Chili Dog Road Trip Part 4: Santa Fe

by Becky Burns /
Becky Burns's picture
Aug 23, 2012 / 0 comments

Santa Fe: The casita close to heaven, some music, and finally…a dance!

Do you know the way to Santa Fe? Chiming in with the familiar jingle, changing the words ever so slightly…Lily and I arrived in the city of adobe and art.


My friends Susan and Guillermo generously offered us the use of their casita, which is adjacent to their home. I hadn’t been to Susan’s new home, and following the directions to get there, I was convinced that somehow I had the wrong address. Lily and I were driving into a residential area that consisted of multi-million dollar homes nestled into the hills overlooking the city. We found the house number and pulled into the circular driveway, looking sheepishly out of the window as if to apologize to these owners for losing our way. And then, out walks Susan!


Santa Fe home of the Durons - we stayed in the casita

Santa Fe home of the Durons - we stayed in the casita


After a tour of the interior of their home, which was splendid beyond belief, they showed us to our room – the casita, a circular adobe studio space, with a huge boulder jutting out of the middle which the architect designed around. Fabulous, and luxurious beyond our wildest dreams. Right outside the door of the casita was a view of the entire city of Santa Fe. At night you could see Los Alamos twinkling in the distance. Sitting on a stone bench each morning with a cup of coffee, and the same place in the evening with a glass of wine…this was undeniably a highlight of our trip. No chili dogs in sight. Coyotes, yes. Bats darting about, completing the mystery. How did we get here? It didn’t matter…as there we were. In the midst of a new chapter of enchantment.


 Dusk at Casita

 Dusk at Casita


We began the next morning by heading to the famed Santa Fe Plaza, where we meandered down the corridor reserved for the native artisans. I bought a copper and silver ring, and Lily bought some silver guitar picks. We perused the galleries, went shopping, and returned for live music in the plaza that evening. A vast array of characters made their way towards the stage. Our favorite scene was watching the children dance, from ballerinas to break-dancers - they were so fresh and real. Our time in Santa Fe included a visit to the Georgia O’Keefe museum, and we found ourselves inspired, once again, by an independent, clever and creative woman. We watched the video at the museum – you know, the one where they have it running continuously – and we learned quite a bit about O’Keefe’s life, making us love her even more. (


The next night at the plaza, Lily was asked to dance by a native, and she had so much fun with the salsa number. Spicy and original, this music was! We left the scene after the next band began, and wandered into town to find some live music at a bar. I confessed to Lily, at a brief stopover to hear some country music, the awkward fact that I really never learned to dance with a partner. As we watched couples two-step and swing, I explained that I just couldn’t do it – I always stepped on the guy’s toes. Lily told me that this was ridiculous. That it was my own issue with needing control that prevented me from letting the man lead. I agreed, but reiterated that I had tried but just wasn’t able to get the hang of it. When someone asked me to dance, I froze. I always said no, and who knows how many possibilities that I let pass doing that. I would always say, “Sorry, I can’t dance,” and they’d look at me and think “Sure…right…” and move along. But it was true. I couldn’t dance to save myself. An embarrassing reality.


That night we ended up at a dive bar that looked like it was straight out of 1972, and stumbled upon one of the best blues bands we’ve ever heard. And we both love blues, seeing as how we’ve spent so much time in Chicago. The lead singer was a dude by the name of Soulman Bob. He was tremendous. And the bank was tight, lean and tight. Lily and I sat right up front, as always. We made friends with the harmonica player. He played just some of the songs, so he was free to hang out with us otherwise. His name was Bill and we found out he was a philosophy major in college. Went to school in DeKalb, Illinois, of all places! He waxed eloquent about his favorite philosopher, Immanuel Kant, and how he discovered his own ideas about life within the existentialism of Nietzsche. Wow. Here we were in a dive bar in Santa Fe, discussing philosophy with a blues harmonica player. Life doesn’t get any better than this, does it? But wait. It actually does. Hang on, now. Here we go…


Blues Band that ROCKS in Santa Fe

Blues Band that ROCKS in Santa Fe


So, a few more numbers down the line and the band kicks into a lively R&B tune. Bill extends his hand to me for a dance. I look to Lil, who gives me an excruciating stare, mouthing “Do it!” I stand up. I don’t say my usual line, making excuses for what I’m sure will be another debacle on the dance floor. Instead I think, “hey, these people are never gonna see me again,” and I get out there and dance. I let him lead. He swings me around, sashays me backwards and forwards, and Lordy my! I dance! I danced! A few times, when I seemed to falter just a bit, I looked over at Lil with wide eyes and she responded back with clear enunciation: “Let…him…LEAD!” And so I did. It was so much fun! I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again, but maybe, just maybe I will.


The next day was moving day. We packed up, cleaned the casita, and decided to head north to Cheyenne.  I haven’t mentioned the culinary highlights of Santa Fe, but there were three notables.


The first was El Farol, an amazing tapas place on Canyon Road. ( ) We lingered over wine and delectable treats; the fried avocado is not to be missed. We later ran into our waiter at the plaza music event. Small town.


El Farol Restaurant, Canyon Rd

El Farol Restaurant, Canyon Rd


Another notable is a Kakawa chocolate shop. We drank hot chocolate with a hint of chili and devoured a giant chocolate chip cookie. Kaka. ( )


And then there was the place we stopped on our way out of town: The Chocolate Maven Bakery and Café ( ), a farm to table restaurant and bakery where you sit right in front of large plate glass windows to watch the bakers at work. We bought a few items on our way out, including a giant cinnamon roll. There were no chili dogs here.


Read Chili Dog Road Trip Part 1: Go West, Young Women!

Chili Dog Road Trip Part 2: Off to the Mountains! 

Chili Dog Road Trip Part 3: Taos, New Mexico 

Chili Dog Road Trip Part 5: Cheyenne, Nebraska, Iowa




Becky Burns, our Soulful Traveler editor, is an educator living in the Chicago area. Her column will give you insight and inspiration, taking you to the core or essence of the travel experience, something we all feel as a result of exploration and discovery. Look for her monthly postings describing local exploits in and around Chicago, regional road trips in the Midwest, national adventures from coast to coast, and overseas excursions. You are bound to be inspired and enriched, nodding your head in agreement as a familiar reminiscence comes to light again.  You can find her work at or 


All photos courtesy and copyright Becky Burns