Monday, September 28, 2009

I found what I was looking for ...

... in Sante Fe.

Really, this place is perfect. Albuquerque was, let's see ... a cow town? (Actually, I think it literally was a cow town at some point.) But it's very much like lots and lots of towns across the country. A tiny little historic area with some decent shops and stuff and a few overpriced touristy restaurants. Then tiny pockets of what passes for coolness spread all out over the city. A nice find here and there, but not enough of it to really reach critical mass.

Santa Fe, on the other hand, seems to have it all. Museums, galleries, stores, shops (the first Starbucks I've seen in THREE days). Yes, many of them are national chains but there are many others that are not, and together they create enough sustainability to give the downtown area some real liveliness.

While Albuquerque pretty much shuts down by 9 pm, I wandered around last night and caught two excellent live music acts. One Country & Western, which I'm not a huge fan of, but they played a lot of Johnny Cash, so that was okay. And a blues band that made me feel like I was right at home in Chicago. And they went all the way 'til midnite!

What's also cool is the downtown area is not just for tourists. There were lots of locals at the country bar. So it's not one of those towns where none of the natives go downtown. And it's both laid back and cosmopolitan, if that makes sense.

Speaking of natives, I'm staying in a native-American owned hotel and it is amazing. First, it's beautiful. Second, I scored another sweet room, complete with balcony overlooking the pool (plus there's a pool!).

It's right next to Old Town and the prices are really, really reasonable! And it reminds me of another cool thing about Santa Fe. They make a real effort to have the buildings, old and new, fit in with the historic adobe style. Like, here's the hotel:

And here's a slice of the plaza in Old Town:

And even driving in through the suburbs the houses (the nicer ones at least) blend in with the landscape, in subtle hues of pinkish brown. So they seem to have a lot of respect for their history and architectural heritage.

Only hitch is, I was thinking of this last night. I'd forgotten that when I stay at nice places alone it makes things a little lonely. I was not lonely at all in the dump I stayed at in Alamagordo (the giant water bug inhabiting the bathroom was company) because I would never think for a minute of having someone I cared about staying there. But here, like the place in ABQ, it makes me think how nice it would be to share it with someone.

Anyway, off again in a couple of hours for some hiking, where I hope to see one of these:

But first I think I'm gonna take a soak in the hot tub ...

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