|No canyon, just the box.|
|A small parking lot, pit toilet and two trails into this pretty spot make up the Box.|
|A short dirt road with one boondocking spot facing this beautiful view, then a turn around 100 yards further up.|
Back to this post....
|No one is ever in the trailer behind us, and only small rigs park on this side twice during our week's stay. |
|No views, but perfect temps for being outside.|
Anytime someone asks about things to do while in Santa Fe I always include the chocolatier in the little town of Madrid. I discovered it tucked back in a corner the first time we visited and always make sure to pick up a treat when we're here.
|From their Facebook page - always something special.|
New Mexico and Louisiana are at the top of our list for best food in the country. One of the dishes we both love, and always eat when in Santa Fe, is stuffed sopapillas. While sopapillas are offered all over the state we've only found the savory ones stuffed with meat, cheese and beans in a few places. The very best are at Cafe Castro, so we try our first inside restaurant meal. Again, all staff are masked, everyone required to wear them when up from table, hand sanitizer before entry, and here they take your temperature at the front door. Only half the tables remain and we tuck into a corner away from anyone. As always we love every bite. And we return on our last day to eat the same thing on their patio :-)
|Keeping New Mexico at the top of the list!|
One place we missed last time is the country's newest (2000) national preserve, Valles Caldera National Preserve.
Climbing into the Jimenez Mountains we begin to see signs of Fall along the highway. This route takes us through a corner of Los Alamos so a quick stop at the security kiosk is required. It's always seemed so weird to me that residents of this town pass through security every time they leave/return home. Now that we're living in a border town we also have to stop every time we leave town and it's already just part of our life. You just never know :-)
|What a treat!|
|Pretty color among fire scarred mountainsides.|
I know I've said "We didn't know what to expect and this was such a great surprise!" multiple times, and the caldera is another of those times. The smoke mutes the experience, but the vastness of this geological wonder is still impressive. A small Elk herd is visible in the distance, and visitors are parked along the highway with scopes and big cameras, and picnic lunches. The caldera itself is the big draw for us though!
|Around 1.25 million years ago a large magma "bubble" of gas and ash collapsed creating this 89 acre caldera. It's huge!|
|A dirt road into the basin is open, crossing golden grasses and a small river. |
|The small parking lot is half full and masked Rangers talk with masked tourists. Empty corrals and clean pit toilets sit beside the small, closed visitor center.|
|We take the Highway 4 loop back through pretty canyons.|
|Glowing Aspens peek out from the surrounding forest.|
I love coming home to the rig. Being able to visit these wonderful places, come back to cook in my own kitchen, and sleep in our own bed - it's the best!!