

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    The Shed is an old, old building with a fair number of "quirks" including some VERY low doorways.

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    And interestingly, we were seated in the same room and area that we all ate eight years ago! Coincidence? I don't believe in that. ;):joy::heart:

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    Next up...we're off to Durango, Colorado and the San Juan Mountains. :) Stay tuned for Day #5.
     
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  13. Dawsy

    Dawsy Cumbrian half-wit
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    Great write ups and pictures as usual @Sandi T :grinning:
    More importantly, Happy Anniversary :party::party::grinning:
     
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  14. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, @Dawsy! We're often on our motorcycles on the date of our anniversary. It was nice this year to be at home together. But it was definitely cool to be in the town and the church and the restaurant we were in when we got married!
     
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  15. Bikerman

    Bikerman I used to have 5500 posts.

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    Blimey @Sandi T that's another brilliant ride report that you've done.
    You must all feel great after a trip like this. ( The Loretto Chapel where Steve and I got married 8 years ago this past June 17th (last Saturday!). The chapel is now a museum open to the public )
    You must have made quite an impression on the owners of that Church, if they decided to turn it into a museum y43.gif roflmao.gif
    Great write up, as is the norm. y115.gif y115.gif y115.gif
     
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  16. Fireball

    Fireball New Member
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    What a lovely extended write up and pictures Sandi T.
    Your fingers must be aching after all that typing….which brings to mind, is your wrist back to perfect now?
    :kissing_heart:
    Thanks, Ken.
     
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  17. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    :joy::joy::joy::joy: Well, not that much of an impression, @Bikerman. ;) It became a museum and special events venue years ago. So we can't take the credit, I'm afraid. ;) Here's a bit of related info and a story on the Chapel and its history if you're so inclined.

    https://santafeselection.com/blog/2013/12/17/loretto-chapel-many-miracles-old-santa-fe-trail/

    Screenshot 2023-06-19 at 12.37.05 PM.png
     
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  18. Bikerman

    Bikerman I used to have 5500 posts.

    Oct 29, 2014
    1,380
    1,000
    Lincolnshire
    The bloke on the left, needs to get his syrup fixed :joy:
    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Armando Morales

    Armando Morales Noble Member

    Mar 29, 2021
    721
    443
    Mexico
    @Sandi T thanks for your report, feels like I'm traveling with you
    Love the food pictures and how they compare to the local plates, I've never seen pozole on the same plate with other food, over here is a whole food just by itself.
    I envy your weather ! We been hitting 40° C (104F), this is a record for the region. :(
     
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  20. Markus

    Markus Crème de la Crème
    Subscriber

    Oct 28, 2020
    2,748
    1,000
    AUSTRIA
    @Sandi T:
    Many , many thanks for your great effort in writing your report! Simply great! ;) One can understand all your experiences so right.
    Your wedding photo is just brilliant and fully romantic!:heart_eyes:
    Thank you!
    I am already looking forward to another continuation!
     
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