I’m going to break from Branson Missouri for a few posts because I’m in New Mexico for a writers retreat and I cannot wait to tell you about it. My husband, Neal, and I decided to make this our vacation since he loves to fly fish and this is the perfect place for that. I love scenery and snow and during this time of year, I usually get both!
New Mexico is a state of many layers and textures. It is rich in Native American and Mexican culture, history, and flavors. From the desert southern region to the skiers dream in the northern there is something for everyone
Our first stop was in Santa Fe, the second oldest city in the USA and the nation’s oldest capital. I’d been here once before and stayed in what some call Old Town Santa Fe or Old Santa Fe which is the original town. I liked it so much we returned there to begin our vacation. We stayed in the Residence Inn Marriott which was just a couple of miles from Old Town. The room was like a little studio apartment with a fire place and a full kitchen, which is nice because we saved money by cooking in our room. There are great natural food grocery stores. Whole Foods Warehouse is close by and is fascinating just to walk through. There is a Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe too! Love that place. As for breakfast, the hotel offers a full hot breakfast and a continental for a lighter fare offering and it is included in your stay.
Old Town Santa Fe has so many things to do and see. Shopping the plaza and side streets where you find antique stores, clothing stores, gifts, leather shops, art stores, and of course, Starbucks! There are nice places to eat, too! The food there is flavorful, and spicy, not heavy at all. Ask the locals for suggestions where to eat.
I had fantastic Sopa de Lima (lime soup) in the Ore House which is on the plaza. It had chicken, broth, blue corn which tastes like hominy, lime juice, cumin, and whole pepper corn. The chef wouldn’t reveal his recipe, darned him! I found a lot of recipes online that probably get pretty close. Great for a cold evening. They also serve great steaks and seafood. Visit their website: www.orehouseontheplaza.com.
There are several art galleries in and around Santa Fe. The picture to the left is just off the plaza. This town is well laid out and easy to navigate, however, there is road construction going on that can get a little tricky, but we found our way around . And if you have a question, ask any of the locals. They are the most delightful people. Friendly and helpful. We never encountered anyone who acted annoyed that we stopped them to asked a question!
If you are all shopped out, stuffed to the gills, and just need a place to chill and people watch go to the plaza park. I’m told this is the site of many celebrations. But while we were there it was a pleasant place to toss a football with the kids, eat from one of the food vendors, and chat with the locals.
One special attraction is the Palace of the Governors. It was constructed as the capitol of New Mexico in 1610 and is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the U.S.
And under its portal Native Americans from the surrounding areas sell their jewelry and art.
I spoke with one of the artist, Lori Hesuse, a Navajo jewelry designer, metal smith, and beader.
Around the Palace of the Governors is where members of the American Native Artisans Program members sell their craft. Everything sold there is made by them or someone in their family. Nothing is manufactured and resold. Her work is flawless and beautiful. I especially liked her bracelets and beadwork.
Sitting beside her was Dennis T. Ramone, also Navajo. He tells of how he watched his grandfather make jewelry until one day after returning from herding sheep, his grandfather gave him his tools and a small strip of silver and told him that Dennis must make something of that strip before he could eat. He didn’t get any supper but he did work all night to accomplish the task given him. From that night on, Dennis had to make a piece of jewelry before he could eat. His most popular piece is his Phoenix necklace. In the picture below Dennis is wearing the yellow hat.
On further down I spoke with Darrell Slim. He calls his business Silver Bear Diné
jewelry and Art. Diné is the real name for the Navaho. As you can see in the picture below he has a variety of offerings. His bracelets are hand stamped instead of lost wax casting. That explains the shiny brightness of his silver and copper bracelets.
We also visited the Farmers Market. What a treat. I always like visiting markets across the nation and try out the local offerings. Here you will find veggies, flowers, food, and music. Get there early and stay a long time! It is such fun!
If you have time go on the Santa Fe Southern Railway 36-mile roundtrip in a restored vintage passenger car. And the kids will really enjoy the El Rancho de las Golondrinas. This is a living-history museum that highlights Spanish Colonial period.
Always stop at Visitor Centers. You can get brochures of all the attractions, speak with someone about where to go, what to do, places to stay and places to eat.
You will be at a higher altitude and the air is thinner. Drink a lot of water and take it easy for a couple of days.
Wear sunscreen even in the winter. The sun is bright and intense.
Our next stop is TAOS