Taos, New Mexico

The Sagebrush Inn in Taos, New Mexico

When November hit and I realized I had one extra, unplanned, day of vacation left for the year, the words “ski trip” popped into my head and wouldn’t go away! After our New Year’s trip last year to Snowbird, Utah, Ryan hasn’t stopped pestering me to go skiing again ASAP, so another long, New Year’s weekend was the perfect way to quell our needs for the slopes.

With just a little more than a month to plan, hotels were booked up and there were only a few very pricy, red-eye, layover-centric flights available, so we decided to research what was in driving distance from Dallas. Driving the 10 hours to Santa Fe in March was really fun, so tacking on another hour to go to Taos, New Mexico seemed like the way to go. While the ski in / out hotels in Taos Ski Valley were sold out, we found the adorable, dog friendly Sagebrush Inn in downtown Taos about 40 minutes from the mountain that was just $130 a night! With the Sagebrush Inn booked, our car packed, dog settled in, and podcasts downloaded, we were ready to head out!

We left the Thursday night before New Year’s so that we could take Friday as a vacation day and use the Monday holiday as our 4th day of long weekend. I always try to take vacation on long weekends so you can get a bonus day of vacation (learn more about making the most of your limited vacations days). Needless to say, leaving after work for an 11-hour drive was rough since we didn’t arrive in Taos until the wee hours of the morning, but it was so worth it! You only live once right?

We finally arrived at the Sagebrush Inn and were greeted with a very warm, classic Taos, adobe vibe. Our suite was on the second floor looking over a snowy courtyard which was perfect for our puppy to roam in. We actually had two rooms in our suite with double king beds and an awesome fire-place with tons of fire wood! I was so excited to use all of the fire building skills I learned from watching millions of episodes of Survivor.

Once we got to the room, we got our ski stuff ready to go for the next day, set our alarm for a bright and early 6:40 AM, and passed out!

Taos Day 1:

The early bird gets the worm right? At least that is what I have to tell myself to get out of bed before 7… that and the fact that we would be skiing in a few short hours! Thankfully I had gotten all of my ski clothes ready the night before, so getting ready was quick. We walked Dakota and let her play with the other 20 or so dogs at the hotel and then went to the restaurant for our complimentary breakfast. Breakfast was pretty basic but gave us the fuel we needed for a long day of skiing.

While there was a free shuttle from the Inn to Taos Ski Valley, we opted to drive up the mountain for a bit more flexibility, and so I could take advantage of the heated seats! We drove through downtown Taos, passed snow filled farms with cows and horses, and up from 7K feet to 10K feet in the Valley. While the slopes didn’t officially open until 9, we were glad for our early start since parking at 8:30 was already a mad house. Fortunately, there were shuttles from the parking lot to the ski area entrance so that all of the people who brought their own equipment wouldn’t have to lug it too far.

We don’t have skis, so we went into Cottam’s Ski Shop at the entrance of the ski area. They fitted us with shoes and skis in no time, but just long enough for me to look at all of the other merchandise in the store and want to buy 3-4 new sets of ski gear… Thankfully, Ryan pulled me away from the vibrant ski jacket patterns and we put our gear on and started the trek to the ski lift. I have to say, the worst part of skiing is walking far distances in ski boots with all of your gear.

Finally, we made it to the lifts and the base of the slopes. Looking up, the slopes were super intimidating as all of those that funneled to the lift area were black runs, however, a sign posted at the bottom exclaimed there were easier runs on the other side. *Phew!*

At the bottom of Taos Ski Valley

With skis on, we made our way to the lift and were carried up to the white ski-heaven that awaited us! Since this was only Ryan’s 3rd time skiing and my 5th, we decided to take it easy during the first half of the day, mainly sticking on the green slopes. To our pleasant surprise, our legs picked up right where we left-off in March and we were skiing with ease! The green slopes in Taos were actually pretty steep and amazingly long and wide, so it took us a while to go down the slopes while regaining our confidence. Long slopes are the best and I prefer to take it slow since I’d rather spend more time skiing than sitting on the ski lifts to go back up!

Skiing in Taos, New Mexico

On the left side of the mountain, there is a restaurant called Phoenix and espresso bar next to one of the lifts. We made our way over there and had a lunch and caffeine break. I got a pulled-chicken sandwich and Ryan had a brisket sandwich. The bread was stale and the meat was dry for both of us and our meal cost $30, so we decided to avoid that place for the rest of our stay.

After our lunch break, we decided to attempt the blue slopes. While I was a little tepid at the start, the runs were nice and wide so I was able to control my skis well. The blue and green runs ran together nicely and we were easily able to avoid blacks. It seemed that there wasn’t much difference in most of the greens and blues, meaning the greens we warmed up on were pretty challenging to being with. Taos is definitely a fun mountain to go down with a ton of run options and lots of lifts. As an added perk, there were only maybe 2-4 people with us on any given run.

Eventually, our legs started to give out and we knew it was time to call it a day. We were pretty hungry so we went to a Mexican place at the bottom of the main lift area called Rhoda’s Restaurant. We sat at the bar and watched a very eccentric bar tender shoot around while yelling jokes and making drinks for everyone. I filled up on a yummy Bloody Mary and Ryan and I split a quesadilla.

Bloody Mary at Rhoda's Restaurant in Taos Ski Valley

After our drinks, we stored our skis and gear at Cottam’s Ski Shop and headed back into town. Dakota was ecstatic to see us when we got back and we took her out into the field behind the Sagebrush Inn to play in the snow for a while. She loves the snow and it was so cute to see her jumping around in it. There is nothing like having your furry best friend enjoy a trip as much as you.

Eventually, we had to get ready and find somewhere to go for dinner. I had a shower and washed my hair, and then learned the hard way that our hair dryer was dead – oh no! My mother would kill me if she knew I ventured out in 20-degree weather with wet hair. I called down to the Inn’s front desk for a new one, but they never ended up bringing it to the room so, for the sake of time, I had to improvise! I realized that our heaters in both rooms blew the hot hair out and up, just like hair driers do, so I resorted to standing over the heater and drying my hair on the highest setting. It was effective and actually quicker than a usual dryer, but I don’t recommend it unless you are in “dryer circumstances”! (Insert eye-roll at corny joke here).

While most places were booked up, I found one on TripAdvisor called Common Fire which said they would have room for us. We had Mexican food for lunch, so a farm-to-table style place like Common Fire was exactly what we were craving.

The restaurant itself was so homey feeling. It was just one large room with a huge hearth in one corner where all of the food was cooked. The prep table was like a kitchen island, separating the hearth from the guests, though the hosts and servers were running around the island whilst mingling with everyone in the restaurant as if they were family. The decorations were sparse but made of pine and natural materials that enhanced the warm, cabin-like feel, and with the hustle and bustle of the hosts, and the guests savoring the food and wine that perfectly complemented their rich conversations around each dining tables, the whole atmosphere reminded me of an oversized dinner party at home.  I loved it!

The hearth at Common Fire in Taos, New Mexico

With wine in hand, we waited for our table in the spacious back-room of the restaurant for about an hour while reflecting on our day. Eventually, we were escorted by one of the owners, who had just the bubbliest personality, to our table.

The menu was very reasonably priced for a farm-to-table restaurant so we deiced to try a few things. First up were roasted carrots that were crispy on the outside but quickly melted in your mouth with an explosion of flavor.

Our second course of pork bone broth tasted just like bone broth (I wasn’t so partial to that course), and was quickly followed by the third dish of Bo’ssam, three cabbage leaf Korean-style pork tacos. The tacos were light had just the right amount of flavor. Lastly, was a pork chop with a pear-apple compote and acorn squash. Pork and apple were made for each other so the dish was delicious, however, there was just a smidge too much fat on the pork for my tastes. Overall, the dinner was very enjoyable and warmed our bellies and our soul with such a great concept on a cold, snowy night.

Pork with apple-pear compote and pork bone broth from Common Fire in Taos, New Mexico

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, started a fire in the fireplace, and feel quickly to sleep.

Santa Fe, Day 3

Santa Fe, Day 3

Another early morning for our last day in Santa Fe. We packed up our bags so they were ready to throw in the car for our noon checkout, walked the puppy, and headed to breakfast at Cafe Pasqual’s across the street.

Cafe Pasqual's in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Cafe has a stellar reputation in Santa Fe and was recommended over and over for a breakfast-must and we immediately saw why when the folks next to us at our communal table received their food. It was all so delicious and fresh. Everything at Cafe Pasqual’s is made in-house and, for the most part, is organic and naturally raised. We made 10 new friends at the communal table from all over the States and filled up interesting conversation and on the below:

  • Breakfast Quesadilla – Whole wheat tortilla, melted jack, guacamole, scrambled eggs, house-made chorizo and green chile salsa
  • Durango Omelette – three organic eggs, Fra Mani rosemary ham, jack cheese, scallions, guacamole, sautéed field mushrooms, green chile, and house-made toast

After our huge breakfast, we were ready to walk! We hopped in the car and drove over to Canyon Road, home to over 100 art galleries, to walk and see all of the art. The galleries were just opening as we arrived and the art spanned all styles. Each gallery had its own vibe and greeting party upon arrival – my favorite were the dog greeter – always a treat! It is truly awesome how Santa Fe loves and welcomes man’s best friend as much as we do.

IMG_1470 Galleries on Canyon Road Santa Fe, New Mexico

We ended up walking into the McLarry Modern gallery which housed art that completely complemented our tastes. We stumbled upon a room in the back full of colorful art that, upon further inspection, reflected certain infamous people in American culture. Figuring out who was portrayed by the colors and symbols in each painting became a game for us as we traveled through each canvas. We discovered that we unintentionally completely fell in love with Poteet Victory’s Abbreviated Portraits series.

We came to Canyon Road with every intention of just window shopping our way through the afternoon, but once we learned the story behind the series, were entranced by his wife, and taken up to the studio where the works come to life, and meeting Poteet himself, we decided to make Mrln Mnro our first original piece of art (the red and white piece featured above). Such an exciting and surprising day!

After we finalized our purchase, we walked through a few other galleries, learning about the artists, styles, and stories behind the various pieces. All of the art curators at each place were friendly and so knowledgeable and willing to impart that knowledge on us. I don’t think we could have had a better experience.

We had to head back to the hotel and checkout at noon, so we grabbed our bags and our excited dog, and started to long drive back to Dallas. Thankfully, we downloaded some really interesting podcast series, my favorite being Criminal, and took in the Texas views on the way home. We must have passed thousands of windmills along the way. We also passed a donkey that escaped a fence and was being chased by a lone police officer who was trying to corral the donkey while keeping the other horses within the fence boundaries. It was pretty funny!

Road trip to Texas

Road trip to Texas

Ten hours, and a stop or three later, we made it back to Dallas with some great memories and the constant urge to travel again!

Santa Fe, Day 2

Santa Fe, Day 2

The perks of going to bed at 9:30 PM definitely start with waking up early and refreshed the next morning. After a quick walk with the puppy, we hopped in the car, grabbed our Starbucks breakfast, and headed back to the slopes.

We were determined to attempt the blue runs at the very top of the mountain today, since those we did in the middle section of the mountain the day before were not too bad. After a few warm up green runs, we took the lift up to the top of the mountain! The view was out of this world. We started down the blue run and were a little intimidated by how it appeared as the slope totally dropped of into a super steep run! Upon getting closer to the edge though, the slop was wide, do-able, and absolutely exhilarating! Not to mention the view down the entire route was stellar!

Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico

One of the best things about Ski Santa Fe is the length of the runs. You can spend 20 minutes going down if you know the right routes which totally makes up for the long lift ride up! We spent the better part of the morning exploring the blue runs streaming down the top of the mountain and had an absolute blast. The mountain was basically empty to so no lines and having the runs to yourself cant be beat!

IMG_0793

We started our ski day right as the lifts opened and went down run after run until about 1 PM when we needed a food break. Instead of going to the little grill, we went back to the Prius, opened up the hatch back, and ate our Central Market snacks for lunch while taking in the view. Between the breeze, healthy food, the view, and the company – it was absolutely perfect. Reenergized and ready to go, we skied until about 3 PM before out legs started to give out and we needed to call it quits. We checked all of our gear and it started to snow! What a cool way to end the ski day!

The drive down the mountain is so serine and filled with hiking trails which we definitely need to explore in warmer weather on our next New Mexico visit. If I could, I would have had Ryan stop every 5 minutes for photos at the next amazing view, but we decided to just take it all in instead. While I would love to have more pictures of it, sometimes you have to put down your camera and soak it all in.

We got back to the room and Ryan needed a nap. I decided to do a little shopping and took off on foot around the Santa Fe square. It started to snow absolutely giant flakes and turned into a mini blizzard! I caught a few flakes on my tongue and couldn’t get enough of the snow fall and sat on our hotel’s porch watching it fall until Ryan was up and ready to go. We were going to walk down to the art galleries on Canyon road, but due to the snow, we went to the hotel’s highly acclaimed cocktail bar, the Secreto Lounge, for some amazing drinks before the 10 foot walk to our dinner destination – Tabla de Los Santos. After having so much Spanish food over the past few days, we wanted something more modern, and the menu at Tabla de Los Santos made our mouths water. Our celebratory dinner consisted of:

  • Crispy Quail – Buttermilk brined, green chile powder dusted & tempura fried, served over braised organic kale and bacon, local honey drizzle, green chile lemon aioli
  • Warm Goat Cheese Salad – Organic Farmer’s Market greens, toasted pinõn, grapefruit segments, grilled crostini’s, maple balsamic
    vinaigrette
  • Cassis Seared Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast – Butternut squash ravioli, fresh sage & pinõn cream sauce, oven dried tomatoes, sautéed
    baby spinach (This is what I had – I could eat it every day for years! Sooo yum!)
  • Lamb Chops – Orange & wild local honey, garlic mashed potatoes, strudel with spinach, mushroom, feta & oven dried tomato,lamb demi-glace,minted chimichurri.

After that dinner and a bottle of wine, we retired upstairs to relax and get ready for our last day in Santa Fe!

 

Santa Fe

Santa Fe

Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico

6:30 AM wake up due to a combination of a loud garbage truck, excitement, and a attention needing puppy dog. We started the day with a quick puppy walk to the little park up the street and with some free coffee in the hotel. We put Dakota back in the room with a big raw hide to keep her occupied, ran to the Starbucks up the street for a quick breakfast, and then took off to Ski Santa Fe! Reading online, time estimates to get from Santa Fe to the mountain for skiing are all over the place, so to set the record, it takes about 35 minutes. The path is winding up various mountain sides and all signal is lost almost immediately. The drive is very scenic and packed with look out points and trail heads for hiking.

Hotel St. Francis Santa Fe, New Mexico

We arrived at the ski center around 8 AM and got a primo parking spot right out front. The gear rental process was very streamlined and easy and the rentals ($32 per day) / lift tickets ($74 per day) are very reasonable. We got ready and headed to the slopes. There was no line for any of the lifts at all during our entire two days on the mountain. The runs are wide and really long so going from top to bottom took a nice amount of time. Being somewhat beginner skiers, we stuck to the green runs for the first hour but the blues were not intimidating looking at all so we adventured to them on the second half of the day. The skiing was just amazing and, even though the snow was a little icy and slushy, we had a blast.

 

There is also a little “Adventure Land” adventure park off one of the slopes in Ski Santa Fe. You ski into the forest a little way and there is a little “bear cave” made out of boulders, a tunnel to ski through, a teepee, and a few jumps which I was able to land! Really cool and good for both beginners and intermediates.

The bear cave in Adventure Land at Ski Santa Fe

About halfway down the mountain, there is a “spiked” coffee shop and grill where you can have a customized coffee or hot coco with some Bailey’s and lunch. I had a ham and cheese Quiche and Ryan had a burrito – both seemed to be made by Chef Mic (aka the microwave). I brought a Quest bar and opted for that instead.

We skied for a little bit longer before the exhaustion of the late night drive / early morning kicked in. We skied back down to the Prius and took a hydration and 15 minute nap break in the back of the car. I have to say, I love the Pruis. SO comfortable and gas efficient! We hung out in the car for about 30 minutes enjoying the breeze and the view before putting the skis in the back and driving down the mountain to our hotel for a shower and a nap.

Relaxing in the Prius at Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico

I woke up a little before Ryan so I harnessed up Dakota and we took off on a walk around town. She just happens to be a super cute dog and so we had to stop about every 5 paces for someone else to pet her! We walked up to the main square where lots of locals set out their goods for purchase. There was also a band playing by the fountain in the middle of the square and the 60 degree, sunny weather was just the icing on the perfect-walk cake! We made our way back to the hotel and I swapped out Dakota for Ryan as my exploring buddy. We went into some of the shops around the square, a few galleries, and grabbed a delicious latte at the Haagen-Dazs store before making the 7 block walk to our highly recommended local dinner spot.

Santa Fe is known for its green and red chilies which they mostly use on top of Mexican styled dishes. We opted to try them out at Tomasita’s restaurant which is supposed to be where all the locals go. It did not disappoint! The place was packed and so we busied ourselves drinking some absolutely delicious margaritas and making friends at the bar during our 45 minute wait. I do have to say, the people in Santa Fe are so friendly and fun!
We were sat at a table in the back and didn’t have to salivate long over the menu before ordering a tamale and enchilada plate that incorporated both styles of chilies. Our dinner also came with puffy sopapillas and honey butter which were delicious. Needless to say, we were stuffed by the end of our dining experience, and headed straight back to the hotel with our food babies to hit the sheets.

Road Trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Road Trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

There are so many options around Texas for three-day weekend trips from wine in Fredericksburg, art in Marfa, music in Austin, to the River Walk in San Antonio – all within a few hours and full of great food, culture, and good times. The one thing Texas doesn’t have though is skiing and, ever since our trip to Snowbird, Utah, we have been hooked on the slopes. With all of that said, when we were trying to plan a quick get away for our 2 year anniversary and realized that Santa Fe’s highly recommended slopes were just a 9.5 hour drive away, we just couldn’t stay in Texas.

Road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hotels in Santa Fe are so authentically “Santa Fe”. They are all decorated in the local adobe style and have so much personality. Additionally, most have special rates throughout the year so you can find buy 2 nights, get the third free deals, and much more if you do your research. We found a charming place in the middle of town called the Hotel St. Francis, and were totally sold when we found out the hotel was dog friendly. We were planning on road tripping so why not bring our best friend Dakota?! We bought the HosPETality package which waved the pet-fee and had a doggie bag full of treats ready for us upon arrival. With that taken care of, Dakota was all ready to go for her first big family vacation:

Road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

After packing for our trip (See my Ski Trip packing list here), we took off on our adventure after work on a Thursday night, right before rush hour. Unfortunately, the road to Santa Fe took every heavy rush hour route all the way through Dallas, but we were lucky that we were at least constantly moving. Our ETA to the hotel was roughly 1:30 AM on Friday morning so we packed lots of high energy drinks, snacks, and adrenaline. Pro-tip, we went to the bulk section at Central Market for snacks which was not only cheap but relatively healthy and definitely delicious. See my upcoming Road Trip Tips post for additional details!

Road Trip Snacks

Our trip was pretty uneventful.. until I took the wheel. It was around 12:30AM in the middle-of-no-where New Mexico where I accidentally hit a piece of tire that was laying in the road and then all hell broke loose noise wise from the passenger seat tire area. We had to pull over in the pitch black on the side of the freeway and use our iPhones as lights to fix the damage. The tire piece hit the wheel well and ripped off a lot of the plastic. We had to drive with some horrible sound effects for about 15 miles to the nearest gas station to buy duct tape and a pocket knife to rip the piece out. It’s never a dull moment, huh? Thankfully, my mister-fix-it boyfriend was able to jimmy the car back together and we didn’t have any issues before arriving at the hotel.

Tired and ready for bed, we walked into the hotel at 2 AM and were greeted by Kevin, the long gray-haired, incredibly nice and puppy obsessed front-desk guy. He was all about Dakota and she was trying to rip her doggie treat bag out of my hands as soon as he gave it to us. The hotel itself was clean, charming and candle lit. We went up to our second floor deluxe king suite and Dakota immediately tested out the bed with its 30 pillows. The whole place was just very comfortable and relaxing overall.