Fourth of July in New Mexico

This past weekend Andrea and I took a long trip down to Los Alamos to visit my dad for the Fourth of July.  On Friday we drove down US-285 from Denver to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  We spent about two hours there hiking around the dunes and looking at the unique wave pulses in Medano Creek since it was the first time I had been to Great Sands when there was water in the creek.  After that we drove down to Chimayo, NM where we met my family for dinner at Rancho de Chimayo before heading back to Los Alamos.

On Saturday we started the day with breakfast burritos from Chili Works before heading to Santa Fe for the Santa Fe Wine Festival at El Rancho de Las Golondrinas.  The wine festival was a lot of fun, featuring twenty New Mexico wineries.  To quote the Albuquerque Journal, “A good time was had by all.”  After the wine festival, we went back to Los Alamos where my dad cooked steak and baked potatoes before we went out to Bandelier National Monument for the campfire talk on bats.

On Sunday we slept in before going down to hike the Falls Trail at Bandelier.  The trail is 1.5 miles and 400 vertical feet down the Frijoles Canyon to the Upper Falls and another 0.25 miles and 300 vertical feet to the Lower Falls.  We hiked all the way to the Lower Falls which was a 3.5 mile hike covering 700 vertical feet.  After the hike, we went back to Los Alamos where we hung out with my family until we went back to Bandelier for the campfire talk called, “It’s Not a Weed, It’s Your Appetizer,” on using native plants for everything from food to dyes to baskets.

On Monday we went over to my Grandma Church’s house for a Fourth of July barbecue.  Following the barbecue, I helped Grandma with a couple of computer problems before we went back to my dad’s house to relax for the afternoon.  Later in the afternoon, we went down to White Rock to meet my friend Scott for the fireworks. We ended up walking over to Overlook Park and watching the fireworks celebration with Scott and his parents. 

Finally on Tuesday we got up and went over to Grandma Church’s house to say goodbye though it turned out she wasn’t there.  Then we went over to my dad’s office (Medical Associates of Northern New Mexico) to say goodbye.  After leaving the office, we drove down to Santa Fe to stop at Andrea’s favorite French pastry shop and to go to the Loretto Chapel.  The pastry shop was a partial disappointment because they had their quiche lorraine, but were all out of the strawberry tarts, beginning a series of food disappointments on the day.  The Loretto Chapel was beautiful with it’s handcarved altar (painted to look like Italian marble) and “Miraculous Staircase.”  The staircase is the reason the chapel is famous because the spiral staircase has no center support, no one knows who built it, and genetic testing shows it to be built out of an unknown species of spruce, hence the “Miraculous Staircase.”  Following Santa Fe, we headed north, stopping at Black Mesa Winery and La Chiripada Winery before heading into Taos for lunch.  In Taos the food disappointments continued when Orlando’s was closed, so we ended up going to Michael’s Kitchen for dinner.  We then drove the rest of the way back to Denver, stopping only in Walsenburg for milkshakes at Tes’ Drive-In.

It was a very nice, relaxing weekend, and it was good to get away for a while.