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Archive for July 20th, 2010

Leaving Santa Fe

I’ve seen my last sunset in Santa Fe and, after an idyllic ten days, Ace and I are headed east — first to Oklahoma to visit another ex, my ex cat.

My stint as a petsitter went well, but with a sour note at the end. After the owners of Sophie, Charlie and Lakota got home, Lakota and Ace went at it, only for a second or two, but enough to leave Lakota with blood coming from his eye.

We should have seen it coming. Lakota’s mom was giving Ace some attention — too much attention in Lakota’s view. The bulldog lashed out at Ace; Ace lashed back, and either bit or clawed Lakota in the eye.

Lakota’s veterinarian dad looked it over and was pretty certain it was just the eyelid that was injured, but he was taking him to get checked out by a specialist just the same.

Ace and Lakota, while there was some growling on the first day, had seemed to have gotten to the point of tolerating each other. Lakota didn’t seem to mind if I was lavishing attention on Ace, or Sophie, or Charlie. Then again, I was just the petsitter.

After ten days without mom, I guess Lakota wasn’t willing to share her once she returned.

Santa Fe’s dog-friendly eateries

Santa Fe is big on rules and restrictions.

It’s also big on dogs.

And, in more than a few cases, dogs have won out.

During our time in Santa Fe, we visited three dog-friendly restaurants (at least one, bird-friendly, too) — where dogs are permitted on leashes in the outdoor dining areas.

We stopped by one more that’s listed as dog-friendly on numerous websites — Bobcat Bites — but they’ve apparently stopped allowing dogs, after a customer either got bitten, or almost got bitten. This isn’t an inclusive list (feel free to add your dog-friendly Santa Fe restaurant to this post through a comment), it’s just where we went.

For starters, we tried Louie’s Corner Cafe, which was our favorite — partly because of the build your own omelette, which has very little to do with dogs, or, in this case, dogs with it. It was too good to share (though Ace did get some toast.) 

The waitress was quick to bring Ace a bowl of fresh water, and the umbrellas over the tables supplied much in needed shade, which in Ace’s view, is the second best thing to dropped food.

The Atomic Grill has limited dog friendly seating and, interestingly, only one table at which one can both be accompanied by their dog and drink an alcoholic beverage. I opted for that one, as the other two were kind of on the entrance path and I worried about Ace — given his size — blocking the view of patrons. While there’s a full patio, the part with a roof isn’t open to dogs because of some silly rule, my waitress said. The food (I opted for fish tacos) was great, and the waitress adored my dog, which is always worth some extra tippage. I had to answer the “What Kind of Dog is That?” question about ten times during my meal, but I didn’t mind.

Our final dog-friendly stop was Counter Culture, which has a spacious and shaded outdoor dining area with trees, and birds everywhere. It’s more off the beaten path than the other two restaurants — not right downtown, which, in many ways (given parking and traffic) is a plus.The only inconvenience there is that you have to go inside and order first. Fortunately, Ace is well-behaved enough to stay, and, just in case, anchoring his leash to the iron chair was easily accomplished

Ace and the birds competed for the bread crust I tossed. And one of the little birds was courageous enough to step all the way up on my plate, fortunately after my grilled chicken sandwich was gone.

 (“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)

The cattiest bar in New Mexico

Plenty of bars have gone to the dogs.

Here’s one that has gone to the cats.

Veer right off Highway 14 before you get to Madrid, New Mexico, and you end up in a little town called Los Cerrillos, according to some of the signs; just Cerrillos, according to others, on which the “Los” has been lost.

In the once-thriving mining town, the paved roads turn to dirt — even Main Street is dirt. But if you come down Main Street and hook a right at the first stop sign, you’re at the front porch of Mary’s Bar, one of a handful of business enterprises in town and one where, on the day I visited at least, there were more cats than clientele.

“They keep me company when we don’t have any customers,” said the bars’s owner, 95-year-old Mary Mora, who sat at a table next to a wood burning fireplace.

Mary runs the bar with help from her daughter, Kathy, who is responsible for bringing in all the cats.

Not too long ago there were six. Now they’re down to five — Sashi, Stringbean and Lucifer among them.

All were unwanted, and some had been abused, Kathy says. One had been wrapped in Christmas lights by children. One was being held up outside a PetSmart by a man who said his pit bull was eating the litter and he had to get rid of him. Another was being forfeited because he scratched a family member.

Kathy, who can’t understand such behavior, took them all in — most are from Albuquerque — got them checkups and shots, and gave them new homes at the bar, which the Moras live in as well. She doesn’t try to find them homes. She just gives them one.

Originally built as a general store in 1918, the bar was known simply as the Cerrillos Bar until a crew filming the 1998 movie “Vampires” used the town as a set for part of the film.

The crew put up the “Mary’s Bar” signs and nobody ever took them down, photographer Christopher Crawford relates on his website, which features a fine collection of Mary’s Bar photos.

The bar was also used for the “Young Guns” movies as well, and Mary, the daughter of Italian immigrant, says she cooked spaghetti and meatballs for Emilio Estevez and Lou Diamond Phillips.

Los Cerrillos was once a thriving gold and turquoise-mining community — lead, zinc and silver as well — and it is said turquoise from here made its way into the Spanish Crown Jewels. At one point, the Spanish  considered making Los Cerrillos the capitol of Nuevo Mexico. During the 1800’s, the town sported 4 hotels and 21 saloons.

Now, it’s a sleepy little community, home to a Catholic mission, some artists, a trading post/junk store that features a petting zoo and a “scenic view” that, to be honest, is not too extremely scenic, and Mary’s Bar, where the proprietor is approaching the century mark, customers are few, clutter rules, and cats are king.

(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog, spending six months criss-crossing America.)