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Santa Fe, and Taos

Okay, last time I had just finished up with us leaving the cool little town (okay, technically a village) of Corrales. The next morning, we got up early and headed out to Santa Fe.


Santa Fe is North and East of Albuquerque. It is a simple trip. Just get on I-25 and keep going. Should be almost impossible to screw it up.


Except, of course, I did. I got turned around and instead of going to I-25 directly, I somehow got the idea that I had to go West to pick it up around Old Town. I could see Martha’s knuckles turning white, and her teeth clenching, as I headed off in exactly the wrong direction. But, she didn’t want to, uh, er, make me angry by pointing out I was being dumber ’n a box o’bricks. She’s good that way. She also has a great sense of direction. I...sigh...don’t.


Anyway, we finally got to Coors Road and headed North. Only took us an hour out of our way. Insert sound of me banging my head on the steering wheel here.


But...it’s a quick drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe (if you don’t screw up) and a pleasant one as well. You move through open grasslands, then into hills, then finally to areas which start to look really mountainous. It also takes you through Indian land and past several Pueblos -- Sandia, Santa Ana, San Felipe, and so on -- and a number of small towns and census designated places.(1) It’s also a sentimental journey for me. I remember taking that drive so many times when I was a child. My parents would take me when they went on shopping trips in Santa Fe, or when they went skiing at the ski area near the town, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. (2)


Funny...I haven’t thought about skiing in ages. My parents took up the sport in the late 1960s, mostly because the Sandia ski area was right next to Albuquerque, and you could get to it by driving or taking “The Tram” (remember the tramway? I mentioned it a while back). So, when I was in like fifth grade, or maybe it was fourth, off we went up the mountain.


I was never good at skiing. Partly that was because I’m just not very good at sports period. And partly it was because in those days I had some, well, vision problems--I mean, I was seriously myopic. Which wasn’t a real problem most of the time, but it meant that now and then I didn’t, er, see stuff. Like trees. Big trees. Rushing up the slope to hit me. There is a loblolly pine at a certain ski area which I have never forgiven. And, one dark night, when it leasts expects it, I shall spring out of the gloom and bash it repeatedly with a mashie-niblick. (Revenge will be mine!)


But, finally, if I was never really expert at skiing, I got half-way decent, if not all the way there. In fact, one year, and in a town even further north and even higher...Taos, NM...I had a little adventure.


I was about fourteen and my Mom, my Dad, and I went skiing with a number of my father’s work friends at the Taos Ski area--which is said to be one of the most challenging ski areas in the world.(2) Among these work friends was man I’ll call “Fred.” Fred was a super-competitive perfectionist who thought very highly of himself in all regards. His way of dealing with a mid-life crisis, for example, was to upgrade his car...and his wife. He traded her in for a newer model as well.


He was not my parents’ favorite co-worker.



About the pictures: First, an AI generated cartoon of a Fred...being Fred...and wiping out. I enjoy thinking about that particular incident. I know I shouldn’t...but I do.



Anyway, we got to Taos, and we were on what was called “Al’s Run,” which is a double black diamond. We all clambered onto the slope and prepared to launch ourselves downward.


And then...and then!...I saw Fred. He gave me a withering glance. I would tell what he was thinking. “What is this ...this child...doing here?”


So...I hit the slope and just kept on going. I skied the pants off him. Made him look like a fool. I’d never done  anything like that before and I’ve never done anything like it since.


But, boy! Was it fun.


We got to the end of the run. Fred arrived quite a while after I did. He was out of breath and a little bashed (he’d fallen a couple of times), and he looked at me with all the affection you might bring to a toxic jellyfish. Then, removing his skis, he stomped off into the lodge.


My parents showed up a few minutes later. My Mom was trying very hard to conceal the fact that she was giggling uncontrollably. My Dad greeted me with that grin that you grin when someone else has fought your battle and won it decisively. It was particularly sweet because, you see, I was still a kid. My father, too, could have probably out-skied dear Fred, but the fact that I had...a mere wisp of a lad...had done so...well, it would take Fred a long, long time to live that down.


And then my parents suggested that, maybe, after we had a run or two more, we should all go into town for dinner. And have a nice steak. And perhaps, they said, I might like to try a small glass of wine.  For the very first time...


And, well, that was my small triumph. Small, but I’ll take it.


I don’t ski any more. I sort of got out of the habit after we were married and had a child and got...for lack of a better word...busy. Also, skiing got very expensive. It was always expensive, I suppose, but it felt a lot less expensive when someone else was paying for the lift tickets.


But, now, I need to get us back to Santa Fe. After a bit, we saw the city take shape in the distance. Then it grew near, and we crossed the city limits. And a short time after that, we were headed toward downtown.


And then it was time for lunch...


At the best Italian restaurant West of the Pecos, and East of the Rio Grande.


More to come.



Second, as always, just because I like it, a shot of Martha. This is her having lunch in little restaurant in Winfield, Kansas. If all goes well, I’ll write about our trip to that town soon.





Footnotes:


1. Sometime, when you’re feeling curious, get me to tell you the story of Budaghers, ¡Traditions!, and Mormon Battalion Monument.


2. The Santa Fe Ski area, a.k.a., “Ski Santa Fe,” has a website here: https://skisantafe.com/



3. The Taos Ski has a Wikipedia entry, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taos_Ski_Valley,_New_Mexico


4. Al’s Run doesn’t seem to have a Wikipedia page, but it is mentioned in this excellent piece on the area in Texas Monthly, “ Taos Ski Valley,”  https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/taos-ski-valley/









Copyright©2024 Michael Jay Tucker


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