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.
Atomic Bomb Test Successful 70 Years Ago
The Trinity Test had to be pushed back to 5:30 a.m. due to rain at the Alamogordo Bombing Range at White Sands in New Mexico. The area was known as the Jornada del Muerto or Journey of Death. As early risers went about their ranch chores, sorted mail for delivery and stocked grocery selves, none knew their world would change drastically in minutes.
Those who would be watching this scientific achievement huddled in bunkers made for that purpose. Earth and sand covered the concrete bunkers on three sides and on top. There were viewing holes in the wall facing the test site.Welding goggles were handed out to protect eyes.
The atomic age began with a pinprick of light so bright it lit up the desert with the power of several midday suns. It could be seen for 180 miles. If you closed your eyes, you could still see the light. The energy sucked up tons of desert sand, the dust muddied the light as it rose and churned into a fireball.
Heat came next to those huddled in the bunkers. It was as if someone had opened an oven door. People dropped to the ground the heat was so intense. Then came the sound wave, as the earth beneath them shuddered with the force of 21,000 tons of TNT. This was followed by the now familiar mushroom cloud. The cloud created by fission rose and undulated to the substratosphere and spread across the heavens.
Some people were temporarily blinded by the light. Others who rode out the blast outside the bunkers had been knocked flat as the super wind rushed across the desert basin. Those who witnessed this first splitting of an atom had various reactions. Some slapped their knees and cheered; others laughed or cried. Still others showed the horror on their faces at what had been unleashed. Although no humans were harmed directly, livestock and wildlife did not fair as well.
The atomic bomb that The Manhattan Project developed was both an incredible human feat and the monster that would hide in children’s closets for generations to come. Although the bomb would end WWII, nothing would ever be the same. The era of fear had begun.
For more information: 109 East Palace by Jennet Conant, The Manhattan Project edited by Cynthia C. Kelly, The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, http://www.losalamoshistory.org, www.atomicheritage.org/bios, www.lanl.gov, https://www.osti.gov/opennet/manhattan-project-history/Resources/photo_gallery/photo_gallery.htm
Note on photos: From the U.S. Department of Energy. “To the best of our knowledge, all text and images on this web site are in the public domain. Almost all of the photographs were generated by government agencies, or by contractors working for the government, and as such are not subject to copyright. Most of these photographs were acquired from government web sites or government publications. In a handful of cases, photographs were used whose copyright had expired; these were acquired from the Library of Congress’s web site.”
New Release: Atomic Medium by G G Collins. Historical Fiction with a Twist.
Click on the book cover to read more about the new Kindle book. Takes the reader to 1945 Santa Fe, location of The Manhattan Project office, the Atomic City of Los Alamos and to White Sands, New Mexico to experience the Trinity Test. Third book in the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series.
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?”
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!