Road Trip Day 6 – New Mexico is Surprisingly Awesome

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I'll admit that New Mexico was not really a state I was looking forward to on this road trip. In fact, in my first post about my road trip plans, I basically wrote it off as just a passing-through state, assuming that there wasn't much here beyond a lot of turquoise jewelry.

Well, how wrong I was!

After getting a lot of tips from readers to skip Albuquerque, my sister and I opted, instead, for the capital of Santa Fe. I was a bit skeptical that a state capital could really be cool, but once again New Mexico proved me wrong. Santa Fe is tiny by most standards (around 80,000 people, I think), and is far from feeling like a government seat.

Instead, Santa Fe is funky, colorful, and at least a few decades behind the rest of the country. In fact, the owner of the Western-themed Silver Saddle Motel (the great little local place where we stayed), said that Santa Fe embraced the hippie movement of the 1960s, and never really let it go. They are just now witnessing the phenomenon of plastic truck testicles.

But lagging a bit behind is by no means a bad thing. In fact, Santa Fe was great. I really regret not allowing more time here.

As it was, we woke up on Day 6 and headed down to the Railyard district of the city, where there was a farmer's market going on.

After getting our fill of Santa Fe sights and sounds, we hopped on the highway and headed about half an hour north of the city to check out Pecos National Historical Park, which we had seen photos of in a Santa Fe tour book. This National Park is not only cheap ($3 will get you onto the trails), but also beautiful. Stopping was a no-brainer.

Since we were on a tight time schedule, we spent about half an hour walking around the Pecos Pueblo ruins in the park, and also explored an old Spanish Mission. The red clay bricks contrasting sharply with the greens and blues of the surrounding hills and the dark clouds of an incoming storm was simply stunning.

Then it was on through New Mexico, with our final destination being the Valley of the Gods in southern Utah. I expected this drive to be sort of dry and boring, but again New Mexico had surprises in store.

As we drove north, we were greeted by towering bluffs, tree-covered mountains, and a very colorful desert. I had no idea northern New Mexico was hiding all of this!

After a rather long drive, we finally crossed the border into Utah on a narrow two-lane road. I was excited because we FINALLY got to take a photo with a “Welcome to” state sign!

The sun was setting as we snaked our way into the Valley of the Gods, painting the sky brilliant hues of orange, gold and purple. I already feel a little flutter for Utah. I think this could very well turn into a love affair.

We arrived at dusk at the Valley of the Gods B&B, which is located down a dirt access road that's only navigable in dry weather — good thing there was no rain in the forecast! The B&B is totally off-grid, and is solar- and wind-powered. It also was gorgeous, and gave a remarkable view of the night sky — including the Milky Way!

Melissa and I climbed down into our “cave” (our bedroom was underground), and turned in early in preparation for Day 7.

Each day, I’ll be cutting together a quick video to show you what we’ve been up to. Here’s Day 6:

Tomorrow, we go up in a hot air balloon in Monument Valley!

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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