Crossing into New Mexico from Texas was a huge milestone on our cross country road trip: we had finally ENTERED THE WILD WILD WEST (how many times will I use this phrase now that I live in the west? The limit most likely does not exist) after stops in Nashville and Dallas!
Once over the border, we were officially in a different time zone, a different region of the United States and the landscape changed so drastically and so abruptly — it was semi-alarming. Suddenly we were looking at mesas and the desert and red dirt and round little bushes scattered across the land. I’m fairly certain the phrases, “ho. ly. shit.” and “WHAT ARE WE EVEN LOOKING AT?” escaped our mouths on more than a few occasions.
We pulled into Tucumcari, New Mexico shortly after entering the state. It was a small town, but it’s the largest city between Amarillo, Texas & Albuquerque along I-40W, and it’s known for being a significant town along what used to be the Historic Route 66. Let me tell ya something — they milked everything they could out of the fact that Route 66 used to run through the town and I was obsessed with the kitschy, retro feel that lingered. The term ‘Route 66’ is splashed across roadside billboards and McDonald’s bathroom walls and gas station signs and run-down little motels. It was almost like the entire town was holding on to the past — there was a nostalgia that hung around the quiet little place that felt like a longing for Tucumcari’s glory days of a distant ~yesteryear~.
Santa Fe was by far our most anticipated destination of the road trip. It just seemed so weird when we imagined it while planning the trip — adobes, mountains, a unique cuisine, adobes, a diverse population, live music, old Spanish-style churches, adobes… was this city even really part of the United States?We arrived in Santa Fe as the sun was setting on a Tuesday afternoon. I’m gonna go ahead and blame it on the fact that it was mid-week in January, but we found Santa Fe to be something of a ghost town. By the time we headed out for dinner around 6:30, most shops & restaurants were closed and finding a place to have a beer later that night was definitely a task. Though it took a little bit of research and poking around, the places we ended up checking out for our quick stint in Santa Fe ended up being exactly what we expected: the perfect combination of quirky style + laid back charm + Native American influence + artsy funkiness. The next morning, we spent a few hours eating at the highly recommended (by both my aunt & the Food Network!) Tia Sophia’s for breakfast, strolling the streets, and shopping. Something I found super interesting about Santa Fe is that it has a population of only about 75,000 — for some reason that number seems so small! Another fun fact: Santa Fe is the capital city with the highest altitude in the United States at 7,000 feet. Coolio, huh. Leaving Santa Fe that morning was sad, because we felt like there was so much more to the city that we didn’t have the chance to experience. I guess that’s what happens when you zip through cities in 24 hours or less… but the sadness subsided when we got back on the road: it was the final day of our road trip and by the time the sun went down that day we would be in my new home in Colorado!
Have you ever been to Santa Fe or elsewhere in New Mexico? What should I check out when I go back?