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2004 Travelogue #25 Santa Fe
Santa Fe Skies RV Park
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Places of Interest:
New Mexico: Santa Fe. Farmers Market, Hotel St. Francis, Palace of the Governors, Cathedral Church of St. Francis of Assisi, International Folk Art and Indian Arts & Culture Museums, La Casa Sena, The Gallery of the North American Indian, The Plaza, La Fonda Hotel
8/7 This was the weekend we'd chosen to show our son and daughter-in-law the sights of one of our most favorite cities, Santa Fe, New Mexico and today began with an early wake-up call to see Farmers Market.
Preparations begin before 6 am in this older part of the city. Tents are set up with vendors, truck farmers haul in their fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers and the local artisans set up rows of booths displaying their wares. The public begins arriving by 7 am and by the time we got there, a little after 9, it was going full blast.
The first vendors to catch our attention were those selling buttery croissants, Danish and pastries for breakfast. As we strolled along nibbling our goodies, we met a couple from Alcalde, NM, who owned a bee apery. They were selling fresh honey, directly from their hives and enjoyed describing their bee-keeping and honey extraction process.
Another vendor was selling his wife's necklaces and eyeglass chains. Her work was very fine and delicate and Peggy selected a thin chain of small white shells with polished black and jasper brown barrel stones for her sunglasses.
What did I find, you ask? Green chili peppers.
We stopped at a tent where three women, a grandmother, mother, and daughter worked at tables in front of an old Chevy pick-up. The tailgate was down and loaded with fresh vegetables. The grandmother said she got up this morning and roasted the green chili peppers, before leaving Chimayo for Santa Fe. I had to have them.
We looked around for Scott and Cristina; here they came with fresh flowers. Cristina bought a large bouquet and shared it with Peggy. The flowers lifted their spirits as they carried the bouquets, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Market.
Leaving the Market, we were off to see some of Santa Fe's historical sites. Finding a parking spot a block southwest of the Old Plaza, our first stop was the old historic Hotel St. Francis. The Hotel was originally built as the Palace Hotel in 1880 but it burned in 1922 and was rebuilt in 1923. We have always enjoyed the unique charm of hotel lobbies, the older the better. The St. Francis offers a combination of the1920's style as well as the distinctly Southwestern element of clay tile floors and wrought iron chandeliers. Scattered around were pieces of old walnut, mahogany and oak furniture, mixing the 20's with the Southwest, giving an ambiance of distinction to this hotel.
One of the features of the Hotel is "Afternoon Tea" with the traditional array of pastries, scones, and finger sandwiches. We will be long gone by teatime but who knows? Maybe one day we'll return for "Afternoon Tea" and attend the Santa Fe Opera someday.
Our next stop was the Palace of the Governors, on the Santa Fe Plaza in the heart of the city, established in 1610. Every Saturday and Sunday the Indians lay blankets on the concrete walkway along the adobe walls of the Palace of Governors. There they display and sell their jewelry and artwork.
After looking at the handmade Indian items we strolled up Palace Ave to The Cathedral Church of St. Francis of Assisi also established in 1610. The Catholic Church has a long history with Santa Fe and New Mexico.
While sitting and resting in the Cathedral gardens the bells in the bell tower began to ring, celebrating the wedding, which had just concluded in the sanctuary. We entered the vestibule of the Cathedral to a beautiful solo of the "Ava Maria" as the wedding party posed for photos. We were engulfed by a sense of reverence. Sitting and looking around this enormous House of Worship, our eyes took in the colors of the stain glass windows, the Stations of the Cross, the artwork and the altar. Suddenly it all came together and my spirit captured for a moment, a part of the prayer from Saint Francis of Assisi:
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning, that we are pardoned
and it is in dying that we are born
to eternal life."
It was nearly lunchtime when we left the Cathedral and decided to drive to Museum Hill, which has a wonderful little restaurant sponsored by the Museum Center. Also, on this hill is where the International Folk Art and Indian Arts & Culture Museums are located. We ate in the shade of the arbor-covered patio, enjoying the natural arid landscape of the Hill plus the scenic overview of the city.
After lunch there wasn't time to tour the Museums, that we'll do tomorrow but we did have time to browse the Museum Gift Shops. Then we returned Scott and Cristina to the Sleep Inn and headed to our own "sleep inn" for a little afternoon "time-out".
By 5 pm we were on the road again, picking Scott and Cristina up at their hotel, we headed to our friend, Virginia Kahler's home. Virginia is an interior decorator and we wanted Scott and Cristina to see her home because it typifies Santa Fe, its art and culture. Her adobe townhouse is a showplace filled with antiques and collectable Southwestern art.
After cocktails and appetizers we went to La Casa Sena for dinner. At La Casa the waiters and waitresses perform solos and group songs from Broadway musicals, accompanied by a pianist, throughout the evening. They made it a cheerful, fun and entertaining time for all.
8/8 Scott and Cristina checked out of the Sleep Inn and met us at our Santa Fe Skies RV Park, where we loaded the Saturn and were off for one more day of sightseeing. Again, we drove into the old part of Santa Fe, found a parking spot along the Santa Fe River and began hiking toward The Plaza.
It was now close to 11 and we noticed people cued-up outside, on the corner of Water and Don Gaspar Streets, at Café Pasqual's. They were obviously waiting for a reason; I will make note of this and add to my dining database..
Continuing toward The Plaza up Don Gaspar, we passed The Gallery of the North American Indian. Displayed in the window were photographs from the classic collection of Edward Sheriff Curtis, "The Shadow Catcher". Scott and I stopped in our tracks, looked at one another and said, "Let's go in".
The gallery walls were covered with pictures and photogravures of self-taught photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis. In 1900, with the help of President Theodore Roosevelt and financier, J.P. Morgan, Curtis undertook a staggering project, to write about and photograph the lifestyle and environment of the North American Indian.
Curtis took his box camera, glass and copper plates, chemicals, a wagon and mules and recorded over 40,000 images of landscapes, geological formations, and Indian life over the next 30 years. He shared a value with the Indians, an awareness and respect for the grandeur, power, and sacredness of Nature. This trait enabled him to earn their trust and thereby draw ever closer to their inner circle.
Today, Curtis is considered to be the greatest photographer of the American Indian in the history of photography. The images in this gallery show his use of light and shadows and why the Indians called him "The Shadow Catcher". One particular photograph, Curtis took in 1902, was in Canyon de Chelly of six Navajos slowly riding horseback with a dog walking alongside. They are small figures crossing a stretch of dry riverbed against a high backdrop of sheer cascading sandstone cliffs, the epitome of loneliness and dejection. This was a moving experience for me, captured in a photograph taken more than 100 years ago. I knew that I knew that I had to go there and see this sacred Canyon of the Navajo.
Returning to The Plaza and The Palace of Governors, Scott and Cristina took the Palace tour, Peggy hit the shops and I found a bench. Sunday on the Plaza is interesting, people of all shapes and sizes congregate, even a film crew from somewhere outside of the US, were taking footage. I overheard them but didn't recognize the language.
Peggy joined me on the bench. It was relaxing to watch the families, young people, and the elderly enjoy the morning. A short shower sent everyone scurrying to the overhangs around the Plaza but once it passed, most returned to their previous activity and Peggy and I returned to our bench.
When Cristina and Scott finished their tour of the Palace of Governors they found us. They were so enthusiastic about what they had heard and seen, saying it was both informative and enjoyable. Their docent was very knowledgeable and willingly shared his love of history about this place.
Now, it was time for lunch, so we walked over to the La Fonda Hotel on a corner of the Plaza. The words in Spanish mean "the inn" and since 1607 there has always been a "La Fonda" on the Plaza. The Hotel was at the end of the Santa Fe Trail and throughout its history, it continued to be a place that has to be seen and experienced.
We enjoyed walking the halls looking at the paintings, especially the Gerald Cassidy's, and the sculptures, photos and other works of art that create the Southwestern culture mix of the La Fonda. The pueblo adobe architecture and décor with thick wooden beams, latilla ceilings, carved corbels, handcrafted chandeliers and tin and copper light fixtures provide a back-in-time setting.
In the hotel is an enclosed courtyard, where the La Pazuela Restaurant is located and where we had lunch. As we entered the courtyard, we saw beautiful floral hanging baskets around the outer edge. The room was bright from the skylights and the painted glass panels encircling the periphery, which filtered the sunlight into a myriad of colors. A large cascading fountain, with a statue, stood in the center and around the fountain were pine tables and chairs painted in bright Mexican colors. If the meal was as good as the setting, it would be outstanding and it was.
After lunch we returned to Museum Hill to pick up where we left off yesterday. Cristina and Scott enjoyed the museums while Peggy and I soaked in the mountain views and people watched. As the Museums closing time approached, their crash-course on Santa Fe was also coming to a close. We returned to the motorhome and said our goodbyes. They had a 4-hour drive in front of them; we promised to see them again in Pagosa Springs the first of October for a Colorado Fall.
Bob & Peggy Woodall