Archives For Santa Fe


ristraAfter laying low for a little while to recuperate and recharge, on Day 28 we left Los Alamos to continue west.

I was bummed that we didn’t get to see as much of New Mexico as I’d hoped. Thankfully, Kelly and Grant suggested we check out the galleries on Canyon Road in Santa Fe on our way back to Route 40.

I was so glad we did; I got a good dose of Southwestern art and lifestyle. If it was just me on the trip, there’d be a lot more art museums on the itinerary. But Mtuseni isn’t big on art, feeling intimidated by it. I told him all you really need to know about art is that it’s personal and subjective: Some things you’ll like, and some things you don’t.

With the pressure off, he was able to relax and just browse as we went from one gallery to the next. He found some “paintings” made of thin slices of wood that he really liked. I’ll take that as a victory.


santa fe goddess


santa fe koko


love head 2


santa fe chimes


Many pieces caught my eye. We both were enchanted by the outdoor gallery of wind sculptures whirling in the sunshine. And though I’m not a jewelry person, I was enticed by a handsome gentleman with white hair and sun-burnished skin to buy a stone bracelet that was too expensive and too big for my skinny writer’s wrists. Maybe I need to go back and have him resize it — and we’ll see where things go from there!

Check out the wind sculptures in action on our Instagram!


santa fe sunflowers


It was such a beautiful morning, with the perfect dry air, vibrant colors, and casual Southwest vibe. I would have loved to hang out at one of the outdoor cafes for lunch and a glass of wine — or two — but we had a long drive ahead and I still felt tired from my epic cold.

As we sped down the highway toward Arizona, I felt my energy shift. I must have lived in the Southwest in a past life. It just takes hold of me and I feel awed and peaceful and content. The sight of a freight train chugging across the desert in the distance gives me chills and gets me a little teary. I don’t know why. There’s an epic loneliness and beauty to it. 

Outside of Albuquerque we came upon a massive mound of pink cliffs, glowing in the afternoon light. Museni was impressed. But I knew this was just a taste of the wonders that lie ahead in the next couple days.


gallup cliffs


That night we pulled into a motel just off the highway in Arizona — its calling card being the closest lodging to the Petrified Forest. Mtuseni hated the place; he ranked it in his bottom three of the entire trip. Maybe even the worst. I liked it. Sitting by itself in the middle of nowhere. Just a place for weary truckers and travelers to stop for the night. The little attached restaurant seemed frozen in time to the early 1970s, but it had a surprisingly ambitious menu. bb


Chamber Inn3


My grouchy mate just wanted to sleep, so I sat by myself in a booth watching the cars zoom back and forth along Route 40. The place was brightly lit and nearly empty; it felt like I was sitting in a desert version of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. I had a decent chicken Caesar salad and some hot water with lemon for my throat.

The place, the meal, it was nothing special, not at all. But I was totally happy. Something about the Southwest… 


ristra mgb

I sooo wanted to buy a ristra in New Mexico. But it would never have survived the trip.


!meow colage


After our whirlwind tour of sites in Los Alamos and Taos, my friend Kelly suggested that Mtuseni and I check out Meow Wolf — an “immersive” art exhibit in Santa Fe. She described it as “indescribable.” I was more in the mood for traditional Southwestern flavor, but it sounded intriguing. And maybe more fun for Mtuseni, who’s not really an an art guy.

As the Buddhist saying goes, “After enlightenment, the laundry.” Only this time we reversed it. We hit up a laundromat in Santa Fe, then Mtuseni and I walked into what looked like a warehouse or empty big box store — and were immediately bombarded with vibrant colors and textures and … stuff. Meow Wolf is a maze of big and small rooms and nooks and passages with different artistic themes. You basically wander and take it all in. It really is impossible to describe… you have to see it and experience it. 


wolf pair

The treehouse has catwalks that link to exhibits on an upper level, with views of the main room from above.


wolf colors

Meow Wolf is pretty dark inside; it can be hard to get pictures. This is the main entry path.


!meow mirror

This looked like a good place for an infinite nap.


wolf bw

This room was pretty cool. It reminded me of old Warner Brothers cartoons from the 1930s. And it was nice to get a break from mad colors everywhere.


!meow strings


Mtuseni and I wandered around, following our own paths. There’s no formal path or flow; you just go where your curiosity takes you. To be honest, the whole thing soon seemed a bit gimmicky to me: more Universal Studios than art. (Though kudos to the artists who did create it — it’s just not my cup of tea.) I felt very tired. I thought of just lying down somewhere and taking a nap — people would probably think it was just part of the exhibit. 

After a couple hours we escaped back into the blinding New Mexico sunlight and drove the half hour back to Kelly’s place in Los Alamos. And this is when the crash happened.

Thankfully it wasn’t a car crash. The nonstop weeks of planning and driving and touring finally caught up with me. I was sick. Tired, achey, congested, even a slight fever. I slept when we got back and emerged only for dinner. The next day Mtsueni and I went into Los Alamos so I could deal with a paperwork issue back home — no epic adventures. I was a slug in a daze.

Luckily our hosts graciously stepped up to entertain Mtuseni. Kelly’s husband Grant is very active and outdoorsy. He has lots of equipment and toys… and insisted that Mtuseni get the full experience. He even took a long spin on a $3,500 mountain bike Grant was trying out. (Thank god I was napping when Grant told Mtuseni to ride his motorcycle! And Mtuseni had the sense to say no!)


mtu suit

Grant’s winter hiking gear. Given Mtuseni’s well-documented distaste for the cold, he’d probably wear this when it gets below 60 degrees!


mtu board

Once he got over his shock at hanging upside-down, Mtuseni did sit-ups. A little cruel bit of showing off in front of three late 50s folks who could barely do them on a flat surface!


We wrapped up our last night in Los Alamos sitting on the deck where we had our first burrito breakfast — this time with old school Christmas lights. We marveled at millions of stars in a clear Southwestern sky, and showed Mtuseni the Big Dipper, which can’t be seen in the Southern Hemisphere. The visit wasn’t all I’d planned, but it was a nice little slice of home life before heading back out to an endless string of hotels and restaurants. Thanks guys! 


alamos sunset