Amarillo to Santa Fe

Within less than a day’s drive away from Amarillo, the landscape transforms from pancake-flat to beautiful rugged peaks.

IMG_0993Monday, May 25

My mom and I rolled out of Amarillo right before noon on Memorial Day. It was a later start than we originally anticipated because I put my procrastinating skills to the test and waited to pack a large amount of my stuff on the morning of our departure. I really think that I should get an award or something, because it truly takes talent to wait that long to start packing without totally stressing out. Perhaps I was just in denial that I have to leave so many amazing people back in Amarillo!


IMG_0998Our destination for day #1 was Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our trip was fairly uneventful except for a quick stop in the Edgewood city Walmart parking lot to visit a dear friend (classy, right?). One of my pals from AQHA suggested that we make a quick stop in Santa Rosa to check out the Blue Hole. Essentially it’s a large pool of water more than 80 feet deep that is popular for scuba diving. We dropped in to take a quick peek and see what the place was all about. My mom is scuba diving certified and I’ve always wanted to learn, so the Blue Hole inspired me to pursue my goal of taking scuba diving lessons this summer. The place isn’t exclusive to divers either, and for a $5 parking fee anyone can go and take a dip in the waters, which apparently remain around 60 degrees year-round. There are lifeguards on duty and a few diving platforms to add to the fun. I hope to return someday to check out the deeps from a divers perspective.

IMG_1010After our trip to the Blue Hole we ventured around Santa Rosa and happened across the beautiful Rose of Lima Chapel and Cemetery. The sign in front said it was erected in the early 1800’s and was replaced to a new location in 1907. I tried to find a few historical facts about it, but Google wasn’t feeling very helpful this evening. I hope you enjoy the beauty of it as much as I did.


Upon arrival in Albuquerque we hunted down the Sandia Tramway and then checked into a hotel. We’re staying in single-star rated hotels  because the only thing you need a hotel for is a sink, toilet and bed. Needless to say I have googled bedbug registries more than one. Looks good so far!

No vacation is complete without a trip to the racetrack, so I loaded my mom in the car and programmed my phone to take us to the Downs at Albuquerque. Turns out, we just missed a day of racing. I was bummed because their website was not clear about offering racing on Memorial Day. But we chatted with a woman at one of the gates and she drove us around the backside in her golf cart to track down one of the outriders who I interviewed for an article once. He had already left for the day, so our trip to the track was not very successful. But I got a few neat pictures of the grandstands out of the deal, so it wasn’t a total fail.

Tuesday, May 26

This morning we were greeted with a “Deluxe Breakfast” at our hotel. I guess everyone has a different interpretation of what deluxe stands for, because to me Raisin Bran cereal doesn’t qualify. But it was food, and it was better than the alternative of no food, so I’m not complaining.

Our first stop was the Albuquerque City Gardens. There were beautiful, but didn’t hold a candle to the Amarillo Botanical Gardens.

On we went to the Sandia Peak Tramway. If I could describe the experience in seven letters they would be A. M. A. Z. I. N. G!!!!!! Once we arrived at the top we hiked 3 miles on the Crest Trail to the Kiwanis Cabin and back. The Kiwanis Cabin offered a spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains and the city of Albuquerque down below, and the hike itself was fairly easy and quite refreshing. The tram ride back down was even more gorgeous, if that’s even possible. Our guide on the tram said that from certain points along the ride you can see nine percent of New Mexico. God never fails to amaze me with His wonderful creation.



From Albuquerque we moved on to Santa Fe, which was not a long drive at all. As we neared the outskirts of Santa Fe, my eagle eye clearly spotted the grandstands of a racetrack. Detour! As we drove around the track and spied on the backside, it was pretty clear the barns had not been inhabited by horses in a long time. It bothered me that I had no idea what track I was looking at or why it had closed. I almost felt as though I was in a mystery novel! We pulled up beside a woman on a walking trail just off the road and asked what she knew about it. The track was called the Downs at Santa Fe. A search on Google told me that the track was established in 1971, but eventually closed in 1997 due to financial issues. In it’s glory days the track witnessed the likes of famed racehorse Real Quiet, and renowned jockeys Garret Gomez and Mike Smith. Although it’s still used as a concert venue, I was sad to see that such a beautiful facility had failed in the world of horse racing.

IMG_1267We eventually found our way to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, but arrived just minutes after it closed for the day. Guess that’s on the agenda for tomorrow. We finished our evening with a trip to Cowgirl BBQ. The atmosphere was amazing and our food (the Harvest Salad and Chiles Rellenos) left us feeling satisfied. I love playing pool and started itching for a game of billiards when I saw they have a separate room with a few pool tables. They also had live music on the agenda for the night. I rarely say no to taking in the music scene, but the practical side of me ruled out, as my dogs were barking something awful and I was pretty tired.

So I settled for some down-time with my mom on the balcony of our high-class hotel as we watched the  sun set behind the mountains.