Exploring Santa Fe and Angel Fire, NM

Exploring Santa Fe and Angel Fire, NM

After visiting with our friends in Sedona, AZ we started heading eastbound. Our first stop was in Santa Fe, New Mexico where we met up with more friends; Deb & Terri. We had a great time hiking and exploring old Pueblo settlements at the Bandelier National Monument with them. The Ancestral Pueblo people built and lived in dwellings, carved into the volcanic rock, between 1150 and 1550 AD, but there is evidence of human presence in this area over 11,000 years ago. Hard to imagine.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Aside from our hike at Bandelier, and walking around Santa Fe, we pretty much took it easy. We ate out at a number of great restaurants with our friends and relaxed. It was like a real vacation! It was the first time in a long time, and I mean LONG time, that we actually chilled. It was very nice.

A dining highlight was our amazing dinner at Geronimo’s, on the city’s famous Canyon Road. Service and food were phenomenal. Our waiter has worked at the restaurant for 22 years. It’s that kind of a place. The restaurant is housed in a quaint adobe home, built in 1756, by Geronimo Lopez. Hence, the name.

Our last scheduled road trip destination was Angel Fire, New Mexico. We had planned to spend a week there but reduced that down to 4 days after looking at the weather. We were heading back into the mountains with evening temps predicted to be down in the 20s, with a chance for snow….in mid-May!

I imagine Angel Fire is busy in the summertime, as people in southern New Mexico clammer to the mountains for cool air, as well as in the winter when those same people head to the mountainous ski resort. In between those two seasons though, when we were there, it was VERY quiet.

We had a great parking spot at the Angel Fire RV Park.

Since there wasn’t much to do in Angel Fire we decided to take a couple of exploratory day trips. The first one was east, along Hwy 64, through the Cimarron Canyon State Park. It was a very scenic drive. I wish we had the time to stop and take some hikes, and that it wasn’t wet and gloomy.

Lunch time grazing!

Along the road, between Ute and the town of Cimarron, we saw the damage caused by a large forest fire. The Ute fire destroyed nearly 37,000 acres in May, 2018.

In Cimarron we stopped by the St. James Hotel. This hotel, on the historic Santa Fe Trail, was built in 1872. They say it is haunted by some of the old clients, which included Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, Billy the Kid and Thomas James Wright, to name a few. It was a pleasant surprise to find such a nicely kept historic hotel and restaurant in a town as small as Cimarron.

On our second day of exploring, we headed west on Hwy 64, towards Taos. We had been to Taos before, and really enjoyed it. It was Saturday and the town center square was full of vendors. We strolled around and did a little shopping. We headed north on 522 and east on 38 to Red River. In Red River we got out and walked around the town. It is in a very pretty area of the mountains. The entire drive was very scenic.

On our last day in Angel Fire, Charlie had to get up on the roof of the RV and shovel some heavy snow off the slide toppers. It was that kind of slushy snow, that could turn into sheets of thick ice by morning. We decided that it was time to head back to warmer weather.

We had a few Harvest Host (HH) stops along our return route. Our first stop was at the Cactus Inn Motel in McLean, Texas. The owner of the motel was very nice and there was a decent restaurant next door. We strolled through the town and found it to be nearly deserted. We enjoyed our walk though, as there were so many interesting murals to check out. There are apparently some very talented artists in town.

Our second HH stop was again in Atkins, AR. This time we stayed at Deer Creek Farms. It was the most unusual, and best, HH stop we had to date. Pete and Cheryle were very welcoming. They shared many stories with us and even provided us with a nice dinner. They have two sites with water and electricity, as well as a dumpsite. The farm is immaculate. Pete loves John Deere tractors. In addition to having a few for driving around the farm, he collects smaller model ones. He has several hundred of them. We just loved this stop.

We spent a few nights in Memphis, TN, at the Graceland RV Park. Its location was close to city center, which we thought we’d enjoy visiting. Neither of us had been there before. In the end, we really didn’t care for Memphis. But I’m glad we went and explored.

We found Beale Street to be very quiet during the day. I guess that should have been expected.

We grabbed lunch at “The Pig on Beale.” It too was quiet, and not the cleanest. Check out the tattered seats. I suppose that was for show, but still…….And the floors were sticky. Yuck! I’m surprised I actually ate lunch there, and that it was good.

When we returned to Beale street in the evening, this is what we found:

Neither of us had any desire to stroll Beale St. when it was like this. We were hungry, but didn’t want to venture into the restaurants along the strip. As luck would have it, we saw some nicely dressed folks heading up a covered staircase around the corner from BB King’s Blues Club. There were no signs letting you know where they were heading, but curiosity got the best of us and we asked the next couple we saw entering the staired tunnel. They said it was a “secret” restaurant, like a speak-easy. Well, that was right up our alley so we headed up the stairs to see if we could get in.

We were told it could be an hour or so before we could hope for a seat at the bar. In the end though, we scored a nice table. Dinner was fabulous.

A poor shot with my I-Phone, but you get the picture :-). Much better than the restaurant we had lunch in!

After dinner we were led down another staircase, to a table in the packed BB King’s Blues Club. Another benefit of eating at the “secret” Itta Bena Restaurant. The band was great and it turned out to be a nice evening in Memphis. We don’t need to ever return though. We’ve seen it….., done it……

On a quieter side of Memphis we found a great little diner, called “The Liquor Store.” It is a hit with the locals. We waited about 45 minutes to get in. Thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s just something about getting breakfast at a little diner. Kind of nostalgic.

We skipped doing the Graceland tour, even though we stayed at the Graceland RV Park. Neither of us were very interested in it.

Our last stop on our journey was at the Silver Springs Vineyard in Riceville, TN. This was our final Harvest Host stop. We dry camped in their parking lot. The Vineyard wasn’t much of a vineyard, but they did have a nice restaurant and event center. We enjoyed a good meal and some good wine.

Normally we are racing across the country to a destination and then continue racing from one place to the next. This trip was different. We took 10 days to get to the Grand Canyon (see previous blog post: https://rollingwithkc.com/2021/05/06/our-return-visit-to-the-grand-canyon-and-sedona-arizona/) and we even took our time getting back home. It was an unusually “relaxing” trip for us. We stopped and smelled the roses along the way, saw a lot of places close up that we typically blow by on the highway and we took time out to visit with friends and family that we don’t often see. It was a great trip.

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