Showing posts with label Santa Fe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Santa Fe. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Have a Successful (and Happy) Mother/Daughter Getaway: Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque


As you know I am retired. 

But that doesn't necessarily mean I am now traveling the world as so many retirees do.  Au contraire, I am in fact not traveling any more than I used to when I was working, because Hubby is decidedly NOT retired and may never retire since he doesn't have a pension.  He also knows he wants to keep his wife's lifestyle up to the standard to which she has become accustomed.

So if I want to travel more, I either need to do it by myself or find someone else to travel with.

Like many of you out there, my adult children do not live down the street.  I wish they did because then we could have Sunday dinners together and not worry about when we can spend time together.  Instead, we have to plan vacations around getting together, which can be wonderful but also fraught with possible problems.

Think about it.  When your family lives nearby you can choose when to see each other and for how long (unless you are the kind of mother-in-law who just drops by which I would NEVER do...)

But when your family lives far and wide, you can't just drop by or even have a regular dinner together.  You have to plan vacations around being together, and to make it worthwhile, it usually has to be for a week, or at least a few days, and once you are all together, the unspoken expectation is that you will spend all of your time together.  It's not like dropping by the house for a visit and then going home after dinner.  When you meet up after not seeing each other for months at a time, the expectation is that you will do everything together all day and all night long, especially if you are all staying together in the same house and one of you is hosting.  This worked when your kids were ten; it doesn't necessarily work that well when they are 35 with families of their own. No matter how much you all love each other, it's not natural for everyone to be thrown together for days at a time, and yet families are surprised and disappointed when tensions occur. 

I grew up in the Midwest at a time when families were born, raised and died in the same town or at least the same state.  My grandparents lived across the street and my mother's brothers and sister all lived in the same town.

But then my generation started moving away from that model.  My sister moved to New York and I moved to California right after college with nary a care about what our parents thought about that.

Anyway, that's the long story, which I won't bore you with now.

The short story is that I now live in Washington State, my son lives in California (not far from where we raised him, which he is quick to point out) and my daughter is in Virginia.  We see our son regularly because we return to California often for a variety of reasons, one of which is to see them and our two grandsons, but we don't get to see our daughter as much.

So with my being retired and Hubby not able to travel as much as I would like, I had been bugging my daughter to go on a trip with me.

Finally the timing seemed right so we talked about some destinations: Portland and Oregon Wine Country?  Hawaii?  Paris?  (Hubby said no way are we going to Paris without HIM)! 

My daughter suggested Santa Fe, New Mexico, which sounded just perfect. Something exotic (desert) and beautiful, great food, history.  Did I mention food?

I threw in Taos.  We planned to meet in Albuquerque (which I have just learned to spell) and drive to Santa Fe together.

I will just say at the outset that we had a wonderful time.  But that does not come without some planning, both physical and mental.

So for those of you out there who would like to have a successful and happy getaway with your daughter (or son), for what it's worth, here is what I've learned:

Tip #1:  Fly First Class
You would be surprised.  Flying first class is not really out of reach unless you are particularly parsimonious.  You can often score a First Class seat for an extra $100 and some frequent flyer miles. 

And for me, someone who does not fly alone that much, it is well worth the extra money, especially on the way home when I was sad to leave my daughter and exhausted from a fun-filled six days.  When I flop into that roomy leather seat (after smiling and greeting the flight attendants, of course), open up my content-filled IPad as I await my complimentary glass of sauvignon blanc (that my flight attendant happily gets from the other cabin so I don't have to drink the dreaded chardonnay), I feel safe and cared for.  It's worth every penny.  Speaking of drinking, though, be careful if you need to drive when you get to your destination.  Those unlimited free drinks in First Class could become a Toad's Wild Ride.

Tip #2: Come bearing gifts
If you have been reading my blog, you know about my Dad.  He was the most generous person I have ever known, not just with material things but with his time.  He would go out of his way to surprise you with a coveted item or do something nice for you.  So I came to equate love with gift giving to a certain extent and I like doing it. 

My daughter and I had talked about really living the Southwestern life and bringing clothes that celebrated that.  I told her I had a top I thought she would like but I also brought her a knit book bag (one of Oprah's Favorite Things...and you know how I feel about Oprah)!  Turns out the top fit her perfectly and the bag was big enough to hold not only her "personal item" (purse) for the plane but all of the stuff she bought while shopping as well!

My daughter brought me something too, which was a lovely surprise.  No matter how old we get, we enjoy gifts and heartfelt notes, right?

And buying your daughter a little something as a souvenir on the trip will make both of you happy and give her something to remember you by.  So don't be cheap!


Breakfast at Clafoutis in Santa Fe near our casita in the blouse I brought her.

Tip #3: Take turns planning a day's activities
Speaking of shopping, my daughter came up with the great idea of each of us taking turns for planning a whole day's activities.  A great idea because then each person gets to do something she wants to do (within reason, of course).

My daughter planned a day of pampering - we had facials together - and also a day exploring the cliff dwellings at Bandolier National Monument.  I was a bit worried about the latter as my daughter is a hiker, but she assured me it was not going to be a trek into the back country but rather an easy walk.  Good thing, because you have never heard such huffing and puffing as I did all over Santa Fe and Taos.  I walk a great deal but not usually at 7000 feet!


I let my daughter do the climbing.  I could barely hike at that altitude let alone haul my butt up those ladders!  I think I was suffering a bit from altitude sickness.  Or I'm just a wimp!


Don't Ask!  Oh, ok, I'm an Abert's Squirrel (with sunglasses)!

Tip #4: Plan activities you both enjoy
We took turns planning the day's activities, but we also took care to plan activities we would both like. My daughter and I both enjoy good food and the occasional adult beverage.  Ok, more than occasional but we enjoy the good stuff. 

The day I planned was a food tour of Santa Fe provided by the Santa Fe School of Cooking.  We started out with "Christmas enchiladas" and a beer at the cooking school and then walked to four other restaurants around town.  Our tour guide was a chef and he shared points of interest along the way.

"Christmas enchiladas" - when you can't decide on whether you want the red sauce or the green sauce, so you order both!  Now you know.

One of the restaurants we visited: Eloisa, named after the chef's grandmother, who was Georgia O'Keefe's personal chef.

We also visited the Agoyo Lounge, La Boca/Taberna and Il Piatto, all delicious.

In addition to the official food tour, we did our own tour and sampled some more of the fine dining Santa Fe had to offer.

                     "Christmas" Tamales

Scallop Salad                                                  

Pasqual's. Try getting into this place without a reservation.  Good luck!

Another favorite was Love Apple in Taos.
We decided to walk there not realizing part of the walk was right on the road out of town (no sidewalk), so as it became darker, we started worrying about our walk back.  We asked the waitress if there was a taxi service in Taos.  Uh...not really, but there is this guy.  I texted "the guy," Mario, who came and got us in his Town Car "in 15 minutes," as promised and drove us the mile or so to our casita for $10.  It was the best $10 we ever spent and turns out he and his wife are "local celebrities (his words)," as they both have bit parts in the TV show "Longmire."  He regaled my daughter with his pictures from the show before she got out of the car.  But a small price to pay as he saved our "you-know-whats" by leaving his home and coming to get us at 9pm on a Sunday night.  Thank you, Mario!


My daughter and I also enjoy "exploring" bars.

And then there is shopping.

And that was just the beginning!

Tip #5:  Plan for when things go wrong.

So on to Plan B!

Tip # 6: Always have a Plan B.

Tip #7:  Book two bedrooms and two baths, if possible.
It took me awhile, but I realize that my children are no longer children.  They require the same privacy that I do, so I think it's important when traveling with any other adult, that you have your private spaces.  I also know that my daughter has a different view about keeping her private space neat (she has a unique way of organizing her clothes - it's called heaps on the floor), so it's best for all around that we have our own bedrooms, not to mention that I probably snore. 

I rented casitas with two bedrooms in all three destinations: Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque, and at two of them, we had two bathrooms. I think traveling is as much about enjoying your accommodations away from home as it is about touring.  When you have a nice, spacious accommodation with a kitchen, you can store your, supplies... and enjoy it all at the end of the day.  Also having your own bedroom allows you some private time to call home, check your email or just unwind. 

(Two bedrooms, 1.5 baths - no TV but great wifi).

I got the .5 en suite bath.  I pulled the "I'm old" card.)






(Two bedrooms, two full en suite baths but no wifi in the casita - but there were TV's in every room)!

Casas de Suenos Old Town Historic Inn - Albuquerque

(Two bedrooms, and only one bath, but this was an unattached casita with it's own entrance and driveway and $100 less per night than the casita in Taos). 

Albuquerque is an undiscovered, very affordable gem!

Tip #8:  Don't go there
I talked about "the mother/daughter connection" in a blog post a year ago.  That connection can be a complicated one. Being off alone with your daughter can result in some heartfelt discussions, but if you want a happy trip and to inspire closeness, now is the not the time to bring up unpleasant topics or recriminations about the past (if there are any).  Don't mention the heaps of clothes on the floor, either. The "don't go there" admonition also speaks to that as in "don't go IN there." That's why you have two bedrooms.

Tip #9: Plan for down time
It's OK to go to bed early, to do some reading or let your daughter go off on her own (especially if you have a daughter who walks fast and you have been having trouble keeping up with her and she thinks your pace is called "strolling)". 
No matter how much fun you are having, we all need "me time."  Just remember what I said above about how unnatural it for adults to be together 24/7.

Tip #10: Show love
It goes without saying that we should always show love to others whenever we can.  However, I also think when you are not around your loved ones very much, especially your adult children, it is not as easy to show affection as it was when they were young.  I would say that I was very affectionate to them when they were little, but probably not as much as they grew older. 
My mother was not particularly affectionate when I was older either, but that could probably be because I was quite a disdainful teenager. That would turn anyone off.  But here is your chance.  Who knows how long it will be until you get that chance again?  Kisses good morning and good night go well at any age and hand-holding and hugging go a long way too. 


Tip #11: Wear comfortable shoes, try to keep up and don't complain!
See Tip #9 above.

Tip #12: Spend the night in the town you are flying out of
When the trip is winding down, we tend to want to get to the airport and fly away.  My daughter and I both had flown into Albuquerque and planned to drive back there from Taos.  But instead of racing to catch the plane directly from Taos, we planned to spend the night in Albuquerque and fly out the next day.
If we had planned to catch the plane the same day that we left Taos, we might have missed out on the Taos Pueblo,

with the iconic church immortalized by Georgia O'Keefe and Ansel Adams which we visited that morning

and the gorgeous drive down The Turquoise Trail from Santa Fe to Albuquerque (which, by the way is not well marked to get to, so it's good to have a great navigator, which my daughter was), a drive that takes longer than the interstate and would not have been practical if we were trying to catch a plane. 

Instead, we booked another charming casita in Albuquerque so we could take our time getting back.

We stopped in the arty town of Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid, instead of Ma-DRID) and had the best fish tacos we had ever had at the Mineshaft Tavern and were able to really soak up some Southwest flavor, if a little on the quirky side. 

And I discovered my love for fried green chiles!
We also had the chance to discover Old Town Albuquerque (our casita was just steps away),
walk around the University district,
where we discovered the best Buffalo Exchange we had ever been to.  If we had had more room in our suitcases, we would have made a killing.  Their stock and prices were fantastic! 
We also got to listen to some live music and hang with the locals at a pizza joint near our casita.
And my daughter found the hat she was looking for at Larry's Hats, a little Mom and Pop hat shop with a lovely friendly lady who helped us.  How can you resist a place with a sign that says, "We want you to play with our hats!"

If we had been trying to make a flight from Taos we would have missed out on all of that.

Tip #13:  Have a sense of humor...especially about yourself.
When you lose your airplane boarding pass on your way to meet your daughter and find it under the security conveyor belt, when you can't find the ignition button on the rental car or how to move your seat and have to flag down the rental car attendant before the two of you can even head to Santa Fe and when you didn't even realize your car had the rear back-up camera until you were returning the car, all you can do is laugh and realize you haven't traveled much by yourself before.  And you needed this!

So that was our trip to Santa Fe and beyond.  
Now I think my daughter and I can relate to this...

"You’re from Santa Fe if…you know what Christmas chile is…you’ve worn flip-flops, snow boots and a rain jacket in the same day…you’ve never seen a three-story building…your color wheel consists of shades of brown…the mean age around you is 65 at any given time."
---Chicken Joe
All true!

I will leave you with this iconic shot - iconic for me anyway. 

No, it's not a head on a stick from "Game of Thrones." 

It's a vintage feather hat that my daughter scored at the Buffalo Exchange, sitting on top of her carry-on bag, as we wait for her flight to leave Albuquerque.  It's iconic for me because I hope she will think of me and our trip together every time she wears it.

So that's it.  That was our trip. 
And if this is the only post about our trip, you might be wondering why I called this Pt. 1.

This is Part 1 of what we hope will be an annual thing.  We are already planning our next trip... to Savannah and Charleston.

So stay-tuned for Part 2!


Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday

for my review of the new movie 

"Pawn Sacrifice" 


The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

and the latest on

My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
 I Die Project."

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