Day 7 (May 25): Santa Fe, Valles Caldera
Since we were on extremely comfortable beds, and my traveling partner was still sick, we slept a bit late, and then headed to meet our host at his studio-gallery. From there, he took us on a whirlwind tour of the best art galleries in Santa Fe – we saw some amazing pottery, leatherwork, paintings, a great deal of Native American (mostly Navajo) artwork (jewelry, beadwork, metalwork, painting, ceramics, sand-painting) and a Chuck Jones (of Looney Toons) gallery. Although we were already looking for a bottle of wine for our hosts, after their hospitality and the amazing tour, we came to the determination that we would need to get a NICE bottle of wine for our hosts. Thus began a fruitless search.
We had lunch at a great local Mexican place (not pictured), where their specialty was a fried-dough pocket called a Sopapilla (filled with either meat or honey/cinnamon sugar).
Failed to find a wine shop in town.
We visited the Loretto Chapel, and I dropped 3 dollars to see its famous unsupported spiral staircase – an impressive work of artifice and innovation. It also has a story attached to it, about the mysterious carpenter who supposedly appeared to create it after the prayers of the local nuns, and vanished without being paid for his work. The place is mostly a tourist trap at the moment, but it's still interesting.
Failed to find a wine shop on our second pass through town.
We then visited a relative of my traveling partner, a veteran of World War II who was involved in the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, and who lives in the area with his wife. He told us stories about his wartime experiences, and his wife shared a great deal of information about her collection of Native American artwork (particularly from one famous, now deceased potter, whose photo was on her mantle and had apparently presented her work to several presidents, including Eisenhower).
Failed to find a wine shop on our third pass through down.
After this meeting, we drove up to Valles Caldera, and briefly argued over whether or not a space this huge COULD BE the Caldera. A road sign finally swung the vote at 2:1 in favor of it being the Caldera. Imagine this whole space just exploding one day. All 17-odd miles of it. Actually, you should probably try not to imagine it.
Headed out for a late dinner, and in search of a wine shop in the hopes of showing our most generous hosts a small token of our gratitude.
Had dinner at a place called “Cowgirl” – the barbecue beef sandwich was excellent, as was the bread pudding. My traveling partner’s Yak Burger was undercooked, but apparently pretty tasty otherwise.
Drove to a nearby Trader Joe's, which had wine. Unfortunately, the flaw in our plan was that it was 10:30pm. We vowed to return the next morning.