¿Rojo o verde?

May 12-21, 2007

¿Cuál es la pregunta oficial del estado de New México? ¿Rojo o verde?

(What is the official state question of New Mexico - Red or Green?)

You pretty well can’t sit down to eat in La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís, (Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi) without being asked “Red or Green”, referring to what type of chili peppers you want.

I’m a green man, having become absolutely hooked on Green Chili Stew (with Green Chili Burgers being a close runner up). The food here is good, and Denise remarked several times that it’s going to be hard to go back to what is called Mexican food when we get back home! We ate at several restaurants (The Shed and The Blue Corn Café) twice because we liked them so much, and could happily continue to dine on the ‘New Mexican’ food for quite a while.

Santa Fe, ‘The City Different’, is just that. We loved it. The highest state capitol in the U.S. (7000 ft. above sea level at the capitol building), Santa Fe is set in rolling, desert hills with a backdrop of snow capped 11,000 foot mountains behind it. The thing you can’t help but notice about Santa Fe is all the buildings are adobe. Everything! Homes, office buildings, funeral homes, malls, McDonalds, gas stations and even a double-wide trailer. The city has 5 historic districts where there are mandatory design reviews on new construction (or modifications of existing structures), and buildings in the outlying suburban area’s almost always follow suit. The effect is wonderful, giving the town its signature architectural style.

The heart of Santa Fe is the Plaza, a square in the middle of the town that faces the ‘Palace of the Governors’. The low buildings with big open porches surrounding the Plaza give the town a small, cozy feel. The Palace itself is the oldest public building in the United States, and today is a museum. Native American artists line the front of the Palace, selling their artwork. Only Native Americans are allowed to sell at the Palace, and all of the artwork must be original.

Everything downtown is referenced from where it is located in reference to the Plaza. The area is full of restaurants and art galleries – lots and lots of art galleries. If you are an art lover, outside of New York City, this is the place to be. The downtown area is compact, and you can easily walk from one side of the historic district to the other in 10 minutes or less.

We took a historic walking tour of downtown, covering an assortment of very old adobe churches (and one cathedral) and several historic hotels. The lady leading the tour has a PhD in Southwestern Indian Studies, and works closely with the architectural review boards. We learned a lot about how the architectural standards came about, and the different design styles and colors allowed in the historic districts. Vance recently finished a biography about Geronimo and he enjoyed exchanging anecdotes with Dr. Stefanie Beninato, our tour guide.

The Cathedral had a labyrinth (stones laid in the concrete to create a maze). Vance had a good time wandering thru it, but it scrambled him all up doing so. Can you help put Vance back together so he can get out?

Back at the campground, Vance hooked up with 2 boys whose parents own the KOA we were staying at. Because of the need to catch up on some errands, we spent several days just hanging around the campground, which we rarely do. Vance made full use of this time with his new friends Brandon and Jarrett. Their mom, Anna is bilingual, so Vance became ‘Vacinte’ for the week.

She invited Vance and me to join them on a trip to a nearby creek to play in. The kids had a great time, while Anna and Jeff (the campground owners) used a metal detector to search for meteorites. Apparently, some geologists stayed at the campground a month or so before, and found several large fragments of the ‘Glorieta Metorite’. Glorieta Mtn, close to the campground, is a well know spot for meteorite hunting. Watching the ongoing meteorite hunt provided an interesting twist to a pleasant afternoon.

Santa Fe has a wonderfully laid back atmosphere, and definitely caters to the tourist trade. However, they manage to do it in a way that isn’t tacky – this isn’t another Panama City or Gatlinburg. While there is plenty for kids to do, this would be a great location for a romantic getaway for adults – food, art, shopping, history and great weather in a highly scenic area. Denise and I would like to come back ~ 'just the two of us' ~

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