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A Santa Fe Christmas

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A Santa Fe Christmas
Page 2
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A Spiritual Santa Fe
...from the journals of CW Bryant (age 13)


December 23...
 
    It’s a Santa Fe Christmas with cousins Heath and Heather, Uncles Brad and Doug, Aunt Debe, Mom and Nan (that’s my grandma!)
    From Denver a United sh
Here's my Uncle Brad and that's Santa Fe country!uttle flew us into Santa Fe.  The small adobe style airport building looked pretty neat–I like the style.  We saw lots of this adobe architecture during our trip.  
    We rented a sedan and 4-W SUV–both outfitted for the snow, with hopes to go skiing at one of the several ski resorts in the area.
    After settling into our condos, we headed downtown to the Blue Corn Cafe–they do a mix of Hispanic and American Indian style cooking.  Yikes! ...the red and green sauces are HOT!
    During Christmas, Santa Fe is decorated with lanterns or ‘farolitos,’ altar candles set in sand inside brown paper bags that line roof tops, walkways, and roads.  It’s really pretty!  We drove around town after dinner and enjoyed the decorations before heading back to our condos.

December 24...
 
    The Plaza, in the center of Santa Fe, is a large park block surrounded by lots of neat shops, art galleries, and great restaurants.      
    Right across the street from the park is the Palace of Governors, a pretty cool collection of Santa Fe’s past.  And, stretched along the porch in front of the Palace we saw Native Americans sitting on colorful blankets selling jewelry, pottery, and other handmade items.
    After conquering the Mexican Aztec, the Spanish in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Gold came to The mesas of New Mexico.the Rio Grande Valley.  In 1610, Santa Fe became the seat of Spanish Colonial rule of the New Mexican province.  The Plaza was the center for social events and the daily market.  It later marked the end of the 900-mile Santa Fe trail, which from 1821-1879 brought U.S. traders from Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe.  Built in 1610 was Palace of the Governors, a block long building across from the Plaza which housed the Spanish Governor.  From 1680-1693 the Palace was occupied by the Pueblo Indians during the uprising against the Spanish; from 1878-1881 it was home to Territorial Governor Lew Wallace (who wrote “Ben Hur”); and, since 1909 the Palace has been a museum containing a collection of 17,000 historical links to Santa Fe’s past. It’s the oldest government building in continuous use in the United States.  The Plaza today primarily caters to the tourist trade and is best explored on foot– allow a full day or more.  (Palace of the Governors, www.palaceofthegovernors.org)      
    Santa Fe is known for its artists!  We saw lots of art galleries filled with amazing sculptures, colorful paintings, and the most unique creations I’ve ever seen!  In fact, Georgia O’Keeffe has a museum in the Plaza.  Nan really likes her work, and I can see why–interpreting her paintings was great fun!  (Georgia O’Keefe Museum, www.okeeffemuseum.org).
    The majestic landscapes, the unique desert lighting, the freedom and solitude, and the culture and spirit of the Native Americans brought artists, writers, and philosophers to the Santa Fe area in the early 1900s– among them, Mary Austin, Jack London, Sinclair Lewis, Ansel Adams, D. H. Lawrence, Oliver La Farge, Martha Graham, Carl Jung, Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and Georgia O’Keeffe.  More artists would follow in later years.   
    The St. Francis Cathedral is pretty spectacular with a history to match.  But what is really awesome is the Miraculous Staircase in the Loretto Chapel.  It is said that the architect was killed before he A must see is the Loretto Chapel and the Miraculous Staircase.could figure how to build a staircase to the choir loft.  The nuns prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, and they were blessed when a carpenter appeared.  With only a T-square, saw, and tub of water for softening the wood (using no nails or center support) the carpenter built a spiral staircase with two 360 degree turns up to the loft.  The man worked only at night and he left without pay or leaving his name.  Even the origin of the wood is unknown. We thought this was pretty amazing! (St. Francis Cathedral, www.cbsfa.org; Loretto Chapel, www.lorettochapel.com).
    Not too far from downtown is Canyon Road, the place to be on Christmas Eve.  We all bundled up and walked along the farolito lit narrow road–open to only foot traffic.  The flickering candles also trailed rooftops, lanes, stairs, porches and windows of the small adobe buildings–my cousins and I thought it was awesome!  The El Zaguan’s garden was specially lit, too.  The best was when we joined other Santa Fe folks around bonfires–we sang Christmas carols and listened to people tell stories or funny jokes.  
    Canyon Road was once a Pueblo Indian route over the mountains. Today, tucked along this narrow, mostly one-way road with no sidewalks are over 100 galleries, shops and restaurants.   

December 25...
 
    The Santa Fe Ski area had very little snow, but Taos Ski Valley had plenty.  My cousin Heath skied there, and because Taos doesn’t take snowboarders (that’s my sport!) I went along with the rest of the family to explore the town of Taos.  It’s about 75 miles north of Santa Fe.
    “Let’s take the High Road to Taos,” mom suggested. Uncle Doug, Aunt Debe and Heath took the faster route, Hwy 68.
El Santuario, an old adobe chapel is famous for the healing dirt.
    We split up just a few miles out of Santa Fe in Espanola.  Nan, Uncle Brad, Heather, Mom and I took Hwy. 76 through some neat small villages like Chimayo, Truchas, and Las Trampas.  
    In Chimayo we saw the El Santuario, an old adobe chapel.  It’s famous for the “Chimayo healing dirt.”  At the back of the chapel is a little room with a hole in the floor.  We scooped out the fine, cool dirt and rubbed it on our various ailments.  In another small room we saw many crutches and other medical aids hanging on the wall with letters from visitors claiming how the dirt had healed them.
    Further down the road we came upon Truchas and dynamite views of the Truchas Peaks.
    “Robert Redford filmed The Milagro Beanfield War here,” added mom.
    We climbed higher and higher, and stopped often to take pictures of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the valleys.  Uncle Brad and I explored and found some really cool cacti.  And, you had to be quick to spot the lizards!
    In Las Trampas we saw the San Jose de Gracia, a pretty cool looking church built in 1760 and still in use!  As we got closer to Taos, the road began winding through miles of tall pine trees in the Carson National Forest.
Views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the Carson National Forest.
    Uncle Doug and Aunt Debe were already there, at the Taos Plaza–a small adobe bricked park with shops and galleries.  Most were closed on Christmas day so we headed to the Taos Pueblo, just north of town.  Mom explained to us that throughout the year many of the pueblos in northern New Mexico celebrate events with dance.  
    “Today at the Taos Pueblo, it’s The Dance of the Matachines, symbolizing the union of Spanish and Pueblo cultures,” she said.
    We watched the brightly dressed Pueblo men, disguised by masks dance to the chant of the tribal elder.  He was accompanied by drum and shakers.  
    “It’s very calming, almost trance like,” said Aunt Debe.
    Uncle Doug told us the walls of the pueblo are made from straw and mud, formed thick to hold heat in during the winter and to stay cool in the summer.  It looks like 2 large apartment buildings– one, 5 stories tall! Wooden ladders lead from one level to the next with many doors that open to separate living spaces.  A large open space, a plaza with the Rio Pueblo river running through it lies between the two buildings.
    “This is much how the Pueblo looked when the Spanish discovered it in 1540,” said Uncle Brad.
    Next to a large outdoor oven some Taos Indians were selling hot bread.  “Let’s get some!” said Heather.  It was really good!  Mom and I slipped a bite to a skinny dog, who I think knew we were two easy marks!
    Several of the Taos Indians open their living spaces to visitors to come in and buy handmade crafts lThe Taos Pueblo is pretty amazing!  I really enjoyed watching the Pueblo Indians perform The Dance of the Matachines.ike deer hide drums, pottery, birch bows bound with sinew, feather-ended arrows, moccasins, beaded and turquoise jewelry, kachina dolls, head dresses, and several different baked items.  Mom bought a baby rattle of deer hide, feathers and carved wood.
    The Taos Pueblo is the northernmost of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos between Santa Fe and Taos.  The Anasazi, Hohodam, Salado, Mogollon, and Sinagua Indians migrated to this area between 1150-1450 ad. and many still today speak the native Tiwa and Tewa language dialects.  In 1598 the Spanish claimed the territory and with numerous inhumane acts tried to force the Native Indians to adopt the Christian religion.  These pueblos banded together in 1680 and successfully drove the Spanish from their homeland for 12 years.  This was the only recorded time in history that Native Americans eliminated foreign control.  
    The Taos Pueblo is known as“The place where the Red  Willow grow”  and not long ago housed many families.  Today the Taos Indians live in modern day housing and support themselves through tourism, farming and raising livestock.  They also strive to maintain the spirit and the traditional way of life like their ancestors.  (Taos Pueblo, www.taospueblo.com).



 

Where was Solomon born?


This is Solomon, a new born Humpback whale. He provided hours of entertainment for our group of whale watchers. Where was Solomon born? Click here to find out.

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