We left Santa Fe and stopped at the Petroglyph National Monument, close by Albuquerque. The park contains over 20,000 images pecked in stone-some recognizable as animals, people , and crosses , others more mysterious. Each of these rocks are alive, keeper of a message left by the ancestors. We explored the Rinconada Canyon.
The petroglyphs are fragile, non renewable cultural resources that, once damaged, can never be replaced. To American Indians the entire monument is a sacred landscape.
This is a short post . My next story will be about the Painted Desert. We were going back to Arizona. It was a great discovery for us. Thanks again for reading my travel story.
Santa Fe deserved a full day of visiting. After all, it is the Capital of New Mexico! And the oldest Capital city of the USA. 400+ years old. Also it is the capital at highest elevation at 7,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristos foothills at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains. Santa Fe has been rated the number 2 small city to visit in the USA and one of the top US destinations in the world for travel, romance , culture, art and food. The best part for us was the good weather. We could walk in the town and see all the interesting places without having to find a parking spot . After a short stop at the Tourist office, we had the right map and we were ready for the day.
Our first stop was at the San Miguel Mission Church. We were lucky to have lots of information from a very nice volunteer lady. San Miguel Mission, also known as San Miguel Chapel, is a Spanish colonial mission church built between approximately 1610 and 1626. It is claimed to be the oldest church in the United States.
We also visited the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Santa Fe. Influenced by the French-born Archbishop Lamy and in dramatic contrast to the surrounding adobe structures, Saint Francis Cathedral was designed in the Romanesque Revival style. As such, the cathedral features characteristic round arches separated by Corinthian columns and truncated square towers. The large rose window in front and those of the Twelve Apostles in the lateral nave windows were imported from Clermont-Ferrand in France.
We walked by the Loretto Chapel but did not go in. We also found the Georgia O’keefe Museum. This lady was born in Wisconsin in 1887 but she lived in NM many years. She is best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers. Georgia lived to be 98 years old. She said : ” I paint what interests me and what I see.” I am sure it would had been wonderful to spend one hour inside the museum. We didn’t as we were more in the mood to be outside. I just went quickly to the gift shop. And here I will share with you some of her painting.
As in Albuquerque, there is a main plaza in Santa Fe. The Palace of Governors is an adobe structure constructed in 1610. The natives gather there to sell their arts and crafts.
We drove to Canyon Road to see its beautiful preserved and restored adobe and Territorial-style homes. The mile long street is architecturally artful as well. I didn’t want to walk anymore that day so we drove up north of the city to see the Opera House. It was closed but we had a chat with a friendly lady working in the gift shop. The Opera house is only open during the months of July and August . This year, it will be there 60th season. The striking, state-of-the-art, open-air theater has won several important design awards and is widely recognized for blending contemporary design aesthetics with traditional building materials.
I will end my post here . With my next post we will continue our road trip. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed visiting Santa Fe with me.
Here is you chance to see more of New Mexico…
Now, we will go and see the old town of Albuquerque. Just the name is something that was making me curious about this place. I had a laugh every time I tried to pronounce the name !! After many repeats , I think I can finally say it properly !
Albuquerque is an important city in New Mexico with more population than its capital Santa Fe. Not easy to describe the city. We didn’t see it all. The cultural and historical heart of the city unfolds around a tree-shaded plaza at San Felipe de Neri parish. The church is surrounded by homes and businesses. Many shops, galleries, artist studios and some restaurants. You can find Native American pottery, weaving, turquoise ans silver jewelry, custom-made furniture and more. There was not many tourists on the day we were there.
The church San Felipe de Neri has a 5 feet thick wall dating from 1793.
Some fun art here and there and many colorful benches.
We can see again the chili pepper arranged in ristras. They are an iconic decoration in New Mexico, especially during the harvest months and holidays serving as a symbol of “welcome.” Ristras also have their practical uses as the star ingredient of the delicious red chile sauce and other New Mexican dishes.
Albuquerque is quite famous for the 9 day International Balloon Fiesta (first week of October). Balloonists from all over the world come there to fly. I am sure it must be fantastic to be there at that time. Albuquerque is recognized as the “Hot Air Ballooning Capital of the World.
Thanks for reading my travel story !
Leaving Santa Fe and driving on the Turquoise trail. We saw interesting art.
Origami in the Garden tells the story of this art form through a collection of over 20 monumental outdoor sculptures. Here is one :
Here is a sign, so we are not lost. Not much tourists in this area at this time of the year.
We stopped in Cerrillos. It means Little hills in Spanish. This town was once seriously considered as the capital of NM. Cerrillos mining district is one of the oldest and most marked of the Old Spanish mineral developments in the territory. 21 saloons, 4 hotels and 2 churches were busy here in the booming 1880’s ans 1890’s. Now, we can see the old buildings and the dirt streets. It is a picturesque reminder of the Old West. Mary’s Bar was not open !
In fact, everything seemed to be closed for the winter except the Turquoise Mining Museum. So, we went in to see…
You might want to buy an old bottle. They have a few but I think they were quite expensive.
On the Turquoise trail, our next stop was in Madrid! Another mining town around 1890’s. This one for coal. Now, it is a small community with many artists. Many buildings are in need of TLC.
We were able to get a good coffee but it was not 0.15 cents like this old sign we saw .
We saw what we wanted and as we were not too far from Albuquerque, we decided to get there to see the old town. This is the topic of my next post.
Thanks for reading.
February 14-15 , 2016
I never had been to NM and I really wanted to go. There was not a better chance for us as we were already in Arizona and we had time to visit . Weather was good, so it was perfect for us.
The nickname of New Mexico is The Land of Enchantment. It describes NM’s scenic beauty and its rich history.
After we left Arizona ( Bisbee), we drove to Las Cruces , a town in southern New Mexico. We visited the old town, La Mesilla. It was Sunday and it was quite busy. Interesting architecture. On the first photo, you’ll notice the chile pepper hanging by the wooden door. This is called a ristra, a string of dried chiles, garlic or other foodstuffs. But in New Mexico, when someone talks about a ristra, they’re referring to the string of red chile pods that can be found hanging as decoration on many New Mexican homes, especially those made of adobe. You can see ristras along fences, on patios and on portals all over New Mexico. In the Fall, you can buy ristras at farmer’s markets and roadside stands. Ristras are sometimes used for decoration, and are said to bring good health and good luck. More often, they are hung up to dry for later cooking and eating. New Mexicans consume more Chile per capita than any other group in the United States. It is an essential ingredient of “Mexican or Southwestern food,” the fastest growing food sector in the United States.
We had a quiet evening. I must say it was Valentine Day and we didn’t really try to find a fancy restaurant. We decided to walk to a fast food close by our hotel. Lota Burger is a chain and you mostly find them in NM.
The next day, we drove toward Santa Fe. We had many stops along the way. We enjoyed the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge where we saw snow geese, sand-hill cranes, ducks, turtles, birds, deer and also an eagle. We could not get very close to the geese and the cranes but it was still great to see them. As many of 50,000 snow geese and 15,000 sand-hill cranes spend the winter in this Refuge.
Thank you for reading my traveling story. More on New Mexico on my next post.