Category Archives: On Location in Santa Fe
Summer is Almost Here
Santa Fe’s Plaza. Meet people. Watch people. Soak up the high dry mountain air and sunshine.
A Lovely Autumn Day in Santa Fe
Find the Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer in Milner Plaza at Museum Hill in Santa Fe. The big bronze is by Craig Dan Goseyun. The fringe seems to shimmy as the light changes.
Located at 710-708 Camino Lejo, off Old Santa Fe Trail; across from Santa Fe Botanical Garden.
Santa Fe in Only One Day
by G G Collins (Copyright 2015)
THE SHED: Eat at The Shed! It’s on Palace Avenue a couple of blocks from the Plaza.The Shed is known for their New Mexican cuisine: such as Carne Adovado. Inside or out, it’s colorful and fun. The chocolate fudge sundae for dessert goes beyond decadent. For more on the restaurant’s history and how it came to be called The Shed:
SHOPPING: If you enjoy shopping until you drop, you can do that in Santa Fe. A good place to start is Rainbow Man. It’s on Palace too. Be sure to look for The Manhattan Project plaque dedication. It’s at the back of the courtyard under the portal (porch in Spanish). Despite being a historical site, there is no sign to indicate that. If you can’t find the plaque, ask someone at the store. They’re happy to point it out.
For more on The Manhattan Project:
At Wind River, you can enter on Palace, walk through the store (this may take a while with all the jewelry, Native American art and chickens, yes, chickens), and exit on San Francisco across from La Fonda. From top-of-the-line clothing to kitchen items to kitsch, it’s all on the Plaza. The Marcy Card Shop on Marcy Street (a couple of blocks from the Plaza and close to the convention center) has a lot more than cards!
LA FONDA: Now, cross the street and walk through the lobby of La Fonda. This hotel has a loooong history in Santa Fe. Both the famous and the infamous have walked these Saltillo tiles. Look in the restaurant. See the fountain in the center? That used to be a well in an outdoor courtyard. A business man down on his luck threw himself in it and was killed. His ghost is said to still walk the halls. Oppenheimer and fellow scientists relaxed in the bar–under the close watch of federal agents. There is also a rooftop deck and bar for watching sunsets. Here’s more on La Fonda:
ST. FRANCIS CATHEDRAL: The St. Francis Cathedral is worth a look. It’s beautiful inside and out. There are usually members there to answer questions and give tours. And if you are a candle lighter, there are candle alcoves just inside the entry. A labyrinth is in front of the church for contemplation. More on the cathedral:
THE PLAZA: And don’t just walk through the Plaza. Take a few minutes and soak up the sun, be dazzled by the azure skies. The light, and the vibe, is the reason writers and artists have flocked to The City Different for years.
If you have time and are museum people, the Palace of the Governors is fascinating. There are holes in the floor and no one knows why (carefully covered in thick clear glass for a look-see). Wallace finished “Ben-Hur” at the Palace while governor. The Palace was on high alert and he covered his lamp to conceal the light as attack was imminent.
All of this is within a few blocks.
IF YOU HAVE A SECOND DAY:
JACKALOPE: Jackalope on Cerrillos Road is shopping, animals, oh heck, it’s a party. The owner’s story is a fascinating journey. The prairie dogs are a favorite with kids and adults alike. Check out Jackalope at:
MUSEUM HILL: Is so worth a good look. If you’re not up to the museum crawl, just go out and look at the outdoor art, eat at the restaurant and listen to the music drift on a breeze.The new Santa Fe Botanical Garden is just across the street. Great views of the Sangre de Cristos. Here’s more on both attractions:
TENT ROCKS: If you’d like a far-out hiking experience, go to Tent Rocks. Made of ash from a long ago volcano, the tent-shaped rocks are eerie and magical. It’s south of Santa Fe near the Cochiti Dam. You drive right by the dam and it’s a bit scary thinking about all that water behind the dam; so don’t. The car you’re in feels very small and insignificant. Now you can’t stop thinking about it.
NEED DOWN TIME: If you can’t take anymore and need to relax, it’s 10,000 Waves time. Massage, hot tubs, facials and a gorgeous Japanese style mountain retreat. It’s on the way up to the Ski Basin, only a few miles. It’s heavenly.
Whatever you do in Santa Fe, remember, it’s mañana time.
The Building That Changed the World
By G G Collins Copyright 2015
On Palace Avenue just steps from the famous Santa Fe Plaza is a small building that changed the world. It was the headquarters for The Manhattan Project, the top secret mission to build the first atomic bomb and end WWII. Everyone, scientist and secretary alike, passed through this building. They came in the front door and left by the back door where they were secreted off to the Atomic City. No one left by the back door unless Dorothy McKibbin gave them a pass to “The Hill.”
McKibbin was looking for a job in March of 1943. She was offered employment at the First National Bank for $120 per month. Working at a bank wasn’t really what she wanted to do, but income was income. Then she met Joe Stevenson in an awkward conversation in the middle of the Plaza. He told her there was a secretarial position open that would pay $150 per month. But Stevenson was mysterious about what the job would entail.
She did accept the job and became the gatekeeper to one of the biggest discoveries of the last century. McKibbin kept that job until 1963 when she retired. She would remain a loyal friend to Robert Oppenheimer until his death in 1967.
The historic site, originally constructed in the 1600s as a Spanish hacienda, is now home to Rainbow Man. The shop is filled with Native American hand-made items, blankets, photos and folk art in vivid colors. The courtyard is beautiful rain or shine. Flowers brighten the entrance in vibrant hues. The old wagon only becomes more silvered with each passing year.
At the back of the courtyard, under the portal and behind the chile ristras is a plaque dedicated to those who split the first atom. Shoppers visit the store to take home a little bit of Santa Fe. Historians stop by for the history and wonder what it must have been like in the 1940s when The Manhattan Project was in full swing.
July 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the Trinity Test at White Sands, New Mexico.
New book, Atomic Medium, takes place in Santa Fe during 2015 and 1945. It is the third installment in the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series. Get it at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1SWkjde
For more information, try these books:109 East Palace by Jennet Conant, The Manhattan Project edited by Cynthia C. Kelly, The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.
Keep Santa Fe Weird
by G G Collins (Copyright 2014)
Every city has its quirks. These are some of my favorites in Santa Fe.
This strange looking guy wearing the dress is Zozobra. This petite version can be found at the Convention and Visitors Bureau on Marcy Street. Every autumn Santa Feans burn him–along with their worries. The next year, he is constructed and once again set on fire to screams of “Burn him, burn him!” For more on Zozobra see https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/?s=Zozobra here on Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe.
Fish might be the last thing you’d expect to see in downtown Santa Fe and yet, here they are. The monumental sculpture is “Santa Fe Current” by artist Colette Hosmer. It features Rio Grande Cutthroat trout. Each granite fish is 2′ x 3 1/2′ in size. Right outside the Convention and Visitors Bureau on Marcy.
You might find a sign in New Orleans that includes a skull, but this one uses the Spanish word “ojo” which means “eye.” But “optique” is French, meaning vision, so go figure. Find it near the Plaza on Lincoln Ave.
In Santa Fe even the crows eat chiles. This guy, who lives in a sculpture garden along Canyon Road, appears to have a notoriously hot chile called a scotch bonnet (100,000 – 350,000 Scoville Units). Turn onto Canyon Road and make a quick left. There is parking, shops and art everywhere.
In a region where prairie dogs are sometimes cursed, this lucky family of the little “dogs” lives at Jackalope. Find it at 2820 Cerrillos Rd. Pottery, rugs and furniture doesn’t begin to describe everything that you’ll find here.
To learn about the history of Jackalope, click https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/reluctant-medium-virtual-treasure-hunt-tour-july-8-2012/
The Shed restaurant is famous for its excellent New Mexican cuisine. But did you know that The Shed serves French bread with every meal? It also offers a decadent Italian dessert called a zabaglione, a rich custard made with Cointreau and white port. Find the shed on East Palace just steps from the Plaza.
My characters Rachel Blackstone and Chloe Valdez meet at The Shed often to solve paranormal mysteries.
Learn about the humble beginnings of The Shed at https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/on-location-with-the-reluctant-medium-week-two/
Santa Fe is one of those places with lots nooks and crannies. Don’t be afraid to explore. You’ll miss the most beautiful places and its quirky surprises.
How is your city “weird?”
A Little Bit of Heaven on an Autumn Day
By G G Collins (Copyright 2014)
As I walked up the steps to the huge courtyard at Museum Hill, southwestern music floated across the breeze to greet me. I could almost pluck the notes from thin air. Although the open space is large between the museums, the courtyard feels intimate with beautiful desert landscaping, en plein air sculpture garden and dedicated spaces. With the Sangre de Cristos as backdrop and storm clouds adding drama but no rain, it was a perfect Santa Fe fall day.
On this excursion I wasn’t covering the museums, but please don’t let that stop you. The “Hill” is composed of the Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Wheelright Museum of the American Indian, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and the Laboratory of Anthropology. You can stay the entire day and see them all. For a time-out, the Museum Hill Cafe provides food, drink, music and a place to rest tired feet.
Two things dominate the courtyard (also known as Milner Plaza), the Mountain Spirit Dancer by Craig Dan Goseyun. The massive bronze sculpture appears to be moving. Look at the fringe on his costume, the feathers caught up in his movement, the lightness of his feet. Throughout the courtyard the art runs from howling coyotes to mother and child. There is a performance circle included here for a cozy outdoor experience with the arts. But at the other end of the court is a labyrinth. Santa Fe is known for its many public labyrinths. This one is contemporary in style and is constructed using stones in the southwest colors of turquoise and coral. Set aside a few minutes and take a contemplative walk. Who knows what you’ll discover about yourself. There is another blog post about labyrinths at https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/?s=walking+meditation
I crossed the parking lot to the new-ish Santa Fe Botanical Garden. Phase 1, the
Orchard Gardens opened in July 2013. Phase 2, Ojos Y Manos: Eyes and Hands, is scheduled to debut in 2015. While wandering the grounds, notice the red bridge. Phase 2 will be beyond Kearny’s Gap Bridge.
While there, I enjoyed “Origami in the Garden” a series of metal fashioned through lost wax casting and fabrication techniques, by artist Kevin Box. Both whimsy and beauty are found in his work. From the his Rock, Paper, Scissors to Painted Ponies, they are all inspired creations with their origins in a sheet of blank paper. For more about his work: http://www.langorigami.com/art/gallery/gallery.php?tag=kevin-box
Coming up next is the GLOW, the winter lights event. It opens December 4, 2014 and runs through January 3, 2015. Along with the beautiful lights will be Santa Claus, music and hot toddies every Saturday evening. Tickets are $7 to $8 (non-members) with children 12 and under, free. To buy tickets: http://www.santafebotanicalgarden.org/events/glow/
There are many opportunities for education and community service. For more information: http://www.santafebotanicalgarden.org/about/
To reach Museum Hill and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, take Old Santa Fe Trail southeast from the Plaza to Camino Lejo (there are Museum Hill signs along the way). Public transit is available. Please see for directions: http://indianartsandculture.org/directions
Whatever the season, Santa Fe’s Museum Hill and Botanical Garden is a little bit of desert paradise for all the senses.
Zozobra Burning Wipes the Slate Clean
by G G Collins (Copyright 2014)
Ever wanted to just start all over? You can! Attend the Burning of Zozobra in Santa Fe August 29th. Every year Santa Feans are cleansed of their gloom by burning the world’s largest marionette. It draws 50,000 people or more so be sure you’ve got those hotel reservations confirmed.
A “gloom box” is located near the stage. Write down your troubles and drop them in the box (there are also “gloom” cans in shops around the city). The contents of the “gloom box” are set at the feet of Old Man Gloom to be burned with fireworks.
When Zozobra begins to moan and groan, he can be heard throughout the city. Take a look at a video by Luke Fitch of the burning. He filmed it with a DJI Phantom quadcopter. This is an amazing clip and Fitch’s other videos are worth a look too.
The 50-foot (15.21 m) clown/monster made the Guinness World Records in 2007, but he’s been the big guy in Santa Fe since 1924. Gloomy folks begin to arrive around noon although the burning doesn’t start until dusk. The show goes on even if it rains, but with 300+ days of sunshine in Santa Fe, that almost never happens. No dogs or lawn chairs allowed so bring a blanket and take a picnic.
The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe produces the fundraiser which requires 3500 volunteer hours to pull off. It uses the proceeds for scholarships, youth projects and camp fees for physically challenged children. Your $10 goes to provide good things. Tickets are available right up until burn time.
If you can’t make it and still want to burn your troubles, go to:
Roll down the page until you see the black box with Zozobra in it. Type in your worries and burn, burn, burn!
The Lensic Performing Arts Center Offers a World of Entertainment
by G G Collins (Copyright 2014)
In Lemurian Medium, reporter Rachel Blackstone is assigned a story about the Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet. She visits The Lensic PAC to interview the artistic director and discuss the ballet’s first performance of the New Year.
The Lensic Performing Arts Center began life in 1931 as a theatre. The city of Santa Fe owes it all to a young immigrant from Syria. In July 1866, Na’aman Soleiman arrived in New York. He was only twenty-one and hailed from Biskinta, Syria. He began his life in his adopted country as Nathan Salmon a cart peddler. While selling goods throughout the Southwest he found himself stranded in Santa Fe during a snow storm.
Salmon prospered despite the Great Depression and soon was buying land in Santa Fe. On March 27, 1930 he and his son-in-law, E. John Greer, announced plans to build a grand theatre for the city’s 11,000 residents. Yes, “talkies” were coming to Santa Fe.
But there was the problem of giving it a name. Salmon offered a contests prize of $25 for the best name. There were two stipulations: It would be a Spanish name or an acronym using the initials of his grandchildren’s names (Lisa, Elias John, Nathan, Sara, Mary Irene and Charles). Mrs. P. J. Smithwick came up with the winning name. The Lensic suggested both the projector lens and made reference to the theatre’s grand interior.
In June of 1931 the theatre opened. Cinema was the pick-me-up to a beleaguered population during the Depression and the world war that followed. Tickets cost 25 to 75 cents. Everything from vaudeville to first-run movies was showcased.
But during the management days of United Artists the majestic Lensic fell on hard times. It closed in 1999.
It was in danger of becoming permanently dark when far-thinking people (Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf ) raised the funds turning it into the swank PAC it is today. There was a multi-story addition to the rear of the building and the interior was carefully restored to its stunning ornate decor. The Lensic found its groove once again.
The 800-seat theatre hosts some 200 events each year. It is the performance venue for the Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet. The ballet company began in Aspen in 1996 and became a hybrid model in 2000 when Santa Fe was added to the shingle. The company cultivated the careers of new choreographers and mixed it up with greats such as Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp and William Forsythe. Their reputation grew and invitations from Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap followed as did guest performances in Canada, France, Israel, Brazil among other countries.
Other groups that regularly perform at the Lensic include the Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Santa Fe Concert Association, Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe Pro Musica and Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. The Lensic also hosts diverse performances from international artists and eclectic programs from around the planet.
Classic movies, the New Mexico Jazz Festival and a creative series called Under Construction that gives writers and actors a chance to perfect their evolving creativity.
Although The Lensic has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, you can go to gape at the grandeur both inside and out while enjoying your favorite entertainment.
For more information: http://www.lensic.org
Palace of the Governors Built Like Fortress
by G G Collins (Copyright 2014)
In Lemurian Medium, reporter Rachel Blackstone visits the museum to meet former priest, Father O’Brien, who will help her learn astral travel. She must journey to Lemuria to rescue a friend.
When you first see the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, it likely won’t resemble any palace you’ve seen. It is nothing like the Palace at Versailles or Buckingham in London. Think more Wild West, less European. Built in 1610, the building blocks were made of mud and straw, dried to adobe bricks in the abundant sunshine. Like its European equivalents, it has seen war, revolt, prosperity, want and peace—sometimes a bitter peace.
The long portal is much nicer than the first efforts with its vigas protruding through the brown adobe finish. The structure is used daily by artisans selling their works, each a member of the state’s Native tribes.
The building encompasses the entire north side of the plaza. It is the oldest public building in continuous use. It was built as a seat of government in what was considered to be an untamed isolated frontier. For this reason, the walls were made four feet thick. The entry to the courtyard on the west side is a small door. It was purposely made too small for the average person so it is awkward to enter. That gave soldiers protecting the palace the upper hand as invaders had to step over and duck at the same time to get through the entrance.
Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, was also the territorial governor during the turbulent late 1870s. After a day of edgy negotiation with Billy the Kid in the spring of 1879, he wrote the last scenes from his study in the palace during a fierce storm. Wallace huddled near a shrouded lamp; windows heavily shuttered fearing imminent attack during the Lincoln County War. The conflict was an Old West range war over a dry goods trade which accelerated into massacres and revenge killings.
The holes in floor fascinated. No one seems to know why they are there. They’re not long enough for an escape tunnel, but perhaps they had been used to hide valuables or even a person. Because the original floors were packed earth, it was easy to see why digging holes might be a natural for hiding nearly anything
The artists and jewelry makers sit on the porch—rain, shine or snow—selling their beautiful work to visitors hoping to take home a little piece of New Mexico. There is a seemingly endless supply of pottery, jewelry and sand paintings.
During the Christmas season, city crews wrap garland all around the Palace portal (porch) making it festive for the season.
Be sure to visit the New Mexico History Museum while at the Palace of the Governors. The beautiful new museum is just across the Palace courtyard. The museum also offers historical tours of Santa Fe.
Call 505-476-5200 or check out: www.NMHistoryMuseum.org for more information.