A Travellerspoint blog

A Day in Taos

sunny 31 °F

Dale and I love Taos and Santa Fe, NM. We’ve been to Taos on many occasions and have dreamed of living there. Maybe in my next blog I’ll write about our 1st trip to Taos with our young boys.

This trip was going to be mostly about shopping. Our RV has many issues after many miles of travel. I planned to make new cushions, trim, and curtains but wanted Native American decor. I’d been in a couple of fabric stores on a street just off the square, a couple of years ago, so knew exactly what I wanted to buy. I couldn’t find this fabric easily anywhere else so was anxious to go to Taos and purchase some.

We have been out of chili powder, good chili powder, the kind from the little Hogan style kiosk on the main street, just off the square. I was also wanting to buy a ristra for our door and one with edible chili pods for the kitchen.

We also love the New Mexican food and have a list of restaurants that are our favorite haunts. I wanted to talk with some restaurants about making chili sauce as mine that I made from what I remembered, has been a little thin.

We drove from the Grand Canyon to Santa Fe, with a quick stop at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. We wanted to buy a bean pot since the ones we bought a few years ago didn’t work out well. We’d seen the pots at the school when we were there for cooking lessons and wanted one. I also wanted to buy a chili roaster so this was a perfect opportunity to buy all these things.

We made it to the school and purchased all of the items on our list then drove up to Taos. It was dark so we were thinking of how great it would be to see the farolitos in Espanola. Alas, we did not see farolitos, they were not lining the bridge into the city or the sidewalks. Only a handful of buildings had farolitos. We were so disappointed, but things do change, alas.

We got to Taos where we had a room at the La Fonda, a historic hotel, right on the square. The square was also very disappointing as it was full of lights, lights that blinked to music, lights on every tree limb; lots of lights. Farolitos lined the low walls, but they were drowned out by the lights. To us it was garish. Progress? IMG_20151218_184427602.jpg

We went to breakfast at a restaurant we’d eaten at many times but found that now they add flour to their chili sauce. We told them sorry, take your coffee back, and we walked out, but not before the waitress told us of a place, the Taos Diner, that had great gluten free dishes.

We went straight to the Taos Diner and it turns out all of their chili is gluten free, as are many selections. The staff at the Taos Diner then told me how they make their chili sauce, which is exactly the way I’ve made mine except that they make a roux with corn meal.

After stuffing ourselves, we went shopping, buying all of the Christmas presents needed, fabric, lots of chili products and New Mexico wine. We got lots of walking in as we kept having to walk back to our truck, parked at the hotel, and load it up with more stuff!
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We’d wanted to try a new, recommended restaurant, one by the San Francisco de Asis, located in a very old building. Unfortunately, they add wheat to their chili’s so dinner was out of the question. We went back to Orlando’s, a place we’ve been several times, even taking grandkids on one trip. At Orlando’s the waitress told me how to make chili using pods only, Caribe. I’d tried this process before and it was a disaster, now I learned that I had not soaked the chili pods prior. IMG_20151218_175628037.jpg

I really like the Caribe as it is a pure chili flavor, deep red in color, but I also like the complex flavor of the cooked chili sauce. I’m anxious to try each with my fresh ground powder and fresh ristra.
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Now we are returning home. Work will be starting up and we must prepare for Christmas. Our break is over.

Posted by Miss Chris 11:07 Archived in USA Tagged food road_trip travel caribe taos chili_sauce farolitos Comments (0)

Celebrating at Grand Canyon

An anniversary at the Grand Canyon

30 °F

We made it to Grand Canyon after dark, we’d forgotten about the time change. But we got settled into our cabin, part of the Bright Angel Lodge, and then went to have dinner. The cabins are historic, very old but refurbished with modern plumbing.

I must explain that there is a rim walk that goes quite a way around the South Rim. I’m not sure exactly where it starts or stops but we have been on several sections. There are low walls on some of the edges and other places no wall at all.

Along the South Rim are 3 hotels; the El Tovar, then just west the Thunderbird and then just west of that is the Bright Angel. The El Tovar is probably the most famous. Only 2 hotels were open now; the El Tovar and the Bright Angel. These hotels are in very close proximity to each other, each connected by the rim walk and separated by large driveways. The walk from Bright Angel to the El Tovar is about 5 min. The walk in the area is paved and wide and can accommodate wheelchairs. Other portions of the rim walk are dirt.

The Arizona Room, attached to the Bright Angle Lodge, had been recommended to us for dinner. The Zanterra Co is very conscious about food issues and the staff were aware of Celiac. There were many items on the menu gluten free as well as bread. This was evident quickly as we reviewed the menu with our waiter. We had a nice dinner, me a stuffed Native Squash that I’ll for sure try to replicate at home.

The weather was so cold, but we found that by layering up we were not cold at all. The only issue was icy spots on the walkways. The sky was clear with sparkling stars.

I woke up at about dawn to a beautiful blue sky and went out to shoot photos. There were no clouds and no apparent haze. It was cold and my fingers were the worst since I had to keep my fingertips free for the cameras. Few people were out so I had the canyon nearly to myself. I shot a bunch of photos with my big camera and several with my cell phone. It was so enjoyable to be out without many people, shooting photos where I liked.
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We had an anniversary breakfast at the El Tovar, complete with a glass of champagne. We had a large filling breakfast so that it would last until an early dinner. The El Tovar has a huge fresh tree in the lobby that extends up to the 2nd floor. The dining room has farolitos around the room, on a shelf close to the ceiling. Wreaths hang on the walls. Everywhere there is a feeling of Christmas.

Feeling full, but not stuffed we decided to take the free Shuttle out to the Visitors Center. Even though it was not above freezing outside, we were toasty warm and able to just enjoy the drive thru the snow.

We walked from the Visitor’s Center to Mathers Point, rim walkways had been cleared and were free from ice. Mathers Point itself was full of people, especially from other countries. It seemed like a bus full of Asians had stopped there. Other years we’ve seen busloads of people from Spain and other countries. But we went to the areas not so crowded so it wasn’t a problem.

We went out a little before sunset, as at sunset the canyon is actually mostly dark. Unfortunately, the sky was quite hazy so photos were not so nice.
We had a nice walk up to the El Tovar and got there just a little early as we hoped to enjoy the tree. We’d wanted a window seat, but the hostess recommended that we have the table in front of the fireplace as the canyon would be dark. We realized that she had a good suggestion. So there we had a table front and center of the large fireplace.

Arizona law prohibits ones from bringing their own wine in so we had to order from their menu. We had a wonderful ½ bottle of Champagne and ½ bottle of Zinfandel. Dinner was good, but dessert was amazing. We’d ordered a piece of Flourless Chocolate Cake, which the chef then decorated for our anniversary. So memorable. It was amazing with the 20-year old port.
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We walked back to our room in the cold night air, full and happy after a wonderful day.

Posted by Miss Chris 14:32 Archived in USA Tagged grand_canyon travel anniversary trip bright_angel_lodge rim_trail el_tovar Comments (0)

An Anniversary Trip

A trip to the southwest

sunny 57 °F

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Tomorrow is our 43rd wedding anniversary. Amazing. We’d planned a trip to include Taos, Hovenweep, Jemez and ending at the Grand Canyon today. Alas, when the weather was predicted to be frozen we decided to forgo that trip. The RV has too many issues and we’d likely be found as frozen mummies.

New and improved plan is the one we have now. We should be at the Grand Canyon by dinner time. We will stay at the Bright Angel Lodge, a place we’ve been in when beginning our hike across the canyon years ago. We’d wanted to stay at the El Tovar, but the rooms didn’t look appealing, so we will go for breakfast and dinner there tomorrow.

After the Grand Canyon, we will head to Santa Fe, where we will make a stop at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. We won’t go for cooking lessons, this time, but rather supplies and Christmas presents.

From Santa Fe, we will drive on to Taos. This should be towards evening so we will get to see the city and Espanola decorated with Farolitos. This is truly a wonderful sight to see and we are so happy that we can see this again.
In Taos, we plan to eat and eat some more! La Cava and Orlando's. OMG!!!! Also, we must buy some spices and fabrics for our RV. It is due for a major remodel.
This trip is only for Dale and I. We are basking in the aloneness!

Posted by Miss Chris 14:02 Archived in USA Tagged grand_canyon travel anniversary trip taos Comments (0)

Driving Down the 395

Ready to Backpack but alas

sunny 75 °F

Another long day of driving, we wanted to make it to Bishop in order to backpack on Tues. Alas, it was not to be. Best to just take the journey in stride.

On Monday, we had a tire blowout on the RV and put the spare on. Then later the spare blew before we could find another replacement tire. We’d stopped a couple of tire stores along the way, but no one had a used tire for a spare.

Fortunately, the closest town with a tire store was only 25 min away so we were able to buy 2 new tires. We were on our way with a delay of a couple of hours.

We had another driving day on Tues. We’d decided to stop at the Patagonia store in Reno since we were so late. Our friend John was in Reno for the day and stopped by to see us before we left the area. Fun!

It was Dale’s birthday and we thought that maybe we could get to a campsite where there was a nice view. Our son suggested that we camp at Convict Lake then just do some day hikes out of the campground.

As we were driving south, it became more and more smoky. My nose plugged up and it became hard to breath. It was getting dark so we stopped at the rest stop near Mammoth. We found a place to park on the outside space so we were able to extend the slide out. We still made a nice dinner of sausage simmered in gluten free beer.

As we drove past Convict Lake the following morning, the smoke was so thick, worse than ever. The smoke is from a huge fire in Kings Canyon and is being blown over the sierras into the valley where 395 runs north and south. The smoke is the worse from June Lake area down to the Mt. Whitney area. We stopped at the Inner agency, where the ranger told us that he wouldn’t hike in the smoke as it is in unhealthy stages. So much for backpacking. We consoled ourselves with macaroons and coffee at Schat's. IMG_201509..2532396_HDR.jpg

We decided to return home via Walker Pass that goes into the Lake Isabella area. We thought we’d stop at the Walker Pass Campground for lunch, this is where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the area. This is the hiking trail that goes Mexico to Canada.

We stopped in the empty campground and set up for lunch in the RV. We’d finished lunch and were cleaning up when 2 young men walked up the hill with packs on. We came out of the RV and asked if they were hikers. Yes, they had been on the trail for the past 2 months, starting out in Oregon. They were going to hike to Mexico, the end of the trail. We discussed backpacking, people hiking the trail and shared water and our backpacking food with them.

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The journey ended with a really great conversation.

Posted by Miss Chris 12:46 Archived in USA Tagged hiking california driving cooking rv pacific_crest_trail Comments (0)

Working Our Way Down Vancouver Island

overcast 65 °F

Our day started well, woke up early; we had to check out of the RV park, hop on a ferry and hopefully make it to Oregon by dinner. That all looked good until I Google mapped everything and looked up the ferry schedules. We’d already missed the early ferries and wouldn’t be making Oregon any time soon.

Campbell River is close to ½ way between Victoria, in the south, and Port Hardy in the north. There are 3 options for ferries from Campbell River: Nanaimo 1-1/2 hours away, Swartz Bay 2-1/2 hours away and Victoria 3 hours away and sails to Port Angeles.

Nanaimo has fewer ferries but by the time one drives to Swartz Bay there isn’t any real time savings. Unless one has missed the last one in Nanaimo, then there are later ones from Swartz and Victoria.

We wanted to walk to the viewpoint of Elk Falls and then because we’d miss the next ferry, then we’d have lunch at this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. From lunch, we’d drive down to Nanaimo and catch the 5:30 ferry to Vancouver.

The falls are a little bit of a walk away, mostly downhill, which means uphill on the way back. The path is paved so accessible to everyone. There are several paths off of the one to view the falls but I’m not sure if they are paved. The falls are small next to some we’ve seen but a nice walk. We took the dog, but she did not like the grated stairs down to the metal suspension bridge leading to a lookout. Other dogs were not having a good time either. IMG_201508..3031879_HDR.jpg

Lunch- Dave’s is right on the dock where the fishing boats come in, with about 4 little tables inside and a small counter and outside a deck. There was a line the entire time we were there, not a long one but nevertheless, someone always arriving. Everything on the menu can be made gluten-free which means I could order fish and chips. Oh, they were such a treat. Next time, I want to order the oyster sandwich!

From lunch, we stopped and bought some Canadian Whiskey for Dale and a couple of small items. Then we drove down to Nanaimo. The leaves are turning on the island and in the storm light looked so beautiful. IMG_201508..5321852_HDR.jpg

By the time we got to Nanaimo, an hour before sailing, we saw that it was 100% sold out. After calculating times to drive to the next ferry, we decided to get in line for the 8:45 sailing. We filled our time, me with doing old word games and Dale walking Twinks and napping.
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All part of the journey.

Posted by Miss Chris 15:45 Archived in Canada Tagged travel driving canada ferry elk_falls Comments (0)

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