May 29 – June 1
With a seven-hour drive ahead of us we got on the road early, walking out the door with Bev as she left for work. We’d be splitting the 11-hour drive to Santa Fe into two stages, doing the lion’s share today with an overnight in Dalhart, Texas giving us a short leg into our final destination. Driving almost all of the way on two-lane highway, a slightly higher degree of concentration is required and yet, it is offset by the ebb and flow of slowing for small towns.
One of which, Yates Center, about 40 minutes from Bev’s is where I got a speeding ticket in 2014, caught in a school zone speed trap. I religiously observed the speed limit this time, even though the other couple of cars we shared the road with blasted through town. As we neared the end of the drive, passing through the Oklahoma panhandle before entering into Texas, empty cattle trucks passed us going in the opposite direction, this being beef and pork country, a large meat processing plant on the outskirts of Dalhart attesting to the presence of that prevailing industry in these parts.
We arrived at the Best Western Nursanickel, our stop for the night, checked in and enjoyed not being in the car for a couple of hours before heading out for dinner to a highly rated place, the X10 in Texas. Although it was reasonable from a cost perspective, just $37 for two beers, the entrée we split and the three-dollar fee to join their club so we could drink in this dry county. Here is the review I wrote for Trip Advisor:
Good Food but Long Wait
My wife and I stopped in last night for dinner because of the many positive reviews. Generally, we were satisfied with the food and its quality, but disappointed in:
1) Items on Menu not served – Soup is prominently featured, yet they don’t serve it past spring
2) After placing our order for the pork chop special we were to split, we waited approximately 20 minutes for it to arrive, watching just about everyone else in the dining room get served, even those who had arrived after us.
Our server, Christina, advised us twice that the food was on its way. She was the saving grace though, bringing a warmth and humor to her job that it rescued the day.
We were a little concerned about sleeping that night as a sign in the lobby of the Best Western warned of loud trains, offering ear plugs for those who needed them. Curiously, we didn’t once hear a train, even though the tracks were directly across the street from us. Perhaps our practice of staying in boisterous public campgrounds has conditioned us to tune out noise?
Our faith in the Best Western complimentary breakfast was restored the next morning with an excellent offering that got us on the road and into Santa Fe by early afternoon, where we arrived at Santa Fe KOA Journey. Located about ten miles outside of town, we’d stayed here during a family vacation in the early 1990’s, memories of that trip coming back to us as we set up camp.
With quite a bit of the afternoon left free, we made the relatively sort journey into town. We found a place to park on the street and pumped the machine full of quarters, then walked up the block to the Basilica of St. Francis to check it out, having pretty much forgotten much of what we’d seen during our last visit so many years ago. We would also return the next day as part of a guided walking tour we’d found out about.
Built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church, (La Parroquia built in 1714–1717) which replaced an even older one, built in 1626, that was destroyed in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Designed in the Romanesque Revival style, it features characteristic round arches separated by Corinthian columns and truncated square towers.
The large rose window in front and those of the Twelve Apostles in the lateral nave windows were imported from Clermont-Ferrand in France, and it was officially elevated to a basilica by Pope Benedict XVI on October 4, 2005.
We walked back outside towards the main square of old town, passing through an arcade connected to the Palace of the Governors that features Native American craftsman and their wares. We’d find out later that a daily lottery ensures a rotating selection of artisans from the various pueblos throughout New Mexico and that rigid controls ensure that the crafts and the jewelry are usually made by the person with whom you’ll be conversing.
We walked around a bit more, checking out the shops and then feeling hungry, jumped on a Trip Advisor recommendation to visit the Blue Corn Café and Brewery. It’s upstairs and features a nice walled in patio, where we were seated. After ordering a beer apiece (it was $3-pint night) we decided to split a bowl of Green Chili Stew (pork, potatoes, pozole in green Chile) and the #3 combo featuring a beef enchilada, beef taco, red Chile pork tamale with pinto beans and rice.
The food was quite good, particularly the stew and the tamale and yet I found myself in a funk, as happens when one is on the road for an extended period of time. My knee wasn’t responding as I had hoped it would, still painful and still not completely recovered from the nasty stomach virus I had, I just couldn’t shake the blues.
The good news is that these moods are temporary, usually gone by the end of the day, as was mine. It did motivate me to contact Marty in Henderson to see if he could schedule an appointment for me with his doctor to arrange for an MRI to get to the bottom of my knee problem. I’d been in contact with my doctor at home and this was his recommended course of action.
So, we finished up our meal for a very reasonable $32 total and drove back to camp, eager to get back into town the next day for the walking tour at 10am. Santa Fe’s charms were beginning to work its magic on the both of us. What would our next day bring?
Santa Fe KOA Journey: https://koa.com/campgrounds/santa-fe/
Basilica of St. Francis: https://www.cbsfa.org/
Blue Corn Café: http://bluecorncafe.com/