Travel


Name That Tree

Pomagranate Tree

This woman raised in the Midwest and living in Colorado for 50 years had no idea what kind of tree this is. At first glance I thought someone had climbed up and wired carnation blossoms to the limbs.

 

Pomagranate Bud

Buds of the tree in question.

 

Enlightenment came from a docent at Tumacacori National Historical Park in southern Arizona.

 

 

Pomagranate in Bloom

It’s a pomegranate tree, introduced into North America by Spanish settlers in 1769. No fooling’!

 

 

Arizona Folklore Preserve

With Dolan Ellis

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We spent the afternoon at the Arizona Folklore Preserve located south of Sierra Vista, Arizona. The center has evolved from a dream into reality for singer/songwriter/entertainer Dolan Ellis. An original member of the New Christy Minstrels in the 1960s, Ellis  has served as Arizona’s Official State Balladeer since 1966. He’s written more than 300 songs focusing on the history, culture and nature of his adopted state. Joining with the University of Arizona South Ellis and a dedicated cast of volunteers have established the center Dolan Signfor performances of music and Arizona folklore – fact and fiction. Originally Ellis performed nearly every weekend, currently he is scheduled once a month with guest artists from around the country the remaining weekends.

Our trip was planned around attending a Sunday afternoon Ellis show, and, were not disappointed. Today’s theme was Songs of Spring and included the debut of a new song, Casa Grande.  We’re amazed at his strong voice and energetic performance for a man who celebrated his 79th birthday this week. It was a privilege to once again see and hear this Arizona treasure who has been named the first Arizona Culture Keeper.

Situated in Ramsey Canyon the Arizona Folklore Preserve grounds are lush with spring greenery. After the show we relaxed on the deck which is built around a sprawling Arizona Sycamore estimated at more than 200 years old.

AZ Sycamore

 

Free Museums

Art SymbolThe word “Museum” stops many from  considering a visit, even the well educated think “how boring”. Our day was enhanced by three museum visit that were not only not boring but also were Free not something we often find. First stop was the Las Cruces Art Museum. We visited to see the current exhibition of the Gustave Baumann, a renowned New Mexico printmaker. Although we have several of his prints and books this show included many works we had never seen and we learned of Baumann’s talents as a marionette artist.

The Museum of Nature and Science is in an adjoining building. With the intention of just taking a peek the well presented exhibits lured us into a complete walkthrough. In the process we learned a great deal about the surrounding ChihuahuanDesert. Next door is the Branigan Cultural Center which we will check out the next time.

Sixty miles west in Deming, New Mexico we made another discovery. Again a particular interest drew us in only to find a treasure trove. The Luna County Museum is known for their collection of Mimbres Indian pottery.

Two hours later we were still exploring the amazing collections found here.  A thousand antique dolls, the military room, transportation wing, original art, western history, quilts, bells, on-and-on. Besides the Mimbres pottery the most amazing to us was the geode collection. This compares those we’ve in University Mineral Museum. We made a note to visit nearby Rockhound State Park on a future trip.

Geodes

Mimbres Pottery

Spring Snow???

Snow or Sand

No! Not a drifting spring snow but the ever shifting sands at White Sands National Monument on a cloudless March day.

 

White Sands

 

Historic Trail, Birds, Lava Flow, Petroglyphs

 - And, Green Chili Cheeseburger

ECR Monument

A dramatic sculpture points skyward marking the access road to the El Camino Real International Heritage Center. Located approximately 100 miles south of Albuquerque, the interpretive center transports visitors along the 1500-mile “Royal Road” during  more than five centuries of history.

El Camino Real Trail

ECR Carved Cross

 

We spent twice as much time at the El Camino Real Center as planned. A 15-minute film relates background information before we wind our way through the informative exhibits.

Stepping out to the observation deck we overlook a stretch of the National Historic Trail. A well placed bench encourages  quiet respite reflecting on the trail’s significance. A short nature trail highlights local desert vegetation.ECR Cactus

We made a short stop at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. The site deserves much more time and on past visits have been more comprehensive. Upon exiting the car in the visitor center parking lot the first thing Bob notes is the chorus of multiple song birds. We especially like to visit this birder’s paradise in January and February when thousands of sandhill cranes and Canada geese escape the northern climes.

Upon arrival in the small town of San Antonio (New Mexico) there’s no doubt we’ll make a stop at the Owl Cafe and Bar known far and wide for their green chili cheeseburger.  The exterior would never entice me to stop but their reputation and past experiences confirm this is the place.

More to come:

  • Valley of Fires
  • Three Rivers Petroglyphs

 

Charlie’s Spic ‘n Span Bakery & Cafe

When traveling I-25 through New Mexico and we near Las Vegas – New Mexico not Nevada – we know it’s time for a stop at Charlie’s Spic ‘n S;an Bakery & Cafe. Hunger pangs will be more than satisfied. The local eatery is just a few blocks off the  Interstate at exit 345 in the richly historic town.

The menu  which features Northern New Mexican flavors is heavy on breakfast items – available all day.  As someone who loves breakfast – but not before 10am – Charlie’s is a perfect fit. The “Stuffy” lives up to its name. A fluffy house-made sopapilla is stuffed with scrabbled eggs and meat of one’s choice, smothered with red or green chile, topped with melted cheese and accompanied by crisp hash browns. Even after  sharing ⅓ with hubby I’m stuffed and can’t finish the last bites of potatoes and chile. But, I’m happily stuffed.

As tourists we’re out numbered by the steady stream of locals. Obviously Charlie’s is a pillar for the community whether they’re stopping for a Starbucks latte, breakfast, lunch or a package of the fresh tortillas. I saw one family load up! The husband balanced his arm  load of eight packages with his chin as the wife paid the bill.


Charlie's BunsPayment is at the bakery counter and it’s hard to imagine not being tempted by the plate sized old fashioned cinnamon buns, glazed donuts, cream puffs or long  johns. I swear one of today’s offerings was at least 10 inches in length giving new meaning to “long john”. On my last visit we left with two iced sugar cookies – absolutely the best I’ve ever had. Bob was lucky to get his before I wolfed down both of them. This time we order a half dozen for a sweet treat down the road.

Charlie's Eclairs

When You Go: Charlie’s Spic ‘n Span Bakery & Cafe, 715 Douglas Ave,  is open for breakfast and lunch. If you want dinner arrive early they close at 6:oopm nightly. Phone 505-426-1021

Old Martina’s Hall

Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

Old Martina's Hall - Door & WindowFor seven years visitors to the famed San Francisco de Asis church south of Taos saw a massive, achingly-slow renovation in progress across the street and wondered about its future. The multi-million dollar project finally came to an end last September with the opening of Old Martina’s Hall, a restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a facility for special events, live music, dance hall, meeting and workshop rooms.

Thick adobe walls and the massive vigas above the great hall are original to the Ranchos fortress dating back to 1769. All settlers were required by the Spanish Governor to live within the two acre Ranchos Plaza to protect against attacks by raiding Comanches. The neighboring much photographed and painted church was built in 1812.

Old Martina's Hall - InteriorWe stopped for dinner last night and were awed by the historic property. Although the great hall was not in use last night we looked up to the soaring ceiling and marveled at how the enormous logs were raised into place and their continued strength today.

The spacious dining room reflects traditional New Mexico design, such as a corner kiva fireplace ,combined with simple contemporary detail. Banco seating along one long wall was surprisingly comfortable with the multitude of turquoise-colored pillows adding a dash of color to the surrounding earth tones.

We were greeted by our cheery and attentive waitress, Pamela. She later told us, “I love working here,” which was evident in everything she did. While many of the menu items have a Southwestern overtone this is not a Mexican restaurant. I selected chicken schnitzel with a lemon butter caper sauce, accompanied with fresh asparagus. Generally served with frites I could substitute either the mashed or fingerling potatoes. Bob chose the grilled Atlantic salmon served atop a gazpacho sauce with roasted fingerling potatoes and topped with spears of tempura asparagus. He didn’t leave a single bite.

Old Marina's Hall - Salmon Old Martina's Hall - Chicken

 

When it came time to see the dessert tray we were once again awed by the selection and presentation. An European pastry chef begins each day at 3:00 am to create the assorted, decadent treats. This was not a night to share one dessert. Bob opted for a fresh apricot tart. My piece de resistance was chocolate ganache in a phyllo pastry cup topped with creamy sea-salt caramel sauce. OMG! Heaven, but extremely rich. I actually had to box some for a bedtime snack with a tall glass of cold milk.

Old Martina's Hall - Dessert Tray

During our current stay in Taos I will definitely return to try the breakfast menu and Old Martina’s Hall’s pastry case will be a temptation every time I pass the historic landmark serving modern day tastes.

Old Martina's Hall - Dessert

Destination Taos

We’ve happily returned to Taos for a July week. Bob’s once again attending a painting workshop with Stephen Kilborn, always an inspiring and motivational experience. Highlights today include lunch at my favorite Northern New Mexico eatery – Orlando’s, at visit to the Kilborn Gallery and dinner at Graham’s Grille.

Casa Pajaro - Kitchen

Our Taos home for the week is an adobe rental on the historic La Loma Plaza, Casa Pajaro. The two bedroom house was painted and decorated by renown Southwest artist Jim Wagner.  Every nook and cranny reveals playful and colorful details guaranteed to elicit smiles. Magpies, fish, chickens, flowers, hearts – I’m sure we’ll still be noticing new discoveries all week.

Casa Pajaro - Fireplace

Casa Pajaro - Bedroom

Hutch - Casa Pajaro

Casa Pajaro - Guestroom

I’ll post more details about Casa Pajaro later this week. Check back soon.

Destination – Crested Butte, Colorado

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Inspired by wildflower photos posted earlier this week by our son Eric we decided to head to Crested Butte for the Father’s Day weekend. We left the Denver area via Deer Creek Canyon. The route is popular with weekend cyclists requiring extra diligence in safely sharing the road. We join US285 near Conifer, heading towards Kenosha Pass. From the west side of the pass to Fairplay drainages in South Park bloom purple with wild irises – a late-spring treat. This year’s display seems especially lush. Along the way I make note of several potential day adventures such as the Shawnee Tea Room and the new Staunton State Park.

DSC01043 - Version 2After lunch at Quincy’s in Buena Vista we head west to Cottonwood Pass, one of our favorite routes across the Continental Divide. The paved approach on the east side climbs through aspen and pine forest, trees and grasses shimmering green today. (Note – A colorful drive in September.)  Switchbacks along the 19-mile CR306 climb more than 4,300 feet to the 12, 126-foot summit. Although the road was completely dry, snow banks deepened along the roadside. Vistas of mountain ranges to the east and the west entices travelers to stop for photographs.

DSC01046 - Version 2Gunnison CR209 is hard packed dirt the first 12 miles down the west side of Cottonwood Pass. Closed in winter, the road is car drivable from late May until the first heavy snowfall (usually sometime in November). Early in the season and after heavy rains drivers may experience some mud and standing puddles as well as periodic washboard sections. But the scenery makes the trip worthwhile as you descend to Taylor Reservoir, where you once again connect to pavement. Just below the dam fishermen line the Taylor River fly casting into the cascading waters.DSC01047 - Version 2

Known as the Wildflower Capitol, Crested Butte doesn’t disappoint this June weekend. The annual Wildflower Festival isn’t until July 8-14, 2013 but the hills are already alive with blooming glory. At elevations just above town blossoming lupines tint entire hillsides blue. Observant eyes spot fireweed, larkspur, and Colorado’s state flower – blue columbine. All with promises of richer floral displays to come.

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Elk Avenue, the Butte’s main street, hums with energetic outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a high-altitude summer respite. We’ve reached our weekend destination – Crested Butte.

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A Day in Santa Fe

Shopping, Sculpture and Frivolity

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We weren’t the only ones kicking up our heels in Santa Fe today. We met these high steppers created by Jim Agius at Ventana Gallery on Canyon Road. We stopped at the venerable gallery to see the whimsical watercolors of Tom Noble and enjoyed the works of numerous other artists. Memorable to Bob where the mixed media creations of Debra Corbett.

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Shopping started with a quick visit to a true Santa Fe original - Jackalope. We didn’t wander the multiple buildings and acres of pottery and “stuff”. Our purpose was the broad selection of World Music. New CDs play as I write.

Bob always likes to stop at Books and More Books to check out the shelves of used art books. Brushes and a book by artist Nancy Reyner were purchased  at Artisan on Cerrilios Road.

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In the afternoon we drove out to Tesuque Village for a leisurely stroll through the sculpture gardens at Shidoni Foundry and Galleries. The variety of styles, materials and creativity never ceases to amaze. We note numerous additions since our last visit seven months ago. A great way to spend a sunny spring afternoon.

New to us, but certainly not to the locals, was dinner at Andiamo! in the Rail Yard District. The highly recommended crispy polenta in a rosemary gorgonzola sauce did not disappoint for a starter. The well-dressed Caesar Salad was fresh and enough for both of us. Bob finished off his eggplant Parmesan with tomato basil spaghetti. As much as I liked the linguine with spicy grilled shrimp there is a box of leftovers going home with me tomorrow. We passed on dessert, however, the tiramisu looked most promising. Next time.

The big decision of the evening is a choice between relaxing in our favorite room at Inn at Vanessie or drinks and jazz piano next door. Frivolity anyone?

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