When I didn’t think Albuquerque could get much better, a drive down Route 66 for a green chili breakfast, and winding up in scenic horse country, with Peublo Revival style estate homes nestled amongst Cottonwood Trees, and a stop at Los Poblanos Ranch changed all that.


After a round of school drop offs that emptied the middle row of car seats, my friend and I headed downtown for breakfast at Albuquerque’s well-known Frontier Restaurant.


Rounding a street corner on Historic Route 66 (as interesting for its drive-by people-watching as its history or architectural remnants of a bygone age), we slipped into a sliver of parking space behind the barn shaped facade of the Frontier.


We stepped through a non-descript door into a great expanse of high-ceilinged restaurant and meandered through what was only one of several dining areas, past walls chock full of original artwork, and a series of low-hung signs that made me glad to visit mid-week: “10 minutes from this point.”  Another few feet: “Seven minutes from this point.”


Staring at the counter menu, my default order was the Juevos Rancheros that my friend insisted were “Amazing!”  Sunny side up, side of beans, doused with New Mexico’s signature roasted green chili peppers that are fired to perfection on street corners and in grocery store parking lots in the Fall, filling the air with their nostalgic scent like hot boiled peanuts in Georgia.


We split a signature Frontier Sweet Roll oozing with butter – a perfect accompaniment to the contraband Dunkin Donuts coffees we’d stopped for on the way, and to the blink-of-the-eye hour that passed in catch-up conversation.


We later found ourselves on a stretch of two-lane road flanked by rows of Pueblo-style estates with landscaping to match the climate and desert terrain: pebble flower beds; scrub trees towered over by the larger signature Cottonwoods; the occasional but varied cactus; and sun-bleached tree limbs placed as accent pieces.


Horses lazed about in sun-filled corrals at high noon, tree lined driveways led to showcase Adobe-style homes with rounded stucco corners, small windows, and arched entryways, built in the valley of the beautiful Sandia Mountain peaks.


Always in good company with my friend, we took turns pointing and gasping, “Isn’t it beautiful?!  I know!!  Look at that one!!”  And I daydreamed about what it’d be like to live here.


That’s when Los Poblanos Ranch – a quaint organic farm, restaurant, historic inn, and event facility – appeared just ahead, with enough time to squeeze in a gift shop visit before afternoon carpool.


We parked in a gravel lot that bordered an open field with irrigated rows of low-lying lavender bushes.  Nearby a red tractor sat idle in the shadows of a pair of white stone silos.  A bicycle was propped lazily against one of several tin roof buildings.


And a couple of guinea hens made a ruckus of squawking, chasing, fluttering, and fluffing about the otherwise serene scene.  Someone explained how chickens, the raising of which seems to work itself into every other conversation I have in Albuquerque (regardless of whether that raising happens on farms or in the backyards of gated communities), are much quieter.


Inside the quaint gift shop equipped with an open-air harvesting area on one side, was everything lavender: lotions, salves, sunscreens, soaps, mists, frozen yogurt cups, and even a lavender kombucha.  I asked about avoiding the “mother” swirling about on the bottom of the almost $5 bottle and like everyone out here, the farm girl dove right into conversation, “Nope, just drink it.  Bottoms up!”


It was the best of mornings; all at once touristy, filling, inspiring, and beautiful.  Every ounce squeezed between a carpool line and preschool pickup.


There was a moment when dozens of happily reuniting parents and children at the preschool (and a healthy dose of sleep deprivation) made me think about flying back early to Atlanta to fluff my own little (currently chicken-free) nest.


But then I only have two days left to drink it all in.  Discover a new kind of beautiful every day.


And to that I say, bottoms up!