New Mexico— 1st Stop, Santa Fe


“Red or Green?” Yes, it really is the state motto of New Mexico. They take their chiles seriously. This picture was what much of the drive to Santa Fe looked like.


This is the oldest capital city in the country—over 400 years old! ALL the buildings look like this. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but to say most of them do is not. LOTS of brown adobe buildings—homes and businesses. In fact there is a city ordinance that all architecture has to be of this style, so even Hobby Lobby and IHOP are brown adobe.  We stayed at Los Suenos de Santa Fe, which was no-frills, but comfortable and close to town, and we found a place to do our T25 workouts. (And we ended up with 3 flat tires on our bikes from all the Texas tacks we encountered!)



One of our first stops was the famous Loretto Chapel.


Have you heard the story? Here’s how it goes (roughly…it’s been a while): Somehow the chapel was built back in the 1800s without a way to access the choir loft. Carpenters were called in but none could design a staircase up to the exceptionally high loft that wouldn’t take up too much of the little chapel’s seating area below. So the sisters prayed to Joseph, Patron Saint of Carpenters, and on the last day of prayer, there appeared a man on a donkey who was looking for work. He designed and built this amazing structure and then vanished without a trace.


When the sisters went to the local lumberyard, figuring he bought the wood there and so would have left some type of information, the lumberyard owner said no one had been there to purchase wood and he knew nothing about it. The sisters even placed an ad in the local paper, offering to pay the man. The staircase itself is an innovative design, as it makes two complete 360 degree turns yet doesn’t have any internal supports on the spiral. It was made to flex even though the concept of flexibility along with strength wasn’t really considered in this type of construction until much later, and studies done on the wood since that time cannot identify the species of tree it came from. On top of all that, it was built using wooden pegs without nails or glue. All this led to Joseph getting the credit and the staircase being considered miraculous.


(Ok, how scary must it have been to walk up and down this thing, in a nun’s habit, singing and trying to look poised??!!)


It was a very pretty little chapel with a compelling history!

It had been much too long for us without a National Park visit, so we quickly made our way to Bandelier National Monument.


I’ve found I like posting a “typical” scene from places we’ve visited. Helps me remember the general “feel”.




This was a super fun place to visit—maybe one of my favorites (yes, it is possible to have many, many favorites. Smile) Visiting the cliff dwellings of the Pueblo Indians from 500 years ago was thrilling—while cathedrals were being built all over Europe, Native Americans were working on their own stone structures.


This view overlooks what used to be a circle of family “apartments” around a central courtyard area.


This was taken from inside one of the dwellings in the rock cliff—definitely the “view-property”.


These cozy little rooms were perfect for working on a Jr. Ranger program,


sitting in the fire-pit to think,


or playing hide-and-seek.


I think this was the mail slot.



This is a picture of a postcard that shows the overview of the Alcove House. We climbed up all those stairs (& more) to get to this dwelling. We were completely amazed at the structures in the rock, the ladders, and the  ingenuity of using the land the natives found themselves in.


These two pictures are looking down from some of the ladders to the Alcove House.



Another postcard of an artist’s imaginings of what the Alcove House might have once looked like.


On the Kiva at the Alcove House—definitely another piece of prime view real estate!


The “roof” of Alcove House.


All that flooding in Colorado in September??! This was downhill from there. We were AMAZED at the size of some of the trees that had been washed out along the riverbed that ran through the park. The flood wiped out the campground and picnic area and there were HUGE piles of debris for a good part of our hike back to Alcove House. The drinking fountain below didn’t fare very well. The power of water….


After our day at Bandelier, we were excited to visit our dear friends in Los Alamos, and we just happened to get in on their son’s birthday dinner and celebration! Some of their family members might be a bit geeky, like some of our family members, and his creative mom decorated an amazing circuit-board birthday cake which I have been asked to replicate for Spunky Monkey’s bday when it comes around. Smile


(I guess I’m not very geeky—couldn’t figure out how to get this one to turn sideways…but you get the idea!)











While out on our trip, we’ve become quite drawn in to the Jonathan Park CDs. The first set of radio-drama stories takes place in Santa Fe and Abiquiu, and talks about Ghost Ranch, where the New Mexico state fossil, Coelophysis, was found and where there was a dinosaur graveyard. When we realized how close to Ghost Ranch we were (an hour or so north of Santa Fe, in Georgia O’Keefe territory) we just had to see it! It is now used as a conference and retreat center, but it does have a tiny little archaeology museum and some beautiful hiking!


Large sections of dirt were removed from the dinosaur graveyard, put into storage, and are still being excavated here.



Coelophysis was just a little guy—super cute. Maybe he was the domestic dinosaur? Yesterday’s dog?


Oh, he’s always the jokester, that one!!


It was near the end of the day, but we just had to see the dinosaur graveyard, so we hiked a short ways to it.


The Dinosaur Graveyard!! (Not much to see, because the fossils have all been removed, but still fun to be there nonetheless!)




We made it back to the car by the light of the full moon—beautiful Southwest!




Every now and then we do try to have “normal” school—this was Tuesday Teatime, with poetry, and hats, and brownies!! (Back when we were eating brownies…more on that to come…)



We got out to visit some of the art galleries Santa Fe is famous for…


Took an afternoon to visit the Santa Fe Children’s Museum:


It wasn’t all that big, but the kids had a great time—there were bubbles & pulleys…


…pendulums and maker-tables…


…snakes being fed and kaleidoscopes to sit in…


…light tables and rockets to build…


…and of course—THEATRE!!!!




Sweet Pea even found time to work on her newsletter, we biked on a lovely bike path along a dry riverbed, and we even fit in some ice skating!


Whew!! Santa Fe was fun! On to Albuquerque…