We packed our bags in the car and headed towards the USA Southwest region, away from our “coastal influence.”  Cookies in Arizona and New Mexico chiles were about to add spice to my adventure.

Jacob Lake Inn makes the best cookies near the Grand Canyon

Driving the Arizona scenic route on Highway 89A, near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I saw a sign for the “best cookies” at Jacob Lake Inn. Stop the car! The mountain inn has an old time dining counter and a small area with groceries which reminded me of camp grounds as a kid. It was obvious visitors, hikers and campers all felt welcomed here with the chatter at the counter and friendly servers. Oh yes, the cookies. I bought oatmeal raisin and lemon sugar cookies and they lived up to their reputation!


I'm eating an energry packed cookie

El Rancho Hotel with volumes of western movie memorabilia 

Somewhat desolate and known as a stop on Rt 66 is Gallup, NM. This expansive land was the center for making old western movies and the local hang out was and continues to be the El Rancho Hotel. The list of actors and actresses who stayed at the Hotel while filming is a who’s who of 1940’s and 50’s characters and their pictures line the walls. Oh if these walls could talk! Remember growing up and watching many of the movies? Wagons Ho!     https://elranchohotelgallup.com/

El Rancho Hotel

El Rancho Hotel

New Mexico chiles are plentiful in food and drink and not necessarily hot

A favorite restaurant of mine in Albuquerque is Range Cafe. I can always get my New Mexico food fix at one of their locations. The blue corn encrusted chile relleno with pinto beans was my definition of homey regional cuisine. https://www.rangecafe.com/

Range Cafe Albuquerque

Range Cafe

I like to order green and red salsa (both salsas ordered together are called Christmas). The interior decor, with old miniature kitchen ranges, is clever with some hanging from the ceiling and others on table tops.  I bought a package of the blue corn with blueberries pancake and waffle mix to make at home.  The best New Mexico style food requires chiles. This state grows over 600 different types of chiles and blends them for the most delicious food.

Chocolate Elixirs soothing to the soul

One of my favorite drinks in Santa Fe, New Mexico is made at Kakawa Chocolate House. The chocolate drinks are reminiscent of the Aztec, Mayan and other historic nations which served elixirs for centuries.  Besides the drinks there are chocolate candies infused with chiles and agave nectar.  As you can tell in this picture, my cousin Joe and I had a jolly time drinking the varieties of chocolate elixirs!

Joe and I drinking hot chocolate

Joe and I sure enjoyed the chocolate elixirs


Getting out of the coastal influence and into the Southwest region of the USA brought mountains and flatlands, regional cooking and old movie locations.

Jacob Lake Inn AZ-67 & Highway 89A, Fredonia, Arizona    928.643.7232

 El Rancho Hotel  1000 E Hwy 66 Gallup, NM 505.863.9311

Range Cafe   320 Central Ave SE  Albuquerque, NM  505.243.1440

Kakawa Chocolate House  1050 Paseo De Peralta Santa Fe, NM 505.982.0388