Santa Fe – Part 5 of 5 New Mexico – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

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Santa Fe – Artsy City Adventure – Tom and Priscilla


Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico. At 7,198′, it is at a higher altitude than Albuquerque, and is the highest capital city in the US. Recent travel literature on Santa Fe had been pretty negative, with grumbles about the high concentration of retirees from all over that made the city a staid place for the young, and the authentic cultural experience that had since turned into a kitschy tourist destination. But was that true? We were going to find out for ourselves.
We headed straight to the well-known Santa Fe Plaza. Right on one end of the Plaza was the iconic Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The other side of the plaza was the equally iconic Palace of the Governors where Native Americans sat displaying their wares by the sidewalk. Both these places made up the majority of photos that one could find on Santa Fe.

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Ghost Ranch – Part 4 of 5 New Mexico – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

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Tom and Priscilla Explore the Mysterious Ghost Ranch


Ghost Ranch was located in Abiquiu, and was owned by the Presbyterian Church who ran it as an education and retreat center. We had chanced upon this obscure place while looking into popular hiking trails in the state. Interestingly, Georgia O’Keefe had lived here, and the beautiful layered rocky canyon had inspired and influenced her art.

There was barely anyone around when we arrived at the ranch, and it appeared mostly deserted, if not abandoned. We found the office to register ourselves, grabbed a map, and started off on the Chimney Rock hiking trail. We soon found ourselves completely alone, the ranch far behind us. The hike was strangely quiet, except for the sound of our footsteps as we put one foot after another, slowly ascending the steep hill. As we trudged forward, a massive cliff face loomed in front of us, and it felt so close as though we could touch it with our hands outstretched. But, in between us was an abyss, made dark and intimidating by the cliffs that closed in around it. Our voices echoed as we hollered. Uncontrollably, the fear of slipping and falling circulated in our minds as we clambered upwards on a ledge. Thankfully, the trail flattened out to a path on the ridge of a hill, providing beautiful views in all directions. The trail ended as the hill dropped off into a vertical cliff, and right across, was the aptly named Chimney Rocks, which jutted out against a backdrop of desert and hills with azure sky.

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Bandelier National Monument – New Mexico 3 of 5 – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

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Day 3 in New Mexico – Bandelier National Monument


Bandelier National Monument was about an hour drive away from Santa Fe, and was highly ranked on the list of places to visit in New Mexico. It was an ancient site dating back over 11,000 years, where the Ancestral Pueblo people carved dwellings into the rocky canyon and lived there for about 400 years.
Just ten miles short of Bandelier, signs abound at the town of White Rock to inform visitors that the monument could only be accessed via shuttle bus. We had clearly missed that information while planning our visit. A little confused, we walked into a brand new museum-like visitor center, where the staff informed us of the shuttle schedule and fees to enter the monument. We quickly parked our car and caught the monument-bound bus just before it left. The bus took us through winding mountain roads before ending at another visitor center, which sat at the entrance to the monument. A staff greeted us and gave a quick overview of what we could see and do once inside.

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We bought our entry tickets, ventured through the visitor center, and right before exiting into the monument area, we came upon a group of Native Americans performing in their traditional costume. Another group of Native Americans was silently sitting on the floor against the wall, displaying handmade jewelry for sale. Bandelier was certainly tourist-centric.

As we stepped onto the trail, it quickly became apparent that no strenuous hiking was expected. There were families with young children and visitors in flip-flops. The monument appeared to be designed as an outdoor getaway for families.

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Tent Rocks National Monument – New Mexico 2 of 5 – Travel with Tom and Priscilla Schmidt

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Tent Rocks was a national monument with unique conical rock formations. We saw pictures online that piqued our curiosity, and right away, we knew we had to hike the trails no matter how tough it was going to be. Tent Rocks was also conveniently located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, making it a good detour as we headed towards Santa Fe.

Slot Canyon at Tent Rocks National Monument

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At the Top of Tent Rocks National Monument

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Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ) – New Mexico Trip 1 of 5 – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

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Travel to New Mexico with Tom and Priscilla

New Mexico was a spur of the moment trip. A friend who had visited a year ago came back with gleaming eyes and charming description of her time there. The excitement was so contagious that a year later, we found ourselves on a plane heading for Albuquerque. The green and luscious landscape of the upper Midwest summer gave way to the southwestern landscape of brown sand, rocks and cactus. Adobe homes hinted at an unfamiliar culture that existed in New Mexico, and most buildings were of a brown hue that blended into the desert. The sharp color contrast from Chicago’s scenery was a hard reset for our minds.

ABQ – Petroglyph National Monument

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Sandia Mountain, 10,378’ – Just outside of Albuquerque New Mexico

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Exploring the “Old Town” area in Albuquerque New Mexico

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First Snow in Buffalo Grove – Pictures with Tom

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In Chicago it snows.

Winter has always been the most dreaded season for us. The harsh cold wind that pierces through even the thickest and toughest of winter coats, the sharp air that sucks the moisture out of everything and anything, and just the sheer coldness that drives us to hide in our insulated dwellings, safely away from the chilling claws of winter.

Yet, there is magic in the first snow. The dancing snowflakes blanket the land, transforming everything they touch, giving beauty to even the most mundane of landscapes such as the suburb we live in.
What better time to take a stroll and enjoy the silent and mesmerizing snowy day?

Enjoy the first Snow in Chicago with Tom and Priscilla.

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Tom Schmidt Photo in Buffalo Grove Chicago

Tom Schmidt Photo in Buffalo Grove Chicago

Tom Schmidt Photo in Buffalo Grove Chicago

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Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan – Travel with Tom and Priscilla

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With the first real summer holiday coming up fast, we wanted to find a spot to camp outdoors at a drive-able distance from Chicago… So we were off to Tahquamenon located on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

And you ask why the UP of Michigan of all places to visit? Well we haven’t been there yet and Tahquamenon is the largest waterfall East of the Mississippi!

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Tahquamenon Falls – July 4th weekend 2016

 
We stuffed our little red Toyota Corolla FULL with a tent, ground pads, sleeping bags and food, and began our road trip to the UP.

The drive from Chicago is about 8 hours, and the route hugs Lake Michigan all the way. We passed through the great Midwestern cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay before entering the UP where the terrain changes to gentle hills and endless forests.tahquamenon falls michigan Tom Schmidt Photo travel blog

On the drive up I was recalling my college days at the University of Michigan and the people I had met from throughout the state. When you ask these locals about some Michigan geography or their hometown, Michigan folks instinctively pull up their left hand, point to a location on the back of their hand, and that is where they are from. The Michigan state looks roughly looks like a mitten and this hand trick is as common as the Michigan apples. Somehow, The Upper Peninsula has always been left out of this neat little trick as though it is some unknown place. Truthfully, having lived in Michigan for four years while in college, I don’t actually know much about the UP except that there are trees everywhere.

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Tahquamenon Falls – July 4th weekend 2016

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