During my lifetime I have traveled a lot. My goal is to visit as many places in the United States and Canada as I can before my travel days end. Lately though, I find myself re-visiting places I have been to before. When I plan a trip, I try to include new cities, and new routes, but there is always someplace that I really enjoyed that is near the new place. My last post in the Burning Gas travel series took us to the White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, New Mexico. That put us within one driving day from Santa Fé, New Mexico. I love Santa Fé. My family camped there on a visit some forty years ago. We fell in love with the tiny hamlet of Santa Fé. Established in 1608 it rivals Saint Augustine Florida for the title of the oldest city in North America. What I found when I returned with Peggy was not a three hundred year old village, but a three hundred year old village surrounded by urban sprawl. Immediately my mind played back the lines from John Steinbeck’s novel Travels With Charley,
“Tom Wolfe was right. You can’t go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory.”
Oh how true that is. We stayed in a modern hotel, on a six lane median separated street five miles from the center of the old town. Every intersection has another shopping center with Home Depot, Staples, Kohl’s, Appleby’s, and other national chain stores. Laced in between were the more homey Spanish-Mexican-American food places which I so longed to try, but couldn’t because Miss Peggy cannot handle those spicy foods.
On our first trip, I recall seeing the new and modern State Capital building on the outskirts of town. This time I had to find it with the GPS. It is surrounded by business and sub-divisions near the center of town.
When we finally did find Old Santa Fé it remained the same, except for the amount of vehicular traffic streaming through the old town. The Veranda of the Governor’s Palace is still the market place for native Americans selling their handcrafted jewelry. The Basilica is still at the end of San Francisco Street. The town square is still a hangout for hippies. Except now the hippies are forty years older and sport long white hair and beards. Artists abound selling small twenty-dollar pieces to the tourists. The shops around the square teem with more elegant artwork and clothing that one can only find in Santa Fé.
We visited the oldest house in America on De Vargas Street off the Old Santa Fé Trail, and across from the Mission San Miguel. San Miguel (est 1610) is one of the oldest missions in North America, and is still an active parish. A short stroll from the Mission we entered the Loretto Chapel. This church is modeled after Notre Dame in Paris, however it is much smaller. The architect forgot to build a staircase to the choir loft. The good nuns who served the church prayed to Saint Joseph the builder for a solution. A stranger showed up and built a magnificent spiral staircase to the choir, and then left. No one knows who he was nor from where he came, nor where he got the wood. The church implies it as a miracle, but will not declare it so.
A few blocks away we entered the vestibule of the Basilica Saint Francis Assisi to find a funeral mass in progress, so we decided to call it a day.
We also visited the Georgia O’Keefe museum to learn about the artist behind the print of the huge red poppy hanging on our wall at home. It turns out she invented the concept of painting flowers close up and big. She spent much of her life on a ranch near the museum painting desert scenes in solitude.
Before we left Santa Fé, we formed a new bond and now have a second benchmark to which we can never return.
- New Mexico ~ Land of Enchantment (ske-daddle.com)
- Free Santa Fe, New Mexico Summer Music Festival Santa Fe Bandstand… (prweb.com)
- Santa Fe Photographic Workshops (nikonusa.com)
Filed under: Biography, family, Travel Tagged: | Georgia O'Keefe, Home Depot, John Steinbeck, Loretto Chapel, Mission San Miguel, New Mexico, Santa Fe, Santa Fe New Mexico, Santa Fe Trail, United States, White Sands National Monument