“I don’t see anything,” said Jacques as we drove up the steep mountain from Santa Fe on our way to skiing. I had been pointing out the large adobe-style luxury homes flanking the mountainside. “That’s because they’re camouflaged,” answered Julian from the front passenger seat. Indeed, I pondered, so much of New Mexico is hidden and unexpected, from earth-colored adobe homes to snow-covered peaks rising out of the desert.
We were visiting Albuquerque for a friend’s Bat Mitzvah and decided on the spur of the moment to go skiing on our one free day. The boys had never skied and, although a knee issue would prevent me from joining them, I was excited to do some hiking and to spend some time digging into my new issue of Afar magazine while sipping a cup of tea (if you have three kids, you know the latter alone constitutes a mini-vacation).
The drive from Albuquerque to Ski Santa Fe takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. It begins with a flat, dry landscape full of thistly looking bushes and little else. Slowly, we started seeing red colored boulders and slightly greener flora. We drove right through the town of Santa Fe and began our steep windy climb up the mountain, surrounded by majestic aspens, pine trees, and as we neared the ski slopes, more and more snow.
We got there just before 10:00 and were able to get the boys outfitted and ready for the 10:00 beginner’s class. They were getting a two-hour class, a two-hour lunch break, and another two hours of skiing with an instructor in the afternoon. The cost of the lessons and ski rentals came to just below $160 for the two of them.
Ski Santa Fe has one of the highest base elevations in the continental U.S., 10,350 feet, so you definitely need to take precautions against altitude sickness by drinking plenty of water and taking it easy. That’s just what I did on my hour-long hike through the beautiful snow-covered pines. Apparently, one of the trails I was on goes all the way to Taos. That trek might have to wait until summer.
The highlight of our tired drive home was to be dinner at the famous Bobcat Bite, an unassuming roadside restaurant with a counter and just a handful of tables that serves, arguably, the best green chile cheeseburger in the land. Julian had heard about it on a food show on NPR months earlier and was fixated on eating there.
When we got to Bobcat Bite, we discovered they only accepted cash. We were kindly directed to the ATM at El Dorado, a shopping center just a couple of miles down the road. After driving for what seemed like ages, and turning around several times, we saw no sign of a supermarket, ATM, or really any kind of civilization. We had almost despaired when finally, Jacques shouted, “I see it; it’s El Dorado.” And there it was, a large adobe shopping center we had driven right by at least three times, blending right into the landscape.