[I finally sorted through the photos on December 10th so it’s been over two months since this trip! This now seems so long ago but oh well, posting this draft with pictures has been on my to do list, so I can finally cross this off today!]
Currently sitting outside of our casita right now! It’s 8am in Santa Fe (so 7am in California) and I’ve already taken my morning walk around the property, so now I’m just enjoying the nice outdoor weather and the wifi that reaches out here. I haven’t seen a single person with a laptop on the premises, and very few smartphones. So maybe I’m breaking an unspoken rule of this spa resort where adults are meant to relax. Oh well!
Robyn and I are at Sunrise Springs for our birthday weekend, mainly because she received a three-night stay gift certificate after writing a review on the place following her earlier New Years Eve stay. Of course I demanded that she use her free stay with me, thankfully she agreed. So here we are!
We flew out on Saturday morning and arrived in Albuquerque around 2pm. It takes an hour to drive out, and we had initially planned on heading straight to Santa Fe. However, upon landing, I sensed that I would get pretty hangry during the drive, so I started yelping places to eat in Albuquerque while en route to the rental car location. OF COURSE I searched for Mexican food – though there were actually a surprising number of Asian restaurants that looked pretty decent, I think because there’s a university nearby so there was more diversity in food selection. Most of the places on yelp only had like 100 or 200 reviews – and then after a few “next pages” over, I randomly found a place that had like 1600 reviews! So of course we headed there – Cocina Azul!
The place did NOT look like a restaurant at all from the outside, but it owned like three different parking lots on the surrounding blocks, so clearly it’s a local favorite. We arrived at the restaurant around 3pm but there were still quite a few people in there. One of the top dishes were enchiladas, which I don’t really like, but I’m always tempted to order because I keep thinking maybe I’m just one good enchilada away from loving them. I ended up getting a chile relleno, another top pick. New Mexico is known for having green and red chile served with its dishes, so I had to have that – Christmas style! (which means having both at once). My dish basically tasted like a big pepper stuffed with cheese, meat and more diced up chile peppers and there was also some sort of fried egg white situation involved. The primary taste was cheese and shredded beef though, so I loved my dish! I also got a glass of horchata which was decent – basically just more sugar to my day. Robyn got a bowl of pozole. (no pictures for this, just imagine Mexican food)
While we were sitting there, Robyn noticed a wooden logo that hanging above the bar that also popped up in a magazine I was flipping through. I guessed that it was a logo for a brewery, which was correct! And that ended up inspiring us to drive over to the nearby brewery, Marble Brewery, after we finished up our meal.
Since it was like 4pm, the brewery wasn’t too busy. It had a cool indoor space, an even cooler outdoor space, and a rooftop deck that we never bothered to venture to (it looked warm up there). Their t-shirt prints were cool but not well proportioned to the shirts (too small) so we ended up buying two glasses as souvenirs (and for me, a stolen coaster!). I think my new favorite travel thing is to collect interesting coasters at bars. It’s the cheapest souvenir you can find – because it’s FREE!
Finally, off to our actual destination! I was asleep for most of the drive – I hadn’t slept very well the night before. I am pretty certain there wasn’t very much to see on the drive. The last leg of the trip was through some fairly narrow backroads, at first I was a bit like … where is this supposed resort?! But suddenly a small driveway appeared and we arrived at a giant gated complex!
There was a guard at the complex who asked for our names. I thought it seemed like he was just testing our response to gauge whether we really seemed like guests or not, but in the minute that it took us to drive to the front desk, he had actually called ahead to reception so they knew our names when we walked in. What service!
Got checked in pretty easily. Someone accompanied us to the room and we couldn’t say no because they didn’t even tell us our room number. You know I hate to have to tip something like being shown to a room especially when my luggage is so light. Technically Robyn tipped because I don’t carry cash, so I shouldn’t complain too much. After the guy’s show and dance, FINALLY we had our room to relax in!!!
The first thing we did was flop onto the bed and then scan their list of resort activities. All the activities pretty much ended at 6pm so we couldn’t do any on our arrival day. But the activities were pretty repetitive between Saturday, Sunday and Monday, so no big loss. The ones we decided to do were puppy play, cat play, and archery (which we did all on Monday). There weren’t many others that interested me at the time – they have a rotating list so there were some that weren’t currently offered that I would have loved to do, like horticulture or culinary activities. Oh well! We had plenty to do anyway.
We eventually gathered ourselves to go for a walk around the property, checking out the gardens and the pools before the sun set. Then we decided we’d just eat dinner at the resort’s kitchen which was perfect – neither of us were very hungry since we had eaten Cocina Azul not too long ago, and I didn’t really want to drive out again as the resort seemed a bit far from anything. Despite saying we weren’t that hungry, we did still order three things – mushroom fritters (basically fried balls of mushroom, pretty good, certainly unique!) a caesar salad (there was no part of the salad that was at all reminiscent of a caesar salad – it was made of arugula, not lettuce, had no croutons, had a parmesan cheese crisp rather than normal cheese, and was tossed with some sort of reddish dressing instead of caesar dressing. I don’t understand it lol), and the main thing I had been craving all along – a cheeseburger!
The dining room was actually pretty crowded when we arrived – we got what looked like the last two-top in the room. Food was all decent and we were pretty much one of the last tables remaining at then end of the night. After dinner, we took a short walk around the premises to check out the greenhouse (very cool!), the gym (never came back here again) and peer through the fence of the puppy pen where we could hear a puppy running around. Maybe we watched an episode of Succession after heading back to our room, but all I know for sure is that Robyn was asleep in bed well before midnight!
Next morning, we woke up with the plan of making it to the restaurant by 7:50am so we could beat the 8am rush. Well, we did make it by 8am, but there was NO morning rush. haha plenty of tables to choose from. Well … there were only a few two tops available and every single one of them was bathed in sunlight! I ended up getting the seat with sun in my face. Breakfast is included with the stay – I wasn’t entirely sure how it worked as we had to order from a menu, but it turns out we could order anything and it was entirely covered! I left very full every morning, but of course in hindsight, I do irrationally think, should’ve eaten more!
For the first breakfast, we shared a terrible fruit smoothie (which tasted like frozen, blended up orange juice) and corn meal pancakes – Robyn got a breakfast burrito for herself and I got a oat & quinoa porridge (I thought I’d kick the weekend off to a healthy start). Food was just ok – pancakes were my favorite of the items (actually to be very specific, the pancakes were just ok but the syrup was fantastic). We also ended up getting house coffee but the next days we would get lattes!
Sunday was our Santa Fe day. Soon after breakfast, we left to drive into town (about 25 minutes away) and got to Meow Wolf by 10am which was when we had reserved our tickets (I also later found out this was the opening time). We arrived on time, around the 60th percentile to arrive I’d say.
Not sure how to explain Meow Wolf – I call it an indoor, immersive art installation/maze. Robyn calls it a collection of Burning Man exhibits. It was certainly more interesting than I was expecting! We ended up spending nearly three hours here! It is definitely a place for all ages – kids love it and even some pretty old looking people were getting around. I think my favorite parts included a black and white room which felt like you were in a B&W cartoon, the hallway to the bathroom which had all sorts of things paint in glow-in-the-dark paint on the walls, and some sugar confectionery figures encased in glass. The coolest parts of the building included a drying machine, a fridge and a fireplace, which were all secret passageways to other rooms. Also, there’s a small open space that is likely the stage for concerts (though the space was so small I don’t quite understand how they’re able to fit enough people on the floor for a concert – they have pretty decently sized acts come through!). And a more central room where they’d built a treehouse with platforms going across as the second level. Again, very cool! Lots of photos.
We exited around 1pm and debated getting food at the truck stationed in the parking lot but decided to try and make it to some artisan art fair that was located at the Santa Fe Railroad Yard (also the site of their farmers markets, which wasn’t open on this day). The art fair was pretty much the size of a large public space room. From here, we planned out our next stops –
1. I HAD to eat something and didn’t have time to look for a proper sit down meal so I typed in “donuts” into yelp and found Whoo’s Donuts. Robyn was amenable to make a stop here, though she did immediately nix my idea of walking 0.7mi away and demanded that we drive (which was in all fairness, was the sane option as it was already VERY hot). It took some time to find Whoo’s Donuts as it was tucked away in a weird location, but we found it! We were the only patrons the entire time we sat here (it was a bit late to be eating donuts), and the donuts were decent. I initially had my eyes on four different donuts, but we only got two – a blueberry lavender and a chai glaze. I wish I had skipped the chai glaze (as it just tasted like a regular glazed donut) and instead tried their white chocolate lemon pistacho (there was also a cherry coconut and a boston cream donut, my next two choices). Ah well, it was a perfect amount of food for us to get the energy to soldier on!
2. Now ready to continue with our day, we headed to downtown Santa Fe and managed to snag really good, central (and free!) street parking. We were close to the bookstore we’d wanted to stop by – Iconik – which is also a popular cafe. We were in here for quite a while, the bookstore had a great selection! For some reason I’ll always remember this weekend as the weekend that Demi Moore’s memoir came out. Then we just started wandering around. I like this downtown area, it doesn’t feel too touristy yet and there isn’t too much of the same thing over and over, which can sometimes happen in other downtown areas. There’s also quite a bit of street art fairs and art galleries in Santa Fe.
3. We eventually started getting hungry and crazily, there weren’t THAT many places open to eat even though it was only like 4pm on a Saturday!!! We ended up walking about 0.7mi to get to our restaurant of choice, Palacio Cafe. This was the one place I’d found on Yelp that I had bookmarked that I REALLY wanted to try, mainly because it had really high ratings at 4.5 stars and 600+ reviews. I’m glad we came, this one of the best meals of the trip! Our server was so friendly with us. I ordered myself a house lemonade (haha he said ‘we have a house lemonade’ and I said ‘hm … can I get an agua fresca instead?’ and he said ‘so … a house lemonade?’ and I said ‘… yes …’) and a ground beef & cheese burrito covered in chile – SOOOO good. Robyn got herself steak tacos and we were both very happy.
4. We then continued our walk around the area, mainly going into gift shops. I got a pretty cool ceramic balloon for my parents to hang in their garden! We eventually started petering out and decided we’d leave the downtown area and hit a few more stops before going back to our hotel, but first …
5. Kakawa Chocolate House! This had REALLY high reviews on yelp … so I was expecting a lot more. But it was just ok. I thought we’d have like chocolate tours or chocolate samples or something, but it wasn’t that generous. House is a generous term for the establishment – I mean it does kind of look like a house from the outside, but it is clearly a store meant to shuttle consumers in and out without allowing people to loiter for too long. The chocolate WAS very good – I remember getting a horchata (my favorite), a peanut butter bar (delicious), some sort of marshmallow caramel that I didn’t even try, and then … hmm … I think there was a peanut on the outside and unfortunately their website doesn’t list their products individually so I may never remember the fourth!
6. Then we decided we’d drive out to Santa Fe Brewing Company. Robyn was a little uncertain about adding this as a stop, as it’d already been a long day, but I said, let’s just drive by and see! And I’m glad we did! But FIRST we made an unplanned pit stop at a Trader Joe’s that we passed en route so we could pick up crackers to go with the champagne and cheese plate that Robyn’s mom had gifted us. We ended up deciding to just get enough snack provisions to round out a dinner for ourselves that we could eat dinner in our hotel room – rosemary crackers, an additional cheese (Iberico, my new fave), and a green tea/lemonade for myself. It was a fantastic idea!!! We knew we wouldn’t be hungry enough to warrant a dinner at the hotel restaurant again, and also wouldn’t want to drive out again late at night, so this was PERFECT!!!
7. Post Trader Joe’s, we made it out to the Santa Fe Brewing Company! Another cute spot – very large premises. Turns out they neighbor a concert venue. I ordered a cider for myself and a beer for Robyn and we ended up sitting on their outdoor rooftop deck, where we just spied on a fellow patron’s two giant Great Danes, while trying to stay warm in the wind. Another perfect pitstop!
We finally finished our drinks and made our way back to Sunrise Springs. We’d end up going to the pools for a night time soak, then eating our dinner of cheese and crackers with a fabulous setup in our room where we propped the laptop up on the bed and stationed our chairs at the edge while watching Succession! I am again, pretty certain we were asleep by midnight yet again lol
Oh dear that was just SUNDAY!
Monday! Ok actually this day is light because it’s mainly resort stuff. I ended up waking up early and going outside for a walk, with the intention of getting some sunrise photos. It turns out that there’s very few areas on the premises with a clear open shot of the sky. But I did get a great walk in, with lots of shots of the property! There weren’t very many people out, especially at like 7am haha. First I circled the usual resort walk from our room to the dining area to the pools, and then I ventured beyond the perimeter into their hiking area. I was afraid of getting lost – I guess in a way I did because it turns out I never even got to the TRUE hiking area, I was just in another adjacent walking area! I eventually made my way back, though I did need a clue from a worker who pointed me away from the teepee I had stumbled upon. When I arrived back in the room, Robyn had just finished getting ready (what perfect timing!) so we could immediately bounce off to our breakfast.
This day, I decided to try the sourdough avocado toast – DELICIOUS! Robyn got … ok I can’t remember what now (looking at the photo, maybe it was the same order), but we also shared the blueberry french toast. At this point of the trip, I’d tried everything that looked interesting on the breakfast menu – sourdough avocado toast, french toast, pancakes, and the oatmeal.
Ok – that’s where I left off. It’s now nearly three weeks post-trip and I’m currently sitting at a cafe where I intended to do some CPE study but have instead ended up reading through this draft again and wanting to finish it up! I’m actually really surprised I had written so much of the trip – I thought I had left it off at Albuquerque! Let’s see how well my memory serves me …
After breakfast, our first scheduled activity was puppy play! This is a very cool idea – the resort brings in dogs in training to become therapy dogs and the benefit is that these dogs will be able to get used to meeting lots of strangers and different faces. The whole goal is to get them to not be afraid of new things/faces/sounds. They even have tons of random props laying around the puppy play house and they tell guests that they can use these to make noise so the dogs learn not to get startled – like dropping cookie trays on the floor! When Robyn came to this resort the first time, I think the puppies she saw were already like several months old, so not true puppies, but this time they were only 8-weeks old! And very cute! There were four black English labs and their mom was there too. It was cute but if you know me, I am not really a dog person and having puppies jump and nip at me was overwhelming. I left with a giant chunk of my right knee having been “nipped off” by a dog named HAL. TRAUMATIZED!
After this, we sat by the chicken coop while I continued to press a paper towel against my bleeding knee. We eventually went back to just lie around our hotel room, but before we knew it, the next activity was CAT PLAY! What I’ve learned from this weekend is that I am slightly afraid of overly excited dogs, and I think cats are much more manageable and suited to my personality, but cats are kind of boring. The cats were kept in a little airstream trailer – we had to walk back out to the edge of the perimeter (to where I had just done my morning walk a few hours ago) to where the trailer was. Two other people joined us and we basically spent like 45 minutes just holding out cat toys. Cute! But it did make me realize that the cats have no interest in the humans holding the toys.
After this … I have a feeling we rounded out the next few hours by eating more of our cheese and crackers in the room while watching another episode of Succession. I vaguely remember the archery activity started at 2pm. My first archery experience! This activity taught me that I have ZERO upper body strength. The instructor did say I had surprisingly good form considering this was my first attempt. The problem was that I could never remember how to swiftly aim and shoot the arrow after drawing back, so I’d spend a ton of energy keeping my bow drawn, which requires a lot of muscle. I definitely reached the peak of my archery ability pretty early into the hour. After a while, my fingers and arms were too sore from keeping the bow drawn, and my aim got progressively worse. Overall though, it was a great experience and I remember being sore for about two days afterwards. It kind of just inspired me to want to exercise more because I could see how practicing archery would work out a lot of great upper body muscles. Of course, now it’s three weeks later and I’ve done nothing.
After this, we went back to our room for MORE SUCCESSION! We also ended up ordering food for pickup from the kitchen (I was willing to spend money on a meal but not to pay tip to some employee to walk it to our room!) We got baked brie (yum – a lot of cheese this weekend!) and a salmon stir fry (fine, filling, hit the spot). Our next activity was a scheduled hot tub session that Robyn had booked! So if you stay at the resort, you have access to four spa pools of varying temperatures (and a swimming pool and hot tub that we never used). When Robyn was here the first time, they were still building out private hot tubs you could reserve for a fee – these are more conventional hot tubs but they’re enclosed, private, and come with a fireplace and a shower. Though I blanched at having to pay extra for something that we already had access to, the private tubs were (obviously) a more luxurious amenity and pretty fun. Also, Robyn’s mom had surprised us with a $200 gift certificate and it turned out at the end of the trip we had spent exactly $200.66, so if we hadn’t had this hot tub experience, we wouldn’t have cleared the $200 mark!
Robyn had picked a time to be in the hot tub right when the sun set which was fun. After this, we went back to our room and I remember it being like 8:30pm or something … we were now hungry but didn’t want to eat in the hotel restaurant but there was VERY little open near us at this hour!!! I ended up finding a Mexican “food truck” that had very few but very high review on Yelp.
This ended up being another one of my favorite meals!!! It was about 7miles away from the resort, on the way but not in downtown Santa Fe. The “food truck” was more of a truck stationed in a parking lot. It was open till 10pm, one of the very few places to be open past 9pm. And it was DELICIOUS! Thank goodness Robyn speaks passable Spanish – she ordered. I had to google most of the menu. This was the kind of place that made me sad that I didn’t have the stomach capacity to try everything on the menu. They had tortas which I love, but I wasn’t hungry enough for bread.
We ate on the tables outside, in the light of the food truck. It was weirdly a perfect ambiance for the end to our birthday weekend. Super casual but delicious. I really wanted to snap a photo of the entire place but felt self conscious. Another testament to how good this place was – there was a never ending flow of Mexican men who kept coming, ordering, and waiting in their trucks for food before driving off, even though it was like 9:30pm!
After this, more Succession, then sleep. The next day, we had our flight back home, I think it departed at 2pm? So we had to leave the resort by 12pm. I woke up early again, took another solo morning walk around the premises, then our last breakfast. Since it was a Tuesday morning, it was the emptiest restaurant seating yet. For this last breakfast, we opted for our faves – Robyn with the breakfast burrito and me with the sourdough avocado toast. Split pancakes. Having had the toast twice in a row, I was incensed to find that this second toast was WAYYYYY smaller than yesterday’s. I mean, in the end, I was still full and it was still a breakfast already covered by the gift certificate. BUT STILL! Ah well.
Got to the airport with a reasonable amount of time – we had initially mapped our route to get gas and get a coffee from a cute cafe Robyn had found. Unfortunately, I ended up mapping us to the second cafe location – it was only a five minute difference from the original, but by the time we got to the area, Robyn was getting bothered that we might not have enough time to return the rental car and get onto our flight. So we skipped the coffee! Which I’m glad we did, because we didn’t need it. Glad we made our flight!
And that’s the whole trip!
Lol while on the plane, there were three different times that I thought “ooo the Grand Canyon!” – I’m not sure if ANY of these are the Grand Canyon.