Category Archives: Travel
Taylor Browning Cozy Mystery: Book 2
#99Cents Introductory Price for First Week.
While rescuing a kitten, mystery editor Taylor Browning witnesses a murder. Only she doesn’t know it, but the murderer sees her. A dangerous game of cat and mouse commences in this second outing for the Taylor Browning Cozy Mysteries series. And no, Oscar, Taylor’s Abyssinian cat is not amused by the new baby in his kingdom.
At the Santa Fe book publishing house, things aren’t much better. A new metaphysical mystery writer, Crystal Visions, is exhibiting symptoms of an uncooperative nature. Taylor is sent to Sedona to encourage the author to fulfill her book contract. Once there, she is spellbound by the New Age community and its magical vortexes.
Detective Victor Sanchez is relieved Taylor left New Mexico. He believes she will be safer in Arizona while he works to solve the murder. Her amateur sleuthing had already led her right into a gruesome discovery. In the small town of Sedona, Taylor receives a disturbing note and realizes the killer followed her. The detective travels to Arizona to protect her, but has to leave his gun at home.
While Taylor explores one of the vortexes in Arizona’s beautiful Red Rock Country, she becomes aware she is no longer alone. By the time Victor arrives on the scene, Taylor is fighting for her life along the treacherous cliffs in the suspenseful conclusion.
Where Did the Idea Come From?
Before walking a reporter’s beat, I worked at a book publisher. Publishing is composed of exhausting details related to editing, bluelines, cover art, print runs and writing copy. The glamour is occasionally broken by an author who slams out of the office because it’s taking so long to publish the baby. And oh yeah, it’s not a baby to a publisher, but a product to be sold. And the hope is, it will make money.
I’ve taken these experiences, added cat companions and quirky staff to populate the Pinon Publishing office in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In this, the second outing for Taylor Browning, I threw in some travel to Sedona’s Red Rocks Country. And then, there’s the killer!
For more on publishing: https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/?s=We+say+we+want+a+revolution
Ghosts Haunting Santa Fe
Ghost at La Residencia
La Residencia, located at Palace Avenue and Paseo de Peralta, has been a convent, hospital and nursing home. It was the location of the first St. Vincent’s Hospital prior to the “new” hospital being built south of downtown during the late 1970s. Now the Drury Plaza Hotel.
During its life as a hospital, a boy and his father were brought in for emergency treatment after a car accident. Sadly, both died. It is said the child died from his injuries in room 311. Reported phenomena include the sound of a crying child in this room. It was heard so often the hospital tried not to use the room.
When museum exhibits were stored in the building’s basement, unexplained sounds occurred there. Nurses described a strange phenomenon, which appeared to be blood oozing from a basement wall.
But it is the cries of a frightened young boy who haunt his third-floor room we find most disturbing.
Ghost of Julia at La Posada
La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa has probably the most famous of the Santa Fe ghost stories. Julia Staab who
Abraham Staab had the three-story Staab House built in French-inspired styling which included a mansard roof and a ballroom on the top floor. It would become the hub of society in 19-century Santa Fe. But it would not last. The couple’s eighth child was ill and finally succumbed. Julia was never the same and took to her room, which became room 256 when the house was converted to a hotel.
During a construction project, a befuddled crew came to work one morning and found their building materials in disarray. An enlightened worker began leaving roses for Julia. The mischief ceased.
Other encounters have been more personal including sightings of a transparent woman in a long dress and hood. One man reported a woman’s image in the mirror of the men’s room. And in the basement, which retains its earthen floor and stone walls, an employee of the hotel has noticed a fragrance cloud of orange and rose blossoms.
Visitors to the six-acre resort still ask for room 256, but there was the case of one man who checked in, and returned to the front desk in minutes demanding another room.
Ghost Story at New Mexico State Penitentiary
Many people don’t realize the New Mexico State Penitentiary is near Santa Fe. It’s usually the last thing on anyone’s mind as they drive into Santa Fe enjoying the clear skies, high desert air and anticipating a few days of nonstop green chile and margaritas. But in February 1980 one of the worst prison riots in the US happened here. At least 33 people killed, but the total couldn’t be certain. Two hundred treated for their injuries. The convicts in Cell Block 4 were targeted because that was where the snitches were isolated from the general population.
Eighteen years later, former Gov. Johnson closed the prison due to “uncontrollable disturbances.” The inmates moved into new facilities. After that, the old prison became a filming location for movies as well as a training center for police. One movie extra decided to explore, walked into a cell, the door closed behind him. Once a guard let him out, he left the set and did not return. Other reports of cell doors opening or closing, apparently on their own, lights coming on or going off without reason, unexplained sounds and even shadowy figures that suddenly disappear. Most disturbing are the burn marks on the floors where inmates died that cannot be cleaned or painted away. The marks always return.
Other deserted prisons are considered haunted. Maybe life sentences extend into the afterlife.
Ghost Story at 122 Grant Avenue
This week we have another Santa Fe ghost story. In 1898 a rancher built a house at what is now 122 Grant Avenue, a few blocks from the Plaza. Seven years later a young family moved in. Their son was sickly and required a wheelchair to move about. Unhappy, he was known to beat the walls of his upstairs bedroom to get his mother’s attention. Despite her constant ministrations, the lad died and his parents moved on. When the house was vacant, the neighbors reported seeing lights in the boy’s former bedroom.
In l981 the property was bought and renovated. It became the Grant Corner Inn, a bed and breakfast which hosted such notables as Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan (in better days), and illustrator Garth Williams. It had a knockout breakfast which was open to the public. But the problems did not abate. In Antonio Garcez’s book Adobe Angels: Ghosts of Santa Fe and Taos,he related the experiences of the former caretaker. He told of hearing loud noises, sudden dips in the air temperature that could kill indoor plants and the stench of rancid meat.
Several years ago, the Andrew Smith Gallery bought the property and moved into the house. No further reports of disturbances have been disclosed. Perhaps the boy is now at peace.
Answer at end.
Ghost Story of the Weeping Woman
There are many ghost stories in Santa Fe. A few blocks from the St. Francis Cathedral, along the Santa Fe River, is a story that endures. I’m told there are more than 40 variations on this ghastly tale and it is a favorite throughout the southwest.
Many years ago, the poor would park their wagons along the Santa Fe River (more of a trickle most of the time). According to the story, a woman from one of those wagons met and fell in love with a Conquistador. After having two children with him, she found he had been unfaithful (isn’t that just always the way?). In her sorrow, she took her children, and drowned them in the river. There are two versions of the ending: either she rejoiced that they were gone, then fell and suffered a fatal injury, or she hung herself in regret.
There are reports from people walking in the river park that they heard a woman calling for her babies, but saw no one. She has been seen at the nearby PERA Building. Workers have reported she is a dark shape and messes with the lights in the building. This ghost is known as the Weeping Woman.
Answer at end.
Ghost Story of La Fonda
While La Fonda has stood the test of time, it has also racked up a good number of ghosts. There are so many that we’ll cover just a few this time.
During the 1800s a gambling hall was part of the hotel. As we all know, for every person who wins, there are many more who do not. In one particular incident, a man was hung in the courtyard (sometimes referred to as the backyard). Maybe it he was cheating, but whatever the reason, he was lynched. It has been reported that some guests to La Plazuela have seen the shadow of a man hanging.
The Hon. John P. Slough, who was a chief justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, was shot in the lobby and later died of his wounds. He insulted Capt. Rynerson, also with Territorial government, calling him dishonest. Rynerson took offense and shot the judge. Guests say they’ve seen a man walking the hotel dressed in a long black coat (robes perhaps?).
And yet another man lost his life in what is now the restaurant (La Plazuela). Originally it
was the courtyard and in the center was a well. Apparently a businessman lost his company’s money in a round of cards. He was so distressed, he jumped into the well to his demise. Although the well was filled in long ago, you can still see where it was. Look at the fountain in the center of the restaurant. It even closely resembles the look of the well in the postcard shown. Hotel staff and guests have seen a ghostly figure cross the room to the site of the old well and watched as he disappeared into the floor.
The Southwest Ghost Hunters Association conducted an investigation into La Fonda in 1998 and found the strongest suggestion of paranormal activity in the parking garage. During its construction, human remains were found there. This happens from time to time in Santa Fe and environs. All work ceases until the remains can be recovered.
Answers to Questions:
A. What was stored in La Residencia’s basement that resulted in the bizarre noises? Indian Artifacts.
B. The man who demanded another room stayed in Julia Staab’s room 256 for how many minutes? 7 minutes. He was referred to as the “7-minute man.”
C. What movie was filmed at the abandoned state pen? The Longest Yard.
D. What kind of tree was cut down in front of the house at 122 Grant Avenue? Weeping Willow.
E. The name of the Weeping Woman was? La Llorona,
F. La Fonda has had several names over the years. Which of the following was one of them? The Exchange Hotel.
Meow Wolf Has Bite! Me-ow!
Meow Wolf is part art installation; all fun house!
by G G Collins (Copyright 2018)
After standing in line for more than an hour–you know March is spring break, right?–I entered this magical place in Santa Fe that wasn’t the least bit southwestern. The exterior sports a mammoth spider and people actually eat beneath it. Not me!
Built in a former bowling alley, the outside isn’t impressive; but that all stops the moment you enter this wildly colorful place.
After buying tickets at a bit of a staggering price (but nowhere near Disney World prices), you grab your 3-D glasses and off you go into the wild, blue, purple, pink, orange (oh, I give up) yonder.
The hallway that leads down to the entrance is a bit 1984-ish, but what waits inside is, well, you decide for yourself. Past the door is the House of Eternal Return where you can duck through the fireplace, closet, clothes dryer or even the fridge and you’ll find yourself in another dimension.
Watch where you step because the surface underfoot is constantly changing, even at times into mounds of carpet as if you are walking beneath trees on a moss-covered forest floor.
As you climb that tree via circular staircase, the canopy you are expecting never materializes. Instead it could be a camper. Hmm. Just where am I?
That seems to be the whole point. Each inviting portal leads to another strange and wonderful place. Everyone–and remember I went during spring break–was having a great time. Age is not a factor here. There is literally something for everyone. The kids loved to play the dinosaur bones and frankly, so did I.
For those who are afraid they will be claustrophobic, while it can be quite tight quarters, there are numerous doors leading to the lobby. The people standing around in white lab coats are Meow Wolf staff and they are there to answer questions or give you the fastest route to the restroom. There was one small girl, who wasn’t too sure about a white friendly looking creature. She held on tight to her grandmother’s hand, but even at that, she was wide-eyed in appreciation
There are corridors leading to more portals. Some stairs are wide open while others are circular with tiny steps. Tall people can have trouble negotiating the later. Don’t get stuck!
Meow Wolf is a sensory experience. You can see, touch and hear, but never quite assimilate what you’re experiencing. That’s okay. It’s mysterious and leaves you wanting more. I know I’ll be returning to the House of Eternal Return.
For more information go to: https://meowwolf.com/
Coming soon to Denver and Las Vegas; your very own Meow Wolf.
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.
Christmas Eve in Santa Fe
By G G Collins (Copyright 2013)
It’s Christmas Eve and you’re in Santa Fe. Sunset is fast approaching and the air is frosty. There’s only one thing to do: wrap up warmly and go to the Canyon Road Christmas Eve Farolito Walk.
Forget trying to park. Stay at a nearby hotel or B & B. Otherwise prepare for frustration trying to park. There will be street closures and partial street closures. Last year Santa Fe Trails offered shuttles from the South Capitol Station for $2 round-trip. Check with them for service this year.
Notice the farolitos (brown paper bags with sand and a votive candle) lining the street and sidewalks. Now, in Santa Fe these are called farolitos, but much of New Mexico refers to them as luminarias. To further confuse the issue, in Santa Fe we call bonfires luminarias. Okay, don’t sweat the details; just enjoy.
This can be a shoulder-to-shoulder event with up to 30,000 people—and their dogs—descending on Canyon Road. Santa Fe’s art centre lives right here and many of the galleries will be open late; doorways of yellow light inviting you in. I absolutely love this yearly procession. You never know what surprise waits to delight you. Most of these are provided by the parade you are a part of; people and dogs draped in Christmas lights. Canine friends may be outfitted with antlers in addition to the brightly colored lights. They don’t seem to mind. There’s always a new take on costuming for the Farolito Walk.
Impromptu carolers burst into Christmas songs and spirituals. Music erupts as drummers pound their instruments marching the length of Canyon Road. Notes float across the cold air from a harp or flute gently reminding you of the season. The galleries, shops and restaurants along the narrow thread are decked out with festive lights and bright red bows. It’s a sensory experience of light, sound and delicious scents.
But don’t leave out taste. To warm up, stop and get a coffee, hot chocolate or cider. Usually one can find cookies for munching—you’ll need energy to walk uphill. Take a few moments and warm your hands at a nearby bonfire, and keep going.
When the lights fade and the music stops, just turn around and do it all over. And when you reach the end of Canyon Road, savor the experience, because it will be another whole year before it happens again. This is Christmas Eve in Santa Fe.
— G G Collins
Links to YouTube videos of the Christmas Eve Farolito Walk on Canyon Road:
Whatever holiday you celebrate, may it be happy and peaceful.