New Mexico: April 28

We awoke, swam, breakfasted (sort of), packed, argued...and shook the dust of the Best Western off our feet. From thence to the Santa Fe Children's Museum.

Not open yet. We drove around until we reached St. John's College, which sported a trailhead in one of their parking lots. I forget what the name of the trail was, but this was a lovely, easy walk. We spent about an hour smelling sagebrush and walking on the stone retaining walls of the washout that runs across the trail. I was amazed with how clean it was and thought maybe nobody used the trail...until we passed a garbage can, which was stuffed to overflowing. People actually take cleanup seriously out here. Maybe litter control is as carefully controlled as housing design, I don't know.

We stopped at Ohori's Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate. I got an orange soda (Anarancito?) and Ray got hot chocolate. I questioned her, but she was sure: hot chocolate.

It was the best damned hot chocolate I've ever had. Ray and I ended up swapping drinks back and forth, because it was just too intense to drink the whole thing on its own. Neat pottery/mugs, too. We got a cute little monkey mug, over even the neat Japanese pottery.

After sitting in the parking lot of the Children's Museum to finish our beverages, we went in. And then almost didn't leave. We would still be there if they'd had a concession stand or something. This was probably the coolest place in Santa Fe.

Most children's museums that I've been to (which, all told, hasn't been that many) are either lame or pedantic. This was neither: the kids just played. The first thing we did was to roll pool balls down plastic roller-coaster tracks to smack into each other or to bounce across the floor. Yes, pool balls (cue balls). As a kid, I totally spend a zillion hours studying momentum throwing pool balls at my brother each other. And then the full-body plastic pin thing where you push on one side and shapes pop out the other. And the tractor-tire bubble ring. And the pulley chairs. And the Gross Animal collection. And the subterranean birdhouse where you could dig for worms. And the jungle gym, where Mom sat under the plexiglass section and growled at kids when they went by...

(Oh yeah: I should note I spent about an hour and a half (not all at one time) trying to figure out how to make monster-sized bubbles, and finally pulled it off mere minutes before we left.)

We ate at McDonald's, eventually, because it cracked me up: even the McDonald's on Cerillios was adobe. Shootout at the McDonaldland Corrall...milk and cookies to follow. But it was actually the classiest McDonald's I've ever been to. The people behind the counter were polite, fast, and wore button-up shirts with...ties. The food was all fresh and hadn't been sitting there for a week. I ordered a Southwestern Salad, and there was...cilantro. Pinch me, quick!

We checked in to the Comfort Suites and swam a lot. Ray managed to do a little solo dog-paddling, the baby steps of swimming! Call me a proud mamma. Took a break, did some reading.

We ate supper at Los Potrillos (tr: the foals), a local Mexican place with hand-carved chairs with rearing, snarling horses, and painted tables (ours was chickens). Most of the people were hispanic: women with large hoop earrings and lots of cleavage. Men with noses of great prowess. Little girls with fluffy dresses that made Ray drool. We sat next to a booth full of very macho guys who had all ordered very macho bowls of soup. Bowls of soup the size of the communal salad bowl at Olive Garden.

Intimidated by the size of their bowls, I opted instead for the a molcajete (tr: mortar) dish with pork and pineapple. Ray wanted a cheeseburger, had to have a cheeseburger...we snacked on multicolored chips and salsa (and some kind of odd white sauce that was very good) and watched "El Vengador" (The Punisher?) on the TV.

The molcajete is a large mortar, of mortar-and-pestle fame. It looked to be carved out of volcanic rock, but what do I know? You put the filling in the white corn tortillas (no salt added, and the consistency of lefse (with corn rather than potato)), along with some pico de gallo: the molcajete keeps the filling hot all the way through the meal. God, was I stuffed. And I still took about half of it back to the motel (which had a fridge and micro). Ray ate the seasoned fries (how she fit that all in her body, I'll never know) and called it a night.

Heh. On the way back, we stopped at pd bean coffee house, because...well, because. The coffee was okay, the atmosphere was poor, but the chocolate cookie I got Ray was entirely, osmotically absorbed. (She was so full it lasted until we got back to the motel--check that out.) The owner is apparently a former local journalist, who strikes me as being the kind of guy who's slightly out of whack with the rest of the world, as in "I missed it by that much." I think about the great coffee shops I have known, and...it's just a little bit off. Not a bad place. But not Shelly's in Vermin, or The Purple Onion in Dinkytown, Java House (where the staff all wore "There is No 'X' in Espresso" shirts) or even Ohiro's (above).

Took a break, called Pappa, went swimming again (my arms hurt from those damn pulley chairs at the Children's Museum), goooooood night.