sweetfigs   s w e e t   f i g s


                in pursuit of a fruitful life


Monday, January 15, 2007

Vacationing in the Southwest, Chicago to Santa Fe

Here’s the first of a few blog entries written while we had spotty internet access. Today's entry is long on text, the rest are mostly pictures.

Our southwest trip is underway and promises to be a very slow-paced trip. D had laparoscopic inguinal hernia surgery shortly before we left Chicago, and for the next two weeks he’s supposed to take it easy and not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. This means I’m in charge of all the luggage and the driving, while he navigates our route. I like our role reversal, but he doesn’t, so it’s good for him.

P1000381Instead of taking the el to the airport, we hire a driver to get us there and then borrow a wheelchair from the airline. Even if we allowed lots of extra time to get up to the el platform and through the crowds, it would be impossible for me alone to carry both our suitcases, our coats, the laptop, cell phones, camera and their chargers, all the things we want on the plane, like a newspaper, magazines, bottled water, and the maps and CDs we brought for the driving portion of our trip.

We get to the airport super early and then “pre-board” the plane with the seniors and families with young children. When D first came home from the hospital, I had to help him sit up in bed or get out of a chair. Now he can get around by himself, as long as he moves slowly. He’s supposed to walk every day, but we’re not sure how much he’ll be able to do.

From Chicago we fly into Albuquerque (approx. 3 hours), then drive north to Santa Fe (approx. 90 minutes), where our first stop is the weekly Farmers’ Market. During the winter months, it’s held on Saturdays in a large, open, barn-type building in the railroad district. There is a lot of snow on the ground which wasn't plowed or salted since it fell 6 days ago, and a fresh layer of snow fell on Friday night, so we are glad our rented vehicle has 4-wheel drive.

At the market we find a pair of musicians playing and about 15 vendors, all tucked into one corner of the big space. There are fresh baked goods and hot coffee, bright sprouts, beautiful mushrooms, colorful dried herbs, beans, chilies, and other spices. There are also vendors taking orders for beef, lamb or chicken, and the lamb people are selling pelts thick with unwashed wool. The prices seem comparable to what we’d pay at a Chicago farmers’ market, but the vendors here seem to have actually grown what they offer.

P1000633We come away with dried green chilies which a friend requested, some blue corn flour, bolita beans (grown in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico), sweet herb teas, herb capsules for colds and chest congestion, and a dried sage smudge stick which I tuck into a sunny spot on the car's dashboard. I look forward to trying out the bolita beans, especially during these cold winter months and the mastranzo tea, which even dried smells strongly of sweet mint and apples.

After the market, we meander to the hilly downtown shopping district. It’s great being here in the off season when there’s hardly any one around, but we have difficulty walking around because of the unshoveled, melting snow. The sky is deep, dark blue, the sun is blazing, and the melted snow flowing down the hills is full of rusty orange silt. From what we see of the central square area, there are lots of art galleries, upscale clothing shops, jewelry stores, and coffee spots. We search out Oodles, a new bead and yarn boutique (no website), and are charmed by the owner and her dog, Harry (Hairy?). Harry is a rare breed that even we dog people haven’t heard of, and the long name doesn’t stick in my head.
Our schedule doesn’t permit visits to Santa Fe’s oldest yarn store, the Needle’s Eye, which is within walking distance of the central square or to the Santa Fe School of Weaving, which is a fairly new endeavor.

Next up, an obligatory swing through Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keefe Museum. Highlights for me are the 10 minute biographic film, a portrait of Mr. Stieglitz by Henri Cartier-Bresson, and a painting that O’K worked on while still living in NYC, settling her husband’s estate, about a year before she moved permanently to New Mexico. O’K lived northeast of Santa Fe, near Abiqui, but we won’t be driving up that way on this visit. We also won’t be trekking up to Taos, which interests me the most, because our time is short and D is anxious to get to Texas.

By the time we make it through the O’K gallery, D is hiccupping, again, and just wants to rest at the hotel. This is the 3rd or 4th time he’s had hiccups since his surgery, and they hang around for hours, so he's a little tired and frustrated. We pass up the Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, which we have at home, and find their competitor, the Vitamin Cottage health food store, for some fresh fruits, juices, and salty snacks for the room and the car. I keep noticing that the locals move a little slower and dress a little less body conscious than we’re used to.

Now it’s late afternoon and I leave D reclining in the room when I drive up to the Japanese-style Ten Thousand Waves spa. I love this place and could easily come here regularly. The hot pools, saunas, treatment buildings, and overnight lodging are tucked amongst conifers on a terraced hill, and connected by gravel walkways and low Japanese lanterns. The contrast between the cold snow and the steamy rooms is wonderful. I had a Thai massage with Dharma (Bob), who said he worked as a landscaper until his body told him it was time to stop. Later, I almost doze off in the dry sauna holding hot river rocks, but my thoughts wander back to the real world and I picture poor D hiccupping in the hotel room. I find us all sorts of goodies in the gift shop -- souvenir t-shirts, hinoki soap, arnica muscle salve, and even vegetarian sushi and noodles for our dinner. I wish this place was closer to home.

When I get back to D, he’s on the internet researching hiccup cures. According to one web site, he was supposed to go to the emergency room 2 hours ago. He takes his temperature (it’s normal) and eats a little rice pudding. Once he’s prone and relaxed, the hiccups finally fade away. It’s only about 8:00 p.m., but it’s been a big day for both of us, so out go the lights.

Tomorrow we’ll be driving south.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The spa sounds divine! Sorry to hear about D and his hiccups :o(

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole trip sounds lovely and serene (aside from poor D).

Hope you continue to have a lovely time and D's recuperation is quick and hiccupless.

1:02 PM  

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