Archive for the 'Travel – Santa Fe' Category

Meow Wolf

You’ve seen a couple posts about our visit to one of Santa Fe’s newest attractions: Meow Wolf, The House of Eternal Return. We had a fantastic visit! It’s an immersive art exhibit with a mystery woven through the stories & dimensions. It’s one of those places that is so hard to explain; you just have to see it. (And even seeing it won’t make you believe some of these things!) The interactive displays are designed to trick your eyes while expanding your mind, and we left wanting more.

The plan for our adventure was to leave Albuquerque (where we’d been to see the Balloon Fiesta), drive to Santa Fe and do a hike before lunch. We would do lunch and then pop over to Meow Wolf for a couple of hours before checking into our next hotel and relaxing in Santa Fe for the evening.

Well, we got to Meow Wolf, and discovered the line of people wrapping from out the doorway around the building!

So, we opted to take photos of the HUGE sculptures in the parking lot and then come back after dinner.

Our plan worked like a charm! Of course, because we had to come back, we only had two hours to explore and play. On one hand, it was enough. Our brains were overloaded and could barely process what we were seeing, hearing, and experiencing. But on the other hand, we could have spent at least two more hours there…and more! If it wasn’t 6 hours away, we’d have gone back this weekend!

From what I’ve researched, this exhibit is built into an old 34,000 sq. ft. bowling alley. Inside, there is a 2-story (maybe 3?) Victorian House. There are “portals” or secret entrances throughout the exhibit. Everything is interactive and either lights up, makes noise, or is more than meets the eye. There are no maps of the place. You’re set free to explore, at your own pace, in your own direction. It was busy when we were there, but rather than being a hindrance, watching others interact with the displays helped us stumble upon secrets we would have never discovered on our own. (The hardest part was remembering we were supposed to touch things!)

Here’s a shot of Claire and me looking for clues in the mailbox outside the Victorian house.

A magnifying kaleidoscope (searching for more clues)

When you check in, you’re given the option of purchasing ChromaDepth glasses. They make the colors and lights split and pop! You can experience Meow Wolf without these, but we HIGHLY recommend them for just that added oomph!

You can crawl through the fireplace! You find yourself INSIDE the fish tank in the living room! You can walk into/through the fridge! (I didn’t get photos of that, but some lady came up beside us when we were looking at the kitchen for clues, and watching her open the fridge door AND THEN STEP INSIDE AND CLOSE IT BEHIND HER was one of the most startling and hilarious things I’ve experienced.) You can take a tumble in the dryer!

You can walk through a hidden door! (One of MANY different types!)

One of Claire’s favorite parts was opening the space-age doors (in one of the dimensions). Be sure  your sound is turned up for the video. Click on the above photo to see the video or click here for the link. (It will open another page to view the video my Instagram account.)

In one of the hidden rooms, we discovered lasers piercing a theatrical-smoke filled room. We then discovered they were much more than a pretty display!

These lasers are also “strings” that can be played when your hand touches them! It’s ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL.


Needless to say, we’re smitten with Meow Wolf. These photos and blog posts are just a teeny tiny tip of the iceberg. We’re not even sure if we saw it all (and we’re pretty sure we didn’t.) We gathered some clues, but not enough to even come close to solving the mystery of what happened to the family that lived in the Victorian house. (But that’s okay! It’s so much more than the mystery.) When we make the trek back to Santa Fe in the future, we’re definitely immersing ourselves in another round of mind-blowing awesomeness.

**Why is it called Meow Wolf? As the story goes, those involved in the creation of it had everyone write down two random words on separate pieces of paper that were then put in a hat. One paper was pulled out of the hat: Meow. Another piece was chosen: Wolf. There you have it. 😉

Meow Wolf – A Tumble Thru the Dryer

One of the best parts of exploring Meow Wolf was stumbling upon regular ol’ everyday items that were transformed into mystical portals to another dimension. (What?? I told you it was hard to wrap your head around this place!!) Imagine our delight when we discovered that the dryer in the laundry room off the kitchen was more than meets the eye!

Let’s open the dryer to see if we can find any clues…

It’s a slide! What!? Claire goes first… Headfirst! (What??There’s no other way to really go into a dryer…)

There she goes!

If you look, you can see her feet!

She made it! (Dad took the picture from the cosmic side of the dryer…)

My turn! First, I sent my bag down the chute. (As one does. Duh.)

Here I go!

Don’t laugh too much at the astonished joy on my face. YOU try keeping your composure after going headfirst into a dryer!!!

I love how it looks like we’re being tumbled around in a dryer. Because we kinda were!


One of my favorite parts was when the the lady who went down before us yelled, “Hey! I found my sock!”  Hee hee!

Meow Wolf – The House of Eternal Return – Just a Taste

When we were in Santa Fe, we got to experience Meow Wolf, The House of Eternal Return. It’s an immersive modern art exhibit (for lack of a more precise description), and it’s ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. If it didn’t take 6-hours to get there, we’d go again tonight. NO JOKE. There’s a mystery to solve, and you spend hours there and not even know if you’ve seen it all. It’s so hard to explain, but when I can wrap my head around a bit more of it, I’ll do a more elaborate blog post. In the meantime, here’s a picture of Claire and I inside the fish tank in the living room of a Victorian house, and a larger picture of the “fish tank.” (No, really.) 😉

A Stealthy Mission Leads to a Special Surprise

I don’t want to give away the locations of the super secret letterboxes in Santa Fe, but I want to tell you one of our favorite adventures. (This one doesn’t involve Attack Lizards, like yesterday’s long-overdue update…)

I’ll try to do this without spilling too much of the specific details.

In my research of different boxes to find in Santa Fe, I stumbled upon one that didn’t have a specific starting point listed. It was just listed as “Santa Fe, NM.” This is not uncommon. In the text of the clue, the instructions are whimsical and written in punny code. This, too, is not uncommon.

After reading through it, and using my knowledge of Santa Fe, I was pretty sure I knew where the starting point was. Or at least, I thought I was close. I was sure we’d be able to figure it out when we arrived in person.

This particular location is not open to the public 24/7, so we had time on Friday night to do some recon. We took notes and figured out the best way to proceed the next day. After breakfast on Saturday, we headed out, our mission clear, even if the exact details were not.

Despite being very vague, this clue had very specific instructions.

For example (and the names have been changed to protect this letterbox), we were supposed to go see Mike and/or Dave. Once we’d located Mike and/or Dave, we were supposed to ask to see Patrick Henderson. We were warned by the clue that talking to anyone other than Mike or Dave could jeopardize the mission, and/or people would just think we’re crazy. It assured us that no one except Mike or Dave would even know who Patrick was.

We timed everything perfectly. It was right at Opening Time, so the crowds were minimal (practically non-existent, actually), and an elderly man was busy setting up for the day. He called over his shoulder from the back room, “I’ll be with you in a moment! Feel free to look around!” He came over a couple minutes later, and I said, “I was wondering if Mike or Dave are working today?”

He stopped. He got the funniest look on his face, and his eyes began to sparkle. “Mike or Dave!?” he said in an hushed, excited tone. “You need to go over that way,” and he pointed us through a different door, in the right direction. Without giving too much away about this location, it involved walking through an area that was usually closed to the public at large, and he told us what to tell Security if we were stopped!

We could hardly believe it! The excitement nearly threatened to overtake us.

Again, we go through another door and follow the man’s instructions. The same sight greets us: A man is working in the back and calls up to us, saying he’ll be with us in a moment. He then comes over to us, and I ask again, “I’m wondering if Mike or Dave are working today?”

He gasps out loud; his face bursts into a smile and he says loudly, “YOU MUST BE HERE TO MEET PATRICK!”

“Well, yes, we are!” I exclaim.

He then ushers us BEHIND a big ol’ sign that says, “EMPLOYEES ONLY.”

“It’s okay,” he tells us. “People aren’t usually allowed back here, but you guys are special.”

Claire is just beside herself with excitement, and even Daddy is impressed by this turn of events. Again, without giving anything away, we were then “introduced to Patrick” and then given a private tour of the behind-the-scenes of this particular place that we would have never been granted had it not been for our stealthy mission.

And we didn’t even have to use our cover-story with Security… 😉

I never told you about the Attack Lizard

I was looking through the posts I’ve written about our Letterboxing adventures and realized that I never finished telling you about our most recent trip to Santa Fe!

For those of you who don’t know, Letterboxing is like a treasure hunt. You solve puzzles and figure out clues that all lead to a hidden box (or pouch) that contains a carved rubber stamp. You stamp this into your Journal and then put your own mark (via a carved stamp of your own) in the accompanying log book. You can read more about this hobby here.

Anyway, Santa Fe is one of our all-time favorite destinations, so we went there for the long 4th of July weekend. As with any trip we take, I plugged our destination into the website I use for finding letterboxes and was amazed at the results! It was like hitting the jackpot!

I researched which boxes we were going to find. I solved clues that could be solved before hand. I mapped out the different starting locations.

What awaited us was better than we could have imagined.

We’d been to Santa Fe before, but we saw it in a whole different light. Letterboxing gives you an excuse to be in places you wouldn’t normally be or to search for things you wouldn’t even expect.

The letterboxes in Santa Fe were fantastic and so clever.

I’ll be sure to post more about our adventures (without giving away any of the secrets of the specific letterboxes), but the story that comes to the front of my mind is the day I was attacked by a lizard.

It all starts with an Arroyo and a Hitchhiker Hostel.

Yes, really.

An Arroyo is a stream bed or gulch. It’s dry most of the year, but seasonally fills with water and then recedes. A Hitchhiker in letterboxing is a little carved stamp that moves from permanent letterbox to permanent letterbox by the next letterboxer who finds it. A Hitchhiker Hostel is like a little hotel for Hitchhikers, and prior to our trip to Santa Fe, I had no idea something like this existed. Basically, you leave some hitchhikers at the hostel and you take some hitchhikers from the hostel, and it keeps them moving around the country.

I wanted to see this for myself! I even carved a special Hitchhiker for this very reason!

Colorado Dragonfly: She's TINY, as you can see by the quarter in the photo.

For this particular letterbox, we figured out where we needed to be. Daddy decided to stay up on top of the arroyo with Claire while I went down to check it out.

It was steep and rocky. I was wearing my garden gloves, so I wasn’t too worried. I was careful to look for any snakes. I’m gripping the instructions in one hand and trying to keep my balance with the other. I make it to the bottom of the arroyo without any incident!

I figure out where I need to be and see what I’m supposed to see. It’s here! I’ve found it! I reach down to clear away some pine needles and a rock, and this lizard jumps out at me!

I scream!
(So much for being stealthy and discreet.  Granted, the area was deserted.  Literally.)

Then, I had a heart attack and died. The End.

Miraculously, I start breathing again. Meanwhile, Daddy and Claire are distraught. I can’t see them, but I can hear them call down to me. Claire thinks I’m hurt, and Daddy is wondering how on Earth he’s going to remove my body from the bottom of the arroyo without attracting attention. Ha. Kidding. He swears he, too, was concerned for my safety and not the logistics of the whole thing.

I assure them that I am okay. Physically.

After I stop shaking, I uncover the rest of the hostel and do my transfers.

Meanwhile, that poor little lizard has bolted back to his loved ones and is telling a chilling tale of how he was just minding his own business when this crazed redhead tried to attack him!  She came out of nowhere!  The poor guy will never be the same. “Twitchy” will tell this tale to his grandkids when they ask him how he got his nickname.

The Inn of the Governors in Santa Fe

We were in Santa Fe for the long weekend! It’s no secret that we love Santa Fe. It’s always held a special place in our hearts. It’s hard to explain. It’s relaxing. It’s invigorating. It’s magical. The energy there is very renewing, yet very old.

When I say “old,” I mean old.  They just celebrated FOUR HUNDRED YEARS, and I’m just mesmerized.  Yes…400 years.  Amazing!

A sign at The Royal Palace, aka The Palace of the Governors. No, we didn't stay here. We stayed at their Inn. 😉

Luckily, Claire likes Santa Fe as much as we do, and she wanted to know if it would be possible to move our house down there and attach it to the hotel. Soon-to-be Kindergarteners have an interesting perspective on how things should work.

I mean, if we moved the house there, we wouldn’t need to be next to the hotel, right? She reminded us that we don’t have a pool. Duh. 😉

This year, we tried out a new lodging place. In years past, we’ve stayed at Garrett’s Desert Inn. It’s two blocks from the famed Plaza and not a million dollars. Well, the last time we stayed there, it was really showing the wear and tear, and this time, we opted for something that was a just as close to the Plaza, and in a little better shape. It wasn’t right ON the Plaza, so it wasn’t a million dollars a night.

This year’s choice was The Inn of the Governors. We loved it!   (No, this isn’t a paid review…it’s not even a formal one!)  If you ever stay in Santa Fe, one thing to figure into the price of your room is parking. Parking in Santa Fe near the Plaza is at a premium. The spaces are tiny and expensive. The Inn of the Governors worked the price of parking into their daily rate, threw in a complete hot breakfast buffet AND a $25 daily credit at the restaurant on site.

We thought for sure that meant the food would be 1) expensive or 2) mediocre. It was neither of those two things!! It was fantastic food and VERY reasonably priced! Sweet!

Parking, pool, breakfast, daily credit, AND it’s two blocks from the Plaza? Perfect!

Now, the parking spots at the Inn of the Governors were TINY. We folded the mirrors in on my car, even thought it’s not a huge car! I acted as a spotter when we parked and departed, and it worked. This being said, parking anywhere downtown is going to be a challenge.

The pool was great. It was heated and lovely. The hotel provides cookies, tea, and sherry (for free) at 4pm every day, so it was nice to take advantage of that while relaxing at the pool!

The room we had was furnished with two beds and included a Kiva Fireplace.

No, we didn’t need to fire that up, but the firewood is provided for those nights when you’d want to.

We really wanted a balcony, but opted not to spring for the cost of that. Maybe next time? Maybe not.

We loved being so close to the Plaza, and an evening stroll was just what we needed to unwind from our adventures of the day.

Whirlygig at dusk

Whirlygigs near the Plaza

Stay tuned for more about those adventures!

Colorado Dragonfly

I have lots to share about our adventures in Santa Fe! Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here is the newest addition to our carving collection:

Colorado Dragonfly: She's TINY, as you can see by the quarter in the photo.

This is a Hitchhiker I carved and we released at a Hitchhiker Hostel (yes, such a thing exists!) in New Mexico!

Here is Colorado Dragonfly’s official AtasQuest listing.

Any day you don’t fall in the toilet is a good day.

Well, we’re almost done with the recaps of our trip! It’s about time…I mean, it was in May! Still, I’ve been dragging my feet, because as soon as I’m done with the recaps, I won’t have a good excuse to flip through the photos anymore, or daydream about the beach, or feel the excitement of hitting the road, knowing that adventures lie just around the bend.

Yesterday’s post has a quick list of the trip installments up to this point, and we last left off in Flagstaff where my husband was recuperating from a bought of food poisoning.

When I was planning the trip, I created a Travel Folder. In it were maps and ideas for each leg of the trip. I used plastic page protectors, and they were wonderful for organizing the information we needed for the trip and for maps and other things we gathered along the way. Everything was in one place, and I kept the Travel Folder easily accessible from the front seat of the car.

Originally, we wanted to explore Flagstaff and the surrounding area on foot. We love hiking and couldn’t wait to get out there. I have a high school friend who lives in Flagstaff now, and he was able to point me in the direction of some good hiking trails. It was nice to get the advice of a local.

But, knowing that this was near the end of our trip, and always wanting to have a Plan B, I also printed out some good scenic tours to do via car. I mean, what if Claire had had enough by the time we got to Flagstaff? What if the weather turned on us? It didn’t even occur to me that one of the adults would get sick, but that’s what had happened, and we just made a slight adjustment and did most of our exploring via car, with little hikes here and there.

We decided to use some of our time and head down to Sedona to check it out.

Momma & Claire with the pink javelinas

Momma & Claire with the pink javelinas

Claire actually said

Claire actually said, "Take a picture of this chair for your blog!" So, we did!

That early evening, while exploring more of Flagstaff, we found a playground and had a much needed break.

Swinging our cares away!

Swinging our cares away!

Our slightly altered agenda worked out perfectly!

The next morning, we headed to Santa Fe. We stayed where we’ve stayed in the past. It’s not the fanciest hotel, but it’s literally two blocks from The Plaza and it’s not a million dollars a night.

We got checked into the hotel and decided to unwind before heading out for our explorations. Of course, little did I know that excitement was closer than I thought! I laugh to myself just thinking about it. And, the outcome could have been much more traumatic than it was.

I was out in the main area of our hotel room getting some things situated, and Daddy and Claire were in the bathroom. All of a sudden, I hear a splash and then hysterical laughter.

Yes, she’d fallen in!

She’s been potty trained for over a year, but every toilet we’ve used on the trip was different. She’s rather insistent on doing things herself. Normally, this is fine. Apparently, she’d scootched right up and slipped right in. Luckily, Daddy had handled her rescue in a way that made the whole thing funny and we couldn’t stop laughing. Luckily, she fell in at the beginning of the bathroom visit and not the end! Ewwwww!

Any day you don’t fall in the toilet is a good day, but even this couldn’t damper the fun we had in Santa Fe.

We strolled around The Plaza, taking in the sights. It was nice to have a leisurely evening after a day of driving. We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Santa Fe, and we were excited to see that it was still alive and kickin’.

Our stay in Santa Fe was bittersweet. We knew it was the last stop before heading home. We were exhausted from being on the go for the last 12-days, but we were sad to say goodbye to our vacation.

The next day, we were up and on the road, headed northbound. Every mile we drove put us farther and farther from our vacation but closer to our own beds. The memories we made on that trip are not soon to be forgotten.

“Remember that one time…” will be the only phrase that is needed to bring it all alive again.

Many Missions Accomplished

A pool and to be within walking distance to The Plaza, those were our two criteria for lodging in Santa Fe. Also, we didn’t want to spend a million dollars a night for a hotel room, which can happen if you stay right on The Plaza. Luckily, we found Garrett’s Desert Inn, a hotel that was two blocks south of The Plaza, and it had a pool. We were able to get a good deal on the room-rate, so our pocketbooks were happy. The hotel was perfect for travelers like us, and it fit the criteria nicely. First Mission accomplished.

We all loved the pool. It was an outdoor pool, the perfect size and not crowded at all. It was also heated, which you would think wouldn’t be a big deal in Santa Fe, but that was a very nice feature. Some evenings, the breeze was just cool enough to give you a chill if the pool wouldn’t have been heated. I had a personal agenda to take Claire swimming as much as possible, and we did just that. The only day that Claire and I didn’t swim was the morning we left, but we’d swam the night before and had all slept in rather than go to the pool, so I was satisfied. Second Mission accomplished.

Having fun in the pool in Santa Fe

Claire loves swimming, and after she got used to the pool floaty toys that Linda brought with us, she had a great time. In fact, she relaxed so much one day that she took a nap! In the floaty toy! In the pool! I was right by her the whole time, and kept her gently rocking so that she could nap un-interrupted. Her toes were little prunes when we were done, but she’d had a 45-minute nap. That’s short by nap standards, but any nap while on vacation is a good nap. 🙂 Third Mission accomplished.

Speaking of things sleep-related, luckily, she slept every night at the hotel! Just like on our trip to the Midwestern Trifecta, once she snuggled with us for a few minutes, she fell fast asleep and I transferred her to the pack-n-play, where she slept all night long. Fourth Mission accomplished.

And also like the trip to the Midwest, I’d consciously decided to have a good time. I knew that wouldn’t be difficult task in Santa Fe, and with such good friends, but any trip can be stressful if you let it. Other than a few bumps of turbulence, it was a smooth sailing trip. I’m really glad those unexpected things didn’t ruin the trip, and I think with a different attitude they may have. All the kids really were very well-behaved and played well together. It’s like they became built-in pseudo-siblings, but without all the fighting. 😉 All the adults had a great time, as well. We can look back at this trip to Santa Fe with fond memories and a longing to go back. Fifth Mission accomplished.

I had also promised myself to relax on this trip, and leave reality behind us for a few days. As we were walking through the lobby of the hotel, I spotted a computer, complete with an internet connection. “Look!” I said to my hubby. “I could check my email!”

“Resist,” he said calmly. And, I did. Another mission accomplished.

The Coyote Rooftop Cantina

On the Tuesday evening of our trip to Santa Fe, Linda, Cameron, and Mallory decided to have a low-key dinner at the hotel on their own, and Chris joined the three of us for dinner.

We walked the two blocks to The Plaza, and explored our options. Santa Fe is known for being the home of excellent southwestern cuisine, so we knew we’d find something good. We arrived at the top-rated burrito place we’d considered, only to discover that it was only open for breakfast. With the aid of modern technology (i.e. an Internet search via Chris’ cell phone), we remembered the Coyote Café & Cantina.

My hubby and I remembered hearing such good things about this place during our other visits to Santa Fe, but we’d never had a chance to see for ourselves. We found the restaurant and perused the menu in the lighted case on the outside of the building. The most expensive meal was around $13…perfect! We were still dressed in our Bandelier exploration clothes, and we had a toddler and stroller with us, not exactly your fancy dining attire.

Inside the door, we ascended the winding staircase. The pretty hostess asked if we wanted seating in the café or the cantina. Thinking the cantina was the bar and the café was the restaurant, we answered in unison, “Café.”

She told us to follow her, and she led us back behind the wall that was dividing the hostess desk from the rest of the dining room. All of a sudden, we found ourselves in a dimly lit, very expensive looking restaurant. Everyone there looked like they belonged there as they chatted quietly in the candlelight, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a man on bended knee proposing to the love of his life.

“Uh, this doesn’t look quite right,” I thought to myself, suddenly feeling very underdressed. I silently willed Claire to behave in this restaurant.

The hostess showed us to our table. The four of us got settled and I picked up the bound menu that was sitting on the plate. “Ummm…$42 rabbit tenderloin medallions??” I gasped. “This doesn’t look like the menu from the front!” The guys agreed, and we realized we’d made a very embarrassing mistake. I mean, all of us enjoy an expensive meal at a fancy restaurant now and then, but this wasn’t one of those times. Chris jumped up from the table and said, “I’ll go check out the Cantina. Maybe it isn’t just a bar after all.”

When he got back to the table, he confirmed our suspicions. The Cantina was a rooftop bar and restaurant. It appeared to be a more casual environment than the Café. Whew. Just at that moment, the waitress arrived. “So, can I get you folks anything to drink?” she asked. We all looked at her and before we could even open our mouths, she said, “Let me guess. You’re looking for the Cantina.”

Yep, that would be correct. What was the first clue? She was very helpful and said she’d go check on seating availability. When she came back, she said the wait would be 25 to 30 minutes and we were welcome to wait at this table until then. We thanked her, and she left to go put our names in with the hostess.

As soon as she left the table, I became ultra-paranoid that Claire would not be able to last half-an-hour without eating. I didn’t want to get out the Cheerios if we weren’t going to be staying at this table. And, I didn’t want to spend more on an appetizer here than what we would be spending on an entrée there. I told the guys my fears, and we decided to just find another restaurant. We got up from the table and found our waitress. I thanked her for her time, pointed to Claire, and said, “I really don’t think we have 30 minutes. We’re sorry.” She said, “Well, let me see what I can do.” She checked on the rooftop and came back to where we were on the landing, a balcony area just outside the hostess table and at the base of the steps. “Can you do 15-minutes? I think they can be ready for you in 15-minutes.” I told her we’d try, and if we had to leave, we’d let them know.

As we were waiting, I was holding Claire close. We were looking over the city from the balcony and just enjoying the cool night air. Just then, a woman with long black hair and delicate turquoise jewelry came up behind me. She touched me on the shoulder and said, “I just have to tell you…your daughter is beautiful. She’s just…wow. She’s so beautiful. I saw you two standing here and just thought I’d say something.” I was speechless, but I managed to thank her as she turned to leave. After what had happened in the restaurant that morning, I needed to hear just that.

A few moments later, they called our name, and we went to our table at the Coyote Rooftop Cantina. It was perfect. Claire was calm and relaxed throughout the entire meal, and the food was unbelievably delicious. In fact, I’m still dreaming about the chipotle shrimp and avocado quesadilla I had. Remembering the woman’s comments make me smile, and I’m glad we’d swallowed our pride, left the Café and stayed to check out the Cantina. That night, we were Cantina kind of people, and it was the perfect place for a beautiful Santa Fe evening.