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My first visit to the Southwest was chock full of grand memories. You made the trip so relaxing and fun. It was like traveling with true “road sisters”! — Regina E, MD
|New Mexico, USA||October 4-9, 2015||$1,895|
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta each October is an event that draws thousands from all corners of the globe. Mass ascensions of hundreds of colorful balloons are truly once-in-a-lifetime sights to behold. Our trip incorporates the nighttime Balloon Glow where we experience the wonder of being inside a Christmas tree. Our trip is also a juxtaposition of ancient and modern with exploration of nearby petroglyphs and still-occupied thousand-year old pueblos. It is fascinating to learn from Native Americans living in the homes of their distant ancestors. We’ll also hike among ancient homes at Bandelier National Monument. Toss in exploration of downtown Taos and Santa Fe and soaking in hot mineral springs and you have quite a trip in store! Oh wait – there’s more! New Mexico vistas were Georgia O’Keefe’s favorite subject and we’ll visit her ranch, hike on her mesas and explore her museum. We squeeze plenty into our five days in New Mexico. This is an autumn favorite.
Your Canyon Calling Tour Guide will meet you at 1pm in baggage claim at the Albuquerque Airport. We will drive into Old Town where you’ll have some time to explore the wonderful markets or one of the interesting museums if that is of more interest. We’ll enjoy an early dinner then drive to the Balloon Festival in time to enjoy the Balloon Glow. The sight of balloons lit from within at night is breathtaking. They look like giant holiday ornaments and it’s wonderful to wander amongst them. We’ll enjoy the festival then head to our hotel and overnight in Albuquerque.
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll drive north to Santa Fe and visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. After lunch in Santa Fe we’ll drive to Abiquiu – specifically her home at Ghost Ranch, purchased by O’Keefe in 1945. Her ability to capture the essence of the natural beauty of northern New Mexico desert, its vast skies, richly colored landscape configurations and unusual architectural forms, has identified the area as “O’Keeffe Country,” A wonderful two-hour hike takes us up through red rocks and white gypsum near Kitchen Mesa. The red and yellow cliffs of this mesa were favorite subjects for O’Keefe’s paintings. The views are spectacular and you can see why this ranch was so beloved by her. She made New Mexico her permanent home in 1949 and worked in oil until the mid 1970s. O’Keefe worked in pencil and watercolor until 1982 and produced objects in clay from the mid 1970s until two years before her death in 1986, at the age of 98. We’ll stop to soak those tired hiking muscles in luxurious mineral springs, also offering steam, sauna and mud pool. Check into our accommodations and relax amongst the red canyons, majestic mesas and amazing skies. Dinner this evening is in the lodge restaurant or in Taos.
It’s fun to get up early in the cool air and enjoy some quiet time before breakfast watching the desert come alive. We’ll drive to the Rio Grande Gorge bridge, a National Monument, and hopefully see some big horn sheep before driving to the beautiful adobe mountain town of Taos. We will visit the Taos Pueblo, a 1000 year-old village and the First Living World Heritage Site. Our local guide will lead us through the village explaining construction methods, traditions and ceremonies as well as the modern life of the people in her tribe. After lunch downtown there’s time for exploring the shops and galleries. Later we’ll drive the high scenic road through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with a stop at Chimayo Sanctuary, where a miracle occurred in 1810 and the church has become known as the “Lourdes of America”. Back to Santa Fe to check into our downtown hotel and enjoy New Southwest cuisine at dinner.
After breakfast, we’ll drive north and west to Bandelier National Monument and hike Frijoles Canyon. Explore ancestral pueblo homes, kivas, rock paintings and petroglyphs. Some of the dwellings were rock structures built on the canyon floor; others were “cavates” produced by voids in the canyon wall and carved out further by humans. It’s a wonderful morning exploration, followed by lunch. Then you’ll have the afternoon to shop and explore unique downtown Santa Fe. There are shops and galleries and museums that could keep you busy for a week! Santa Fe also offers exciting architectural and cultural subjects for amateur photographers. We will return to Albuquerque, check into our hotel for a two-night stay, and have dinner nearby.
We’ll eat an early breakfast and arrive at the Balloon Festival at 6:30am in time to see the balloons being inflated. This is a wonderful morning known as the Special Shapes Rodeo. Hundreds of balloons shaped from Darth Vader to Mickey Mouse join in a choreographed mass ascension, ensuring a once-in-a-lifetime experience and, of course, spectacular photos. It’s still early when we’re off on a short drive to Petroglyph National Monument on the outskirts of Albuquerque. It’s an easy walk around the volcanic rocks, one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. The designs and symbols were carved into the rocks by Indians and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. After lunch we’ll drive an hour west and visit Acoma Pueblo, also known as Sky City. It is regarded as one the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. We’ll tour the village with a local who’ll explain the history of the Acoma people and how they continue with the traditions of their ancestors. Spanish settlers had the mission church of San Esteban del Rey built at the pueblo from 1629 to 1641. Both the mission and the pueblo are National Historical Landmarks. Returning to Albuquerque, our farewell dinner will be at a favorite local restaurant serving regional fare. It’s great to relax and reflect on all our experiences of the past week and to enjoy the company of our travel companions for one last evening.
Enjoy breakfast and the other hotel amenities before the hotel shuttle transports you to the airport.
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