Under the New Mexican Sun: Four hours in Albuquerque Part I

We rose at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning to head back to Albuquerque where my dad would be catching an early morning flight.  The sky was jet black and the tiny town of Taos was still fast asleep.

As we followed along the Rio Grande, the sky began to brighten and turn from inky black to a pale, milky blue.  Weather had come in and the royal blue sky of the last few days had disappeared.  It was a good day to head back.

The two and a half hour drive back to Albuquerque was peaceful and serene.  Hardly a soul was on the road.  I admired the lone western countryside and saw real rugged beauty in its jagged mountains and unique southwestern landscape.  It is not like Arizona;  there are no cactus in sight.  Yet it still has that dessert, western feel to it.  It was lovely.

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A three generational ski trip

As you have probably gathered from my last few posts, I did something very special over the last few days.  Me, my father and my five-year-old daughter Sophia took a three-generational ski trip to Taos, New Mexico.  It was the first time (except when Sophia was a meager four-months old) that I had ever truly traveled alone with my daughter and it also was the first time the three generations got together for a weekend away.  My son and husband were off on their own adventure thus it was just me and Sophia this time.

We picked Taos for many reasons.  First, it is relatively easy for us to access.  It is a non-stop flight from Tucson where my father lives as well as from Minneapolis (where I live).  Second, it is really a cool little trendy ski town.  Nothing at all like the big ski resorts in Colorado or even Utah.  Taos is tiny, tough and has a unique southwestern style and flair that quite honestly can’t compare.  Finally, for some reason New Mexico is the only place in the country this winter that actually has good snow.  Colorado, Utah and Northern California are struggling with terrible snow.  Meanwhile relatively untouristy, trendy Taos has plenty of snow.  That fluffy, powdery, heavenly snow that skiers dream and drool about having.

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Skiing the Ridge

It’s something of a paradox. The more untamed, untrampled a place, the more it seems to soothe the soul. Even as it races the heart. – Advertisement of skiing the Ridge in the Taos Visitor Guide.

Taos Ski Valley view from Kachina Peak at the Ridge. A ski purist heaven that only recently opened its doors to snowboarding two years back.

Today I became an official “Ridgehead”. I climbed and skied the Ridge, a no man’s land of off piste skiing located at the top of Kachina Peak at 12,481 feet. It was an exhausting endeavor which quite frankly I had no business doing. Yet, did I enjoy it and was it worth the effort and the pain? Yes! It was an adventure that I had not yet accomplished in skiing and even if I was breathing heavy and my legs burned each and every step of the way, it was so incredibly worth the view and the accomplishment.

To access the ridge is half the battle. You take the last chair lift up to the top at 11,819 feet, take off your skies and carry them on your shoulder in heavy snow for an hour and fifteen minutes up to 12,481 feet. The walk up is arduous and exhausting. You gain over 600 feet in elevation and are doing it wearing uncomfortable ski boats and lugging your skies and poles up each breathless step of the way.

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Road trip out in the wild west: Albuquerque to Taos New Mexico

Yesterday my five-year-old daughter Sophia and I left for our first three-generational ski trip. My father, me and Sophia headed west to test out the slopes in Taos, New Mexico.

The last time I’d been to Taos was at least fifteen years ago, when my family and I took the ten-hour drive from Tucson to Taos in the “purple people-eater” minivan. (Don’t have any idea where the name came from but it stuck). Over the years, Taos has become quite an interesting albeit historic town known for its flavorful mix of art culture, gay community and Bohemianism. If that isn’t enough to bring you there, Taos’ world class skiing should (without the insane crowds as trendy venues like Vail and Telluride). When my dad proposed taking our annual weekend ski trip out west, Taos instantly came to mind as a place to revisit.

Getting to Taos is pretty much equivalent to going to Colorado as it requires a two and a half hour flight followed by a two to three-hour drive. But the main difference between the two is size. Colorado ski areas are huge and Taos is just one little resort tucked away and isolated in the mountains.

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