So in continuing the wedding bliss, Brian and I headed to Santa Fe to celebrate our anniversary! Thankfully, our battalion decided to give us a DONSA (aka, day off!) on Friday, so we were able to get an early start. Mom once visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and gave us a great guide book and "plan of attack" for the trip, which proved perfect! We decided to take a long route to Santa Fe and swing west to visit a winery, national monument, and drive through lots of Native American pueblos and reservations! We ended up being in the car for almost 8 hours (stops included), but it was so enjoyable! Once we were past Albuquerque (spelling?), we started off on our "wilderness trek". Ok, we weren't in the wilderness, but there weren't any modern conveniences, like gas stations. We totally took a "go with the flow" approach; we saw a sign for a winery, and just turned off and headed towards it! It actually turned out to be the same winery my mom went to-so fun! We walked in, got to talk to two older folks who ran the place, and they served up 6 tasting glasses for each of us. It was so much fun! And of course, we left with two bottles of wine...
Beautiful sights we saw on our drive through the pueblos!
The little building where we had our wine-tasting!
From the winery, we continued to wind through the countryside, taking in the views and all the little towns along the way. Just about every 5-10 miles, there was a pull-off for a "National Forest ________ (camping, overlook, fishing, and more!" Never have I seen so many national park/forest related activities as we did on this drive! There were plenty of places we wanted to pull off, but it was starting to get late in the afternoon, so we journeyed on to our goal: Bandalier National Monument. We finally arrived, and we're pretty sure we got into the park for free because the Park Ranger was former military...bonus!! Otherwise it would've cost us $12 (granted, it's totally worth it!).
So we began to drive down into the canyon and arrived at the visitor's center. Thankfully, the "main attraction" was on a one mile loop, so even though we weren't exactly dressed for hiking, we could do the walk in what we had on! Bandalier National Monument is a piece of land that has been preserved to save the cliff dwellings that were found there. It was such a cool place! On our mile-loop (actually, it turned into a two mile-loop...we detoured for a good reason), we got to walk through an early civilization's houses and even climb into some of the caves they used to live in! We even got to climb up to one of the highest cave dwellings in the establishment; it was 140 feet vertically, and you had to climb up 4 different (long) ladders to get to the top. Going up was fine...down, a different story. The ground looks a lot farther away when you're coming down!
Bandalier National Monument!
The holes in the cliff face are where the ceiling beams attached!
Climbing up, up, & away!
Whoops, forgot about this! We had several animal sightings...a real roadrunner, a herd of elk, deer, and we almost saw a momma bear and cubs, but I'm glad we didn't...
Here are the elk; they're laying in a sunken volcano crater that's 14 miles wide!
So after a 2 hour break at Bandalier, we finally made our way to Santa Fe, which was about 30 minutes away! We drove past some casinos, more pueblos, and the Santa Fe Opera house. It is gorgeous. It is also open air, which I have never seen before! We stopped for a quick dinner, and then headed to the hotel; we were worn out! But that didn't stop us from waking up early so we could maximize our time in Santa Fe! We headed downtown around 9 that morning; we wanted to stay downtown to eliminate driving/parking fees, but the hotels were just too expensive! Next time... :) Well, it was our luckiest of days because it was "free community parking" day at the parking garage! We were beyond excited because we were prepared to pay some steep parking fees. An interesting thing we noticed about Santa Fe is that nothing is higher than 2 or 3 stories; even the store signs. It took us forever to find our hotel because there was no sign in the sky! So after we parked, we realized almost nothing opened til 10; rookie mistake. But the hour was not wasted; we spent it at the cool farmer's market and a bookstore! At the farmer's market, we grabbed a delicious breakfast and surveyed all the goods; there was all sorts of delicious looking produce I wanted to buy! Brian was a little taken-aback by all the hippies around...people I refer to as "granola". Totally harmless, but unlike anything Brian had been in contact with-haha! He's used to high & tights and everyone wearing the same thing... :)
At the bookstore I got a cookbook about making authentic Mexican/Southwestern food; I cannot wait to try out the recipes!
Our next stop was (duh, duh, dunnnn) REI. (Recreational Equipment, Inc). AKA-an outdoor's person's paradise. They had all sorts of cool stuff! We were quite proud of ourselves because we showed some serious self-control; we only left with two things! Although, Brian did carry around about 10 other items during our almost two hours there, but put them back, saying he didn't really need them...he's so good :)
Farmer's Market in the Railyard District!
After REI, we headed downtown to begin exploring. We realized at the end of the day that we had been walking for around 8 hours; it reminded me of being in Spain! We basically passed the day strolling through shops, looking for the perfect piece of pottery, trying the local cuisine (which basically means it must have chiles in/on it), and visiting some of the famous sights. We walked to the Loretto Chapel, which has a free-standing spiral staircase that is only supported by its own weight...but we didn't go in because we didn't want to pay! ha! We also saw the St. Francis Cathedral (beautiful, again, reminded me of being in Spain, touring castles/cathedrals), they had a big community festival going on downtown so we got to look at all the vendors that had come out and enjoy music and dancing! We had an idyllic afternoon; we found a hometown brewery that had a second floor balcony that overlooked the main plaza. We drank some local beer, ate kettle corn from the festival, and people-watched from our perch. Oh, and the weather was incredible. Seriously, it was idyllic. Afterwards we visited the history museum of Santa Fe, which was really neat! It chronicled the history of Santa Fe and what has happened over the centuries. Santa Fe is the oldest inhabited town in the United States, so it claims. It was also stomping grounds for Billy the Kid and a few other outlaws...it was a neat musuem and it was nice to be in cool air-conditioning for awhile!
We headed to an early dinner at Blue Corn Cafe, a restaurant a friend from El Paso had recommended. It was delicious! Brian had the state dish of New Mexico; carne adovada, which is shredded pork, seasoned with some pretty hot chiles! I had a stuffed sopapilla, which had chicken, pinto beans, and of course, chiles inside. It was steamy too; I had to drink my margarita quickly to keep that heat down! :)
Sunday we decided we needed to get on the road, so we spent our actual anniversary driving, talking, and eating mac'n'cheese for dinner...so romantic :) But we celebrated big the day before, so we were ok with it! It was fun on Sunday to think "at this time last year, we were ______________". It was so strange (and fun!) to think about getting into my dress, spending time with my girls, seeing Brian for the first time, the ceremony, reception, and everything in-between. I once blogged extensively about our wedding, so I'll keep the reminiscing to myself at this point. Basically, it was an incredible day, surrounded by people I hold so dear to my heart! Which is why I want to do it all over again! :)
I am so thankful that within this first year of marriage, the Army has inadvertently allowed us the following:
1. Both of our birthdays together
2. Thanksgiving/Christmas together
3. Our 1st anniversary together
I do not expect them to continue this trend...ha! I doubt these three things will happen again, in the same year, for a long time. He might not be deployed, but he will be either in the field, at some kind of training, or who knows what else! But hey, it's a pretty good way to start, right?
Well, this has turned into quite the lengthy post! More pictures are on Facebook, but these are some of the "highlights" from the trip for people like my grandmothers, who don't have Facebook :) I love that my grandparents are so tech-savvy!
All in all, it has been one crazy and fun year of marriage; we've gone through so much but there is no one I'd rather "do life" with than Brian. He is such an incredible husband to me! (let's see if he reads this...haha!)
While living in El Paso has been a challenge, especially living away from most of my family & friends, it has allowed us to depend solely on one another, and do fun things like explore the Southwest!