Road Tripping in New Mexico

by Beth Whitman (September 4th, 2014)

Santa Fe HomeThis post is a bit late in coming as I was in New Mexico earlier this summer. Still, I wanted to make some time for one of my very favorite destinations.

Though I make Seattle my home, my heart always gets pulled back to The Land of Enchantment. If I didn’t feel the need to be near water, I would likely be living there. But the Pacific Northwest’s green mountains and plethora of lakes, rivers, bays and sounds makes it my number one choice.

I do travel to New Mexico fairly regularly, particularly now that I lead culinary tours to Santa Fe once a year. When I can, I tack on extra days prior to or after the tour to spend time in the area. I’ve driven this area by car, tour bus and even motorcycle (my favorite mode of transportation!).

If you’re visiting for the first time, consider renting a car (if you’re not a motorcycle rider, that is) and make the trip from Santa Fe to Taos, stopping in Chimayo along the way.

Here are some highlights and some things to do in each of the areas:

Santa Fe – With nearly 300 sunny days a year, Santa Fe is the antithesis of Seattle. I usually travel to the area in the spring/early summer. This is a great time of year because the weather isn’t too hot yet and when there is a little rain shower, it is little. The skies clear up quickly and the sun comes out.

During this shoulder season, you can likely find a reasonably-priced hotel near the Plaza. It’s in this area that you’ll find a high concentration of jewelry, clothing and souvenir shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. Once you’re settled in, it’s easy to explore this area by foot.

Must sees in Santa Fe:

  • Visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • Wander outside the Palace of the Governors where you can shop for Native American jewelry being sold by the craftspeople themselves
  • Spend Friday night on Canyon Road where gallery openings abound
  • Stop by the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning and peruse the fresh veggies, fruits and other homemade treats and handmade goodies
  • See the miraculous staircase at the Loretto Chapel

Chimayo – While on your way to Taos, be sure to stop by the small town of Chimayo, less than 30 miles from Santa Fe. This is a Santuario de Chimayomajor pilgrimage area for locals, particularly on Good Friday when upwards of 30,000 people are known to make their way to Santuario de Chimayó during Holy Week.

Whether you’re religious or not, sit in the courtyard and take some time to soak up the spiritual vibe here.

Must sees in Chimayo:

  • Visit the tiny Santuario (church)–you might be lucky enough to arrive during mass
  • Stop by the El Potrero Gift Shop next door and pick up some excellent dried chili (I buy the green and put it on popcorn)
  • Walk around the back side of the church to see the large altar with candles and hanging beads as well as all the crosses placed on the wire fence in memory of lost souls
  • Have lunch at nearby Rancho de Chimayo

Taos – A friend recently compared Taos to what Santa Fe was 30 years ago. That’s a pretty good description. Like Santa Fe, Taos, located just over an hour north of Chimayo, is Southwest through and through but on a much smaller, more manageable scale. Here you’ll find adobe homes, antique and jewelry shops, and restaurants serving delicious New Mexican cuisine.

Taos PuebloMust sees in Taos:

  • Visit 1,000 year old Taos Pueblo
  • Hike the trails in nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains
  • Ski at one of the many resorts
  • Stop by the mid-19th century Kit Carson Home & Museum

When you go
Albuquerque is the largest nearby airport. Fly in here and rent a car from an agency such as our website sponsor, Enterprise. In addition to offering great deals in New Mexico, they’ve just launched a website for their European car rentals as well.

Travel Well,


Photo credits:
Taos Pueblo by Ron Cogswell


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North Face Thermoball Jacket ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (September 3rd, 2014)

North Face ThermoballWhen it comes to synthetic insulated jackets, apparently all roads lead to The North Face. On my numerous trips to REI and other outdoor retailers to research the best “puffy coat” to bring with me on the Snowman Trek, the sales clerks consistently pointed me toward The North Face and, specifically, the Thermoball.

Here’s why…

The North Face Thermoball jacket is synthetic but equivalent to a down jacket with 600-fill. The jacket compresses down so small that it’s hard to believe it could be so warm but, dang, it is. Because it’s synthetic, I don’t have to worry about it getting wet–which it undoubtedly will–during the trek. Down, on the other hand, will get ruined with moisture.

The Thermoball is likely going to be too warm to wear while I’m trekking but it will be my go-to jacket once at camp in the evenings and mornings, when it’s going to be coldest. My plan is to also carry it in my daybag so that I can slip it on during tea and lunch breaks and in case it gets really really cold while I’m on the move.

There’s a few well thought-out features of the Thermoball that I really like:

  • Zippered side pockets. Jackets don’t always have zippered pockets but I love this so I can keep items close at hand without worrying about them falling out.
  • Two inside pockets. Just inside the front zipper, each side also has pockets (no zipper though).
  • Stretch cuffs. These sit nice and snug around my wrists to prevent wind flowing in but have some stretch to them so it’s easy to take the jacket on and off.Thermoball North Face in Bag

As I mentioned, the jacket compresses down quite small. This is the jacket in an Eagle Creek Pack-it Cube. But not only is the jacket in this cube but so is a Sherpa Adventure Gear wool hat as well as a Merino wool Icebreaker balaclava. Not bad, huh?

Sizes run a tad large. While I usually wear a small, I’ve got an extra small in the Thermoball. I would call it a tad tight but it might prevent me from wearing too many layers underneath. Having said that, I don’t expect I’ll need too many layers with all the warmth this will provide.

Available for about $200 on Amazon. Note that there are a number of new styles and colors that have become available this fall so stop by The North Face store near you or their website for a full range of options.

Travel Well,


Related links:
Mauria Hiking Boots from LOWA
Sherpa Adventure Gear Kipu Tee

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This Month Win a Pair of Mauria Boots from LOWA

by Beth Whitman (September 2nd, 2014)

Mauria boots from LOWA

We have a winner for the September giveaway and will announce her name as soon as she confirms her address with us. She’s a new subscriber to the Wanderlust and Lipstick Newsletter and won simply by subscribing.

Watch out for announcements of future contests here.


There are a lot of things I’m having to pay very close attention to as I prepare for the Snowman Trek later this month. Staying warm, hydrated, fueled with the proper food and foot comfort are all very high on the list. With us hiking anywhere from eight to 13 miles per day, making sure that my feet are going to be comfortable ranks high on the list.

When considering the type of hiking boot I wanted, ankle support and light weight were two things I felt would be most important. After all, I don’t want to have to trudge around in a heavy (albeit sturdy) leather boot.

Having tested out a number of other LOWA low-profile boots, I decided that these would be a good go-to company for something a bit more robust.

After talking with some representatives from LOWA, I decided on the Mauria GTX® Flex WS. Yes, I realize it’s their job to tell me how great their boots are but, really, these are great.

I’ve now taken these on numerous hikes in the Pacific Northwest and also to New Mexico and they’ve performed really well on all occasions.

Here are a couple of things that stand out for me:

  • Very lightweight – though these are a bit bulkier than my other lower-profile boots, I don’t feel like I’m having a difficult time lifting my feet up and over rocks and tree limbs.
  • GORETEX – though I haven’t had to wear these in the rain, I will in Bhutan, and I trust that they are going to keep my feet dry.

Another cool feature of LOWA boots is the Flex® lacing which allows the laces to easily pull through the ball bearing lace loops. In addition, the tongue stud/X-lacing feature helps reduce overall pressure on the feet, making for a comfy walk.

The Mauria GTX® Flex WS comes in two colors – Dark Blue/Burgundy (pictured above) or Brown/Olive (pictured below). It also offers a wide width style in the Dark Blue/Burgundy color.

About LOWA
Established in 1923 in Jetzendorf, Germany, LOWA is known for handcrafted, great-fitting boots. It uses only durable materials and adheres to the highest quality construction.

Wanna win your own?
Mauria boots from LOWA Brown Olive
During the month of September, you can enter to win your very own Mauria GTX® Flex WS Boots from LOWA. One winner will be chosen on October 1, 2014.


1) Sign up for the Wanderlust and Lipstick newsletter. This goes out just once a month and your information is never shared.

2) Sign up for the RSS email feed (see the “subscribe me” box in the upper right) to receive an email each time I post to this blog (usually no more than 3x per week).

Oh, and get some good karma by forwarding this to friends whom you think might like to enter to win a pair of Mauria GTX books from LOWA.

Value: $300

The Deets
This contest closes at 11:59 pm PST on September 30, 2014 and the lucky winner will be chosen on October 1, 2014. We can only ship to U.S. addresses (sorry!).

The winner will have three days to respond before another winner is chosen.

You might also enjoy taking a peek at these LOWA reviews by our bloggers: LOWA Innox GTX, LOWA Renegade GTX Mid-Hiking Boots, LOWA Ferrox GTX Lo, and LOWA Camino GTX Flex Boots.

Travel Well,


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