Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 Trip Nine, Dec. 30, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Winslow, AZ Monday December 30th

La Posada from train side

La Posada from train side

As mentioned yesterday, we are staying at La Posada Hotel. This place is marvelous. It is a combination resort, museum, art gallery, train station, restored historic building, and great restaurant. A brief history.

La Posada entrance way

La Posada entrance way

The hotel is built on a site that had been a hacienda and cattle ranch for generations. It was built by the Fred Harvey Company who had the concession to build hotels and restaurants for the Santa Fe Railway. Mary Jane Coulter was the chief designer and architect for the company and she has designed buildings and/or interiors throughout the Southwest, including the La Fonda in Santa Fe. The hotel was built next to the train tracks; customers would exit the train and enter La Posada directly. Amtrak still stops here today, about 100 trains pass by the location daily. (Yet we hardly hear them.) The old Route 66 was on the other side of the building and grounds.

La Posada lobby

La Posada lobby

Each room is unique and named after a famous person who was a guest here. (Famous in the “old days”, our daughters may recognize about 1/4 of the names.) Our room is named after Leonard Maltin. It is spacious, wood floor, unique wood bed, tile sink and mural in the bath area, hand painted furniture, etc.

La Posada ballroom

La Posada ballroom

The hotel went into decline with the passing of passenger railroad usage and the replacement of US Route 66 with Interstate 40. The railroad was its savior and its downfall. The railroad bought the hotel but converted it into office and train control services. They tore out murals and hand crafted furniture, knocked down walls, etc. But it was not demolished, as happened to other historic rail hotels. In the 1990s, the railway planned to move out and the building became empty and seemed slated for demolition.

La Posada from the Route 66 side

La Posada from the Route 66 side

Allan Affeldt (maybe entrepreneur and past social activist) and his wife Tina Mion (artist) bought the building and began a long period of restoration. Their current project is to put a spa and indoor pool in the basement along with a new museum next door. But for us, the hotel is finished enough.

The restoration has redone all of the rooms. The lobby is full of art work, mainly Mion’s but not exclusively. There are areas to sit and read by a fireplace. The restaurant, the Turquoise Room, is rated top in northern Arizona.

We took an hour-long walking tour of the hotel, noting new designs and regretting changes the BNSF (successor to the Santa Fe Railroad) did to the building.

Standin on the corner in Winslow AZ

Standin on the corner in Winslow AZ

After the tour, we walked downtown Winslow. Downtown does not merit the regard raised by the La Posada. It does include the corner made famous in the Eagles song, Take It Easy. “Well I’m standin’ on the Corner in Winslow Arizona such a fine sight to see, It’s girl my lord in a flat bed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.” The town has taken advantage of the song by erecting a statue and making a small park with a mural in the background.

Sunset at Little Painted Desert

Sunset at Little Painted Desert

We did have lunch downtown and then took an afternoon nap before heading out to catch the sunset at Little Painted Desert County Park. The park is not much in terms of improvements or upkeep but the view was as good as the national park section, although smaller.

Night falls at La Posada

Night falls at La Posada

Tomorrow it is Flagstaff and a few days with Lou and Joyce.

Ed and Chris Dec. 30 8 pm

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2013 Trip Nine, Dec. 29, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Santa Fe

Sunday December 29, Winslow AZ

Yup, we are in the town made famous by the Eagles song. But more about that in Monday’s blog post.

Today was a time of exploration in two varied parts of one national park, Petrified Forest. This high (elevation just under 6,000 feet), dry grasslands suddenly has two elements that spring out and grab your fascination. The Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.

The Painted Desert

The Painted Desert

While I liked science in school, I still am unable to fully recite the myriad of changes that have graced the North American continent. But evidently this area was covered with trees and streams, with vast foliage and water resources.

I don’t intend to provide a detailed science lesson, park rangers would probably find many errors in my recounting. But in effect, weather patterns and continent shift resulted in today’s amazing site.

Painted Desert

Painted Desert

The Painted Desert, north of I-40, features rolling hills of eroded bentonite, a combination of clay and volcanic ash. Erosion over the years has combined to form hills and valleys with varied colors due to the mineral content.

Painted Desert

Painted Desert

The Painted Desert area is colorful, but less so than Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior. The vastness goes on, supposedly the area is about 120 miles long and 60 miles wide.

Painted Desert

Painted Desert

What we observed was smaller; we hiked about a mile along a rim looking primarily north and west. From this location, we believe we were observing the San Francisco mountains over by Flagstaff which we will see soon. On the hike, we met a woman who, a few years ago, had spent time mapping the underground caverns in Blanchard Springs in Arkansas that we visited in late October.

Painted Desert

Painted Desert

The park has restored the Painted Desert Inn, an original and very small lodge used by travelers in the 1920s era. The famous Fred Harvey Company took it over after WWII. Mary Jane Coulter undertook the renovations. She did most of the Fred Harvey Company locations as well as Bright Angel Lodge in the Grand Canyon and the La Posada Hotel in Winslow where we are staying tonight among others. The Painted Desert Inn sits on top of the mesa overlooking the Painted Desert. Guests would have had amazing views.

Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest

After a “lunch” of peanut butter and Ritz crackers washed down with water and Snapple, we went south of the Interstate to visit the Petrified Forest portion of the park. While both of us have seen petrified wood in museums, seeing the massive collection “up close and personal” provided a deeper impression.

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

As you probably know, petrified wood is created from fallen trees covered by a mix of silt, mud, and volcanic ash. This slows the log’s decay and allows silica-laden groundwater to seep into the log and replace the wood fiber with silica. Eventually the silica crystallized into quartz and voila, petrified wood. Later, the trees were revealed when erosion worked its magic.

Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest

The park tells the usual story of vandals and thieves robbing the area of petrified wood over the years, particularly up until the 1930s. This despite the fact that the park was protected beginning in 1906. Without any enforcement agency, looting was rampant. But, there must have been enough to go around as we walked the trail among hundreds of remnants.

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

The variety of colors dazzles one. Obviously many take a shape similar to a small portion of a tree but there are other broken off sections that look only like a quartz type rock.

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

We left the park and headed for Holbrook, AZ. We planned to have a late lunch/early dinner and making 5 pm Mass in Holbrook. The meal went fine at a local diner and we got to church pretty early. However, after we sat in the car for a while doing research for tomorrow’s activities, the priest saw us and came over to indicate the 5 PM Mass was canceled. They only hold it when the teen group is meeting and they were not meeting today. So, no Mass.

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

We finished up our drive to Winslow where we found the La Posada Hotel. Wow, what a place! More tomorrow.

Ed and Chris Sunday Dec. 29 10 PM

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2013 Trip Nine, Dec. 28th, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Gallup New Mexico, Saturday Dec. 28th

our lodging at El Morro RV and Cabins

our lodging at El Morro RV and Cabins

We just had to sleep in this morning. The Ancient Ways Cafe did not open for breakfast until 9 AM so we forced ourselves to sleep longer than usual.

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument

We wanted a meal with protein because our first stop of the day was El Morro National Monument where we expected to do relatively strenuous hiking. For breakfast, the chef split a vegetable omelet in two portions and with potatoes and toast, it was a good start to the day.

We discussed the great weather with the cafe manager; the previous years have been snowy and below zero at this time of the year. Of course he proceeded to mention that only in September is the weather usually nice. Between mud season, wind season, monsoon season, bug season, etc.; September and maybe early October are pretty good months.

The "trail" on top of El  Morro

The “trail” on top of El Morro

El Morro (which means the headland in Spanish) at first resembled Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. However, numerous differences became obvious. First and foremost, you do not walk around El Morro. You walk up it, around the top, and then back down again.

pueblo ruins on top of El Morro

pueblo ruins on top of El Morro

El Morro is not sacred to the local Indians. However, it does have a year round supply of water. This dependable water comes from rain and snow melt; it can get as deep as 12 feet and is not known to have gone dry. Thus it has been an important location for Indians, and colonists from Spain, Mexico, and America.

One of the inscriptions at Inspiration Rock

One of the inscriptions at Inspiration Rock

The base of the cliffs have soft sandstone. Besides Indian petroglyphs, there are carved names and messages from European people as far back as 1605. Unfortunately there have been more modern writings also which have had to be removed.

The pool of water at foot of El Morro

The pool of water at foot of El Morro

After an introductory video, we began our ascent. There are stairs and switchbacks leading to the top 250 feet above us. With the elevation and uneven sandstone surface, the hike was a bit strenuous but rewarding.

Chris along El Morro trail

Chris along El Morro trail


Ed on El  Morro

Ed on El Morro


From the top of El Morro, we were able to see the El Morro valley, the Zuni mountains, and the volcanic craters of the El Malpais area we visited the day before. The hike was good and the views were spectacular.

Looking down at Box Canyon

Looking down at Box Canyon


Cactus on top of the mesa

Cactus on top of the mesa


At one point along the top of the mesa, portions of an abandoned pueblo had been excavated. This had been an 850 room pueblo accommodating 1500 people. It was only occupied from about 1275 to 1350 A.D.

Acoma Pueblo from a distance up on the mesa

Acoma Pueblo from a distance up on the mesa

Our second stop of the day was the Acoma Pueblo (Sky High Pueblo). During winter months, the pueblo is only open on weekends. We had to backtrack to the east in order to visit it. The Acoma Pueblo is on a mesa 370 feet above the valley floor and has been occupied since around 1100 AD.

The Pueblo is on the top of the mesa for safety. There were limited means to the top until a TV show in the 1970s wanted to do a show there and installed a gravel road to the top. It was paved in the 1990s.

Homes in the Acocma Pueblo

Homes in the Acocma Pueblo

The Acoma people now live primarily in valley areas and run several businesses, including a casino/hotel and the pueblo tours and museum. They are noted for their pottery making which they still craft today.

The Sky High pueblo has about 350 homes, which are passed down through the generations on the matriarchal side of the family. Less than 25 people live up there year round; there is no water, electricity, wastewater, etc. Extended families usually return to their homes for feast days and possibly weekends. Today was a busy day due to the Christmas holiday and feast days.

Acoma Pueblo

Acoma Pueblo

The admission price to the pueblo includes a camera permit so we were able to take photos of the buildings. People and dancers were off limits as was the interior of the mission church. Our tour includes a shuttle ride up and down and although given the option to walk down, after El Morro we were willing to take the shuttle.

The tour itself was worthwhile and we gained additional knowledge. However, I have to say that the guide could have been more educational; much of his information was only imparted when people asked questions.

Enchanted Mesa from Acoma

Enchanted Mesa from Acoma

Worse in my mind, the tour seemed more like an extended pitch to buy local arts and crafts. We stopped at about 10 locations and each location was in front of a group of locals selling their wares. Very nice wares, I admit. But each stop was overly long, most of the time, the group was simply standing around. The afternoon was cool and very windy so we were all cold.

From Acoma we drove to Gallup, close to the Arizona border. Given that we did not have lunch and the long hike, we planned to treat ourselves to a steak dinner at a local restaurant. Of course, our iPhone spotted the restaurant at the wrong spot. We had to go to the hotel first and get new directions.

Ed and Chris Dec. 28th

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2013 Trip Nine, Dec. 27, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Ramah,NM Dec. 27th Friday

What a glorious traveling day! People, weather, sites, hikes, dinner and lodging.

Traveling along I-40 in western New Mexico

Traveling along I-40 in western New Mexico

The weather starts cool, in the 20s but rises to the mid 40s. Sunny, blue skies with no clouds. Beautiful for taking hikes. We took multiple, shorter hikes so we can experience various landscapes. The drive west from Albuquerque along I-40 was a new one for us. High desert plains, mesas nearby and mountains farther in the background.

Grants has experienced boom and bust cycles. Booms were in the late 1800s from railroading, around 1900s from lumbering, in the 1930 from carrot and vegetable growing after a dam was constructed, in the 1950s from uranium mining and now from tourists. Each boom was short lived; they hope the tourist era lasts longer.

Mt Taylor in the background

Mt Taylor in the background

In Grants, NM the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the Forestry Department have a joint visitor center. Very well done, multiple video options, great displays, bookstore, and helpful staff. From here, we adjusted our schedule slightly and visited several sites in the El Malpais National Monument area.

Sandstone Bluffs

Sandstone Bluffs

In this area of north central New Mexico, lava flows from historic volcanoes meet great sandstone ridges formed eons ago. There used to be great sand dunes here, similar they say, to the Sahara Desert. Over periods of time, the sand was compressed into sandstone. We visited several parts of the El Malpais Conservation Area and National Monument, heading south from I-40.

Chain of Craters

Chain of Craters

The first area was the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook. The view from the overlook allowed us to see across the valley to the Chain of Craters, see the lava flow down below, and Mount Taylor (11,301 feet above sea level) to the north. The sandstone formations have eroded over time, creating numerous and varied shapes.

La Ventana Arch

La Ventana Arch

Our second stop was at La Ventana Natural Arch. This arch is larger than others we have seen so far. At the arch, we met a woman from Aurora CO who discussed her trips, including trips down the same portion of the Grand Canyon that Chris’ brother Lou undertook earlier this year and hiked down to the Grand Canyon and spent several nights there. Oh yes, she appeared to be 15-20 years older than us.

La Ventana Arch

La Ventana Arch

Our third stop was at the Narrows where the sandstone ridges come closest to the lava flows. We hiked along the top of the ridge. The trail here was sandy as the weather and wear erode the sandstone back into the sand it started as millions of years ago.

The Narrows

The Narrows

Our fourth walk was at the Lava Flows where we hiked out onto the most recent lava flows from McCarty’s Crater. This hike was our shortest. The trail is only marked by lava stone cairns and the rock is extremely sharp and hard on the bottom of shoes.

Lava formations

Lava formations

Because the Chain of Craters mountains go north to south, we had to re-trace our path and go back north to visit the rest of El Malpais National Monument and to reach our lodging for the night. On the way back, we stopped at the Bureau of Land Management ranger station and talk to a park volunteer. While the gentleman lives in Albuquerque, he is from Kenosha WI. We mentioned that we knew a woman who was from Kenosha and her parents had owned Mullen’s Store there. He recognized the store name from his childhood.

The fifth hike was at El Calderon area of the National Monument. To reach this portion, we travel one of NM’s scenic highways, Route 53. The trees start to change from the short, shrub like pinon trees to larger pine trees. We hiked along the trail to the double sink holes. These two sink holes are about 80 feet deep so we stayed safely back from the edge. The shadows were growing long so the photos may not demonstrate the depth properly.

El Calderon sinkhole

El Calderon sinkhole

As we headed west to our evening lodging, we stopped at the El Malpais visitor center. The park ranger was from the near by town of San Rafael and we discussed the local town and how much he enjoys his position.

Our lodging this evening is at the El Morro RV Camp and Cabins which also runs the Ancient Way Cafe. (El Morro National Monument is one of tomorrow’s stops.) Our cabin is a small log cabin in the middle of nowhere. Even my Verizon hot spot is not getting good reception.

I had hoped to get a nice sunset shot in this area but the trees and ridges precluded that. I did have an opportunity to chat with a local gentlemen who proceeded to tell me his life story.

Dinner was at the Ancient Way Cafe. The crew here has been working together for over 5 years. Late dinner is only Friday and Saturday night, otherwise they close at 5 pm. The meal was pork loin roast, broccoli and mushrooms, sweet potato casserole (with pumpkin and tapioca, yummy!) and salad with home-made dressings. A very nice and surprising touch. A small location, only 5 tables. Chris sat the manager down and we talked to him and the chef. Plus, they had a harpist playing during dinner.

A very nice day.

Ed and Chris 8 AM Dec. 28th due to slow loading of pictures
Last two pictures added Dec. 28th at 8 PM

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2013, Trip Nine, Dec. 26, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Thursday, Dec. 26 Santa Fe

Christmas time in Santa Fe has come to an end. Tomorrow we head out for several days of further adventures before arriving in Flagstaff.

A marker about Tesuque Pueblo

A marker about Tesuque Pueblo

After breakfast at Jude’s, five of us (Bernie, Tony, Jude, Ed and Chris) drove to the Tesuque Pueblo to see one of the ceremonial dances. This was the bow and arrow dance. As mentioned previously, pictures are not allowed on the pueblo so we have none.

The dance was conducted in the center of a square/plaza in front of the Catholic Church and other adobe buildings. The area was unpaved. 54 men performed the ceremony, one “conductor”, one drummer, and 52 dancers. The drumming and chanting reverberated off the walls of the buildings enclosing the plaza.

Chris and Ed at Camel Rock

Chris and Ed at Camel Rock

The men were basically dressed alike with individual touches. Black, long sleeve shirts; a white/beige cape over the back and tied in front of the chest; leggings with a kilt-like covering, moccasins of similar design that appeared to be made of calf skin; a necklace usually including turquoise; a belt with musical shell-like attachments; a rattle in one hand and a bow and arrow in the other.

The dance lasted for 25 minutes. The chanting was either in a native language or just sounds. It was not understandable by any of us but had a rhythm and beat that was very mesmerizing.

At Santa Fe Plaza

At Santa Fe Plaza

After the dance, the men returned to a preparation room off-limits to us. A series of women came from surrounding buildings bringing food into the preparation room. The lunch break was of an indeterminate time, but probably at least 90 minutes according to an onlooker. Since we were visitors to the pueblo, we left. There were not many non-pueblo visitors.

While visitors are allowed to observe this dance, it is not conducted for tourists. We had arrived well before they were ready and drove down a few miles to the well-known Camel Rock for a little walk. The rock formation resembles a Camel-see photo. Chris and I have been here before. When we returned, we had only to wait about 15 minutes before the dance began.

Plaza at dusk

Plaza at dusk

When the dance was over, the five of us took another walk at La Tierra. The wind was a little stronger today and we only did one of the two hikes Bernie, Chris and Ed had done earlier in the week.

Walking at La Tierra

Walking at La Tierra

Then it was back to Jude’s for more dessert. We met Lou and Joyce at their timeshare and walked to Il Vicino for pizza dinner. A walk around the Santa Fe Plaza with window shopping completed the day.

Ed and Chris 8 PM

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2013 Trip Nine, Dec. 25, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Santa Fe, Dec. 25 Wednesday

Our Christmas Hostess

Our Christmas Hostess

Merry Christmas to all!! We have had a splendid time in Santa Fe. Today was a family day.

We made it to 9 AM Mass at St. John the Baptist church in Santa Fe. They had a full house and the pastor gave a good sermon. At least it seemed that way, I admit I have forgotten most of his points by now. Oh well.

The Lamb Roast

The Lamb Roast

The day was spent at Jude’s. Breakfast for us was more of Jude’s home-made pecan-cinammon coffee cake. Jude, Bernie, and Tony had more time to eat there than we did and had a more extensive menu. Appetizers before the meal featured some items new to us like a ginger spread and a fig topping. Other people said they were good.

The Christmas table gathering

The Christmas table gathering

Lucien and Joyce joined us at noon. We did not do a Christmas puzzle, we just enjoyed each other’s company, along with brief walks and card playing. Phone calls to Kathy and Mike and FaceTime with Deb, Rebecca, Sarah and Sarah were part of the holiday feeling.

Christmas gifts

Christmas gifts

Dinner was focused around a lamb roast. Lamb is not our usual meat and Jude went out on a limb to try something different. It turned out excellent.

Christmas gifts

Christmas gifts

The group had agreed not to give major gifts to each other but we each obtained minor gifts to fill a Christmas stocking for each person. From candy to pencils to calendars to cosmetics and basic utensils, we entertained ourselves with opening the gifts.

Christmas gifts

Christmas gifts

Desserts continued to be a main attraction and our sugar intake has increased substantially. At least if we keep this pace up, the desserts will be gone soon and we can revert back to our normal diet.

Christmas gifts

Christmas gifts


Christmas gifts

Christmas gifts

Ed and Chris Dec. 25 9:30 pm

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2013, Trip Nine, Dec. 24, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Santa Fe, December 24, Tuesday

Christmas in Santa Fe with snow here and there, temperatures in the high 30s during the day, and low 20s at night with a beautiful sunny sky. Lou and Joyce arrived today so everyone who is coming is here.

Brunch with Diane and Edgar

Brunch with Diane and Edgar

Jude continued her cooking madness with a cinnamon pecan coffee cake from scratch for breakfast. A new job of cook could be on the horizon.

Diane and Edgar, two friends of Jude’s, joined us for lunch and an afternoon concert. We gifted them with stocking stuffers and filled them with soup, sandwiches (which they brought) and cookies. A little bit of Heimel humor was added to the mix also.

Afternoon concert dress rehearsal with young conposer

Afternoon concert dress rehearsal with young conposer

The Santa Fe Concert Association Orchestra holds Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve performances. They also open up their dress rehearsals for each performance to the public for a nominal charge. Jude, Bernie, Tony, Chris, Ed, Diane and Edgar attended the Christmas Eve dress rehearsal this afternoon.

The gang gathers

The gang gathers

The group performed two works by Beethoven and a four-minute concerto written by a young man aged twelve. It was a relaxing way to hear some good music. One of the Beethoven pieces featured a violin solo by a young woman who has been on NPR’s “From the Top” program.

After the concert, we met Lou and Joyce at the Wyndham timeshare in Santa Fe. It was close to downtown and allowed us to gather for a quick meal. Of course it included dessert; Lou and Joyce brought chocolate chip cookies, and pralines.

Along Canyon Road

Along Canyon Road

The evening’s adventure was a Santa Fe Christmas highlight, the walk down Canyon Road. You may or may not know that Canyon Road is a premiere art and restaurant location. For Christmas Eve, the road is closed to traffic, lined with farolitos and lights, bonfires, and singing groups. Getting to Canyon Road was an adventure in itself, with parking at a premium and near gridlock on the surrounding streets. But we made it there.

Along Canyon Road

Along Canyon Road

Canyon Road was thronged with people enjoying the festive evening. The bonfires added the smell of burning pinon pine wood to the air. You were never far from some musical group. Numerous, but not all, art galleries were open. We stopped in several and spent about two hours seeing the sights.

Dog in doorway of private home along Canyon Road

Dog in doorway along Canyon Road

Lou and Joyce along Canyon Road

Lou and Joyce along Canyon Road

Ed and Chris Dec. 24 11 pm

Post Script
This was our 200th post for the blog for the year 2013. While we have been out for closer to 240 days, some days were combined into one post.

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2013 Trip Nine, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Monday, December 23 Santa Fe, NM

Getting ready for Christmas

Getting ready for Christmas

Today was a family preparation day. Chris made her Spritz cookies having brought her cookie press from Minnesota. Jude made a pecan coffee cake that we can not enjoy until tomorrow. She also made dinner, salmon with a cucumber topping. For dessert she made baked apples. Yum! Plus, it was topped with Tillamook ice cream, a great brand we discovered when we went to Oregon in 2010. I made my third batch of Russian tea cakes, there should be a few left for Joyce.

Jude's baked apple and Tillamook ice cream

Jude’s baked apple and Tillamook ice cream

We are not gifting major presents but are doing small stocking stuffer gifts so people were busy finishing off the shopping, wrapping gifts, and identifying the Christmas stockings Jude purchased for each of us.

Bernie and Ed on  La Tierra trail, off Calabasas trailhead

Bernie and Ed on La Tierra trail, off Calabasas trailhead

Bernie, Chris and Ed found some time in the afternoon for an hour walk in the La Tierra trails west of Santa Fe. It was a path Chris and I had taken once before. This time it was partially snow-covered but earlier users made the trail readily identifiable. The fresh air and blue sky with the mountain backdrop made for a pleasant experience. As we pulled up to Jude’s house, we saw a coyote. Unfortunately I was not quick enough with my camera.

Cooperative cooking

Cooperative cooking

Ed and Chris Dec. 23 10 pm

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2013 Trip Nine, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Sunday, December 22nd, Santa Fe

An interesting day. We combined the sacred and the secular.

Las Posadas started here at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis  of Assisi

Las Posadas started here at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

The morning was greeted with fresh snow, about two inches here in Santa Fe. Albuquerque, 60 miles south and about 1800 feet less in elevation, had no snow and much warmer temperatures.

Las Posadas

Las Posadas

Our morning drive to church was slow and slippery. But when we left Jude’s house at noon for our afternoon adventure, the roads were either wet or already dry. Our destination was once again downtown Santa Fe, but this time to watch (which became participation) Las Posadas. This is a Spanish based play that recreates the plight of Joseph and Mary as they seek shelter in Bethlehem. It can be religious or secular based.

Las Posadas

Las Posadas

Today’s version was religious. It started inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The procession has at its head altar boys, two members of the Knights of Columbus, a teen portraying Joseph, a teen portraying Mary, two priests, and then a bunch of people (maybe 75 to 100) including us.

Las Posadas at First Presbyterian Church

Las Posadas at First Presbyterian Church

We processed down Santa Fe streets to the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe. At this church a ritual chant is exchanged between the outside group and people inside the church. The basic message (in brief) is: let us in, we need shelter; go away you are trouble makers; no, let us in, we are Joseph and Mary who is the Mother of the Divine Word; oh, so that is who you are, come on in.

Las Posadas at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Faith

Las Posadas at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Faith

Inside the church, welcomes are exchanged, hymns sung, and prayers said. The procession then leaves for the Episcopal Church of The Holy Faith where the process is repeated. At the last church, refreshments are served and gifts exchanged between the churches.

Ed and Chris at the New Mexico Museum of Art

Ed and Chris at the New Mexico Museum of Art

After this, we headed over to the New Mexico Museum of Art. The museum was free this afternoon. We explored the special exhibit on prints and drawings from Spain including a number of works by Francisco de Goya.

Madrid at night

Madrid at night

Finally we headed out to Madrid, a small town on the Turquoise Trail (not far from Cerillos Hills State Park). The town is known for its eclectic collection of shops, most featuring local artists. We toured around, Chris bumping into interesting people as usual. No purchases were made. We had dinner at the Mine Shaft Tavern.

Tony, Santa, Bernie at the Mine Shaft Tavern

Tony, Santa, Bernie at the Mine Shaft Tavern

The Tavern was a trip in itself. A musician was combining country western, Christmas and other songs. The clientele was a motley group (including dogs), providing entertainment as interesting as the musician. The bartender was limping from a pulled muscle and poured drinks without measurement-reminded me of my Dad at the bar many years ago. All in all, an entertaining way to end the evening.

Ed and Chris December 22 10 pm

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2013 Trip Nine, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Saturday, Dec. 21 Santa Fe

Apple’s version of Skype (FaceTime) provided us with the opportunity to have a video conversation with both Sarah and Sarah and with Deb and Rebecca this morning. Technology can be wonderful, makes the conversation feel much more personal.

Cookie Time!

Cookie Time!

The day’s activities did not really get under way until Jude returned from the airport with Bernie and Tony. The morning was cookie baking and house cleaning. Chris and I moved out of Jude’s guest room for Bernie and Tony. After all, they had decided before we did to have Christmas in Santa Fe. We checked in to the Courtyard Santa Fe.

Our primary destination was to go to the Children’s Museum. There was to be a demonstration of “flying farolitos”. These are luminaries that are supposed to float into the air.

Labyrinth and snowflakes

Labyrinth and snowflakes

As we understood it, there would be these brown paper bags somehow constructed with a frame and a votive candle flying up into the air. Despite what seemed like a potential fire hazard, it was something unique to Santa Fe and we thought we should make an effort to see it.

Drumming at the bonfire

Drumming at the bonfire

Well,it was so unique it did not happen. Evidently the Children’s Museum applied for the permit to do this but the permit was denied. So, we toured the grounds that were lit up with farolitos (luminaria, luminaires, depending on your spelling) into a labyrinth, around a group drumming by a bonfire, leading to a story telling area, etc. It gave us all a chance to re-live our younger days from so, so long ago.

At the Children's Museum

At the Children’s Museum

The weather was in the 20s with light snow flurries, making the night seem more like Christmas. The flurries did cause some difficulties with the farolitos, extinguishing the votive candles in some of them.

Our next stop was the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. This is a new endeavor in Santa Fe. Their first plantings were this summer and they had a “Glow Walk”. It was not as elaborate as other Christmas lighting displays we have seen but like the Children’s Museum, it offered bonfires to warm oneself and an accordion player.

Santa Fe Botanical Garden accordion player with Bernie and Tony

Santa Fe Botanical Garden accordion player with Bernie and Tony

For a description and a picture of flying farolitos, see:
http://innonthealameda.com/2010/12/the-canyon-road-farolito-walk/

Ed and Chris Dec. 21st, 10 pm

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