Saturday, April 30, 2011

April in Santa Fe

April in Santa Fe has flown. It's been such an eventful month, keeping the blog up-to-date has been a challenge. So, here's a somewhat brief recap of our stay.

We arrived at Santa Fe Skies RV Park on April 1st right behind our friends Gene and Anne. We met these good folks in Kerrville and were pleasantly surprised to discover we were headed for the same park on the same day. We enjoyed their company for the first few days of our stay, then they were back on the road toward their home in Missouri. We look forward to crossing paths again when we're in their neck of the woods.

Many of Santa Fe's museums offer free admission on Friday evenings. On the first Friday of each month the Georgia O'Keefe Museum opens its doors for a free evening. Turns out our arrival day coincided with the first Friday. In very uncharacteristic fashion, we headed out shortly after we setup and did a tour of Georgia's place. We enjoyed the gorgeous display of her work and learned a thing or two about this inspiring woman's life. It was all very interesting. And, the price was sure right!

It was a very pleasant evening, so we strolled from the museum to Old Town Santa Fe. The predominant downtown landmark is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, located just off the plaza. When construction began in 1869, the cathedral was built around the original adobe church. Plans called for tall spires on each side, but when construction funds ran out they were omitted. The result was a striking French Revival that definitely stands out amongst the old adobes and looks a bit unfinished.

The cathedral is an integral part of Santa Fe history. The Catholics showed up in 1598, a dozen years before the city was founded. The original church was erected in the city's founding year and named after Santa Fe's patron saint.

The interior is majestic and immense. Despite its size, it is a very peaceful place that invites visitors to pause, reflect and pray. The cathedral is home to an active parish and is used daily. During our Friday night visit, a young couple was running through their wedding rehearsal in a side chapel.

Our first weekend in Santa Fe turned out to be some of the best weather days of the month. On Saturday, we headed out with Gene and Anne and checked out the Santa Fe Farmer's Market at the railyard.

The four of us headed to Old Town to check out the Loretto Chapel. Shortly after the Santa Fe Cathedral was completed, the Sisters of Loretto decided to build a chapel for their Academy of Our Lady of Light. The chapel served the school for some 90 years. The school closed in 1968 and the chapel was deconsecrated shortly thereafter. Today, the chapel serves as venue for weddings and special occasions. It's primary purpose, however, is a museum for "The Miraculous Staircase".

The staircase, which legend says was constructed or inspired by St. Joseph the Carpenter, was built sometime between 1877 and 1881. It took at least six months to build, without a single nail, and has two 360-degree turns with no visible means of support. No matter how it came to be, it is a magnificent piece of craftsmanship.

There's no doubt that Santa Fe is an "artsy" town. Visitors don't have to look far to see beautiful and unique sculpture, jewelry, silversmithing and other works of art. Artists, it seems, are everywhere!

Dear friends Rick and Cindy arrived from the Bay Area to spend a few days with us in Santa Fe. We spent a sunny but breezy afternoon perusing the many galleries along Canyon Road. These intricate weaves were stunning.

With the New Mexico sun shining brightly, it was easy to spend time outside the Canyon Road galleries admiring the sculptures.

This work is a delightful interpretation of the old game of Roshambo.

One of our favorite stops was a gallery with a very moving sculpture garden. Dozens of wind sculptures quietly danced while this wind harp hummed melodically in concert with the breeze.

Rick and Paul basked in the sun in these solid rock chairs, which were amazingly comfortable. It was the next best thing to a hot stone massage!

As the afternoon breezes began to cool, we decided to get out of the wind and head to Museum Hill for a visit to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture.

The museum entrance is "guarded" by this great Apache warrior.

Here, Now and Always is a long-term exhibit that tells the story of the native people of New Mexico. The voices of 50 Native Americans guide visitors through displays of more than 1,300 artifacts accompanied by poetry, song, story and historical discussion. Among the tools and treasures of the southwest is this beautiful display of a Hopi woman's wedding presentation.

While our days with Rick and Cindy were spent touring galleries and museums, the nights were filled with fabulous food. Together we enjoyed three of Santa Fe's finest restaurants. It's tough to pick a favorite. But, if we have to, we choose The Compound on Canyon Road. Everything - the ambience, the food, the wine, the service - was exquisite!

By the time Rick and Cindy headed back to California, the four of us were in a serious food coma! We so enjoyed our time with these fabulous friends. Thanks so much for getting away for some fun in Santa Fe, guys!

After consuming all of those calories, we've made an extra effort to get out and exercise. During our much-needed daily walks, we've especially enjoyed watching Santa Fe come into bloom.

We had the good fortune of timing our Santa Fe visit to coincide with the travels of our favorite Oakland neighbors Mary Kay and Matt. These friends were in Santa Fe for a few days, so we joined them for afternoon refreshments and conversation at their hotel in Old Town. It was wonderful to catch up. We wish these two safe and happy travels as they continue on their southwest journey.

We've spotted many of these fun little creatures in our park this month. Now we know where the Easter Bunny hangs out in Santa Fe!

Another special treat was the arrival of Facebook friends and fellow travelers Donna and Keith at Santa Fe Skies this week. We had yet to meet this fine couple, so it was great to connect face-to-face. Although the weather didn't really cooperate during their visit, they managed to get out to see the sights, have a stroke of good luck, and pick up one really nifty looking new bike.

When we haven't been out having fun with all our visiting friends, it seems like we've been dealing with the weather. After our arrival, we discovered that April isn't the best month to see Santa Fe. It tends to be a windy time, and this year it's been exceptionally so. Mother Nature has doled out 50-plus mph winds, rain, sleet and snow this month. Sometimes all in the same day! While the extreme weather has kept us inside more than we like, it has provided some dramatic views from inside our moose. Here shafts of rain and snow drape the not-too-distant Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

With all the weather this month, cabin fever is starting to set in. Even our boy kitty is ready to roll. We're slated to head toward the Four Corners area tomorrow. But, with the forecast calling for gale force winds here and snow along our route on the first day of May, we're not sure when we'll get out of here.

It is almost May. Isn't it?


Jim and Sandie said...

Sounds like you really had a great time (regardless of the weather) with friends and sight seeing. But I sure hope the weather starts to get better real quick. We're headed towards Albuquerque tomorrow - gonna take probably three or four days to get there but I don't want to face any of those winds.

E Squared and Mui said...

The weather doesn't seem to have stopped you much ... nice collection of things you've seen and done, and of course, time with friends. So, if you were to go back, what time of the year would you pick?

Deborah said...

We have reservations at the same RV park mid-September thru mid-October. I would love your opinion as to whether or not that would be a good time of year to be in Santa Fe, and if you liked the RV park.

Paul and Mary said...

Jim and Sandie - Now that we're out of SF, the weather should get better! (Last night's ABQ weather reported that this was the windiest April in 12 years!)

ES&M and Deborah - We hear that Northern NM is gorgeous in September and October. So, Deborah's timing is good.

We've yet to write our review of Santa Fe Skies, but it's on our "recommended" list. We'd give it a 7 or 8 out of 10. It's probably your best bet in Santa Fe.

squawmama said...

Wow... Friends & Food & a GREAT town. What more could one want? Glad you had such a good time with all!
Have fun & Travel Safe

The Ramblin RiverCat said...

I have a friend who's writing a book about the Four Corners area. How did that go?