August 2016: Escaping the Texas summer heat, we set out with our camping gear and bikes with a plan to visit Ruidoso, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and then Durango, CO before heading back to Austin…stopping for donuts along the way.
After driving across West Texas and being treated to a good cloud show, we made it to the Lincoln National Forest. The elevation brought cooler temps and a big reduction in humidity. Ahhhh, breathe in the mountain air!
We found a campsite at Oak Grove Campground just outside of Ruidoso. We drove up a steep mountain road and were found a quiet campground with a view, for $6/night.
We set up camp…actually, Jason mostly set up the camp and I took photos. Ha. We got in an argument because on our way to the campsite, Jason suggested we stop for firewood and I said, “no, no, it’ll be fine…we can buy some closer to the campground.” Turns out our firewood options were limited and we had to scavenge for wood around our campsite. Jason tried to start a fire with the slightly damp twigs, but the fire wasn’t taking and I was hungry. I ate without him and then crawled into the tent…leaving him to tend to the soggy fire by himself. Bad Eleanor. The next morning, we packed up camp and drove a few miles north to hike the 4.6 mile Big Bonito Trail.
It was beautiful scenery, but I wasn’t enjoying it. I had my head down not to trip and was almost running, trying to keep up with Jason. I thought, “Ugh! If he’s just going to drop me, why are we even here together?!” Then my thoughts turned to guilt, “fine! run ahead! If I get attacked by a bear, I’ll just die out here by myself.” I caught up with him and voiced my frustration. He’d been flying ahead as revenge for me eating dinner without him the previous night. He’d been hurt by my not wanting to stay up and enjoy our first night of camping together. I was sorry and apologized and he said sorry for dropping me and we were good again. 🙂 Back at the car, we had a snack and started on our way to Albuquerque.
We got to ABQ in the late afternoon, checked into the Holiday Inn (I had a free night from hotels.com), then hit the town for some local cuisine. We found a tasty spot, El Patio, not too far from the hotel and just around the corner from The University. We had margaritas and enchiladas and listened to someone play yacht rock on the classical guitar.
The next morning, we read that ABQ had a pretty good trail along the river, so we went for an exploratory city ride. We covered about 30 miles and did a big loop, including a tour of The Univ campus. The Paseo de Basque trail was great! It offers 16 miles of traffic-free, paved trail all along the river. Highly recommend.
Click HERE to see our ABQ route on Strava. Here’s a general map:
After our day in Albuquerque, we drove up to Santa Fe. I’d reserved a night at the Santa Fe International Hostel for ~$50 (based on someone’s recommendation) and it was a fun experience. Friendly folks – albeit quirky, which we discovered over a discussion about the possibility of aliens and UFOs – who were happy to help and answer questions. And the best part was having access to a full kitchen and finding that it was overflowing with up-for-grabs food from Whole Foods. We’d arrived on a Sunday, the same day that the grocery store donates expired/leftover food to the hostel!
While in Santa Fe, we poked around the downtown area, checked out a lookout point and stopped at Second Street Brewing for a beer.
The next morning, we drove into the downtown area and parked the car. Our goal was to ride bikes up to Ski Santa Fe. Omg, hardest bike ride of my life. We just went straight up for 15 miles…at elevation. Racin’ Jason was barreling ahead and tapping his spandex-clad heinie and giving orders to “stay on my wheel!” I tried to keep up with him, but dayyyumm…impossible. It hurt. I couldn’t do it and I wanted to enjoy the ride at my pace, so I yelled back, “you’re ruining this moment!” (it wasn’t funny then, but has since become one of our favorite stories). He went ahead and we met up at the top, which I only reached because of some Beyonce blaring from my jersey pocket. Thanks Bey!
Click HERE to see our Santa Fe route on Strava. Here’s a general map:
After the lung burner of a ride, we quickly changed out of our sausage suits (Jason’s term), hit a Trader Joe’s for snacks and sandwiches and drove up to Durango, CO to meet our friend Jenna. Jenna generously hosted us for the night and took us out to a local brewery. Durango was a beautiful little town, surrounded by easy access to the trails, mountains, whatever you want. I can see why it’s so popular with dirt lovers. I went for a 7-mile hike on the Animas Mountain Trail and remember listening to a podcast of Tim Ferriss interviewing Tony Robbins about personal achievement versus fulfillment.
We said goodbye to Jenna and Durango and started on our way back to Texas. We stopped in ABQ for a night and camped at Turquoise Trail Campground so that we could have quick access to the Sandia Crest Rd the next morning for another big day of climbing.
My phone died at the top but click HERE to see the first half of the ride. Here’s a general map:
We stopped for another night of camping just outside of Cloudcroft, NM at James Canyon Campground, which was a free National Forest campsite. After many podcasts, we made it back to Austin and both started our new full-time jobs. I’m grateful for our trips together…being vulnerable in a new place is a wonderful way to bond…and/or discover how your partner deals with the unknown. Get out there and scout stuff out together!