Kicking off at 4:30 AM makes for a sleepy, but beautiful drive through Leadville, Colorado en route to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
After an amazing time performing up and down the greater Vail Valley along the I-70 corridor in Colorado, it was time to head south to New Mexico to start up the next round of performances. Lagging on packing and getting going as usual, I didn’t get out the door from Vail, CO until the morning of my next scheduled gig in Santa Fe, NM. Starting at 4:30 AM or so is brutal - especially when you hit the hay sometime after midnight - but it made for an inspiring drive along the 24 through mountain towns like Leadville, CO at 10,152′ above sea level (photo above).
Hanging with my buddy, Sean Healen, after our set in Santa Fe, NM at Cowgirl after a harrowing, 7-hour drive earlier that morning.
After falling asleep more than a few times en route to Santa Fe, NM, I finally made it in one piece in time to set up a for a mid-day acoustic performance with my friend and local celebrity, Sean Healen. We traded songs for a few hours outside in sunny Santa Fe, NM with a threatening storm just north of us sporting unreal lighting displays and roaring thunder that, somehow, almost alway struck on time with whichever one of us was performing. It made for some laughs and fortunately held off until we wrapped up and packed up our gear.
The best huevos rancheros you will ever have. Period. Horseman's Haven Café in Santa Fe, NM. Unreal!
I spent the night in Santa Fe, NM before kicking off the next morning with a little heat at Horseman’s Haven Café, just south of town, on the recommendation of a new friend who knew just about every local foodie spot around. This place was insanely good, practically melted my face off, and had me smiling from ear to ear. Sporting Hatch Level-2 green chiles, this dish was so fiery that I was a sweaty mess after just a few bites. As John Cougar sang, it “hurt so good”.
I became intimately familiar with the I-25 and all of its scarce gas stops after a close call, nearly running out of gas in the middle of nowhere in 100+ degree temps.
After Santa Fe, NM, I headed south for a performance in Albuquerque, NM at The Cellar Bar and farther south, still, to Las Cruces, NM for an acoustic show at M Five Bar before starting back north on the I-25 to the green chile capitol of the world, Hatch, NM, where I played at Sparky’s before thrilling my taste buds with the likes of their world famous green chile cheese burger, green chile lemonade, green chile cheese fries, and green chile ice cream! Soooo tasty! Yes, New Mexico was a thrill and just so beautiful to experience from the road. I had passed through before for performances, but just hadn’t ever experienced the terrain like this before. It’s a truly beautiful, rugged state with just amazing country to explore. I can’t wait to get back there and dive a little deeper into the local wilderness and indigenous culture.
Not for the faint of heart, Hatch, New Mexico delivers the hottest and tastiest green chiles you will find anywhere.
The next day, immediately following my performance in Hatch, NM, I caught an early, early morning flight from Albuquerque, NM to San Jose, CA to scramble to a performance at a wedding event in beautiful Big Sur, CA. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to bring my surf gear, but I did manage to experience the trademark, central coast scenery and mind surf a few good ones along the way down there. It was a beautiful ceremony outdoors followed by an outrageous fire pit jam session, sing along, and other craziness. Too fun and such a special event. Needless to say, the next morning was little painful as I packed up and made my way back to San Jose, CA to fly back to Albuquerque, NM to pick up my truck (which was fortunately still there) and continue on down the road to write with my buddy, Bob Rea, in his home town of Durango, CO.
Sunrise: a little after 6:00 AM somewhere over New Mexico, courtesy of American Airlines at 32,000'..
The drive from Albuquerque, NM to Durango, CO, while only about three and half hours, is a windy, awesome drive through desert mesas, ravines, and farm country peppered with far away mountain views all around. It’s a pretty spectacular drive and, with a gnarly rain storm about half of the way there, I got a taste of a little bit of everything the West had to offer from the road.
Please excuse the splattered bugs on my windshield... nonetheless, a pretty spectacular view en route to Durango, CO from Albuquerque, NM.
When I arrived at Bob’s place, a beautiful log cabin he hand built for himself and his wife years ago, we got to talking about green chile (I was hooked after my stint in New Mexico and was jonesin’ for my next spicy dish) and almost immediately started on some music. We went back and forth, back and forth, and finally dug our heels in on a tune we’re both quite proud of, in fact. (More on that later after we record it!) Along the way, Bob beat me pretty well at pool on his home table, we explored the town of Durango, CO a bit, and even drove up the pass outside of town for some mountain views and a taste of Purgatory (the mountain, that is). Ultimately, in case you were wondering, we found some green chile and got our heat on in between writing and just had an all around terrific time. It was a great break from performing and traveling and a good way to get the mind back into writing mode after nearly three months of performing, driving, and not much sleeping.
Retracing my steps after writing with Bob Rea from Durango, CO back down through Albuquerque, NM en route to Amarillo, TX and points east and south back home to Nashville, TN.
As all good things come to an end, so too did my time in Durango, CO, so I packed up the rig and started east and south again, back down the way I came to Albuquerque, NM to kick off my return trip to Nashville, TN. It was going to be a long haul, but not without a few amazing experiences along the way. Reflecting back on my time on the road, however, kept me awake and, more or less, alert for the duration.