Three weeks in New Mexico left me ready for the one constant in the Northeast (rain), but before we caught our plane ride eastward, I wrangled my two-year-old son and (older) husband into Dan’s Boots & Saddles, an Albuquerque landmark that began its run on the historic Route 66 in the 1950s. This monster of a tack-n-gear shop now sits on 4th Ave in the Los Ranchos area, and we passed it several times en route to this trip’s favorite New Mexican eatery (El Brunos–best house Margarita I’ve ever had).

My son and I browse the saddle selection at Dan's Boots & Saddles.

I wasn’t in the market for a saddle, but I was impressed by a) Dan’s B & S’s selection; and b) their super-friendly customer service. We were greeted and offered help not long after we wandered down one of the long rows of tack and equipment, but there was no sign of an attempt to push product nor disdain when I admitted we were “just looking.” This welcoming atmosphere persuaded me to potter around and lo and behold….I bought a darned cute pair of Justin boots and my son found a plastic farm set that included a tractor (for his sake) and a horse (for mine).

If you’re in the Albuquerque area, make Dan’s B & S a destination, even if you only have a few minutes to spare on the way by. It’s a pleasant, fun way to get a little horse into your system, whether you’re lookin’ to spend money or just compare prices on riding wear, hats, and saddles (both English and Western–great sales racks, too!)

The incredible plume of smoke from the Los Conchas fires–seen from Albuquerque.
The World's Best Watermelon????

Finally, I thought I’d bid a final adieu to my 2011 NM experience by sharing a couple of the more amazing moments from the trip–the smoke “plume” from what remained of the Los Conchas fire was certainly awe-inspiring. I caught a rather poor picture of it while traveling through the Albuquerque suburbs, but a rather amazing version graced the front page of the local paper the following day. We drove up over Route 4 past the Los Conchas trailhead where the fire supposedly started and down to Los Alamos to see the extent of the fire damage–I have a new appreciation for the science, brawn, and bravery behind fighting forest fires, for sure!

And I caught site of this bit of salesmanship along a roadside in Corrales–so, perhaps I’ve a whole new appreciation for watermelon, as well????

Glad to be back in the saddle,

Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor