Santa Fe: NOTinTheRVnow.
After our one-day stop in Amarillo, TX, we moved on to Santa Fe, NM.
On our way there, we looked and looked for a free place to stay. Not only did we not find free parking, we found the RV Parks wanted around $50 a night. You want $50 for a parking spot with an outlet and a poop hole?! C'mon, Santa Fe, who you be?
So, instead, we wound our way into the mountains to Hyde Memorial Park, where there are park-first-and-you-win RV spots in a beautiful location. Unfortch, we were not the early bird and we did not get the worm; no RV space for us. (Note to tent-campers: You don’t need to take up an RV spot with your tent. Your tent will work outside the RV spots.) But we did get in a scenic little hike. There was forest and mountains and even packed snow on the ground, despite the 72 degree weather. Lily enjoyed kicking the snow and convinced some other kids to join her.
We returned to town, and drove through historic old town Santa Fe, which is quaint and old-fashiony. It has tons of art studios, restaurants, outdoor vendors, and manicured town squares, all in low stucco buildings. The only colors allowed in town are orange, brown, and brownish-orange. With a special permit, you can also build with orangish-brown. People were walking around everywhere. It’s the kind of place with doggy bakeries. We thought Santa Fe would have nothing but skull art and woven blankets! We were right, but it also has at least four more things.
We were almost to our dinner when the RV told DonMichael he drives too fast. The RV did this by refusing to shift above second gear. Hoping the RV just wanted a rest, we parked at an open-air market with acres of metal sculptures (e.g. flamingoes, flowers, suns, and donkeys), and went to dinner. When we returned, the RV was still giving us a real bad attitude about third gear. So we decided to try to drive it to the Santa Fe Mercedes dealer for a nice, quick $10,000 transmission replacement. We only made it .3 miles before DonMichael had to park it in a Trader Joe’s parking lot.
We called Good Sam (RV club and insurer) to use our roadside assistance. We were sure we had that service because we asked for everything under the sun when we signed up. But we were told, no, you do not have road side assistance, and, no, we cannot find your names in any system. You are uninsured and SOL. (We did have insurance, just no roadside assistance.) They graciously offered to to tow us for double the going rate. After being assured the tow was on its way, we received a call around midnight telling us that the tow would, in fact, arrive the next day at 10 a.m. We told Good Sam’s good helper to go help herself to a bag of d*cks. We found a local tow company for half the price.
Within minutes, two burly men with testiculos grandes tore into the parking lot, and threw our 26-foot long, 11-foot high RV onto their tow platform. During the process, there was some super-loud scraping from the back of our tilted-up RV. We were sure our RV was losing its exhaust system. Upon closer inspection, we found that our Blue Ox tow hitch had carved its initials into the Trader Joe parking lot. (“BO” is a funny set of initials.) Once the RV was chained down, these guys, with the boy-sacs they carted around in wheel barrows, sped through the streets of Santa Fe. We followed in our car. Each time they barely made it under a light post, we tightened our turches. Each time they screeched around a corner, with the RV on two side wheels, we gulped in unison. We arrived with much tighter buns at the closed Mercedes dealership. The Ballz Brothers chucked our RV off the platform and were on their way back to the Jersey Shore. GTL.
The next morning, a Friday, the very nice service manager, Jason, at Mercedes of Santa Fe, agreed to look at our RV that day despite our lack of appointment. Big relief: our RV’s transmission did not give up. One of the tire sensors (what the hell is that, right?) had gone out, and so the over-sophisticated engine could not judge our speed and therefore would not shift to higher gears. Instead of a $10,000 transmission, we hopefully only need a $700 repair. But, until that part comes in and they replace it, we’re stuck in Santa Fe, which is to say…
Through pure luck, we get more time in Santa Fe! Yay!! Some highlights from our five days in Santa Fe:
Downtown/Old Santa Fe: We returned downtown to one of the many cute squares. Lily found a friend, a stick, and some soft dirt to draw in, so she was happy for a good hour. We spotted a young, hipster Abraham Lincoln (see our Instagram), so we were happy, too. The sidewalks were filled with vendors selling, well, you know, like, dreamcatchers and sh*t. Who knows what they were selling, really; we walked a wide berth around them so that Lily wouldn’t cry for a turquoise bolo necktie or a handwoven serape. And guess what else? Some nice Pueblo Fairy hung up giant bunches of red peppers everywhere for us to snack on!
Meow Wolf: This is a giant art exhibit. NPR described it as “Pee Wee’s Playhouse on steroids.” Jill described it as Alice in Wonderland, with more LSD. Andie described it as too expensive ($25 per adult). The exhibit is set up like a house, where a couple and their boy and girl lived, with indications that an alternate dimension has taken the boy. The front rooms are somewhat normal, but then you enter crazy, eery, neon, furry, glowy, creepy tunnels and rooms and mazes. You go through fireplaces, refrigerators, etc. to get to new portions, and you find things like a huge, light-up animal skeleton whose rib cage you can walk through, and you can play music on its bones by pounding drumsticks on it. If you’re curious enough to stare into a toilet, you will see the boy perpetually falling. You have to see it to believe it, and we explored for a good couple of hours. If you wanted to read and look at everything, you could spend the whole day there. (Again, see Instagram for photos.)
Madrid/Ghost Town: About a 30-minute drive from Santa Fe is Madrid, NM, which is an abandoned mining town. There is a real town there now, made up mostly of art studios and bars. The real, functional buildings are designed to blend in with the abandoned old buildings. There are lots of relics left behind, like train cars, that you can climb around and take pictures on.
Hyde Memorial State Park: This is the first place we went, described above, but we returned for more hiking. Lily and DonMichael fought over whether kicking a rock during the entire hike still counted as a hike. So, it was a slow hike, but a lovely landscape. The “vault toilets,” though… if port-a-potties took steroids to beef up their smell-wattage, they would be called vault toilets. We recommend pooping in a bush.
Black Rock Hot Spring: This was the coup-de-grace of our Santa Fe stop. Andie’s ass was still chapped that we had to PAY for God’s Bathwater in Hot Springs, AR, so, when she read there are hot springs near Santa Fe, which you can find in nature, outside a spa, she was ready. DonMicahel drove us north, past Taos, into the Arroyo Hondo area, alongside the Rio Grande River. We left the highways and took our super-low-ride, compact, extra-soft-painted car onto dirt and rock roads that wound through cliffs. Andie cried in fear, grinded her teeth, clenched the map, and begged to turn around. DonMichael said that butt-kegels are the latest fitness craze and this ride was perfect. We finally found our way to the tiny dirt lot before the 300-foot-or-so cliffside hike over to Black Rock Hot Spring. On the way there, a young couple that was heading back noticed Lily and warned, “There are a couple of naked people down there.” See, Black Rock is “clothing optional.” We said, “That’s their mistake. Kids are loud and honest.” We hiked along the small cliff next to the Rio Grande, and finally found three small, rock-surrounded, dirt-bottomed pools. There were about eight people there, and everyone was clothed and nice and normal, except one 50-something, balding, scraggly-haired man with the soulful eyes of Charles Manson. He kept asking where his watch was and he drank “water” out of an unwashed peanut butter jar. He manspread on a rock. He was very proud of his clackers. Luckily, we had warned Lily, “There might be naked people. Don’t say anything about it. We’ll laugh at them in the car.” She performed admirably, hardly looking at his junk and making no comment. He was either foreign or high or both, because he uttered only garbled song lyrics but acted as though he was making conversation.
We all rolled up our jeans and put our feet in. The water was 94 degrees and looked and felt clean. We loved it. Soon, a family showed up with two boys, 2 years old and 5 years old, and got in with bathing suits. Lily was excited and wanted to swim with them. Turns out, she was not weirded out by Mr. Floaters, but was instead inspired. She asked to be naked, too, and we complied, keeping her far afield of Senor Clackedy-Clack. We stayed about ½ an hour and talked with the other visitors. We learned that, after dark, the party really starts at Black Rock Hot Spring. People bring their beers, weeds, margarita machines, etc., to party under the stars. We glared at Lily and returned to our car.
After Black Rock, we drove back through Taos, which is made up mostly of art studios and bars… just like Madrid… and just like Santa Fe. How does New Mexico survive on the art and bar industries? We don’t know, but they do it well. We stopped at a burger joint/bar and had awesome burgers, surrounded by people dressed up as bikers, artists, and locals. They all played their parts well. Oh, and Taos has the Earthship Commune, a self-sustaining community of spaceship-looking houses. Taotians also like to decorate their signs, e.g. cow crossing signs, with UFOs. So Jill fashioned each of us a very fine tin foil hat, and we posed in front of the Taos Mickey D (see Instagram).
Those were the highlights of our Santa Fe stop. We all really loved Santa Fe, and we’re glad we got stuck for a while. Just now, on Tuesday afternoon, we finally got our RV back. And guess what? Our Mercedes Sprinter is still under its 5-year warranty, and we paid NOTHING! Shout outs to Santa Fe Mercedes, their Service Manager, Larry, and his Service Rep, Jason. We feel very lucky to have broken down near you! Also, a thank you to the Fairfield Inn at Santa Fe, a new, inexpensive Marriot hotel that was amazing. And a f*ck you to the Inn at Santa Fe, which costs the same as the Fairfield Inn, but has a horrible breakfast set-up, a dirty hot tub that gave Lily an itchy bum, and a blue-dye speckled shower. (Andie speckled it blue with her own hair dye, so maybe that’s not their fault.) Outside of Danielle’s impeccable front desk service, everyone else can suck a D, most of all the mean breakfast lady who was always pretending the pancake machine was broken so that she could bring out less plates and who kept filling the coffee machine but refused to bring us cups for it.
Goodbye, Santa Fe! Now on to Colorado City, CO, to see DonMichael’s grandparents…