2014 US Southwest — Albuquerque, NM and Flagstaff, AZ


On the road to Flagstaff, AZ. Flagstaff is just a pit stop to our final (and most spectacular) city of our Southwest trip!

Dates:  February 17 to February 18 — one night stay each in Albuquerque, NM and Flagstaff, AZ.

It is 632 miles (approximately 9 hours of driving time) from Santa Fe, NW to our last major stop of our Southwest trip.   Frankly, neither my DH nor I have the attention-span to drive that long.  Thus, we decided to throw in a day trip each to Albuquerque, NM and Flagstaff, AZ.   Both stays were so short that I decided to list them in the same blog entry — hope you don’t mind my laziness.

Drive Time from Santa Fe, NM to Albuquerque, NM:  62 miles (approximately one hour via I-25 South).

Albuquerque was so close to Santa Fe, how could we not take the opportunity to visit Albuquerque’s Old Town and pick-up a couple of souvenirs for our dog-sitters?  Plus, it gave us another chance to go to Chez Jean Pierre!

Albuquerque is the most populous city in New Mexico and the 53rd-largest United States metropolitan area.  In New Mexico, Albuquerque is the place to go since it is home to over 300 other visual arts, music, dance, literary, film, ethnic, and craft organizations, museums, festivals and associations.  It’s a happening place!   This is our second visit here.


Interesting red rock formations can be seen on the road from Santa Fe to Albuquerque.

We stayed at Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn (1015 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, Albuquerque, NM), an older but very comfortable hotel with a pool and an on-site restaurant (where the complimentary breakfast was served from a real kitchen).   But we did not spend a lot of time at the hotel.  We went straight to Old Town Albuquerque!


The San Felipe Church is in the center of Old Town Albuquerque. It was a wonderful day — warm and sunny! We were able to have a great lunch and find all the gifts we needed for our dog sitters!

We enjoyed a nice lunch of fish tacos and pork burritos at Back Street Grill (1919 Old Town Rd).   Both dishes were yummy!  We sat outside at the high tables enjoying the warm, sunny day.  Our meal was light because we wanted to save our calories for another fabulous French meal at Chez Jean Pierre!

It is the day after Valentine’s Day so we decide to make reservations at Chez Jean Pierre — just in case the holiday is still being celebrated.   Good thing we did because their was only one opening for this evening — 8pm (apparently anyone who could not get a reservation on Valentine’s Day made a reservation for tonight).   As before, the food was gooood  good!  We also had the pleasure of getting to know the nice couple sitting next to us — two french citizens living in Albuquerque!   We talked and we talked and we talked…


We started our dinner by sharing a bowl of French Onion Soup. The soup had a rich beef broth sweetened with caramelized onions. It was topped with a crusty bread and gooey cheese — yum!


I ordered the saute fish served with a lemony caper sauce. The brininess of the capers really came through!


My DH ordered the salmon in a light pesto sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly and the sauce was light and tasted of basil.


Of course, we had to share an order of the chocolate mousse — again! This time there was less mousse but the two fat chocolate covered strawberries more than made up for the lack of mousse.

Drive Time from Albuquerque, NM to Flagstaff, AZ: 322 miles (approximately 5 hours via I-40 West).

Coming up on Flagstaff! The sky is wide and the clouds were sweeping across the plain!   On our way, we stopped off for lunch at the Railroad Cafe in Gallup, NM.   I love  roadside diners and according to Yelp, picking were slim on this highway.    I ordered the the pork chili.  My DH ordered a hamburger.   The chili was good and spicy with green chilies.  The hamburger was HUGE and prepared medium rare.   We ate the soup, some of the hamburger, and all of the fries.    We took the hamburger with us for dinner.


The Railroad Cafe. a busy place — food must be good!


After lunch, we are on the road again to Flagstaff.

For our one evening in Flagstaff, we stayed at the Highland Country Inn (223 S. Milton) — a nice basic motel on the boundary of the Northern Arizona University.


Flagstaff is a small ski town. After we checked in at our hotel, we took the short walk to check out downtown. Flagstaff is small and charming! But since we arrived late, most of the stores were closed. Needless to say, we finished our chilly tour in about half an hour.  Just as well, we had to get back to the hotel to watch “Downton Abbey.”  We had to.


For dinner, we stopped at the Natural Grocers for some fruit to go along with our leftover hamburger from lunch (it was right across the street from our hotel). What a nice store! They had great produce — and the cookie aisle was pretty awesome too! I liked the painting of the cow.

Departing Thoughts.    Albuquerque is a lovely place.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot going on there to justify a longer stay.   Flagstaff was lovely too — small and sleepy but still lovely!  But to be honest, we couldn’t wait to get to our last major stop on our trip — it was all we could talk about!