Edit Blog Post
Published: August 6th 2007
18/04/07 - 19/04/07 Santa Fe and Taos
Santa Fe was a beautiful change after Albuquerque - the buildings were all in apricot coloured adobe with narrow alleys of artisan shops surrounding a central plaza. In fact it was hard to buy anything except art and jewelry!
In the center of the plaza stands an obelisk with inscriptions such as “To the heroes who have fallen in the various battles with savage Indians in the territory of New Mexico”.
Regarding the monument text, the local authority put up a plaque that reads “Monument texts reflect the character of the times in which they are written and the temper of those who wrote them. This monument was dedicated in 1868 near the close of a period of intense strife which pitted northerner against southerner, Indian against white, Indian against Indian. Thus we can see on this monument, as in other records, the use of such terms as “savage” and “rebel”. Attitudes change and prejudices hopefully dissolve.”
Not surprisingly, one Native American who obviously felt very strongly about the terminology jumped over the small fence and chiseled out the word ‘savage’. I’m not sure whether this occurred before or after
the explanatory sign was put up but either way it’s quite an interesting anecdote for Santa Fe.
Another fascinating story surrounds the staircase inside the Loretto chapel in Santa Fe that people believe was, in fact, a miracle. I quote from Lorettochapel.com
Two mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel: the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction.
When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1898, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.
Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, who came in answer to the sisters' prayers.
The stairway's carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.
The staircase has two 360 degree turns and has no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers compared to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction.
From Santa Fe we detoured north heading for Taos and the historic Taos Pueblo. Following country roads we planned a stop at the Hacienda del Rancho, Chimayo. The hacienda had beautiful rooms furnished with antiques and a restaurant across the road famed for its Mexican cuisine that has featured on many U.S. travel documentaries, explaining why a quiet looking place in the country was so busy! They even have their own cookbook available on Amazon
Taos was Santa Fe on a smaller scale with similar alleyways of art and jewelry shops. The Pueblo was another UNESCO world heritage site on our travels and is a Native American ‘sacred’ village. It claims to be the longest inhabited location in North America that is still inhabited (without plumbing an electricity supply). Parts of the village are restricted areas and the rest of the houses comprise mostly shops where drums, paintings and silver jewelry are all produced by
local people. We couldn’t resist a slice of the home baked cherry pie!
We had the cunning plan of heading up to the mountains to stay in a beautiful log cabin overlooking the pine forests in the Taos Ski Valley area, which was advertised as an ‘all year Alpine adventure’ however the resort was like a ghost town and most definitely closed despite quite a covering of snow still on the slopes. The town was marked with a sign showing the elevation to be 9000ft and from that height, we wound our way back down the mountain road returning to Taos where we stayed in the rather luxurious El Monte Sagrado Hotel, a member of ‘The Leading Small Hotels of the World’ no less, in a ‘Native American Suite’ rounding off our theme for the day.
The following day, we returned to Santa Fe to pick up my repaired laptop, after a worrying hard disk failure with the only notable event of the day being a guy out walking his snake which we watched slither around the bench we were sat on, back in Santa Fe plaza. We then continued south and east, finally arriving in Tucumcari where
The Loretto Chapel Staircase
This is a photo of a photo of how the staircase used to look before the safety hand rail was added
we stayed in another route 66 icon - the Blue Swallow Motel. We chatted to the owners about the Motel and their featuring in the recent animated movie ‘Cars’ which we’d seen mentioned on numerous times throughout route 66 and decided that we really must get round to watching it!
There were neon blue swallows on the motel walls but disappointingly the main Blue Swallow sign was not glowing bright after recent storm damage with huge tennis ball size pieces of hail that had inflicted death-blows to the neon about 10 days before. Unfortunately there is only one ‘Neon’ man in town and with so many motels he was booked solid so all the motels were waiting in turn for his services.
We crossed the border into Texas in perfect time for lunch at the Midway café in Adrian where he had to stop for the photograph showing Los Angeles and Chicago an equidistant 1139 miles. Our next stop was the infamous Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo where, in 1974 Stanley Marsh, a helium millionaire had the brainwave of burying 10 graffiti-covered Cadillacs representing the “Golden Age” of American Automobiles (1949 - 1963) nose -down into a field in
the name of art. Unfortunately spray paint cans litter the area where other ‘artists’ have added to the paintwork over the years.
Interestingly Amarillo produces 90% of the world’s helium, but that wasn’t reason enough for us to stick around, nor was the famous Steak Ranch - we weren’t gonna attempt the 72 oz steak within an hour challenge, so we continued east, with no clue of the amazing adventures that we were about to be caught up in….
Tot: 3.096s; Tpl: 0.021s; cc: 38; qc: 173; dbt: 0.0817s; 3; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.7mb