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.
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?”
Interview with Rachel Blackstone, the “Reluctant Medium”
as told to G G Collins
What is your author like? My author drives me nuts! By the way, her name is G G Collins and I’m her character, Rachel Blackstone. Yes, (yawn) I’m the Reluctant Medium. But back to G G, it’s not the late night writing that annoys me—I’m a night owl too—but all the outlandish stuff she has me do. You know, she thinks it up, but she doesn’t have to do it. I do. In the first book, I had to break and enter, send my car into an arroyo, tramp around Tent Rocks in the middle of the night, all the while coping with bad men and an evil spirit. Geez, and I still had to make all my deadlines. This time, I swear it’s true, she sending me traveling on the astral plane! You know, there is no map available, no app (but I don’t do cell phones anyway) and the auto club has never heard of it. That leaves me hoofing through the whole thing practically in blinders (ooh, too many equestrian references).
Tell me about the place where you live. Santa Fe, New Mexico is known as the City Different, because of its unique adobe architecture. In reality, it’s the city same, because all the buildings look similar with flat roofs and stucco facade. They’re all painted in one of the approved brown colors, although you occasionally see a white house where obviously an independent type lives. But, the high desert climate attracts artists from all over who come to paint the
beautiful vistas that are Santa Fe. It is a place where people who don’t fit where they were born, can find acceptance being different. I love to hike and ski in the Sangre de Cristos. But mostly, I enjoy eating the spicy southwest foods with friend Chloe. We’re especially fond of The Shed and its yummy margaritas. Oh yes, the food is good too.
What is your family like? This gets complicated. Both parents are dead. My father was killed recently in a car wreck and I don’t think it was an accident. Now, the brother is the mayor, but he’s, well, shall we say unpopular. He cheats on his wife with all the lovely young clerks at city hall. I’m pretty sure he’s runs low and fast with the law, but have no proof. He thinks I’m “unbalanced” and “flaky.” I’m married, currently, but things aren’t going well. After my father died, I took a powder and split town for a few months. Anthony is a documentary producer and is feeling the pangs of those first wrinkles and what his Hollywood connections might think. He medicates with alcohol. I’m not sure it’s going to work out.
Who is your best friend in the world and what is she like? That would be Chloe, who might as well be family, but sometimes friends are better. She’s a very, make that very, successful real estate mogul in a city full of them. Although she’s been married a couple times (I’m not sure how many), she kept the last name of Valdez in the divorce settlement because it seemed to help with selling houses here in the southwest. We’re not entirely opposites, but she’s high-fashion and heels and I’m comfortable in flat shoes I can run in. You never know when you might need to make a hasty exit. Chloe loves to accompany me on journalistic stakeouts, you know mixing with the rift-raft—but she caters it! I mean before she tagged along the first time, I did just fine with green chile cheese burritos and some instant tea. Chloe changed that forever. Oh yes, and I must tell you, she’s into everything that could possibly be called New Age. I mean it, everything. She really embraced this medium thing. I’m not going there, no way.
What is the thing you are most proud of? Definitely following in my father’s footsteps, the family business: reporting. He was an award-winning journalist in New Mexico at the Albuquerque Journal. I write for a magazine with serious liberal leanings. Writing is in our bloodlines, but the brother must have had a transfusion. Oh well (shakes her head), moving on. I love to interview. The most important thing is how you connect with a person to help them feel comfortable and get the best story. But I find the research side engaging too. It’s a “wow” moment when I find that infinitesimal scrap of information that ties it altogether. Pulling it all into a readable story that informs or helps the reader is the final touch. I love it all, but lately things have been a bit strange. I’m searching for normal, you know, before the spirit thing. It creeps me out!
If you had a day to do anything you wanted, what would you do? That’s a tough one. I’d sleep late, eat something for breakfast slathered in green chile, call Chloe and go skiing. After an afternoon on the slopes, we stop by 10,000 Waves, get a massage and soak in a hot tub. Then on to dinner and of course, I’ll buy the drinks because Chloe always beats me down the mountain. But this never happens all in one day because there is always another deadline to meet. I’d be real happy if all my interviews were on time and my computer doesn’t lock up.
What is your home like? Anthony and I have a bit of a posh place in the hills north of Santa Fe’s downtown. He makes good money, I don’t. He worries about status and since we have been known to “entertain” Hollywood types, he wanted a certain look. I guess you could call it modern southwest for want of a better term. It has clean lines and we have a lovely woman who comes and cares for it. It’s not my thing however. When I lost my mind one night and fled New Mexico, I found a small house in a once elegant neighborhood. Okay, it’s a bit of a dump, but I like it. I feel another change coming on. If there is one thing I like, it’s a fresh start.
What is your most prized possession? That would have to be my car. I bought it on impulse the night I fled my life. It’s a big, make that BIG, navy Mercury Marquis. The Merc guzzles gas, but is “Ride Engineered” and it is smooth. But oh my, it does not fit Santa Fe’s narrow streets and tight alleys. And just try to park it! Now Chloe hates it. Doesn’t want to be seen in it, and often offers to have it detailed. I admit it is a bit messy. I don’t mean for it to happen, but somehow it fills up with notebooks, tapes (I’m old fashioned, no digital recorders), the remains of meals and whatever clothes might land in the back seat. So there you have it. It’s my declaration of independence.
How would you describe yourself? Haven’t I been describing myself? Oh, I guess that’s kind of rude. Okay, you already know I’m a reporter, with a bad marriage, and a roué for a brother. What you don’t know is that I’m not child friendly and I swear a lot. I eat an awful diet, despite Chloe’s efforts, and I never gain a pound. Now you hate me, right? I take all kinds of risks, professional and personal. That’s probably why I tried to return my father from the great beyond. Unfortunately, I lost concentration for a moment, and another soul slipped through. He’s undoubtedly evil and seems to be angry with my brother. Despite my sparkling relationship with Santa Fe’s so-so mayor, I don’t want him hurt. The disturbing part is that I’m seeing other spirits too. And there is the lone wolf. I don’t know how he fits in. I tell you, this medium stuff is exhausting. I’m sure it’s just a one-time thing. Don’t you?
Where do you work? I write for High Desert Country. It’s located on a one-way street in an old adobe house. It has a fish pond in the yard that we never have time to enjoy, but Julian (my boss) hides the keys to the office in the pond. Everyone in town knows where they are. Julian hired me shortly after he and Stella Dallas (her mother loved Barbara Stanwyck) launched the magazine. The cast of characters includes Shorty, who of course, isn’t, short that is. He’s our photographer and keeps the ancient photocopier working. He reads motorcycle magazines between assignments. But someone new has been added in my absence. Julian’s conservative nephew has come onboard, a product of nepotism, despite the fact that his uncle can’t stand him either. It’s interesting. Stop by anytime, the nice woman across the street bakes goodies for us on a regular basis. You can always watch TV with Stella. She’ll say “hello” when you walk in. Me? I’ll be pounding out a story two desks back.
“Reluctant Medium” available at Smashwords for $.99 with coupon number until December 10th. Enter the coupon code prior to completing checkout at Smashwords: WW77S
Reluctant Medium Didn’t See This One Coming
My thanks to Jiltaroo http://jiltaroo.wordpress.com/ for nominating the Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe for the One Lovely Blog Award. Being a novice blogger, I didn’t even know it existed, but thank you, thank you.
I understand these are the requests when you are nominated:
1. Include the blog award logo in your post. (Check)
2. Thank the person who nominated you. (Check)
3. Nominate 15 other people.
4. Tell 7 random things about yourself. (Hmmm)
I’ll be back later to work on these. Thanks Jiltaroo! G G Collins
15 people and their blogs: In no particular order.
Seven random things about me:
I believe animals communicate with us
My spirit animal is a wolf
I’m a chile head (that’s a person who likes chiles)
I like The Shed’s margaritas best (see below for story on The Shed)
My favorite place to shop in Santa Fe is Jackalope (see below for story)
I’m a Francophile
I enjoy Canadian and British TV programs
The Plaza: Heart and Soul of Santa Fe
In the Pueblo Tewa language, the word bu-ping-geh, translates to “center-heart-place.” That describes Santa Fe’s central plaza well. Town plazas were the social network of times gone by—no wireless network needed. This public square was designed by Spanish soldiers a decade before Plymouth Rock saw its first Pilgrims. Originally, it was larger, extending all the way to what would be the location of the St. Francis Cathedral. Not surprising, the plaza is on the National Register of Historic Places
Anything and everything important happened at the plaza. Residents gathered there to celebrate when Mexico achieved its independence from Spain. It was also here that the town’s people learned the United States had annexed them and they were now going to be called New Mexico. The citizens of Santa Fe were not amused.
Today, the plaza is home to the famous Indian and Spanish Markets, fiestas, concerts, holiday lights, and the first place visitors want to see. When a Santa Fe newbie stops me and asks, “Where’s the plaza?” I usually think amateur, and smile remembering when I first looked for the plaza years ago.
For our Reluctant Medium, Rachel Blackstone, the plaza is a special place. While some locals avoid it, because of tourism, Rachel adores it because of the mix of residents and international visitors. It draws her as she walks from appointment to appointment passing by the Palace of the Governors with a quick hello to those she knows. She and friend Chloe loved drinks on the Ore House balcony, before the restaurant closed, and Rachel, along with her co-workers at High Desert Country have pick-up meetings at La Fonda. And of course, The Shed restaurant is a short block off the plaza.
West San Francisco is one of the Reluctant Medium’s favorite streets in Santa Fe. The Lensic Theater is here and has been beautifully restored and transformed into the city’s performing arts center. More on it another time. Restaurant Tia Sophia’s is also along the way. Breakfasts are great and affordable–lunch too. As we walk along this narrow street, the St. Francis Cathedral becomes more and more apparent.
Now, we’ve come to the intersection of San Francisco and Lincoln Avenue. We
have arrived. You’ll notice the plaza shows off Pueblo, Territorial and Spanish architecture. If we make a right and go upstairs, there’s a great place to eat called San Francisco Bar and Grill. It has had several incarnations in Santa Fe, but Rachel Blackstone likes this one best. Rachel’s favorites here are the Tuna Niçoise and Mediterranean salads.
Below is the Plaza Bakery-Haagen Dazs. There’s never a bad time for ice cream and fresh-baked goodies. It’s good to announce the Plaza Café on Lincoln has reopened after a long absence to renovate. This is the first meal for many visitors to the City Different. Welcome back.
Throughout the plaza you’ll find a drug store, jewelry, pottery, clothing and culinary stores, a bank, the New Mexico Museum of Art at one corner and La Fonda at another. Dominating the north side is the Palace of the Governors, although it doesn’t look much like a palace as compared to some in Europe. It has an enthralling history which we’ll cover in the future. The tunnels and holes that were dug in the floor are endlessly fascinating. But the main attraction here for visitors is the American Indian artwork that is sold on the portal (porch) of the museum. Most of the artists are more than willing to talk about how they create it.
But let’s soak up the plaza at the moment. There are a few curiosities. The obelisk in the center is a war memorial. Some of the words are shocking. I was appalled when I read it. We can be thankful that reasoning, caring humans no longer think in such terms.
Music is a frequent accompaniment in the plaza. Not just in the bandstand, but musicians come to play their favorite instruments. One man brings his pets: a dog, a cat, and a rat. They all sit quietly one on top the other. We feel a little sorry for them, but they are well trained and you may take a photo, just ask first. These are the things that make the plaza the place to meet people and enjoy local color.
Two things we miss: the Ore House restaurant that had been a resident of the
plaza for decades. At one time they offered nearly 100 different flavored margaritas and the best place to people watch. Sigh. Also on the missing list are the flagstones the plaza used to have. Alas, it was rumored that people kept stealing the stones, so now it has grass which needs irrigation in this dry climate. During the summer, hanging baskets of exploding color brighten it even further.
The plaza is both a starting point and a jumping off point. It is a good place to just be. Grab a bench and enjoy. Mañana will take care of itself.
For more information on Santa Fe: http://www.santafe.org/
— G G Collins
Ghost Story of the Week
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.
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.
For the answer, check back next Sunday.
Answer to last week’s psychic question: The 7-minute man. Gotcha! No one answered this one correctly.
The Shed: The Legend Continues
When thinking of Santa Fe, it’s easy to visualize azure skies, crisp mornings and The Shed. Located in Seña Plaza on Palace Avenue, across the street from St. Francis Cathedral, it has a prime location one block from the historical plaza. For almost 60 years, The Shed has been serving the best chile Hatch, NM can grow. Originally, it was only open for lunch. Lines were long, they can still be long, but the waiting is pleasant in the Prince courtyard where both residents and visitors alike wait with anticipation.
Reluctant Medium Rachel Blackstone and her friend Chloe Valdez, are
frequently found sitting at the bar enjoying both the margaritas and the food. Rachel prefers the house margarita (she thinks they’re the best in town), but Chloe gets the pomegranate version claiming it is healthier. It is certainly pink. Whether you chow down on green chile chicken enchiladas or one of Chloe’s favorites, garlic shrimp with calabacitas, all entrees come with garlic bread—not sopapillas. It’s tradition.
Seña Plaza dates back to 1692. After the Spanish reconquest of New Mexico, Captain Arias de Quiros was hailed as a hero. For his contributions he was given land just north of the cathedral. He farmed most of the property and lived in a small house, which no longer exists.
Later, Don José Seña built a 33-room hacienda, situated around a large courtyard. He and his wife Doña Isabel had 11 children and they occupied all but the building on the north side of the courtyard which housed the livestock and servants. The structure was so large that it was temporary home to state government after a fire burned the capitol building in 1892.
There are two other haciendas, with courtyards, in Seña Plaza: Trujillo Plaza which housed the office of the Manhattan Project during WWII and the L. Bradford Prince home which is where The Shed is located, hence Prince courtyard.
William Penhallow Henderson, artist and builder, remodeled the large structure in 1927, enlarging the courtyard, adding a second story to the back of the U-shaped hacienda. In Chris Wilson’s book The Myth of Santa Fe, he writes: “To unify the old and new portions, he developed a stylized vocabulary of light stucco heavy posts and lintels, and a Territorial style brick dentil coping.”
Fast-forward to the most recently completed century. The Carswell family
moved to New Mexico from Illinois, after a stop in Carmel. The artsy family learned New Mexican cooking from their Hispanic neighbors and decided to open a restaurant circa 1952, with an official opening of July 4, 1953. The location was in Burro Alley. It was literally the shed where both burros and wood was kept. There were 22 seats in this first incarnation.
In 1960, The Shed moved to its current location. As time and space has allowed, it has expanded to nine dining rooms, the bar and the anteroom where customers can wait. The entry includes a tiny kiva fireplace which puts out a surprising amount of heat.
Low-down: Watch your head as you enter the purple front door. We’re taller than our forefathers of the 1600s, so duck!
The Shed has garnered a slew of awards, although fans don’t need them to know what we like. These include the James Beard Foundation’s “America’s Classic Award” in 2003. The Food Network’s “$40 a Day” show with Rachael Ray, has featured it and New Mexico Magazine gave it their 2011 “Best Eats” nod.
The reasons for this are many. The colorful restaurant–with original art–is just plain fun, the staff is congenial and adds to the enjoyment, and then there’s the food. Red chile is ground fresh each day and the red chile sauce reflects this. Just try the carne adovado or the pollo adobo. The guacamole is smooth as butter, and of course, there is the award-winning Shed burger. The restaurant also has veggie options.
Don’t forget dessert. Our Reluctant Medium loves the zabaglione, a luscious Italian (yes, Italian) custard with cointreau and white port. Decadent. But oh my, then there is the mocha cake and the lemon soufflé. One can’t go wrong choosing any one of them.
The heart and soul of The Shed, is the three generations of Carswells who have put their all into the restaurant. Today Courtney Carswell and family continue the tradition of New Mexican cooking, blending the old and the new, the Mexican and Pueblo Indian cuisines. The queues show how successful this is. See you in line!
For more information on The Shed: http://sfshed.com/Restaurant.html
— G G Collins
Ghost Story of the Week
La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa has probably the most famous of the Santa Fe ghost stories. Julia Staab who died in her prime at 52 reportedly haunts the hotel. It has been the subject of television shows such as Unsolved Mysteries and Celebrity Ghost Stories, and in print at The Dallas Morning News.
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.