Summer is Almost Here
Santa Fe’s Plaza. Meet people. Watch people. Soak up the high dry mountain air and sunshine.
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.
Make Like a Tourist
Reluctant Medium Rachel Blackstone’s favorite time of year is autumn. Funny, we’re alike in that way. Since blog posts eat photos like mad, I thought I’d make like a tourist and head out with the camera. Taking pictures like a first-time visitor is actually a little embarrassing, but the journalist urges me onward.
The weather is great in Santa Fe right now, although if you enjoy a high desert climate, it’s nearly always terrific weather. I took off down West San Francisco headed toward the plaza. “I was walking with my feet ten feet off” the street. For those of you who don’t recognize this, it’s from a Cher song entitled “Walking in Memphis.” If you don’t know Cher (US singer/actress), she recorded the song in 1995. It was used in an episode of The X-Files, but wasn’t the hit several of her other songs became. Originally sung by singer-songwriter Marc Cohn, it is about a spiritual awakening in Memphis. Here is a YouTube link to hear the song:
There are days like that in the City Different when the senses are keen and the spirit is awakening. This is such a day. As I pass the Lensic Performing Arts, I marvel at how it was transformed from a 1931 theatre where anything from vaudeville to first-run movies was showcased to a swank new PAC. But the 800-seat theatre was in
danger of becoming permanently dark, when it was saved by a group of visionaries. They saw a new beginning for a building on the verge of losing its groove. There was a multi-story addition to the rear of the building and the interior was carefully restored to its stunning ornate decor. It hosts more than 200 events a year.
Also on San Francisco you’ll find The Original Trading Post. Reputed to have been in Santa Fe since 1603, it is protected by the Historic Santa Fe Foundation Preservation Easement program.” I remember the first time I saw it, I wasn’t at all certain I should enter. It looked ready to collapse. But not to worry, it’s stood many years since then. It has virtually everything you could possibly want for New Mexico gifts to take home: post cards, key chains, worry stones, cups, clothing, Native American pottery, on and on. Beware, the floors squeak unmercifully which is part of the charm. It makes no excuses. It’s kitschy and fun.
Burro Alley (you’ll know you’re there when you see the burro sculpture) was a wild patch in the 1800s: gambling parlors, bars and for the indiscriminate “gentleman,” ladies of the night were available for a price, usually the winnings from the card game. But the street was named after the sturdy little burros who pulled wagons of wood to be sold in the alley. Streets and sidewalks along here—and many other areas of downtown—intersect like the people who settled here.
At last, the plaza comes into view; I try to see it like someone who has never been there. It is sun splashed under a perfect azure sky. The trees are mature and tall. Flowers hang from old-fashioned street lamps. Both the present and
the past occupy the plaza. The monument in the center has had the word “savage” scratched out. It represents the past. In the present, people dot the square, some rushing to their next appointment while others sit on the benches and feed the pigeons or snap photos. The Palace of the Governors’ long portal shades Native Indian artists showing their wares on colorful blankets. At least 30 people browse, ask questions, squat for a closer look and buy a beautiful memory from Santa Fe.
I don’t know if it’s the high mountain air (Santa Fe sits at 7,000 feet) or the brilliant sky. Maybe it’s the aroma of roasting chiles or the aspens that are
turning golden on Mt. Baldy. It could be the abundant creativity in the city. It’s a magnet for writers and artists of all walks. But there is an energy that can’t be denied, and why would anyone want to?
Why not go walking in your city?
— G G Collins