Burning Gas-Santa Fe

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.

 

 

Busted

A few weeks ago Peggy and I were driving home from Santa Fé, New Mexico. We passed through Oklahoma on the Kilpatrick Turnpike. I am totally familiar with toll roads and auto payment lanes, but the signage in Oklahoma confused me. I saw a sign saying PIKEPASS and decided yep I want to go on the Pike. I blasted past the CASH exit at seventy when I realized my I-PASS wasn’t going to work. Had I made a sharp right turn across three lanes in a flash, I might have made it into the pay lane. Oops, Oh Well.

By the time I arrived home a week later, a letter waited for me from PIKEPASS. They had my complete name and address, the exact date, and time of the violation documented in a very nicely and politely written letter of reprimand.

I called them this morning to ask what the toll charge was. I gave them the Transaction Number and a nice voice asked, “is it a white Toyota Avalon?” She very politely forgave the charge. I asked the nice young lady what technology they used to catch my violation. She answered, “a camera took a picture of your rear license plate as you went through.”

I commended her on Oklahoma’s speed and efficiency in apprehending a violator. I said if this happened in Illinois, I wouldn’t get a letter for ten years. She laughed politely. I commented that I didn’t want to take the chance of getting a ticket on my next trip through and have the cuffs thrown on me for having a moving violation on record. She assured me that wouldn’t happen.

The reason I am relating this incident is that Big Brother is watching us with capabilities that are unbelievable.

Doesn’t it make you wonder what else Big Brother does to creep into our private lives?

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