Salute Santa Fe, the City Different!

Greetings from Santa Fe, known as the City Different!  I have to agree, it’s a very special city that I’ll cherish for many years to come!  So glad we added this to our VRBO itinerary!  Will we look to buy a place here?  Likely not (real estate is inflated!), but doesn’t mean we wouldn’t come back!  🙂

First, some very interesting facts about Santa Fe:

  • Population: over 82,000 (feels smaller)
  • 1st designated UNESCO Creative City for craft and folk arts
  • Recently named the No. 1 small city in the country by Conde Nast Traveler
  • The oldest capital city – 450 years old – at the highest elevation – 7,000 ft.
  • Rumored to have the oldest house in the country (1650 AD according to nearby tree rings) – though it’s been speculated that the house could have been built around 1200s AD – located across the street from San Miguel Mission, dating to 1610, believed to be the oldest church in the country
  • 250 art galleries and restaurants!  The food has been quite good, we’ve been getting our fair share of red and green chile dishes!
  • Canyon Road’s 80 galleries makes it the most densely concentrated area of art galleries in the world!
  • More than 325 days of sunshine per year (but we’ve had some regular unexpected rain)
  • More than 40 festivals and fiestas each year – we visited the Indian Art Market last weekend and are looking forward to the Chile and Wine Festival next month, and something that has me intrigued on Labor Day– the burning of Zozobra (aka Old Man Gloom), in which each year Santa Feans purge themselves of their worries with the public burning of this 50 foot marionette who represents these worries going up in flames – how cool is that?

We’ve really been enjoying our time here – I’ve told a few that the architecture is so cool/different that I sometimes feel like we’re living in a different country! While we can walk to most of the city’s attractions, and we try to walk every day for exercise, Santa Fe is unfortunately not that walking-friendly of a city. Many sidewalks are chopped up, covered in dirt or gravel, overgrown with trees or shrubs, or not existent. It’s likely due to the state being poor in general and not being able to maintain its infrastructure. The people seem super friendly and, similar to St Helena, and Sag Harbor – this is more of a tourist (really more retirement) town – there are more tourists in general than residents. Most locals know each other – I like that, reminds me of home!

Dave and I had and have coming up some fun cultural activities: visits to the infamous open air Santa Fe Opera to see Cold Mountain, a flamenco ballet performance at the Lensic Theater just up the street, and a one-man comedy parody of Breaking Bad! That’s in addition to multiple museums, churches and cathedrals, and wineries we have on tap to visit.  The shopping in Santa Fe is also mind-boggling – the gorgeous Native American and Mexican pottery, the incredible turquoise jewelry, the silver!  Dave and I have already made some significant dents in our wallets – his: pottery purchases from Renaldo Quezada and hers: turquoise cuff bracelet by Kathleen Chavez – let’s hope both of these artists become even more famous!

Speaking of wine, we’ve also been having fun placing some orders from some of our favorite CA wineries as harvest time is kicking into gear!

Our house/apartment

Loving our new pad, especially after the disappointing place in Chicago.  The house was built in 1919, is adobe or pueblo-style with stucco exteriors, rounded corners, flat roof with a ‘canale’ drain, vigas (gorgeous wooden beams) in the living room, a Kiva fireplace, and curved archways inside.  The house is spacious, has a full-size kitchen, multiple outdoor areas, and a perfect place for me to do my work standing up in the kitchen.  It’s also just over a 10 minute walk to the action of downtown. The owner fully stocked the place with all kinds of supplies – very well done.  The only disadvantages of the place is there’s a fair amount of nearby traffic and there’s no central air – just AC units.  But it’s cooling off here already and usually opening the windows and doors does the trick!  Check out some pics:

After carrying all my bags and stuff to Dallas for a work meeting in early August, I arrived in Santa Fe on Wed Aug 5 – Dave had driven to Santa Fe from St Louis, via Oklahoma City, arriving the Sat before.  I smartly took off the next two days to get settled in and so glad I did!  It’s hard taking conference calls when you’ve barely unpacked your toothbrush!

Some highlights of our activities to-date:

In and Around The Plaza – the Heart of the City, including the awesome Rainbow Man store and my friend’s Janet’s franchise Savory Spice Shop!

St Francis Cathedral

  • Mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe
  • Designed in the Roman Revival style, including round arches, Corinthian columns, and square towers – definitely stands out in the company of the numerous adobe structures in town
  • Elevated to a basilica in 2005
  • Statue of Saint Kateri outside of the cathedral is the first North American Indian to be beatified in 2012 (she was from NY State!)

Georgia O’Keefe Museum

While this is a must-do while you’re in Santa Fe, I have to say it was a bit disappointing that her more famous pieces weren’t on display!

Taos (Sat 8/8)

We decided to spend the day visiting Taos.  The pueblo was certainly the highlight of the visit!  Below please find some pics of the gorgeous drive from Santa Fe north to Taos, including a stop along the Rio Grande!

Taos Pueblo

  • Pueblo is more than 1,000 years old, the Taos Pueblo is a testament to the Native American history of New Mexico
  • The only LIVING UNESCO World Heritage site and is also a National Historic Landmark
  • Buildings are quite impressive – stacked cubes of adobe buildings and rooms really make a statement against the backdrop of the Taos Mountains
  • Taos Pueblo used to be a massive trading post – in the fall, Comanches and Utes and other Plains Indians traded deer skins, buffalo hides, and beadwork for pottery, corn, and other foods grown at other pueblos.
  • Pueblo includes 99,000 acres!
  • Pueblo is modern – members wear modern attire except on ceremonial days. Most work in Taos or run tribal businesses such as art galleries, horseback riding tours, and the small casino.
  • The pueblo is not a reservation as the tribe was not relocated there by the US government. This is land, a community, in which ~150 tribe members choose to live. Some choose to live there for just a part of the year, for ex, during the summer when the adobe style homes stay cool. ~1800 tribal members live nearby but some maintain space at the pueblo for ceremonial or business purposes.
  • The pueblo has no running water or electricity within its walls – all drinking water comes from the Pueblo River which runs through its center (and looks very clean.)
  • Our tour guide told us that on occasion, critters such as mountain lions have visited the pueblo, especially to drink from the river. The tribe has been challenged to scare off many of these predators.

Lunch at Taos Ale House – fabulous green chile cheeseburgers and duck fat fries!

Kit Carson’s House – Kit, the infamous mountain man, frontiersman, guide, Indian agent, Army officer, resided in Taos for 42 years after arriving from Missouri in 1826 at the age of 16.

The Plaza in Taos – a mini version of the plaza in Santa Fe!

The ride home, and another pretty stop along the Rio Grande!  We also drove through the city of Hernandez to try to find the spot where Ansel Adams took the Moonrise over Hernandez photo but we struck out!

Weekend of 8/15-8/16

i was flying solo this weekend as Dave was in Phoenix for work.  I took advantage of the free time to do some shopping downtown and made a major score by picking up a gorgeous sleeping beauty turquoise bracelet I had my eye on at a significantly discounted price!

I also visited my first New Mexican winery – Vino del Corazon where I learned that New Mexico was one of the first wine producing states in the country and that at some point we’ll have to get our hands on some chile-infused red wines!

Our next door neighbor, Chizuko, is Japanese and teaches Japanese folk dance – she invited me to the Bon Adori festival that she was teaching at close by and I took her up on her offer!  Did I mention that Dave and I hear this Japanese folk music nearly every afternoon?  We affectionately call it ‘ching chang chong’….  It’s a good thing I don’t tend to have conference calls late in the day!

Santa Fe Dining!

It’s a shame we have no visitors scheduled for Santa Fe as it is a very special place and we have space! Let us know if you change your mind!

Stay tuned for more updates including our visit to Los Alamos, Bandelier National Monument, and the Santa Fe Opera!  Talk soon!


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