Thursday, August 14, 2014
Frugal Retirement-A Few Days In Santa Fe
We all have different lifestyles in retirement. While many of my fellow retirees are taking off on long journeys, I'm finding just the opposite is working for me. A couple longer (two weeks) trips throughout the year and some short breaks in between are what work best for me. I NEED to be at home, and this schedule fills all of my needs.
As many readers know, I just returned from five days or so in Santa Fe-a trip that was just about the right amount of time for me. This trip ended up both being fairly frugal, and the perfect blend of activities. I'm not an adventure retiree. While I appreciate nature, I generally do it in horizontal or seating position much of the time. This week, I stepped out of the box for a brief period of time (against doctors orders), but the rest of my trip fulfilled my basic needs of life. Please forgive the lack of photos. As some know, I dropped that camera on cement, and I've been trying to learn how to use my camera on my phone. Its a process. Anyway, onto my weekend.
This weekend was probably the perfect example of why driving and road tripping is the best alternative for me. Rather than camping or staying in a hotel, my home away from home was a rental outside of the city, high on a hill. Surrounding by silence and Russian sage, this was the perfect vacation getaway. No noise, beautiful views, well appointed rooms-and just ten minutes to the plaza. Renting this house gave us a chance to be in vacation rather than tourist mode for the most part. The kitchen allowed breakfast and occasionally lunches (food which we brought in coolers) and a single evening of grilled steaks on the patio. It was a perfect happy medium.
So what did I do during this little respite?
I briefly stepped out of the box and went to Bandelier national monument, where one can see cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, standing walls and kivas. I'm sure my doctor would be shaking if he knew. For those of you who have been there, I did not, repeat not, climb the caves, but walked the path and observed from afar. I know my limitations. I did climb up the fifteen steps at the far end so that I could see the petroglyphs-a decision which I will be paying for for a couple weeks. As someone who lives with chronic pain, this was not my smartest move, but ended up being worth it.
I spent a day at the plaza, exploring churches, galleries, museums, the state capitol and more. I never met a church I was unwilling to visit, and Santa Fe was no exception.
I spent one day exploring galleries and foundries. I watched blown glass vases being made, visited a foundry where they make sculptures, watched potters, and generally enjoyed the Santa Fe art process. I purchased absolutely nothing, but may be ordering a hand blown birds nest with gold leaf and hand blown eggs. I also spent a day visiting the art colony of Madrid and the Turquoise Trail.
Last but not least, I spent a day vegging in my beautiful adobe house with the butterflies, hummingbirds and solitude. After all, I was on vacation, and what better vacation than peace and quiet, the perfect vista and a good book.
I also went to the opera for a mere $15, and experienced a concert on the plaza while eating ice cream and sitting on a park bench. While the opera can be pricey, Santa Fe includes opera internships. Every year they put on apprentice opera shows, where they show eight different scenes from various operas. Everyone is an apprentice or student, from the singers to the folks who do the makeup. You would not always know it however-its an impressive night for little cash, with my favorites this year being a Verdi excerpt along with Anna Bolena. Lots of entertainment for very little money.
My trip to Santa Fe would not be complete without many visits to New Mexico restaurants, or at least that was what my co travelers thought. Me, I know nothing about the difference between red and green chili. Fortunately all of these restaurants also have other alternatives. My first night I had raspberry soup, blue cheese and walnut salad and flan, and the evenings progressed from there.
For those who are wondering, while Santa Fe can be an expensive area, in this case the price of a trip was more than reasonable. Our house slept at least four and ran $300 a night. A deal at the price when four people are sharing. We ate out four nights and each time one of us picked up the tab. Was the accounting perfect? No, but it's worth it to us and this averaged between eighty and one hundred dollars a night-a planned purchase. To offset these expenses we brought food in coolers from home for other meals and the steak dinner, and all felt we had a wonderful time.
As for my other out of pocket tourist type expenses? $10 for the museum, approximately $10 for other entrances. Fifteen dollars for the opera. $30 on optional mementos that were useful and loved (a pair of green bead earrings and an O'keefe poster). Add that to my travel cost and all and all I'd say the trip was rewarding on all levels.
Hopefully I'll get some more pictures up soon, along with a description of our "taking the long way" drive home.