Great Southwest Adventure: Day 2: Santa Fe and Los Alamos
Day 2: Santa Fe and Los Alamos
This year, Anthony and I decided to spend a few days in the southwest. We road tripped through New Mexico and west Texas.
If you haven’t read our intro and Day 1 post, I recommend you go back and read those to get the feel of our whole trip. We will continue posting about our trip here so check back soon to see what we did on Day 3.
Santa Fe (Morning)
The morning of day two we awoke to about an inch of accumulated snow. I was so excited. We don’t get snow that often in Corinth, TX so every time I get a chance to play in the snow, I’m like a kid again.
We walked down to the lobby of the Silver Saddle Motel for their continental breakfast of assorted cereals, pastries, bagels, juice, and coffee. All the other guests were chatting and giddy about all the snow. We were all laughing and joking about feeling like we should be singing Christmas carols.
Our plan for the day was to head up into the mountains to Los Alamos and visit a couple of museums. After finishing breakfast, we started hearing that they were closing some of the roads and the snow was actually starting to come down even harder. We decided to try driving around town before making the trek up the mountain to Los Alamos. The staff at the Silver Saddle Motel allowed the guests to use a couple of brooms to brush the snow from our cars. Thankfully, it wasn’t ice like we get in Texas so it easily came off with few sweeps.
After a few minutes of driving around town, we quickly realized we shouldn’t be on the road. They also had closed the road to Los Alamos so we decided to head back to the motel to play board games in the lobby, chat with the staff and other guests, and drink coffee while watching the snow pile up outside.
Anthony and I are big board gamers. We have a fairly decent size collection. I always try to keep a couple of small ones in my purse. We played iota on this snowy day. Iota comes in a very tiny box but the game spread out and is actually fairly complicated. It was our first time playing this game and it took a bit longer than we expected for such a tiny box. I kept a tally of our score but didn’t add it up until a few days after we had been home from our trip. Anthony won: 280 to 266.
For lunch, we headed back to our room and pulled out some of the food we had packed in our cooler and picnic basket. We had deli meat and cheese rollups, grapes, brie, hummus and pretzel chips.
I am a planner and planning vacations is one of my favorite hobbies. I will plan them down to the minute, the mile, and the dollar. However, life often takes the scenic route that wasn’t included on the spreadsheet. I have learned you can get mad and let this ruin your trip or you can appreciate it for what it is and enjoy the extraordinary scenery you may not have experienced if all had gone perfectly to the plan. Our day wasn’t as we had planned but we were still enjoying being with each other and the unique turn our journey had made.
I also want to mention something that I found to be an example of exceptional customer service and totally unexpected. On day one of our trip, when we realized the weather was looking a bit concerning, I tweeted to Kristen Currie, the morning weather forecaster for KRQE, to see what she thought the weather was going to do. I wanted to know if we were going to be able to make it to Los Alamos on day two of our vacation. She not only tweeted back to me her prediction on day one, but the next day, when she noticed the road conditions were getting worse, she tweeted to me the road closures. The fact that she not only remembered me from the day before but went out of her way the next day to contact me again was very impressive.
After lunch, I checked the road conditions again and it looked like the roads to Los Alamos were clear and open so we decided once again to try to venture out. The drive up the mountain was cloudy but beautiful.
I cannot express how excited I was to hear the roads were clear. Visiting Los Alamos is one of my bucket list places to visit. I have always been intrigued with World War II history particularly the development of the atomic bomb. The science, the secrecy, the spies, all of it I have always found fascinating. I even got my degree in radiologic technology partly due to my interest in the subject. I really had to consciously keep myself from geeking out too much.
Unfortunately, the Bradbury Science Museum was closed due to the bad weather but the Los Alamos History Museum was open. We were very impressed with this small museum and ended up spending about two hours there. We will be back one day to check out the Bradbury, however.
Los Alamos may be one of my favorite towns ever. I could actually see myself living in this lovely town. They have worked very hard to turn this mountain top into a beautiful refuge. Knowing this city has one of the highest concentrations of PhD‘s in the country, I kind of felt like we were walking around Eureka. I half expected some kid’s science fair project to take over the town any moment. This is certainly an enchanting and beautiful city.
Before leaving Los Alamos, we stopped in for some chocolate truffles as Rose Chocolatier. We got a milk chocolate chai truffle, a dark chocolate chili truffle, and a white chocolate lemon frappe truffle. They were amazing. We are totally going to have to start experimenting with some truffle recipes and flavor combos.
Science, history, and chocolate? That is what this nerd calls a great day!
Santa Fe (Evening)
Returning to Santa Fe, the tourist crowds had emerged from their hotels and there were lots of people checking out the shops and galleries downtown. We checked out a few ourselves before heading to dinner.
We had dinner at Plaza Cafe. This was perfect soup weather so I ordered a cup of the Tortilla Soup and Anthony ordered the Stuffed Sopaipilla.
My soup was amazing! I am still craving it. That was by far the best chicken tortilla soup I have ever had. The veggies were bright and not overly soft, the spices were warming without leaving my mouth on fire, and the herbs were fresh and brightened up every bite.
Anthony’s dinner was an experience, for sure. His sopaipilla was stuffed with beans and carne asada. He ordered it Christmas style which means they use both red chili sauce and green chili sauce. There was a warning on the menu stating that their chili sauces were very hot so be careful. They were not lying. It was crazy spicy. Although this meal warmed him up a bit more than he was expecting, he loved it.
For dessert, we decided to cool our tongues down with a slice of tres leches cake. This super moist and creamy cake really finished the meal off beautifully. The layer of fresh strawberries added an extra burst of fresh flavor to this rich cake.
The Plaza Cafe is definitely one of the restaurants we highly recommend and if we ever visit Santa Fe again, we will make sure we plan at least one meal there.
After dinner, we took a short hike from the top of one of the mountains in town and then headed back to the motel to relax for our big drive the next day.
I wasn’t so sure about visiting Santa Fe when we were planning our trip. It wasn’t even originally on the plan but my sister really encouraged us to add it to our itinerary. Since visiting Los Alamos was a bucket list place for myself, I decided it would be worth the stop. We were very pleasantly surprised at how much we loved this town. We definitely plan to come back again.
Below is a collection of video clips I took of day two of our trip. The audio quality isn’t great due to background noise. Sorry about that. I’m still learning about video and filming.
Check back on Monday to hear about Day 3 of our Great Southwest Adventure.
Have you ever visited Santa Fe or Los Alamos? What are your favorite things to do in these towns? Are there any surrounding towns you would recommend we add to our list the next time we visit this area? Do you have a historical time period that you geek out over?