Trip to New Mexico

Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe

More photos.

A few weeks back, I headed out to New Mexico for the 2018 OpenEye CUP scientific meeting (which is excellent if you in the field of molecular modeling, computational drug discovery, or the like). Our good friend Paul Murphy lives in southern New Mexico so it was the perfect time to get together. A few years back, I headed down his way. This time, as he wanted to see some things around Santa Fe, he headed up North. I flew in Friday, arriving to Santa Fe around three o’clock, after an excellent taco lunch at El Paisano (a supermarket with a lunch counter). I was upgraded to a huge room with a fireplace at my hotel, the Old Santa Fe Inn. I spent the evening hitting some of the local breweries/brewpubs, including the excellent Second Street Brewery at the railyard.

Kiva at Pecos National Monument

In the morning, I wandered around town a bit, it was my third trip so I had seen most of the central historic district, before grabbing a tea and doing some reading in the plaza. It was fairly warm, just on the edge of t-shirt only weather. Paul Murphy came into town around one so we met and headed out to Pecos National Historical Park, remains of an Indian pueblo and Spanish mission church. A real highlight was being able to go down into a reconstructed kiva. For dinner we headed back to Second Street Brewery and then hung out in town for a bit before calling it an evening. (Paul was staying with his aunt about 15 minutes from the center of town.)

On Sunday, we met up early, grabbed some breakfast at Denny’s, and headed out for the some hiking at Bandelier National Monument. The drive up was quite nice. The park itself was really cool as the main trail was though the remains of a pueblo and then along the remains of cliff dwellings, mostly carved from the soft rock. A few you could even climb up into. We did a second hike out along the Falls trail to some waterfalls. Next up was the drive to Valles Caldera National Preserve, an ancient volcanic caldera and the newest National Preserve. We did the short hike around La Jara Loop Trail. We then headed down the “other side” of the mountains into Jemez Springs, include a brief stop at Soda Dam followed by lunch at Los Ojos Saloon. The latter was interesting as they had lost electricity. They could still cook but it was dark. We snagged a table next to the window so we could see and they did get power back after we had been there 30 minutes or so. We finished driving down the mountain, heading back to the highway a bit north of Albuquerque and then headed back to Santa Fe.

Paul Murphy at Tent Rocks

On Monday, it was another early morning. For breakfast, we took Paul’s aunt to The Pantry (at her suggestion) which was great (and way better than Denny’s). After, we headed out to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. This was a very cool hike through a slot canyon and then up to the top of a mesa. It was a bit tricky in spots but well worth it. We then headed back to Santa Fe as Paul had to head back home after lunch at Tortilla Flats. I checked into the conference hotel, the Inn and Spa at Loretto, before doing some work and heading out to dinner of pizza and local beer at Draft Station. My conference ran all day Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, so nothing exciting to report about that time (aside from it being a really good conference).

On Friday morning, I made sure to have a phenomenal breakfast burrito at Tia Sophia’s. After another wander around town, a bit of work, and some final packing, I got back in the car and headed back to Albuquerque for my flight home. This was a great trip and I loved seeing some things outside of Santa Fe. We’re thinking of heading out to NM for our summer vacation, but there’s some other contenders.

Valles Caldera National Preserve

New Mexico

In Santa FeLast month, I had the pleasure of heading out to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a business trip. I have lots of photos. This was my first trip to NM (well … I was there when I was four with my family but I’m not sure that counts). I spent a couple of nights in Santa Fe, staying at the wonderful and reasonable Old Santa Fe Inn right in town, which was very nice. Given it was the “desert”, it was quite cool as it’s at 7000 feet. (They had had snow the day before.) Fortuitously, our very good friend Paul Murphy now lives “nearby” in Carlsbad. Friday morning, after dropping off a colleague at the Albuquerque airport, I took the four-and-half hour drive down to southeast NM. It was quite the rural drive with not much between the two. (I did drive around Roswell, site of Area 51 of UFO fame.)

In Carlsbad CavernsOf course, being in Carlsbad, I had to visit Carlsbad Caverns. It turns out, the elevator which normally takes visitors from the visitors center down 750 ft to the main cavern was out. We had to walk down from the Natural Entrance. This was an excellent way to head in. The trek down wasn’t too bad, but the trek up was a bit tougher. We did do the King’s Palace tour which was excellent. At one point, the guide turns off the lights and it was dark. After spending several hours down below and trekking back up, we did lunch at the center, did a short walk up above, got locked in (they had locked the gate without realizing someone was still there), and stuck around for sunset. (Luckily, Paul, being a former NPS employee, has friends who work there that we could call.)

El Capitan, Guadalupe Mtns NPOn Sunday, we did the 45 minute drive down to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, with a brief stop on the way at an abandoned potash mine. This was my first time in Texas which was cool. The park itself was very scenic. We spent a good chunk of the day doing the 4.2 mile (roundtrip) Devil’s Hall trail. This was a good walk and the end, Devil’s Hall itself, was definitely worth it. After a brief stop at Frijole Ranch, we headed back to Carlsbad, stopping at Rattlesnake Spring and the BLM Pecos River Recreation Area on the way.

Monday morning, we had breakfast at Denny’s before I headed back to Albuquerque for my noon-ish time flight back home. I got to see Paul M again after several years, saw some great natural scenery, ate some great New Mexican food, and put on a decent workshop (it was a work trip after all). All in all, a great trip.