Madrid, New Mexico
Flew into Albuquerque early
in the morning and with the hour pick-up for moving from Central to Mountain
Time, we had a full day to head for Santa
Fe. New Mexico has always
resonated with me and this excursion ended a fifteen year absence. There are a myriad of mystical landscapes
here, but what I like best are the extended stretches that have no telephone
poles – the simple deficiency begging that modern people have yet to muddy
nature with ‘progress’.
My wife was fortunate enough to visit New Mexico just a year ago. Her friend (Sandy) has a sister who lived in Taos until recently and the plan was to rendezvous with Sandy that afternoon in Santa Fe.
The main street of Madrid, turned into a studio – the “Chile Festival” exists only in the movie (though I’ll bet they start one up!)
Scored rental wheels and my delightfully impulsive wife upgraded us to a
Enthused to be hitting the
road, I suggested taking the Turquoise Trail up to Santa Fe
rather than the interstate.
The interstate is quicker, but taking the Turquoise Trail
(route 14) is not a significant time loss and much more relaxed and
scenic. The best part for me, though,
was getting to visit Madrid
again. A ramshackle artist community,
this teensy town impressed me as a western Woodstock during my first encounter because I
spotted no less than three VW
micro-buses parked along the street! I
guaranteed my wife we’d see another despite the passage of time (Madrid never impressed
me as a place intent upon evolving), and so off we went.
we were surprised to encounter a roadblock.
They are shooting a movie starring John Travolta, Tim Allen and William
Macy titled Wild Hogs, which from our
subsequent chat with the locals is literally set in Madrid and involves a foursome of
middle-age-crisis dudes embarking on a Harley adventure and running into a town
occupied by a biker gang. I was bummed
that the entire downtown (about fifteen buildings, lol) seemed shut down and
actually inquired of one of the burly biker-actors if it was okay to walk along
the side of the street. Still in
character, he muttered “sure, but run like hell if the Director yells ACTION”,
We plowed along the muddy road and entered the only
Interesting Beetle in the garage where we parked!
..which we quickly acknowledged was a charade…the café had been
built solely for the movie!
backtracked to the south end of town (between scenes) to enjoy a meal at the
Mine Shaft Inn…which is a fun joint in spite of it’s rough appearance.
Although the menu is a bit limited to meaty
choices (I had the buffalo burger, lol), we found the service exceptionally
Afterwards we visited a few shops. Madrid
is replete with funky art shops and we had as much fun gabbing with the
proprietors as anything else. After
making a few purchases we continued winding upwards through the beautiful hills
and made Santa Fe
early afternoon. Directions to our
accommodations were sketchy, so we opted to plant the rental wheels in a
parking garage and strike out on foot.
Good fortune smiled upon us as our hotel was literally across the
We checked in and after calling Sandy to pin down her location, met up with
the girls. Sandy and Patty where wrapping
up a week’s grand tour: they had been to Mesa Verde and a lot of other neat
places around the area that had me totally jealous! I was a good husband and escorted the ladies
on a Santa Fe
shopping spree. Santa Fe has a lot of places to plunk down bucks
and we looked at jewelry until my eyes glazed over. I own a few pueblo pottery pieces and love to
simply enjoy the beauty of pottery and Navajo rugs set out at these venues…but
I was a bit disappointed at the absence of traditional pieces. Since my last visit, the pots and rugs on
display all seem to feature vivid colors that make everything look more like an
Elvis laser print than native artwork…oh well.
After disbanding to clean up for dinner, Kim and I
returned to the Plaza (heart of downtown Santa
Fe) and enjoyed some brilliant live music. But storm clouds where rolling in and we
abdicated to make for the Coyote Café for dinner. On the way we called the ladies to advance dinner
time and met them shortly thereafter.
Deciding to live on the edge, we opted for the patio seating despite the
ominous clouds and thunder claps. The
storm eventually broke with exceptional fury and the waiters scurried about
rolling down tarps to effectively convert the outdoors into indoors.
Said good evening to our friends and returned to the
hotel for a nightcap at the bar. An
absolutely splendid guitar player was dishing out fabulous tunes and we were
delighted. The breadth of his play list
challenged me to challenge him, so I requested some Astor Piazzolla (the guy
who re-defined tango music…even though he didn’t play guitar, a lot of
guitarists play his songs). Of course
the dude recognized whom I was requesting and replied “certainly, if you will
tango.” Of course I don’t have a clue
how to tango, so I submitted a new request for some Strunz and Farah – a
brilliant jazz guitar duo. Kim & I
were both astonished that he performed one of their songs we knew…and armed
with an echoplex, actually did an admirable job of simultaneously
playing both guitar parts!