Tom and Margie’s trip to New Mexico: Day 2
Margie and I expected to get up around 4:00am to get to the park by 5:00am. This would have been fine but the hotel clock had been set an hour later. I did not notice this as I set the alarm. Therefore we woke up at 3:00am! I was rushing around getting ready. I said, “Margie, we need to make that bus! We want to see the grand ascension.” She dutifully got out of bed and got ready. We got downstairs in the lobby for our complementary breakfast and wondered why it wasn’t ready for us. We looked at the time on the television and it said 4:00am! Yikes, we were early.
We certainly got the park on time. There were already thousands of folks just like us having breakfast burritos and coffee. The burritos were great. It was a flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs and bacon. Hash browns filled in all the empty spaces. The vendor asked if I wanted chiles. Of course I did. I wanted chiles on everything. We walked around the fairgrounds looking for balloonists. We didn’t see many at that hour.
Slowly, the sun rose. Then we started seeing balloonists everywhere. Soon the entire field was awash in silk being inflated. It is quite a sight. One by one the balloons lifted themselves off the field. It only took about 25 minutes for a balloon to go up. One of the coolest things about balloon fiesta is that you can go right down on the field and talk to the balloonists as they are going up. We felt part of the experience as opposed to just observing it. Within about 2 hours all 120 balloons had ascended. We decided to go back to the hotel and check out. This afternoon, we would drive North to Santa Fe. We took a nap and we were on the road by noon.
When we arrived in Santa Fe about an hour later, we were ravenous. I was getting grumpy. There was only one place to hit first, the Plaza Cafe. Years ago, we had made the Plaza Cafe our base of operations when were in Santa Fe. I am sure we are not the only ones. The place was packed. It’s right on the plaza as mentioned in the name. The food is typical diner fare with a Southwestern flair. One of our favorite dishes was called Plaza Chicken. It consisted of a chicken breast, guacamole, cheese, tomato salsa and lettuce wrapped in a tortilla. It doesn’t sound like much but the way they put it together is tremendous. We decided to split one as were going to dinner in a few hours. It was so worth it. As a side note, I have been making Plaza Chicken at home for years after our previous trip to Santa Fe. I do the Plaza Cafe one better though. I marinate the chicken and cut it up in strips. I then fold the large flour tortilla in quarters, filling in each of the quadrants with chicken strips, salsa, grated cheese and guacamole. I then place the item in a saute pan to brown. Finally, it gets topped with a little more guacamole and cheese. Let me know if you have a similar dish in your repertoire.