. . . hopefully it will be warmer than the frigid 13 degrees that greeted us this morning at home! We loaded up the Subaru and left town today for six weeks of sun and adventure in New Mexico and Arizona, including a full month in the Phoenix metro area.
My last post was October 31, 2018, and SO MUCH has happened since then. In a nutshell:
- We finished helping my parents move into their new home. Thankfully, they have recovered from the stress and chaos of moving and are feeling at home in their new surroundings.
- We enjoyed Thanksgiving week in Montana with Philip, Kim and Owen. Andrew and Gail flew in from Seattle, so the whole family was together for the first time in a couple of years.
- We sold our house after being on the market for six months and closed a few days before Christmas. Even though we were anticipating the move to the condo, it turned out to be more work than we expected. But check it off the list, it’s done, and we’re adjusting to our 505 square feet of living space.
- In early January, we visited friends Steve and Marlene in Vero Beach, Florida for a week. You will hear more about them, as they have been our travel companions for almost 40 (!!!) years. We get together somewhere at least twice a year, and hopefully more often now that we are all four retired.
And that brings us to the here and now. We are driving to Phoenix, where we will live in an Airbnb condo for a month. Including drive time to and from, it’s a total of 40 days. I guess this means we are officially kicking off the travel life after nearly two years of planning and prep work. Yikes – stay tuned to see how it goes!
Highlights En Route to Phoenix
Our road trip to Phoenix is relatively leisurely, as we wisely decide to spread out the drive over four days and do some sightseeing along the way.
Afternoon in Santa Fe, New Mexico
The first highlight is on Day 2 as we pass through Santa Fe. Not time enough to even scratch the surface of this interesting and historical capital city, but sufficient for a visit to the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art on Museum Hill.
It takes just a couple of hours to go through the exhibits, which include art and other objects as well as informative historical context, beginning with the Pueblo and other American Indian tribes who lived in the region prior to the arrival of Spanish visitors that first moved up from the south in the 1500s. For the next 300 years, there was an interesting blending of cultures – Native American, Spanish, and Mexican – that endures throughout the state today.
The Spanish Colonial period in New Mexico officially ended when Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. The U.S. acquired most of current day New Mexico in 1848 following the Mexican American War. New Mexico was designated a U.S. territory in 1850 and became our 47th state in 1912.
After the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, we head downtown to check out the action. Within five minutes, I find and purchase a pair of earrings from one of the many American Indian vendors displaying their handmade jewelry and other wares at the Palace of the Governors on the Plaza. Bill quickly ushers me across the street before things get out of hand.
After a nice walk through the historic downtown area and the railroad district, we head south to Albuquerque for an excellent dinner at the Range Café in Bernalillo and an overnight visit with friends Don and Judy.
The Birds at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Our four hour visit to the Bosque del Apache is breathtaking! Located between Albuquerque and Las Cruces, this 57,000+ acre refuge was established in 1939 to support and protect migrating waterfowl. Tens of thousands of geese, cranes and ducks spend the winter months here – one might say they are true ‘snowbirds’ – with the Grus canadensis (sandhill cranes) as the headliners, at least in my opinion.
Along with snow geese, the cranes gather en masse on the water during the nighttime hours and scatter to the adjacent corn fields to feed during the day. We understand that seeing them take flight around sunrise is an unforgettable experience, but we have missed it. However, a refuge volunteer steers us to one of the birds’ favorite daytime feeding locations, where we watch, listen, and snap numerous photos and record several videos (all of mediocre quality) over the course of a couple of hours.
A Quick Overnight in Las Cruces
Reluctantly, we depart the Refuge and continue driving to our destination for the night in Las Cruces, New Mexico. We stay at a local B&B – Lundeen Inn of the Arts – and after receiving a warm welcome and helpful orientation to Las Cruces from the owner, head to the plaza in Old Mesilla to check out the shops and enjoy a nice dinner at La Posta De Mesilla, one of several restaurants located in this National Historic District.
Arrival in Mesa
Our final day on the road is also our longest – from Las Cruces to Phoenix. We veer off of I10 and take an alternate route through southeast Arizona, stopping for lunch the Ranch House Restaurant in the small town of Duncan. After finally locating our Airbnb condo in Mesa (sometimes GPS navigation is just not your friend), we unload and make a beeline for the nearby Safeway to acquire groceries, wine, and beer.
Time to unpack, settle in and enjoy!