After all the years of dreaming about visiting Santa Fe I had finally made it. Strangely it turned out to be quite different than what I had expected…way beyond my expectations!

After leaving Monument Valley my drive took me back the 40 km’s to Kayenta before picking up the road east toward Santa Fe.

Now back in Arizona the road wove its way across the top of the state which continued to be punctuated by rocky outcrops, albeit nowhere near as spectacular as those in Monument Valley. 🙂

After about an hour and a half of driving I noted a sign that said Next exit The Four Corners.

As you can imagine, with my curiosity peaked I had to follow my nose and discover what this was all about…

The short drive from the highway brought me to an entrance, literally in a farmers field with a series of low sheds off in the near distance.

Located on Navajo land, there is a $5.00 per person fee to enter the spot marking where all four states come together – Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

Interestingly, its the only place in the United States where four states all touch, and that you can have your body parts in four states at the same time.

The car park was a rutted field with local Navajo stalls selling local wares, super low key! In the centre of the stalls was a small plaza with the plaque that identifies the spot where the four state boundary touch. Actually, pretty cool!

So glad I detoured off the highway!

It was good to have a walk around and stretch before the next 4.5 hour leg of my journey onto Santa Fe.

After passing north along the outskirts of Albuquerque I made my way into Santa Fe. By this time it had warmed up (no, not really) to -11C.

What struck me most, and which I wasn’t expecting was that Santa Fe is actually as ski destination… I know right???

Clearly, I hadn’t studied my geography well enough, because overlooking the city of Santa Fe is a huge mountain – Sandre de Cristo. This snow capped peak is only 25 km’s (16 miles) from downtown Santa Fe.

Santa Fe itself sits at 2,194 meters (7200 feet) above sea level, but the top of Ski Santa Fe is at an impressive 3,680 meters (12,075 feet). It’s among the highest ski areas in the continental United States. Wow! Who knew???

I guess if you’re a skier you would have definitely known.

The first thing I noticed was that if was somewhat difficult to breath. At that rarified altitude – Toronto is at 76 meters (249 feet) above sea level, just a little bit of a difference! 🙂

It felt like I couldn’t quite get a full breath…an odd feeling to be sure.

Other than the crystal blue sky, snow on the surrounding mountains and biting cold, all which I wasn’t quite ready for as I thought it would be a little more temperate.

I stayed at The Lodge at Santa Fe decorated as you’d imagine in a SouthWestern style which was awesome! Centrally located and close to everything including restaurants and one of the best breakfast places ever!

I discovered the Dolina Bakery & Cafe for breakfast, and decided after one visit to eat there every day I was in this fascinating city.

Where to start with this awesome little institution! Albeit a hole in the wall, it has a loyal following and can be busy if you come after 8:00 am.

My breakfast started each day with yogurt, berries and muesli in a mason jar…as you would in this part of the world. Followed up with an egg, bacon and avocado croissant. All washed down with a cup or three of their local coffee.

I seriously can’t stop talking about this place. It is an absolute must eat when in Santa Fe. 🙂

One of the high points with my road trip was the opportunity to stop at some of the many National Parks and monuments that I discovered along the way.

The Bandalier National Monument was just one of these. Arriving mid afternoon it was a fabulous hike into the canyon to view and experience the ancient home of the local Puebloans.

The Pueblo people literally carved their houses out of the sandstone walls, many with two or three rooms, garden spaces outlined in front and ladders up to the accommodations – very impressive!

Now couple that with some of the most breathtaking scenery you’ll find anywhere in the world and I can see why they settle here.

As the sun started to dip below the lip of the canyon the temperature dropped rather quickly and so it was time to hustle back to the car and head back to the hotel and plan my dinner.

Quite often when I travel I’ll eat a hearty breakfast, fruit and water for lunch and then enjoy a good sized meal at night. This allows me lots of time to hike and explore without having to worry about stopping mid day.

It seems to work for me personally, but if you need to eat, plan ahead and bring something with you. This way you get to maximize your day!

I was in the mood for local fare, and came across an awesome local spot just 15 minutes from my hotel down highway 285.

Gabriel’s is rated by Zagats as “one of America’s top restaurants, a true Mexican classic its rated excellent in every category. My personal favourite was the guacamole made fresh as the table! Delicious!

The restaurant was buzzing, with lots of couples and families waiting for tables, so my advice is to make booking for this incredible eatery in advance. I booked 30 minutes before showing up but had no waiting when I arrived, which was awesome!

Until next week when I explore more of Santa Fe and Los Alamos.