Monday, April 22, 2013

Our Family Road Trip to Santa Fe, NM

We are back from our 2,000-mile (round-trip) family road trip to Santa Fe, NM! The whole vacation was wonderful and now that we are home I finally have time to get back to blogging! I thought my first blog back should be a recap to our southwest vacation through four states: California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico!

We decided to make two overnight stops before arriving in Santa Fe, NM to visit Carlos's parents. Our first stop was Las Vegas, NV. We actually stayed at a hotel in Henderson, NV since it was more affordable and only a 10-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip. 

Of course, M & M's World was Paco and Tomás's first choice. This multi-level candy store smelled like chocolate throughout and in the end the boys left the store with bags full of chocolate M & Ms. After walking a little bit around the Strip, we went over to the old school Vegas casino, Circus Circus. I remember going to play games here with my siblings as kids while my parents went gambling elsewhere in the casino. The Circus Circus Carnival Midway still has a huge selection of popular and classic games, like the Horse Racing Game - one of my favorites! The boys played a few games and even took home a couple of prizes. 

The World of Coca-Cola.

Me and the boys at The Las Vegas Strip and outside of M & M's World.

Paco and Tomás with their M & M loot.

Horse Racing Game - an old-time favorite game at Circus Circus.

After our one night stay in the Las Vegas area, we headed east to our next stop the Grand Canyon National Park. Carlos, the boys, and I have never been to the Grand Canyon so we were all very excited to see this natural wonder!

Scenic viewpoint of the Colorado River southeast of Hoover Dam.

Driving east along Interstate 40 towards Flagstaff, AZ.

The boys excited to be out of the car and to stretch their legs at a gas station right before we head north to the Grand Canyon. 

Heading north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon along AZ State Route 64.

After about 4 hours of driving from Henderson, NV, we arrived at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. We were able to get a hotel at the Yavapai Lodge, which is in the park, for one-night. We made reservations 3-months in advance and this hotel was the only one available out of all the hotels in the park. The room was very standard but nice especially for the price ($140). Yavapai Lodge is also central to the Market Plaza and within walking distance to the  South Rim viewing points.

Walking towards the canyon's South Rim, we headed first to the Yavapai Point. My first impression upon seeing the massive canyon was  "WOW"! Walking towards the edge (most places had railing or short walls but not all places) was quite heart-stopping and unbelievably amazing at the same time. Everyone I know who has been to the Grand Canyon has said it looks like a painting and they were exactly right! It does look like one beautiful, gigantic landscape painting. Carlos was absolutely in love with the canyon and hopes to hike down to the bottom someday on another trip back. I will definitely pass on that future adventure and just enjoy it from the top! Paco thought the Grand Canyon looked "dramatically frightening" and Tomás said it was "deep".

April is a beautiful time to visit the Grand Canyon! The weather was perfect. Our first photos of the canyon were taken during early afternoon and our second set during sunset. The Grand Canyon is gorgeous during anytime of the day but I was particularly fond of seeing the canyon during sunset. The colors and shadows along the rust-colored canyon were deeper, richer with hints of blues and grays from the clouds - just a stunning time to be there. 

Carlos, the boys, and me at Yavapai Point.

Mid-afternoon view.

Another view during mid-afternoon.

Mid-afternoon at Yavapai Point.

Close to sunset at Mather Point.

Closer to sunset.

The clouds are moving in and sunset is soon.

Right about sunset at Mather Point.

The next morning we visited Yaki Point before leaving the Grand Canyon. Morning views were just as breathtaking!

Morning view of the Grand Canyon from Yaki Point.  

Me and Tomás at Yaki Point with Paco & the Grand Canyon in the background.

Back into our car, we headed out on the road again to our main destination, Santa Fe, NM. It's about a 6-7 hour drive from the Grand Canyon to Santa Fe. 

Back on Interstate 40 east heading towards Albuquerque, NM.

We finally made it to Santa Fe, NM! Both Carlos and I have been to Santa Fe a couple of times before but this visit was the first for Paco and Tomás. The boys were most excited about seeing their Nana and Grandpa as well as their new house. Actually, it's their Nana's old family home and just recently they decided to move back here from San Diego. 

Santa Fe is a charming city nestled high in the hills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and dissected by the Santa Fe River. The adobe architecture sprinkled throughout the city's desert-climate landscape is very beautiful and unlike most places in the world. 

The boys with their Nana & Grandpa in front of their adobe-style home.

Of course, I can't go anywhere without shopping! A fun place to shop for unique gifts is Jackalope . It has certainly changed quite a bit since I last shopped here about 15 years ago. It's much bigger and filled with an exceedingly large amount of imported products - reminds me more of a Cost Plus store. 

Entrance to Jackalope.

Gorgeous glass blowing art by Prairie Dog Glass located in the Jackalope Market. Their glass art reminds me a lot of Dale Chihuly's glass work.

The boys watching the glass artists work in their studio. I love their hanging blown glass chili peppers. I might need to buy one the next time we visit Santa Fe.

Traditional Oaxacan Ceramic figures by folk artist Irene Aguilar. I brought home one of Aguilar's mermaid ceramic figures.

We also spent several days touring around the Santa Fe Plaza in the city's Historic District. We visited the Museum of Contemporary Native ArtsPalace of the GovernorsNew Mexico History MuseumThe Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

Outside of the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.

Carlos and Paco walking in front of the Contemporary Arts museum. Carlos playfully kicks Pac's behind for something sassy he said.

Palace of the Governors, built in 1610, is the oldest government building in the United States. This Pueblo Revival style adobe structure is now the state's history museum. Outside the Palace doors under the Palace Portal are members of the Native American Artisans Program. These local artists display and sell their handcrafted arts, crafts, and jewelry each day beneath the Portal.

An impressive exhibit on Treasures of Devotion: Tesoros de Devoción inside the Palace of the Governors with centuries-old bultos (wood carved figures), retablos (paintings), and crucifijos (crucifixes).

Cardboard cut-out of an old rusty Chevy pickup truck outside on the bridge connecting the Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum. Paco decided to drive while Tomás and his new stuffed animal, Fluffy Jr., hitch a ride.

Me and Fluffy Jr. taking the wheel with Carlos in the back.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Carlos's parents were married here in 1967.

The Cathedral's bronze front doors designed by Santa Fe artist Donna Quastoff. These doors were installed in 1986 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral. 

View of the Sanctuary upon entering the Cathedral and view of the rose stained-glass window at the front of the church. The rose window was procured in Clermont-Ferrand, France and installed in 1884.

Bronze sculpture "Migration" by Allan Houser (Haozous), American Chiricahua Apache, outside the New Mexico Museum of Art

A couple of Georgia O'Keeffe artwork that Carlos and I both enjoyed at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. "Abstraction Seaweed and Water" (1920) pastel on paper.

"Cottonwoods" (1952) oil on canvas by O'Keeffe.

The weather in Santa Fe was a bit sporadic. Our first few days there the weather was gorgeous with temperatures probably in the high 60s. Then during the latter part of our stay it started to snow! Most of the time the snow was very light and it made walking around outside quite the memorable experience. Coming from San Diego, I loved walking in the snow!

Carlos enjoying the snow while it lasts!

A view of the snow from inside the house.

Snow on the windowsill.

Carlos and the boys walking in the snow around the Plaza.

And lastly, if there is one thing about Santa Fe that I miss the most it's their food! New Mexican food is absolutely delicious. Some of my favorites include: posole (pueblo stew of Nixtamal corn, pork or chicken, red or green chile), sopaipilla bread with honey, and blue corn tortilla tacos with ground beef and green chile. In addition, we had lunch at several restaurants during our stay and all were excellent choices for that New Mexican style food & flavor. The first one, which is located close to the Plaza in a historic 1692 hacienda, is The Shed. The second is The Famous Plaza Cafe which is located right in the heart of the Plaza and is Santa Fe's oldest restaurant. And the third restaurant is Atrisco Cafe, which is one of Carlos's parents favorite places to eat in Santa Fe. 

As we bid farewell to Santa Fe, we then got ready for our next long road trip back home to San Diego, CA. Of course, we didn't drive straight there instead we spent one-night in Flagstaff, AZ. On our way to Flagstaff, we first stopped by the famous Meteor Crater. The Meteor Crater in Arizona is the best preserved meteor crater on Earth and estimated to have hit Earth about 50,000 years ago. Also, it is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and more than 550 feet deep.

Carlos and me in front of the Meteor Crater. Last time we were here was about 15 years ago and it still looks the same!
The boys observing the crater.

Paco looking at the crater from the lower level observation deck.

After spending the afternoon at Meteor Crater, we drove straight to our hotel in Flagstaff, AZ. Dinner and a late night swim with the boys wrapped up our last night away from home. California here we come!

Before crossing the California State line, our car mileage hits 100,000 mark. Way to go, little Subaru Forester!

California's Imperial Sand Dunes located near the border of Arizona and Mexico.

Near Ocotillo, CA along Interstate 8 westbound. Old abandoned gas station "Miller's Garage"

Giant wind turbines in the Ocotillo Wind Project spin in the desert wind at the Tecate Divide along Interstate 8 east of San Diego.

Almost home...feels like San Diego. Interstate 8 near Alpine, CA. The lone cloud in the sky. I thought it looked like a headless angel. Tomás thought it looked like a kite.

I have to give a shout out to the Gripdaddy iPad Headrest Mount for the car! It worked wonders for my boys during the long drives between destinations. It mounts out between seats or right beside the headrest. Also, it holds most tablets from iPads and iPad minis to Kindles. We just uploaded a handful of movies and some of their favorite kid cartoons on to our iPad mini and that kept them entertained for at least two to three hours at a time. Another great way that kept the boys happy was we made our own mixed CDs which we took turns listening to throughout the trip. Paco's mixed CD was labeled "I <3 My Songs" and Tomás named his CD "CREEPER!". They both loved listening and singing to their favorite songs. And for some odd reason they always fell asleep during Carlos's CD playlist.

The Gripdaddy v2ARM iPad Headrest Mount - highly recommended for those long road trips especially with kids. Also, that's not our car. (Photo: Gripdaddy Tech Mounts)

Thanks so much for stopping by! I know this blog was a long one!!! And I just want to say that as much fun as this road trip was, we were all happy to be home. There's no place like home!


  1. Santa Fe is so awesome! So much fun stuff to do, and it looks like you did most of it. Awesome pictures!

  2. Wow!What a beautiful place! I followed your blog too! I hope you can visit Cavite too!

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