Santa Fe!

Sunday, Alli and I got back from Santa Fe.

What a trip. Over 30 hours in the car for 4 days of absolute relaxation.

After work on Tuesday, I went home to take a nap and woke up around 10 p.m. to leave on our trip. I wanted to get there early in the day instead of later, so Alli and I decided to drive through the night. It would have been better had I been able to sleep more on Tuesday after work, but we did it, only stopping for a brief 2-hour nap in the parking lot of the Colby, KS Wal-Mart at about 4 in the morning. Didn’t sleep too much, but the eye rest was worth it.

Once we got into New Mexico, we decided to take a little detour through the mountains to the Northern New Mexico town of Taos. Taos is, in a way, like a mini version of Santa Fe. It is committed to the art scene and the style is very much the same. There is also skiing in the winter months and it even has its own share of celebrities (Julia Roberts, Donald Rumsfeld).

Taos itself wasn’t that impressive, but the drive from the main Interstate (25 South) to Taos along New Mexico Highway 68 was amazing. Winding roads along the Cimarron river made the 3-hour trip completely worth it.

After lunch and walking around the town, we left Taos and drove down to Santa Fe, a short hour-and-a-half drive down the Rio Grande. More stops along the river to watch rafters and to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. Once we arrived, we checked in to our hotel and promptly took a nap, waking up to walk around the town and eat dinner at a subpar bar and grill because everything seems to close really REALLY early in Santa Fe (seriously…a lot of places were not open past 5).

The next day was devoted to the spa. Best massage I’ve ever had.

Friday was all about art. The first place we visited was the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. O’Keeffe is Alli’s favorite artist of all-time so this was a real treat. A great thing about this visit was that I was finally able to figure out what my favorite O’Keeffe work is. Since Alli is enamored with her as an artist, it was important to me to figure out which one I loved.

“Autumn Trees – the Maple”

We also visited Canyon Road, Santa Fe’s street of art galleries. Almost 200 galleries make their home on this one street (Santa Fe is the 2nd largest art market in America only to New York) and the work varies from traditional Native American art to landscapes to contemporary artists like Man Ray and Picasso.

It was neat to see a community that celebrated art as much as Santa Fe does. I know that it was inspiring to Alli.

Our hotel was fantastic. Not only did it have a terrific staff (most specifically, our concierge, Michael), but they include a free breakfast buffet (not continental…a full breakfast) and their hotel bar has pretty good food for the money ($2 chips and salsa, $4 burgers).

On Saturday, we woke up early and went for a short hike in the mountains. After that, we went to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market, where we saw a lot of really neat fresh stuff, like the raw honey that Alli bought, and the hippies playing hand-made instruments.

We also walked around the town and saw the oldest active church (and house) in America. It was a lazy day, a nice end to our trip that we rounded out with a visit to Tomasita’s, a great restaurant where we had fantastic chalupas and really HOT chips and salsa.

The drive back went pretty quickly and was interesting because right before we got out of New Mexico, we saw a hot air balloon race. Then, when we were almost home, we hit a storm that was pretty tame, but had some spectacular lightning. It was a great trip…extremely relaxing, yet I was still somehow exhausted from it (possibly the 30+ hours in the car).

If you are interested in learning more, check out my flickr set from Santa Fe.

We’re Almost Off

In less than 12 hours, Alli and I will hopefully be on the road on our way to Santa Fe, New Mexico for 5 days of relaxation, spa treatments, possible hiking (we’ll see) and art galleries.

I’m really looking forward to this vacation. I need an extended break from work (especially considering I have a ton of vacation built up) and this marks the first time in 5 years that Alli and I have really done anything for our anniversary. I’m looking forward to the trip and we’ll take lots of pictures and post them on flickr when we get back.

For now, SAYONARA!!!

HOW Design Conference

Returned late last night from the HOW Design Conference in Chicago. It was a terrific show, filled with great speakers and insightful instruction. Plus, it was in my favorite big city in the U.S. Chicago is a town that has done the big city right. One morning, as Alli and I were walking around after grabbing breakfast at the Corner Bakery Cafe, we visited Millenium Park, which currently has a photographic/historical display of Chicago and its development. What always impresses me about the city of Chicago is how they manage to keep this booming metropolis clean and green like they do. Their downtown is beautiful, with gorgeous architecture that is highlighted by more common green space than I have seen in a big city.

We did all sorts of fun stuff in our down time, taking an architectural boat tour of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River (which was a lot of fun, even if I did get totally hosed), visiting Navy Pier, trying some original Chicago pizza. We also stayed in this great hotel with a terrific view from the 33rd floor.

Now, there’s the possibility that my brother might be moving there for work, and I’m really excited for him. Not just because this is a huge opportunity for him, but also because I want to visit him lots. Out of all the major cities in America, Chicago is the one that I would live in. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

New Orleans: Cesspool of the South

I have to admit, I’m kind of a homer.

I love where I live, Kansas City. I think it is a terrific town with terrific people, great food, strong sports teams, and lots to do. The Country Club Plaza is one of the premier shopping attractions in the country. Kauffman Stadium (where the Royals play) and Arrowhead Stadium (where the Chiefs play) still are amazing facilities, despite being built together in the [late 60s – early ’70s] – whenever. If Question 1 (Bi-State II Tax) passes, we will cement their place in the city for 25 years to come.

I’ve spent the last few days in this toilet called New Orleans, or as many like to call it “The Big Easy”. I like to call it “The Big Smelly” because that it is exactly what it is “a giant cesspool of trash and nastiness”. Part of this is due to the fact that it sits well below sea level, protected mostly by levees from the Gulf and the Mississippi River. That’s why the city was so threatened by the hurricanes that pounded the South this summer “once the water would have come over the levees, it would have had nowhere to go, but straight into the city. That’s why all of the cemeteries in the city are above ground – they can’t dig. Same reason that there are not basements in Florida.

What’s worse…it’s been raining here since Monday, so the humidity and garbage have festered and combined together to coat everything with a thin layer of stank.

Good food, though. Excellent meal at 201. Steak something on lobster/potato somethings with wilted spinach something (much better than it sounds).