Taos Day 2

Another 6:40 AM wake up on New Year’s Eve to head to the ski valley by the 9 AM lift start. Our skis were waiting for us at the ski shop and we were on the ski lifts in no time. We were much more adventurous in day 2, shooting down blues, testing out some moguls, and going over a few jumps! So much fun!

Taos Ski Valley

We brought some Quest / Cliff Bars for snacks and decided to eat them going up the lift around 11. It wasn’t until we opened them that we realized the bars were totally frozen! Not only that, but our iPhones stopped working because it was so cold! I would get out my phone for a photo and it would turn off within 1 – 2 minutes with “zero battery” even though it was fully charged. So annoying! We had to have both our phones and bars in our inner-most pockets so that they would stay warm enough to use.

Taos Ski Valley was having a laser light show, ski parade, and fireworks starting at 5:30 PM, so we decided to pace ourselves throughout the day so we could last longer on the mountain.  With that said, we had lunch at the Mexican restaurant at the base of the ski lifts around again. I had some chicken tacos and Ryan enjoyed Christmas enchiladas; one with red and one with green chili salsa. Red and green chili salsa are New Mexico staples and you will find dishes cooked with those salsas in almost every restaurant! So yummy.

Lunch in Taos Ski Valley

At one point, someone left one of the beer taps running behind the bar and we yelled to one of the waiters to turn it off. Beer went absolutely everywhere behind the bar, over the counter, and on the floor. The bar tender was so upset and was running around like mad trying to clean up. Needless to say, he was pretty entertaining to watch while he cleaned and tried to play Clue while figuring out “Who Done It”.

After lunch, we hopped back onto the ski lift which took us into a cloud filled with snow! It was so beautiful. The snow wasn’t coming down too hard but the flakes were huge and it was beautiful. The change in visibility atop the mountain a little scary to ski in. The sun creates shadows in the snow, making it easier to see bumps, dips, and differences in the snow while skiing. With the snow coming down and clouds blocking the sun, you couldn’t see any of those things until you were almost on top of them. We had to be much more cautious on our decent! Even with the trepidation, I couldn’t have been more elated about the snow situation. I loved every second of it and we skied for another few hours until our legs couldn’t take it anymore.

After putting our skis up and changing into our snow boots, we decided to walk around the Ski Valley area. There were quite a few hotels / Inns, ski shops, and cute restaurants to visit and we decided that, on the next trip, staying in the Valley was a must. Knowing it was going to get crowded, we decided to find a good spot to view the festivities on the second floor Martini Bar patio overlooking the mountain side. We enjoyed some hot chocolate and Bailey’s while waiting in the snow flurry for the show to being. The snowflakes coming down were all in star patterns and looked so cool!

Hot coco to stay warm while waiting for the Taos Ski Valley fireworks

When it got dark, the laser show began on the main slope facing the ski area. The show was a hodgepodge of random patterns and designs, mirroring what looked like the old Microsoft logo. There were a couple of cool looking patterns but, overall, it was underwhelming.

The real show began once the ski parade started. There were about 20 people at the top of the slope with red flares. They skied down in a snake-like pattern, making a neat effect against the dark, snowy backdrop. As soon as they finished, the fireworks started! They were so close up that they looked huge and made the snow sparkle all different colors with each explosion in the air. It was breathtaking! We headed out about halfway through the show so that we could beat the traffic out of the Valley, though we could see the fireworks as we walked to the parking lot. Overall, the day was just amazing and we enjoyed every minute of it.

I am a planner and I usually have every minute of each trip planned out to a tee. Unfortunately, we forgot to make NYE dinner plans and most things were booked up by the time we looked. Our hotel was having live music, so we ended up planning to do dinner and watch the show there, but Ryan had a bad migraine, we were tired, and not super hungry, so we ended up spending the evening by the fire in our hotel room and munching on the snacks we picked up from Central Market for our road trip to bring in 2017.

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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.