Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Mexico

We've been pretty lucky up until now with the campgrounds we had chosen, sight unseen, over the internet. That is, until we reached Albuquerque, New Mexico. We had a reservation here for 2 nights as we wanted to do some sightseeing, but upon pulling into the RV park, both the husband and I were afraid to get out of the RV. I have never seen so much barbed wire in my life, everywhere, around every structure you could see. I finally sucked it up, went into the lobby of the office, scooped up some free wifi, and found another campground an hour away in Santa Fe. Now, I'm sure parts of Albuquerque are quite lovely, but this part wasn't, and the campground in Santa Fe had a pool, a movie showing every night and lots of other family friendly activities.

I really loved Santa Fe! Our campground was not far from town and nestled in the Sangre de Christo mountains, and did not disappoint. It had a great pool and playground, a little movie theater where the boys got to enjoy the movie War Horse, and a ¾ mile hiking trail through the woods. The mountains were beautiful, and so different from the mountains we are used to. With very little vegetation growing on them, the layers of rock are mostly exposed. But what made them so beautiful was the colors in the different rock layers. There were pinks, purples, browns and greens and the colors changed during the day as the sun moved across the mountains.

The city of Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the United States. We spent the day in old town Santa Fe, where we had lunch overlooking the Barrio de Analco, a residential section of town first settled in 1620. Right around the corner is the “Oldest House” built around 1612 and the San Miguel Mission, the country's oldest church which was built from 1600 to 1646 on the site of an abandoned Pueblo dating back to 1100. Parts of the Pueblo still in existence when the mission was built were incorporated into the structure.

Just down the street from the State Capitol, we visited the Loretto Chapel, built in the 1870's and believed to be the first Gothic structure west of the Mississippi.

It has a beautiful, round staircase that is said to be miraculous. It seems that the Chapel was built with a choir loft that was extremely high off the ground. Several carpenters had been consulted, but none could construct a staircase up to the loft that would fit in the space. So, the Sisters of Loretto prayed to Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters (who knew there was a patron saint of carpenters!) and on the ninth day a mysterious carpenter arrived to design and build a circular staircase to the choir loft, his only tools being a saw, his carpenters square, a hammer and tubs to soak the wood. Upon completing the staircase, this mysterious carpenter disappeared without asking to be paid. The staircase has 33 stairs, makes two full 360 degree turns and has no center supports. It also had no railings, they were added later at the request of the Sisters.

While in the Chapel the boys decided they wanted to light some candles for friends and family that could use some prayers right about now. I thought it was a really nice idea, so they each picked someone and lit a candle.

North of Santa Fe near the Colorado border lies the Aztec Ruins, operated by the National Park Service. These ruins were actually built by ancestral Pueblo people many years before Aztec culture flourished in central Mexico, but were misnamed by European settlers who believed they were part of the Aztec civilization. Built from the late 1000's to the late 1200's along the Animas River, this community built 2 three story buildings each containing over 500 rooms and several kivas, circular ceremonial chambers, that were used for community events. We had an awesome tour guide take us through the ruins and the boys asked some great questions. The museum had pottery, baskets, woven cloth and several tools that were found in the ruins when the Park Service took them over in the 1920's.

We all really enjoyed Santa Fe and were sad to leave. It's a beautiful city and I really hope we are able to get back to this area for another visit someday.


  1. So lovely, especially the boys. I'd heard of that staircase and always wondered if that story was at all an inspiration for Lilies of the Field. I loved getting to actually see it!

  2. Thanks Julie! I really loved Santa Fe, once I got used to the altitude...It's a beautiful city and if the boys end up in this part of the country I could totally retire there!!