Subject: Santa Fe
Just got back from a three-day weekend in Santa Fe. Our second trip there within the last 13 months. An absolutely wonderful city.

Flew into Albuquerque Friday night, picked up a rental car (Chevy Cavalier with the folddown backseat enabling our skis and snowboard to fit) then made the hour+ drive up to Santa Fe. Arrived at the Hotel Santa Fe (about 3/4 mile from the Plaza) just after 10:00 pm. Missed most of the restaurants' closing times by a few minutes but managed to find dinner at the Atomic Cafe on Water St. Frito pie for Sara. Cheeseburger for me. Nothing fancy but suitable for a couple of very hungry weary travelers.

Retired to our suite at the Hotel Santa Fe (owned and operated by the Picurí Pueblo Indians). Our second stay at this hotel. We've been pleased by the two-room layout of the suites. The service has always been attentive and friendly. For some the location might be a bit far from the Plaza (we enjoy the walking) but they do run a shuttle on a regular basis. The cost for the room was about $103 a night. However, I had purchased (through an auction) a two-night stay plus 2 two-day lift tickets at Santa Fe ski area for $275 (a value of $360). Our previous stay was also discounted through a Southwest airlines package.

Saturday morning we arose early and prepared for a day on the slopes. Breakfast was had at the Sage Bakehouse, a wonderful bakery on Cerrillos right across the street from the main entrance to the hotel. While there we also picked up a great sandwich for lunch up at the ski area (I hate to pay the inflated prices for the mediocre food served at ski areas). The sixteen mile drive from Santa Fe (at 7200 ft. elevation, the highest state capital in the U.S.) up to the ski area (at 10,000 ft.+ elevation) takes you from the juniper covered foothills around Santa Fe through piñon pine, higher into fir and spruce slopes, and vast aspen glades. A marvelous trip that must be spectacular in the fall.

The conditions of the slopes were better than expected for what, so far, could be considered a drought year. This small to medium sized area afforded me the opportunity to improve my snowboarding skills (I've been skiing for 23 years and boarding for 3). In fact, I left my skis at home forcing me to board for the two days we were on the slopes. Sara was also able to work on her skills. She found it a great practice to wind her way through the moderately crowded slopes forcing her to make more controlled tighter turns#the moving slalom exercise. All in all, our two days of skiing/boarding were relaxing and a great opportunity to warm up for an upcoming three day trip to some excellent snow at Tahoe.

Saturday evening we met with some friends who drove us up to Ranchos de Chimayo for dinner. Our chaffeur opted to take us on a shortcut through the Nambé Pueblo up to Chimayo. I think it actually lengthened the normal 45 min. drive to an hour. But it was fun driving down the narrow gravel lanes between the ubiquitous bare alamos (cottonwood). Especially with the huge full moon.

Dinner was outstanding. Unfortunately, the service was less than attentive. But the food more than made up for it. I had tingas rellenos. Chile rellenos stuffed with jack cheese topped with tingas (shredded beef in a spicy red sauce). Served with posole, mexican rice and fresh sopapillas. Mmmmm! Mmmmm! Sara had a sopapilla relleno. A sopapilla (a type of flour tortilla that is deep fried causing it to puff up) filled with shredded chicken and served with green chile. Drinks included margaritas and sangría. The substantial main courses kept us from trying dessert.

Ranchos de Chimayo is a must for all visitors to northern New Mexico.

I've got to go unpack. I'll finish this travelogue tomorrow.

John Rule San Diego, CA