Road Trip Day 11 – Walsenburg, CO to Santa Fe, NM

I am so happy to be back in an area with great Mexican food again! We landed tonight in Santa Fe, New Mexico after stops at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Zapata Falls, and Taos.  I decided to check in early tonight since we have some chores to do in Santa Fe tomorrow, and had a relaxing evening in the hotel room.  I got some hot tub time while Zoe took a(nother) nap.

For dinner I went to The Pantry Restaurant (looked up on Trip Advisor) and immediately loved the place.  It had a very local and neighborly feel, kind of like Side Street Cafe back in Costa Mesa.. oh, and the food was amazing. I had beef brisket tacos and and they were delicious.  If I was staying another night, I would go to this restaurant again.

Earlier in the day…

Zoe seemed to wake up this morning feeling the spirits of the area.  In particular, she found a feather outside that must have been possessed.  The housekeeping staff must have thought I was nuts as they watched me take 15 minutes of video of “Zoe and the Feather”.  Zoe later proved to them that she is a normal dog when she ran into the room they were cleaning and started jumping on the bed :-/

Zoe trying to get a feather to play with her?

After a decent breakfast at the hotel, we headed over to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  The drive there was beautiful once again and I continue to be amazed about how much open land there still is.  When we got to the park I was a little but underwhelmed by the size of the dunes, but it must only look small because it has a huge mountain range (Sangre de Cristo) as a back drop.  It didn’t take long to realize that I had seriously underestimated the size of these diunes, as Zoe and I huffed and puffed our way to the “top”.  I have to admit we never made it to the real peak because well honestly, we probably couldn’t have.  We had our sights set on what we thought was the peak and used all of our water and energy to get there, only to realize the there was another peak in the distance which would have required another 1.5 miles of uphill hiking in the sand.  I took one look at Zoe and and she took a long look at me and we agreed to dig holes in the sand to keep cool instead of continuing the climb.

Zoe and I at the pretender peak of the park.

Zoe digging holes to keep cool.

On the way down from the “peak” Zoe made a bunch of friends including a few kids with a sled.  They tried to get her to sit in the sled and slide down the dune with them, but she didn’t think it was much fun.  She preferred to curl up in people’s shadows.  Once she realized we were headed back to the parking lot, she ran all the way back to the car leaving me in the dust and to walk alone.

Out of the Sand Dunes National Park, we took a short hike up to the Zapata Falls.  It was a pretty easy climb and very rewarding.  The falls weren’t huge, but it was neat to have to climb upstream and into a small cave to see them.  Unfortunately it was here that I realized my camera wasn’t working anymore.  It must have been drowned in grains of sand while I was rolling down one of the dunes.

Continuing the trek onto Santa Fe, we stopped in San Luis (an adorable and tiny town) for lunch, and then drove through Taos.  Sadly, the Taos Pueblo was closed.  I learned later that there is a huge festival at the end of the week and the pueblo is closing early everyday in order to prepare.  Driving through the rest of Taos was very scenic but I didn’t feel like stopping to walk around.  It seems like a ritzy kind of place with beautiful, but expensive art.  I did make one stop at the end of town to buy a new camera.  I am probably the only tourist to come to Taos and then shop at WalMart.

It’s about 1.5 hours from Taos to Santa Fe, where I had decided to check in for this night, and it is a very beautiful drive along the Rio Grande.  It was too dangerous to enjoy the view while driving on this narrow and winding road, so I had to pull over a lot to take it all in.

Driving along the Rio Grande

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