“If we make it there without a delay, it will be a miracle,” we laughed as we finalized our flight reservations. Despite exploring numerous options, our best bet to fly to Albuquerque for our February trip involved three separate flights. We’ve learned that adding connecting flights adds an element of “adventure” to our travels. But what were the chances we’d make all of our connections when we were starting from Maine in February? Not good, it turned out.
Since beginning our quest to run a race in every state, we’d often dreamed of a warm get-away trip to the southwest during the winter…usually while we navigated icy roads with frozen faces.
So finally, New Mexico and Arizona races were on our February calendar. We had plotted an expansive tour of four national parks as we sketched out an itinerary that would take us from Albuquerque to Phoenix.
I had listening to Dear Bob and Sue podcasts while running or working out and now had lists of great sights to visit while traveling in these areas. In the weeks leading up to our trip, checking the weather in Albuquerque, White Sands, and the Grand Canyon became routine. I’d inform Mike that it was a balmy 60 degrees in Carlsbad or that Phoenix was forecast to be in the 70s as we put on another sweater..
We could hardly believe our luck as our departure date approached and there were no snow storms threatening to derail our travel plans. However, as we drove our tiny Yaris to the airport, it was buffeted so intensely by gale force winds I asked Mike if something was wrong with the car. But the roads were clear and our flight was on time, so we were were literally good to go.
As we buckled up, the pilot informed us that it would likely be a bumpy ride but that we should arrive in Washington on time. He was right on both counts. The storm that had tossed our car around turned out to be expansive. Our flight was so turbulent that there were moments when we were clutching the arm rests and involuntarily gasping. Mike swears he felt the plane lurch sideways. When our pilot landed the plane without even a jolt, the passengers gave him a round of applause.
Shortly after landing, we learned our next flight was delayed which meant we wouldn’t make our final flight connection to Albuquerque. The American Airlines lounge was unusually packed, obviously reflecting how widespread the wind’s impact had been on air traffic. We were fortunate to have an exceptionally attentive and talented agent helping us navigate how to proceed. But despite his best efforts, we soon realized we wouldn’t be in Albuquerque the next morning for our New Mexico race.
As we pondered this turn of events, we were surprisingly unfazed, considering that running a race in New Mexico was half of the reason for this trip. (The other half was to run in Arizona.) We consoled ourselves by commenting that at least we weren’t trying to get to a wedding or some other time-sensitive event. Plus, we reminded ourselves, we are the ones who are making up the rules to this quest anyway, so we can pretty much do what we want.
We had signed up for an official New Mexico race. And we were (eventually) going to be in New Mexico. So running a DIY “race” in New Mexico would definitely still count in our quest to run a race in every state.
Eventually we arrived in Albuquerque-just a day later than we had anticipated. As we flew to our final destination, I was perplexed by these circles. I later realized that they were “crop circles”, but just the kind that were a result of irrigation, not an extraterrestrial event.
Months earlier, I had made an appointment for my Global Entry interview at the Albuquerque airport. When we had started this application process we were baffled to find that there were no appointments at any of the airports within a couple hours drive from home. So when we booked this trip to New Mexico and saw an available appointment in Albuquerque, we signed up. Our original thought was that we’d run our race in Albuquerque and then head to the airport for the interview before traveling north to Santa Fe. Despite the rest of our plans going awry, we arrived in Albuquerque in time to make my scheduled appointment. Mike hadn’t been able to nab an appointment previously but we were crossing our fingers that they would slip him into their schedule.
The Albuquerque airport was comfortably small and filled with enough southwestern artwork to assure us that we had actually arrived in New Mexico. We found a quiet nook around the corner from the Homeland Security office and waited until it was time for my appointment. We were the only ones in the waiting room and at the appointed time an agent opened the door and called me in. I mentioned that we were hopeful they might be able to slip Mike in and he readily agreed. Within 10 minutes we had both been interviewed, photographed, and fingerprinted and we were on our way to Santa Fe as newly approved Global Entry travelers. Yippee!
When we arrived in Santa Fe we were immediately struck by the architecture. Virtually every building was adobe which is in stark contrast to our New England wooden structures. One of the unexpected benefits from our quest has been to learn about regional architecture, so being immersed in these new surroundings thrilled us.
We were starving by the time we hit Santa Fe and we were eager to immerse ourselves in the southwestern cuisine. Mike searched out restaurant options on Yelp and in a flash we were entering a quintessentially Mexican restaurant. Los Magueyes was just what we were looking for!
After lunch we had a few hours to stroll through downtown Santa Fe before we could check into our inn. Within half an hour Mike had bought me a stunning pair of turquoise earrings and I had bought a copy of Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski that had me zooming back to some of my favorite childhood books.
I had chosen the Guadalupe Inn due to it’s proximity to the square and it’s inviting photos. We found it tucked into a quiet residential neighborhood that ended up being an easy walk, or run, from the downtown action.
We were a bit surprised to find our room had twin beds but we were smitten by the charming southwest touches.
Revived after a deliciously cozy nap we eventually ventured out for dinner. The Cowgirl BBQ was an easy walk from our inn. It was obviously a favorite spot because there was quite a wait. But the food was really tasty and our server was speedy and welcoming.
The next morning we were ready to do our DIY New Mexico race. To be honest, we kind of loved the completely low-key feel of this event. Once it was light enough to see where we were going, we walked out the door, turned on my Map My Run app, and we were off, touring the streets of Santa Fe.
We returned to our inn for breakfast and were regaled by stories of the history of the inn and the city by the owner, Peter, whose family has lived in this spot of the city for generations. His tales stayed with us and gave us a meaningful point of reference as we traveled in Santa Fe and New Mexico.
We were captivated by Santa Fe and were not in a hurry to leave the city. After checking out of the hotel we returned to the downtown and plaza area where we happened to wander into the Monroe Gallery which we found fascinating! It was chock full of photo-journalism photos. We were enthralled and learned so much about many marquee events that we had lived through such as civil rights struggles, assassinations, and wars.
Quest Race #: 43
State: New Mexico
Race: DIY Run in Santa Fe
Date Run: February 20, 2022
The Bottom Line: We ended up being thrilled with our unanticipated DIY run in Santa Fe to check New Mexico off of our quest list. Although we do love the excitement of an official race, we savored the perks of our run, including a completely low-key tour of a new city and absolutely no lines for the bathroom at the starting line! At Hannah’s suggestion, we treated ourselves to our own hand-picked Santa Fe t-shirts to officially commemorate this event. The whole event was a win-win in our book.