Taos Ski Village is a 30 minute drive into the dramatic Sangre De Grado Mountains from the artistic pueblo of Taos. The drive alone is worth making the trip here, but ski village life is the real draw. We came up here to catch a free concert by the band Tea Leaf Green, and had to hop on a gondola (also free) up the mountain from the base of the resort. I dropped about $5 on 2 PBR pints, including tip. Best Ski Resort Trip Ever.
Earthships Biotecture Headquarter Visit --
Earthships are fully autonomous, off-grid houses (and schools) built out of recycled and organic materials. The structures look like something out of a Star Wars movie, and they're incredibly practical solutions to the onslaught of environmental and social problems that our planet is grappling with. People live and learn in Earthship communities in all 50 states and over 40 countries around the world, and they're headquartered a stones throw away from the Rio Grande in Taos, New Mexico.
The Rio Grande forms a natural border between the United States and Mexico -- here in Taos, however, it serves more as a tourist attraction and a scenic backdrop for bighorn sheep. We saw four of these incredible creatures, though it took a while to spot them -- they perch so precariously, and blend in so seamlessly, that most people don't notice them until someone points them out.
Albuquerque -- Say it aloud. Now spell it correctly on your first try. In this spacious desert throwback outpost, step back into a romanticized vision of the wild west. Here in Old Town ABQ, bouquets of red chiles hang alongside turquoise doors while aging cosplayers fire off blank rounds that still cause me to jump when my back's turned to them and I'm evaluating the purchase of a cattle skull.
El Pinto is one of the most impressive breakfast joints we've come across in this fine country. The ambience is spectacular -- Imagine rolling up to the local cattle baron's sprawling hacienda, strolling through an entryway hung with the New Mexico trademark red chile bushels, and into a high-ceilinged ranchero style dining revue complete with live chicken cam and waterfall. The culinary highlights here are topped by their famous red chile rubbed ribs -- make sure to snag an order to pair with your house beans and fresh guacamole.
FRESH SAGE and artisanal coffee in ABQ Old Town --
Albuquerque Old Town is a jumble of a adobe suite vendors hawking southwest specialties like handmade leather products and turquoise-tipped shoes. There are plenty of local artists who ply their trade from the alleyways connecting all of the brick and mortar shops as well -- The freshly picked and rolled desert sage pictured above was cut and rolled right in front of us by a cowboy hippie character outside of third wave coffee shop Velvet Coffee. The olfactory combination of fresh ground coffee and still moist sage is enough to keep Cocopele dancing 'til the cows come home.
Comida y Cervezas @ Taos Mesa Brewing Company --
The inside of this place looks like an old airplane hangar, so of course we had to order a flight of beers. The vibe here is laid back family style, and the pulled pork nachos are worth the siesta they'll induce shortly after consumption. A lot of activity here -- you wouldn't know it if you get here early, but this saloon pops off with frequent concerts and community events. It was here that we learned about the free Tea Leaf Green concert up the mountain at Taos Ski Village -- the band even played a second set at Taos Mesa Brewing later on in the evening.
Leather Works --
This is the genuine southwest, a place of history and culture and honest to the trade cattle ranchers who carry the legacy of both. You wouldn't know that the world has entered warp speed when you set foot into any of the leather works purveyors across this fine state. The craft has never been more alive, with handmade accoutrements ranging from boots to bracelets to incredibly fashionable hats available for the aspiring cowboy or cowgirl.
Petroglyphs National Monument --
Just a short drive from ABQ you can find a smattering of petroglyphs chiseled into rocks that line an easy hike to a panoramic viewpoint up an easy hill. New Mexico is home to 23 indigenous tribes. These days, they live in Pueblos that range in size and socioeconomic power -- I've never seen so many casinos concentrated in one area outside of Las Vegas. Petroglyphs National Monument, however, is a testament to a bygone era of pastoral harmony and magical realism. Entry to the monument is a whopping $2 per car.
Meow Wolf in Santa Fe --
This place might be the highlight in a trip jam packed with awesomeness. It's blacklight, explosively colorful immersive storytelling environment that channels Dr. Seuss and Ken Kesey. Meow Wolf is an artistic and cultural stomping ground that may have been planted out here in the desert by whatever jumped off the crashed saucer in Roswell. Adding to the wackiness, It's bankrolled by Game of Thrones author George RR Martin. We paid $15 each to explore neon forests, walk through fridges into tunnels of light, and play a giant pink musical ribcage with a pair of mallets. Oh, and the price of admission also included a concert by Albert Hammond, Jr., guitarist for The Strokes -- he even had another indie stalwart, Father John Misty, holding it down on the battery kit for him.
Though part of New Mexico's charm is it's sleepy southwest energy -- this is definitely NOT a place to sleep on.