A Melding of Cultures

Santa FeAl and I manage to tear ourselves away from the Loretto Chapel to explore more of this historic town known as Santa Fe.  Santa Fe, New Mexico, is known as the highest and oldest capital city in the United States.  It offers 360-degree mountain views, over 300 days of sunshine a year, and some of the cleanest air in the country.

This 400 year old city is full of history and culture and offers something for just about everyone…. from a history buff, to an art lover, cultural explorer, outdoor adventurer, and even shopper.Santa Fe

The city’s architecture was of particular interest to me.   You won’t find any modern high rises in this town.  The Paleo-Indians were the original settlers of the area and the architects of adobe structures and the pueblo style that defines Santa Fe’s distinctive look.  Santa Fe continues to build homes that blend with the lay of the land in both color and style.

Santa Fe

The homes built in this subdivision blend in with the landscape – unobtrusive

San Miguel Mission

San Miguel Mission

Spanish explorers in search of gold made their way to the area in the early 1600’s.  A strong presence of Catholicism can be felt throughout the city.  Old San Miguel Mission is regarded as the oldest church in the United States, built between 1610 and 1626.  Al and I walk up to the altar.  The altar has a wooden floor and wooden steps leading up to it.  On the floor of the altar is a series of “windows”.  As we glance down, we view the original stone steps from the 1600’s.  Wow….if walls floors could talk!

Right next door to the San Miguel Mission is “The Oldest House in the USA” dating back to 1200 AD.  It is said to be built on part of a foundation of an ancient Indian Pueblo.  In the 1500’s the Spanish moved in and added rooms.  When the Anglos arrived, more changes were made.  Up until the 1920’s the Oldest House was continually occupied by people representing all the cultures of Santa Fe.  Local folklore abounds with stories of murderous witches and ghosts….I personally, felt no presence of these shadowy inhabitants.

As Al and I continue our stroll around Santa Fe, we come upon the Capitol Building.  No gold domed building here.  In keeping with the Pueblo / Santa Fe style, there is a sleek contemporary yet earthy feel to this building.  We explore the interior and watch a live session of the New Mexico State Senate in action.

That made us hungry……Santa Fe is well-known for its cuisine; a unique blend of three cultures – Native American, Spanish, and Anglo.  Al read about a restaurant located on Canyon Road and since I wanted to walk the “art and soul of Santa Fe“….we’re off in search of some fine cuisine.  Canyon Road is home to more than 100 of the world’s finest art galleries housed in buildings well over a century old.  Once again, I find myself intrigued with the architecture.

I’ll share more of Canyon Road and our lunch in my next post.  Just thinking about it has made me hungry!

FYI….in any of the photo galleries, if you click on a photo, it’ll pop up in larger format!

Advertisements

Historic Santa Fe

As we leave Elephant Butte Lake State Park, there is little evidence of the driving wind and snow from the day before.  We wait until 9:30 a.m. before hitting the road.  We want to make sure any snow and ice further to the north has had an opportunity to melt.  Near as we can tell, Elephant Butte received a fraction of snow fall in comparison to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Seems like we were at the southern end of this massive storm reaching north into Colorado and Wyoming.

Elephant Butte

A last farewell on our drive out of Elephant Butte State Park

After two hours of travel, we pass through Albuquerque, New Mexico, and past the Sandia Casino.  With as many times as we travel between our home in Colorado and our son’s home in Arizona, the Sandia Casino is usually a favorite overnight boondock spot for us.  During this trip, we’ll just wave as we pass.  The Sandia Casino has a huge parking lot dedicated for RV’s….no trucks.  The casino offers a couple of good restaurants, nice bar, RV parking next to the golf course, and a beautiful view of Sandia Peak.  Feeling lazy?  There’s even a shuttle bus roaming the parking lot.

Sandia Casino

Sandia Casino, Albuquerque, New Mexico – great for an overnight

Santa Fe

On Interstate 25 approaching Santa Fe

We continue our drive north of Albuquerque.  After an hour, we arrive in Santa Fe.  We pull into the Santa Fe Skies RV Park and are assigned a nice pull-thru site.  There’s barely a hand full of us camped here, and I appreciate management spreading us out so none of us are in the same row – no neighbors.  The park is very conveniently located; just one mile off Interstate 25 and close to just about everything.  Even though they offer FULL hook-ups year round, we just hook up to electric.  We have plenty of water in our holding tank that we’ll use.  I’ll have to do another post on our winter camping routine.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe Skies RV Park

After a quick-lunch, Al and I head back over to the office to scour the racks of literature and brochures on the Santa Fe area.  With an arm full of propaganda we return to the rig and make a plan for the following day.  The weather forecast is iffy….oh, joy!  So I want to make sure we prioritize.Loretto Chapel

If there is only one thing I am able to see during this stay in Santa Fe, it is the Loretto Chapel.  I’ve seen this Chapel featured on numerous TV shows over the years.  I believe it’s the former “homebuilder” in me that puts this particular Chapel at the top of my list.

Loretto Chapel

Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Loretto Chapel is formerly a Roman Catholic church, but today functions as a museum and wedding chapel.  The chapel’s “miraculous” spiral staircase is an architectural wonder; its construction is the subject of a lot of speculation.  Two mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel; the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction.

Al and I were both moved by this visit.  The craftsmanship and spirit are beyond words.  We were fortunate to have visited this amazing structure with very few other visitors.  We found it simply breathtaking; the marble altar, the stained glass, the statues, the overall structure, and then of course the staircase…..stunning!

If we weren’t able to see anything else that day, Al and I would have been just fine.  But alas, the weather held out just long enough for us to see a few more sites…..

For now I’ll leave you with more images of the Loretto Chapel.  Click on any photo to view a slide show in a larger format.