Santa Fe, New Mexico
May 2000

Santa Fe is a mecca of unique architecture, arts, shops, wonderful restaurants and fascinating history.  Many of the streets are wide enough for two mules and a wagon to pass one another.  Two roads, the Old Santa Fe Trail and the Old Pecos Trail are in use today and date back to the 1600's when Spanish explorers and missionaries journeyed north from Mexico.
In many towns we would repeatedly quench our southwestern appetites with the delectable flavors of a great Mexican or BBQ style restaurant.  Here, we savored a new blend of chilies and southwestern spices every day without visiting the same restaurant twice.  Ed commented, "this is the first town where I can order something off of the menu and I actually consider it to be spicy." (For those of you who don't know Ed very well, he is the KING of hot and spicy food). 
Some of the restaurants have a warning on the menu that their food is not for the weak and meager tourist and you are eating it at your own risk.  If you are a shopper that enjoys a unique blend of color and variety, go to Santa Fe.  It is no wonder that so many fall in love with the decor and styles of this New Mexican town.
We saw strings of dried red chilies, called a ristra, and assumed most were used mainly as a decoration.  Our "El Charro" cookbook has arrived and we quickly learned that these dried peppers are the main ingredient in several Mexican sauces.  Boiled and blended into a paste, called adobado, these peppers are wonderful for marinating beef and pork. 

For a taste of Santa Fe look, for "Coyote Cafe" products at your grocery store. 

Next to the Plaza is the oldest hotel in Santa Fe.  (We think that the name is the LaFonda.)
This is a Japanese Wisteria.  These plants often line entry ways and trellised walkways.  They grow quickly and in the spring adorn paths with brilliant purple blossoms that hang like bunches of grapes.

This path meanders along one of many creeks that flow through town during the rainy season.

This is a circular staircase in the Loretto Chapel.  It's story is of "divine construction".  Candles located high in the loft were lit and maintained by the nuns using a wooden ladder.  They had wanted a staircase for ease and safety but were refused since a conventional staircase would use up too much space in the small narrow chapel.

They prayed for a solution to their dilemma and soon after a man appeared with his donkey and simple tools.  He worked for three months to build this staircase (which originally had no railing).  During his stay he asked only for food and a roof over his head.  Upon completion of the staircase he disappeared, never asking for payment for the project. The nuns claim it was St. Peter himself.

Now imagine several people standing halfway up this staircase without the side railings.  Does it look like it would hold?  Even today structural analysis concludes that this design should collapse.  The workmanship is exquisite and there are no supports. 


So, skeptical minds conclude that it was obviously not St. Peter.  However, it leaves the question of who this talented man was, why he didn't request payment and where he went afterwards.
         El  Palacia  Real:
       Fortress  and  Castle
      built  by  order  of  the
 Spanish crown 1610 -1612
       Seat  of  Government
  under  three  flags  -  Spanish,
  Mexican   &   American  - 
        From   1610   to   1910   the
  residence  of  over  a  hundred
  Governors & Captains General
       The oldest  public  building
  in the United States -
El Palacia Real
Art abounds in Santa Fe.  It is said to be the third "artsiest" town in America, surpassed only by New York and Los Angeles. Per capita, Santa Fe must be the art capital of America.  Pottery, paintings, textiles, glass, ceramics and sculpture are displayed and for sale everywhere.  Bronze is very popular and it comes in all sizes and shapes.  There's sculpture on almost every corner and for a healthy price (and a large truck), you can drive off with any of it.
These next two pictures are at the Folk Art Museum.  This museum has one wing that is presented as Santa Fe was during the 1700's. This portion portrays a street of Old Santa Fe with a small home and court yard.
Mitch and Max enjoyed grinding dried red corn into a fine cornmeal using a hand grindstone.   The costumed volunteer showed us around this old town setting and described what life is like.  He always talked using the present tense, as if we were actually touring his town hundreds of years ago.

After the cornmeal was ground for the day's meal the boys learned how sheep's wool is prepared and spun into yarn.

There are several good museums in Santa Fe and countless art galleries.  We had time to see the Folk Art museum and the Santa Fe Museum of Art.





We just happened to be in town for the All Species Earth Day celebration and parade.   Again, a unique collection of people and costumes.   If you are familiar with festivals in San Francisco or the Fremont District of Seattle you may have seen similar parades of costume and color.
The Pueblo architecture is abundant in Santa Fe.  The stretching evening shadows add a variety of contrast and silhouettes.  One evening at this very spot we watched as a passing thunderstorm produced a brilliant rainbow over this building adding yet another dimension to the beautiful scene. 

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