A few years ago, I took a friend on what was supposed to be a four-day backpacking trip in the Gila National Forest. She vastly underestimated how it would feel to lug a 25-pound backpack up mountains and across streams. Within hours, she was ready to ax the whole plan.

But we made it through two more days with a little something called "The Reward System"—a Snickers bar here, a nip of whiskey there, a dehydrated chocolate mousse from Mountain House for extra measure. At least this plan motivated her enough to get back OUT of the wilderness. I marked it a success.

Friends, you must reward yourself—not just on epic athletic adventures (or moderate excursions, as the case may be) but for jumping over everyday hurdles. Since I don't want to regret my self-rewarding when I balance my bank account, my favorite urban reward comes in the form of a simple, affordable milkshake.

While my absolute favorite shake in the region involves a trip to Abiquiu for the ice cream stand outside Bode's General Store, Santa Fe has a number of surprising offerings much closer to home:

Five Star Burgers
604 N Guadalupe St.

has a consistently good shake. This five-restaurant franchise that began in Taos (1032 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur) also has a location in Albuquerque (5901 Wyoming Blvd NE). You'll find Breyers ice cream and some extra special love in the form of sauce mixes, including bananas foster and its near sinful combination of rum and caramel flavor. ($4.50)

Shake Foundation
631 Cerrillos Road

knows that good ice cream makes a good shake. So when you start with Taos Cow, you're on the right path. Plus, this relatively new restaurant uses milk from Albuquerque's own Rasband Dairy. Sit in the sun at a picnic table and catch flavors of the moment. The food stand also carries not-so-regular standbys such as lavender, which is delicate and sweet, with real bits of flower and stressmelting aromatic qualities.($5.75)

56 E San Francisco St

The bonus of choosing this reward— in addition to giving you a reason to stroll the Plaza while you drink it—is the dependably tasty high-end and many-flavored ice cream. I'm a big fan of coffee, strawberry and mint chocolate chip shakes from this spot. They also mix it with whole milk from Rasband dairy. The downside is that with tax, this shake will cost you a whopping $8.11.

Blake's Lotaburger
They're everywhere

I know that Blake's donated money to support a bigoted marriage regulation in California and that fast-food in general is bad for me and for our planet...but, I'm weak. Not to mention, a cheap chocolate milkshake in a paper cup and a greasy green-chile cheeseburger are a match made in heaven. I'll say it proud. Get the blackberry, the peach and of course, the syrupy fake chocolate. It's all bueno and not quite as toxic looking at the Shamrock Shake that will reappear at McDonald's any day now ($2.69).

(Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Blake's donated money to fight a bigoted law. We've changed this version to reflect that the donation was in support of the resolution.)