One of the coolest day drives we’ve been on is the Turquoise Trail, a 60 mile drive between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, on New Mexico Route 14. Beginning in Tijeras, which is where we were staying on historic Route 66, it winds through the hills of central New Mexico to Santa Fe. Settled by the early Pueblo people around 900 ad, the blue green turquoise was mined by these people, and word soon spread. The Spanish came and left, and the area experienced a minor boom when gold and iron was discovered in the 1800’s. Towns were built along the trail, among them Cerillos which was the main turquoise mining site, Golden, which was so named for its placer gold mines and Madrid (pronounced MAD rid) which shared the turquoise deposits but also became a company owned coal mining town during the first half of the 20th century.
Under the umbrella of the coal company, Madrid grew to some 3500 people, a rail spur was built to transport the coal, a hospital and unlimited electricity was provided and the first illuminated ball park west of the Mississippi was built. But as coal gave way to natural gas Madrid stumbled and when the mines were closed, nearly the entire population of Madrid left. Madrid, like its sister cities along the trail, Golden and Cerillos, became a ghost town.
But as many towns in New Mexico did, Madrid sort of reinvented itself as an artist colony and today some 400 artists live in the town and have rebuilt some of the infrastructure. As in a majority of the towns and cities of New Mexico, color has a large influence throughout the town.
Quite a few of the buildings have been restored, but it is essentially a quick stop for tourists along The Turquoise Trail.
We ate a late lunch at the rather well-known Mine Shaft Tavern, a roadside cuisine eatery famous for its burgers, chile and bbq, as well as its margaritas and beers on tap. They have waygu beef, grown locally and at a hefty price and lots of items with green chiles from Hatch. Jan was going to have the green chile stew with pulled pork and I was going to order the Mad Chile#1 but our waitress informed us that the cook had awakened that morning on the wrong side of the bed and had made the green chile particularly hot and she did not recommend it. I settled for the Waygu burger with cheese and bacon (coming in around $16) and Jan had the pulled pork. Some white wine and a margarita rounded it out. A local was wandering around handing out cookies that he had just made to anyone who had the nerve to take one, which we did. Great fun.
A beautiful view on our way back to Tijeras across the Rio Grande Basin to the Jemez Mountains.
The following day we were back at Mike and Cathy Boice’s home for dinner and golf the following day. Paa-ko Ridge golf course, where they built their home on the 18th fairway, is cut into the eastern side of the Sandia Mountains and its 27 holes meander along arroyos, natural vegetation and lots of rock. Not the easiest tract I have ever been on, but certainly one of the most picturesque.
We had dinner that first night and please make this if you can. Short ribs on a bed of spinach and potato purée. A labor of love but delicious. And followed by a carrot cake that Jan made from a recipe by a lady from West Carollton, Ohio and which appeared in the October 1994 Bon Appetit issue. And, of course, copious amounts of red wine. Kind of a decadent meal but you will love it. Enjoy.