24 Hours in Santa Fe

After I gave a paper at a conference in Albuquerque, I rented a car and set out for Santa Fe. Twenty Four hours in this town, I soon discovered, was nothing but a tease. Santa Fe was easy on the eyes with its earth-toned, stucco buildings and laid back, friendly people. And the food was crazy good. So here’s the run down on my 24 hours.

The town

Loads of color everywhere! The center of town warlike an artwork itself with streets laid out and adorned with beautiful, colorful things to look at on every corner. The market in the center of town had stalls with vibrant-colored rugs, pottery, and baskets.

Love these baskets.

There were also dried red peppers all over. Hanging as decoration or for use, these bundles of red peppers were sometimes three feet long. Peppers and chiles everywhere actually. There’s green chile ice cream, red pepper cookies, and really in any food you can imagine.

One of my first stops was the Loretto Chapel, which is a landmark of Santa Fe and though the outside is somewhat unassuming, the inside holds the real treasure.

A wooden spiral staircase, called the miraculous staircase, winds its way up to the second floor of the church. The Loretto Chapel was finished 1878 but once it was done, there was no way to access the choir twenty-two feet above. The story goes that carpenters couldn’t figure out how to build it, so the Sisters made a novena and then someone showed up on a donkey, looking for work. He built the staircase.

The art

I can’t tell you how much I adored the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. First of all, I’ve always loved her art, but seeing it in this intimate venue that felt both warm and open, was really special.

Georgia O’Keefe was a twentieth-century artist known for her large, bold flowers as well as her southwestern landscapes and dried, white bones set against desert-scapes.The collection at this museum is the largest permanent collection of O’Keefe’s in the world.

My favorite was this white flower against the red hill backdrop called (not surprisingly) Red Hills and White Flower.

 

The New Mexico Museum of Art is the oldest, state-run art museum in New Mexico. It’s in an adobe building and has works from the Taos and Santa Fe art colonies.

There was modern and contemporary art from New Mexico and the Southwest. Outside, lots of beautiful sculptures like this one.

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The landscape

That afternoon, I decided to drive north to try to see some pueblos, which was pretty adventurous of me since I’ve got zero sense of direction. but that’s why there’s GPS, right? Blue skies and open roads were a real lure and I was happy to set out.

I wish I had more time to explore but I drove around for about an hour and just enjoyed being out. Didn’t see any pueblos though, because when I tried to go along some windy desert road, my signal dropped and I got nervous. With that zero sense of direction problem, I had real fears that I might get lost on the sandy roads of the southwest and never be heard from again… So I turned back. But the drive was nice! Will have to take paper map and maybe a navigator person with me next time…

 

Sleeps and Eats

There were lots of places to stay, but I discovered El Paradero B and B and it was perfect. A small place with a handful of rooms, El Paradero is comfortable and pretty inside. While I didn’t spend a lot of time here, I felt right at home in the little library having a cup of tea. Breakfast was hearty and delicious. Chilequiles, black beans, and fresh fruit. Yum!

La Fonda on the Plaza is a beautiful hotel situated in the center of town. While I didn’t stay there, I had lunch there earlier that day and La Fonda took tacos to the next level.

 

The next day was a day to nerd out and so I spent hours in bookstores. Heaven, right? The first place I discovered was Dumont Books and Maps of the West, which is a place I could’ve spent the entire day–lots of old maps and books. So cozy.

 

There were tons of color and black and white maps of the west and books on the history of New Mexico–even one by my great, great grandfather, Benjamin Read! There was also a street named after our family there, so what this means is another trip for me to research all of that when I have more than 24 hours to spare.

The Collected Works Bookstore and Coffee House is an independent, locally owned bookstore that was small and bountiful at the same time. Big windows let in the day’s light and comfortable chairs were pretty inviting.

 

The morning I went, there was live music and so I got my coffee, a stack of books to choose from, and listened to the music.

I loved the warm and earthy feel of this city. The oranges, browns, yellows, and terracottas really spoke to me and had me feeling right at home. Maybe it has something to do with my ancestors living there and so perhaps I felt that pull as well, but there was something about that place–I’ll need to go back soon and stay longer than a day.

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