by | The Lills, Travel

After the UFO festival in Roswell, we got back on the road and made it all the way to downtown Santa Fe for a treat day lunch. We loved our drive through the skinny streets. The architecture was spectacular, the energy was cool and everyone looked happy walking about the historic city.

We looked for a pet-friendly restaurant and found La Casa Sena, a stunning place to dine outdoors. It was tucked away and it had an incredible patio covered in greenery. Our kitten, Scotia, enjoyed walking the little path while our food was being prepared. He and our dog, Sunday, even got to sit with us while we ate. Our salad was massive, our soup was stunning and we were so glad we chose La Casa Sena as our first treat day meal in Santa Fe.

The Lills | Santa Fe New Mexico | Travel VW Bus Road Trip | Sticker

Although downtown was relatively small, it sure packed in a lot of energy, people and commotion. Like moths to light, we were drawn to the live music filling the air. When we made it to the square, people of all ages were dancing and clapping along in a very sixties kind of way. We felt like we had time traveled and all of a sudden, we were surrounded by peaceful hippies.

The Band Stand event was very different from other gatherings we’ve joined in other towns and cities, where alcohol usually sets the tone. Everything about the ambience was loose and there were clearly more pot smokers than drinkers in this crowd. It gave us a glimpse at what it can look like to have a group of people together, vibing in a positive, loving and innocent way…Woodstock came to mind.

Santa Fe is a very energetic place and that was made clear to us the moment we arrived. We stayed at a beautiful adobe home in the desert where we enjoyed peace and quiet for a few nights. We were lucky enough to stay at another lovely home outside of Santa Fe, where we got to watch several fireworks displays from the upstairs patio on the fourth of July.

When we stayed in town, we met a very cool guy who told us to go check out the petroglyphs on a mountain top nearby. We parked our VW bus and hiked with our dog, Sunday, and our kitten, Scotia. Once we made it to the top, we were amazed by how many stone drawings there were. It was a very special and peaceful spot to spend an afternoon.

Although we were gifted with two beautiful homes to stay at while visiting Santa Fe, we did enjoy a quick treat stay at a cheap hotel and we spent three nights parked in our VW bus. We were running low on funds and found a local coffee shop who had free WiFi. There, we sat in the bus and worked diligently on finishing design jobs.

The days we spent working from our bus at the coffee shop, we were approached by so many people that were homeless and/or struggling. We gave out food and water and talked with each person that looked to us for aid. Some were working the system, but many were in honest need and had no place to go. We couldn’t see why the town didn’t have something in place to clean up, educate and motivate the homeless.

Many people have never experienced a day without food, water or shelter. It is a truly humbling experience that teaches appreciation for the little things in life. During our visit to Santa Fe, we had a moment where we had to get really creative to get by. The most ironic moment was when we were kindly asked for money from someone in need when we were down to twenty bucks. It was tough to not be able to help in the moment and surviving on so little was certainly an experience.

To go from staying at beautiful homes and shopping at Trader Joe’s to living in the bus and penny-pinching was a pretty intense shift. We were relieved to come across Baja Tacos, a taco joint that offers 4 tacos for $5. They filled our tummies and got us through the hardest part of our Santa Fe visit. We even cashed in our change at a local CoinStar to get by.

The days we had nothing we filled our time by working on the computer around the clock. We moved from the coffee shop over to one of the community parks and found a cozy spot in the grass. We opened up our computer, got to work and let our dog and kitten frolic around us. We met so many welcoming, open and friendly people there.

By letting go, being proactive, accomplishing our design tasks and enjoying our days with almost nothing, we woke up one morning to a paycheck and a surprise. We were invited to stay on top of a healing crystal quartz mountain that sits next to a national forest. We drove up and up and up, parked our VW bus and walked into the beautiful casita.

The Lills Photo | Hearts Way Ranch | Santa Fe | New Mexico

After days without much, we couldn’t believe where we now were. The casita was private, relaxing and exactly what we needed. The outdoor patio area overlooked stunning mountains and we enjoyed glorious meals made of healthy ingredients.

We casually hiked one of the paths through the forest and were drawn and pulled toward the beautiful quartz and rocks. So much so that we got terribly lost and had to use our cell phone to locate the property where we were staying. As we made our way back, cleansing rain began to come down.

We enjoyed stretching, breathing and relaxing at a building on the property called The Sanctuary. We were visited by a bear and a coyote that night. Neither were bothered by our presence. They were more interested in the trash that a previous guest had been put in the wrong bin. In any case, it was very cool to see them up close and even our dog, Sunday, got to watch them from the window.

We coined the property “crystal mountain” and enjoyed a few more nights in the guesthouse at the very top. We enjoyed a relaxing hot tub experience and continued to be in awe by the views. The whole experience was healing and we made some very cool new friends who inspired us with their big hearts. They even had us over to their home on the property for a wonderful dinner and evening.

By their suggestion, we headed over to the International Folk Festival, where tons of incredible craftsmen and artists displayed and sold their work. There was so much to look at and there were tons of different musicians scattered around the event. It made for a lovely afternoon.

If there is one restaurant we could suggest going to in the area it would have to be Harry’s Roadhouse. Their food was so fresh, they had tons of veggie options and their parking lot was always full. We shared a few really healthy bites there and had one fabulous treat day meal we will never forget.

Although we had been in Santa Fe for over two weeks, we couldn’t leave without checking out Meow Wolf. It seemed as though we heard about it every other day while in town and when we finally visited, we realized why there was so much buzz about it.

Meow Wolf was put together by a group of artists who filled a warehouse full of experiential art for people to enjoy. We ran up and down and through different interactive exhibits. It was so exciting to be stimulated by such creativity.

The Lills | Santa Fe New Mexico Mountains | Travel Journal

That evening we said goodbye to crystal mountain and Santa Fe. The two of us, our dog and kitten piled back into the bus and headed on to our seventh destination. As usual, we had no plan as to where to go next, but we ended up exactly where we were meant be. Check back for more from our cross-country adventure!