Santa Fe, Part III

Another day we combined a hike at Ghost Ranch with a drive up to Taos.  Ghost Ranch is most commonly associated with Georgia O'Keeffe as her home is in the nearby town of Abiquiu and she frequently painted landscapes in the area.  Reservations to tour her home and garden must be made well in advance but I didn't even bother trying as I wasn't sure it was something the kids would or could appreciate.  

Instead we went out to Ghost Ranch for a hike to Chimney Rock.   There are also various guided hikes available as well as trail rides, archery lessons and river rafting.  Many movies have been filmed on the site such as City Slickers (the log cabin seen on the drive in is the only remaining structure built for the movie), Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and Cowboys and Aliens.  There is a hike offered which visits the sites used in the filming of these movies but it wasn't offered the day we were there.  

Chimney Rock is a 3-mile up and back with breathtaking scenery.  They even have markers along the trail alerting you to a particularly "photo-worthy" vista.  

Check in at the orientation center and pay a small day visitor fee.  You can even borrow a walking stick for your hike, which I gratefully took advantage of.  The hike is moderate with some steep inclines and drop-offs but Ava handled it with little problem.  Again we got an early start and had the entire area almost entirely to ourselves except for a lone crow.

After a quick snack break and a change of clothes at the orientation center, we set off for Taos. It is about a two-hour drive from Ghost Ranch to Taos but the ride goes quickly with so many beautiful things to look at outside.  We arrived in Taos hungry and eager for lunch.  We wandered into Michael's Kitchen on the advice of many guide books and were so glad we did!  The place is nothing fancy but I ate one of the best omelets I've ever had and the kids enjoyed having pancakes for lunch.  The waitresses were very nice and super sweet to the kids.  

We tried to visit the Taos Pueblo but true to the warnings in the guidebook that it can and may be closed at any time, we were waved away at the entrance.  We resorted to Plan B and drove about 20 minutes north of Taos to the little town of Arroyo Seco.  

Arroyo Seco has a great cafe that serves delicious ice cream (try the piƱon caramel) and lots of little galleries and cool shops.  Our favorite was Arroyo Seco Mercantile.  This store had something for everyone including toys, antiques and the most beautiful collection of turquoise jewelry.  

We headed back through Taos and stumbled upon the coolest toy store.  Twirl has a great selection of toys for all ages but the most amazing part is when you step into the courtyard in the back of the store.

Ava squealed with delight when she spied this and they both spent the last 30 minutes before the store closed climbing up and through this kid-sized obstacle course.  There was also a little splash pool to play in as well as a sand pit and giant musical instruments but they were too busy to notice.  We chatted with the owner who had a daughter the same age as Jack.  She and her husband have been slowly creating this play space over the last couple of years and offer it to the community as a free drop-in space.  In addition, the shop offers all sorts of weekly classes for the newborn to pre-school set as well as "Crafty Saturdays" for all ages.