It’s not easy traveling more than 2,000 miles by car, even if you have eleven days to complete the trip, but that’s what LEAP students did over their Spring Break. In the process, they explored three states, two Capitol buildings, nine art museums, many conference sessions, and countless restaurants. Below is their favorites from their experiences.
- Santa Fe: This won one handily, with five of the seven travelers selecting it. The town’s charm, shopping, art, and history were among the reasons this ranked high, not to mention it’s access to skiing.
- Denver came in second, beating out, well, Amarillo and Canyon.
The top three restaurants were an eclectic bunch and reflect the diverse foods sought by LEAP Ambassadors on trips.
- Bistro Vendome in Denver was probably the favorite experience of the bunch. It was our first experience with French food as a LEAP group, but just one of many different cultures we have explored.
- Also among the top restaurants was Los Potrillos, which offers “Santa Fe New Mexican.” While it may have advertised itself as “New Mexcian,” we enjoyed some favorites of Old Mexico such as chicharrones and nopalitos.
- Finally, we also enjoyed the African fare at Jambo Cafe.
The LEAP Ambassadors visited the following museums on their trip: (1) Panhandle Plains Museum, Amarillo Art Center, Cadillac Ranch, Denver Art Museum, Clifford Styll Museum, Kirkland Museum for Fine Arts, American Museum of Western Arts, New Mexico Museum of Art, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the Allan Houser Sculpture Garden.
The three favorite were…
- New Mexico Museum of Art, in Santa Fe. While there were artists we knew (O’Keeffe, Diego Rivera, Jesus Moroles), there were also more artists from the southwest that we were less familiar with. Examples include Alfred Morang, Gerald Cassidy, Andrew Dasburg, and Victor Huggins. A big bonus was the tour, which was well done by our guide, and the many educational opportunities in the museum.
- Georgia O’Keeffe: A smallish Museum dedicated to just the works of O’Keeffe, the Museum nonetheless does a wonderful job of providing a timeline of her works and exploring the different styles she worked in. While most are familiar with her flowers and skulls, they may be less familiar with her abstracts or urban-scapes.
- The Denver Art Museum had the Degas exhibit, and photos were allowed! Without this exhibit, it’s not clear that this museum would have ranked among our top, inasmuch as much of the permanent collection was in storage. But you cannot go wrong with Degas!
- Also of note was the Allan Houser Sculpture Garden. This may have been the favorite of the group. With some eighty sculptures on approximately 20 acres, it’s a great way to see Allan Houser’s work.
- Although we did numerous hikes, the Ambassadors’ favorite was the Rocky Mountain National Park, which offered sledding…
…views of wildlife…
…and frozen lakes!
- Two honorable mentions include the Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro Canyon…
…and the Bandelier Monument outside of Santa Fe…
But of course if you are going to the western mountains early March, then skiing will be in a category of its own! The students loved the skiing, with several of the students becoming skilled beginners!
Personality studies show that “the big five” traits–(1) openness to new experiences, (2) conscientiousness, (3) extroversion, (4) agreeableness, and (5) neuroticism–are key shapers of personality and, by extension, shape our life happiness. While everyone’s personality differs, almost all LEAP Ambassadors score high in conscientiousness, and most score high in openness to new experiences. And it’s a good thing, because trips like this are designed to offer new experiences to those who can get the most from them.