April 14 – 20
Our Sante Fe touring continues with the historic downtown, waterfalls, mountains and, of course, eating out. This time we have our pals in town to make it more memorable.
Old Town Santa Fe
I visited a few of these places before with my good friend Wendy, but they were definitely worth seeing again with Pat. There’s no shortage of historic churches in the Southwest, and we’re on a mission to see as many as possible.
First up, the Loretto Chapel, home of The Miraculous Staircase with a simply gorgeous altar. This chapel dates from the 1870’s and was built for the Sisters of Loretto.
The story of the staircase goes like this, according to the chapel brochure. “…the Chapel had a design flaw: there was no way to get to the choir loft from the chapel! Many carpenters were called in for advice, but all came up with the same answer…..It was a question of using a ladder or rebuilding the balcony. Seeking divine guidance, the Sisters made a Novena to their patron saint, Saint Joseph the Carpenter. As legend has it, on the ninth and final day, a mysterious carpenter arrived to design and construct a circular staircase to the choir loft. The tools on his donkey were just a saw, carpenter’s square, a hammer and tubs in which to soak the wood. His ‘miraculous staircase’ contains 33 steps in two full 360-degree turns. Their staircase has no center support, nor is it held from its sides. When the staircase was complete, the carpenter disappeared without seeking payment.” Amazing to think this structure essentially holds itself together with no nails. Oh, and the railing was added later since the Sisters found it scary to climb without one.
Next we walked over to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
There’s Pat walking right over and using the crosswalk, too.
The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is one of my favorites.
The cathedral was constructed of locally quarried rock beginning in 1869. This chapel is the only remaining part of the original adobe church dating back to 1714. The statue of the Blessed Virgin in the altar panel is the oldest one of Mary in the U.S.
Signs of Spring outside in the prayer garden. I almost caught this lovely bird on one of the statues, but the church bells started chiming the hour and scared him away.
Hardly a bad day for stained glass in this town with the seemingly perpetual sunshine. Favorite windows from the Loretto Chapel and cathedral.
There’s really a waterfall near here? Seemed hard to believe given the extreme dry conditions. We needed a hike, so we drove 20 minutes or so north to Nambé Falls to see for ourselves.
Not the most impressive waterfall we’ve ever seen, but there was indeed water cascading over rocks. Practically a miracle in this desert area.
The sound of flowing water was music to ours ears though, and the views of the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains weren’t bad either.
Let’s talk about a “real” hike shall we? I read about a trail that offered “absolutely gorgeous” views at the top of Atalaya Mountain, at an elevation of 9,121 feet. Supposedly 4.5 miles and rated as a moderate trail. Sure, we can do this I say. It’ll be fun, I say. Well it was fun, but turned out to be 7.5 miles from where we parked (oops), with an elevation change of more than 1700 feet. That means steep switchbacks on the way up that feel suspiciously like climbing and toes mashing in the front of your boots as your try to break your fall on the way down.
Yes, it was gorgeous at the top with a view of Santa Fe waaay down in the distance.
We took a little time to rest at the top and enjoy the view. I’ve since read reviews of this trail with the true distance from St. John’s College where we started and rated as difficult. That made us feel better since it sure seemed longer and harder than advertised and took us four hours. Good cardio day.
Tent Rocks – Take 2
Our friends Lisa & Al from Florida did indeed join us for part of this week and they agreed that Tent Rocks looked like a good place for a hike. About 30 miles south of Santa Fe, but so worth the drive back. It’s one of my favorite spots for this whole area, so was happy to re-trace our steps here.
I think our friends were equally amazed at the surroundings here. Lisa & Al posing for me in the slot canyon.
We got there early enough to make it to the top this time, and Lisa was able to take our picture together.
Just the coolest rock formations here. Pat points out the obvious, as if you could miss these babies.
The rest of my pics since this place is just irresistible if you have a camera in hand. This is what a yucca about to bloom looks like (finally!), view from the top of the trail and the close up with the ant-sized people below, the distance view, more tent rocks and the clusters of yellow flowers now in bloom. Those flowers just appeared since our last visit the week before.
All The Other Stuff
We had some great meals out with Lisa & Al. I just had to have those sopapillas again, so back we go to Tomasita’s. We also went back for our second round at Joe’s Dining with them. The place is decorated like a diner, but is truly upscale, complete with a nice wine list. And they have a nice array of gluten free options. We may have corrupted them with our fast food habit, however. We talked them into Jimmy John’s subs for a picnic at Tent Rocks, but Lisa returned the favor by awakening our latent Pringles craving. You simply have to pop them in your mouth whole.
The other epiphany we had about food here is the heat factor. Everything is hot, spicy hot. Pat and I learned our lesson about ordering salsa and queso on the side. No matter what you ask for, it’s too spicy for the man and mostly too hot for me, too. When your lips burn, I’m out. Of course the question is red or green, meaning chiles, and Christmas is the answer if you want both. I couldn’t touch red, but could manage to eat green, in moderation. Lisa & Al are going to try their hand at growing the famous Hatch chiles when they get home to Florida. Al has an amazing gardening gift, so I’m sure if anyone can make a go of it there, he can.
We also took them to the Railyard (my way of getting close to Tomasita’s again), so we could browse the shops and visit REI. Our friends like the cycling gear, and Pat is in the market for hiking equipment. He used to backpack before we were married, and always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. After reading a book by a guy in his 50’s who hiked the AT, the dream is alive again! Actually taking up that hobby is perfect since we’ll be going to quite a few places with great trails. I can drop off, pick up and re-provision as needed, and he gets good “me” time all by his lonesome. (And I don’t have to sleep on the ground.)
Next up – We relocate to Taos and Lisa & Al do, too. See you on the way!