I’m back in RI so any further travelogues will be written with a sort of wistfulness towards a vacation well spent. Not that it’s all complaining from my end. This land is big and the desert is great and beautiful and strange and calm but there are certain hometown amenities that I would miss if I stayed away forever. Like going to Goose Wing beach and floating in large, hot tide pools then eating tasty, fried seafood lake-side. Or dinner and drinks at the Red Fez followed by 13 hours of sleep in your own bed.
On Monday morning, I woke up early and had some mostly disappointing breakfast in the school’s dining hall. Then I walked down the hill, peeking over fences and peeping into yards, all the way down to Canyon Road and Acequia Madre. Everything is beautiful and even the public roads are swollen with interesting combinations of flowers.
I’m still a little in awe of how much I crammed into Monday. So, not only did I walk down to the downtown area (that’s Google Maps Virgin Mobile Application: the true savior of this trip) but I stopped to check out a whirly gig garden and spent some time drinking iced coffee and reading a few chapters of my book under a tree.
There is a lot of bad art in Santa Fe.
My first stop was the Church of San Miguel.
Where I took a lot of boring architectural detail photos and lit some offering candles for my grandparents.
Right up next to the cross, like a total suck up.
There were hundreds of fascinating milagros nailed to the frame supporting the church’s bell.
And the confessional was rather interesting, as well.
Following this, I paid a visit to the “Oldest House in America”.
I didn’t really have the heart to tell the very nice owner that there are older houses in the US. I guess late 1700s is pretty damn old for the southwest.
The La Fonda hotel looks old but is actually kind of new (1922. 1922 is new-fangled when you live in a city of 1880s and 1890s everything.) I walked around the state house and the surrounding area and eventually had a rather uninspiring lunch by myself. Santa Fe is noted as a foodie city but I found myself really disappointed by the restaurants that were in my price bracket. Providence totally takes it when it comes to the availability of affordable, delicious foods.
After lunch, I digested with a nice trolley tour around the area. I was, by far, the youngest person on board. They let me sit shot gun which was great because I loved listening to the driver talk.
He grew up visiting his grandparents in Santa Fe so, while he provided some hard facts about the area, he also interjected a lot of memories and stories about being in this place and watching it live and change. It provided a warm and full experience and gives an area color. Sometimes I toy with the idea of giving historical walking tours of Providence neighborhoods and I imagine that I would advertise them as “70% fact, 30% opinion”. Like, it’s nice to know where the stone for a particular building was quarried but it’s also good to know where the best gelato can be found or how excited it was when grandpa would take you fishing in the irrigation ditch using little bits of cheese as bait. Maybe someday I’ll put together an Emotional Tour, marking and connecting places where I have cried.
There was a brief stop to spy some architectural salvage.
Followed by stopping to see the Miraculous Staircase at the Loretto Chapel.
I’m going to copy and paste a bit of text from the chapel’s website because I think that this is some important info to know and I don’t want it going unread:
Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters’ prayers.
The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway’s construction.
Apparently, the only thing keeping it up is the perfection of its construction.
The lady in the front had her boyfriend following her around with a camera so that she could take pouty glamor shots throughout the church. He would wordlessly hand her the camera every few minutes so that she could scowl and delete the ones that she didn’t like. I found the whole thing to be one of the more distasteful acts that I have seen. Sadly, you can’t buy shame.
After spending some quality time in the Loretto gift shop (Catholics have such a good hustle), I hustled over to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi to walk the labyrinth and slip inside for some shade.
Third in the series of downtown Santa Fe confessionals.
St. Francis has a very nice reliquary and the glass fantastically reflects other parts of the church.
Afterwards, I purchased a nice, big silver ring from an estate and pawn jewelry shop across the way from the cathedral. It came from next door to where the Manhattan Project was developed.
I’m impressed by how easy it was for me to pack lightly for this trip. In fact, I may have even over packed! It’s crazy, but you wouldn’t believe how few things I actually need for survival over the course of a week. I’m even considering buying an old Samsonite carry on bag (much like the one in the Rookie Magazine “Power Packing” article) and making it my designated “light packing” bag. And even us poor plebes can enjoy Louis Vuitton’s animated guide to the art of packing but, beware, the art of packing does include piped-in music.