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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Christmas


Farolitos walk on Canyon Road, Christmas Eve. Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Although I don't love Santa Fe, this didn't keep me from exploiting its cachet by spreading the word among family and friends, before the holidays, that "We're spending Christmas in Santa Fe," knowing that conjures up the idea of hearty outdoor sports, glowing fireplaces, stamping one's feet to remove snow at the threshold of a lodge tastefully decorated in upscale Southwestern decor, and visiting renowned art galleries.

In general, though, the idea of Santa Fe is, for me, more attractive than the reality.  
 

Farolitos walk on Canyon Road, Christmas Eve. Santa Fe, New Mexico.


"We" included me, my mother, Carol, visiting me from Missouri, and my sister, Kellen,* meeting us from her base in Colorado.

Farolitos walk on Canyon Road, Christmas Eve. Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We stayed at the Silver Saddle Motel, a cheerful retro motel on the ugly, vehicular conveyor belt known as Cerillos Road. Places like the Silver Saddle -- they almost provide a public service through their budget-friendly pricing, maintenance of a place's historic design and spirit, and exemplary service to their customers.

Silver Saddle Motel, Santa Fe, New Mexico

On the way to Santa Fe (song? no, that's something something San Jose) from Alamogordo:




(Cat Stevens certainly makes for a nice road-trip companion.)

Speaking of Alamogordo and Santa Fe together: Alamogordo is a very walkable, cyclable city. Santa Fe is not. 

Farolitos walk on Canyon Road, Christmas Eve. Santa Fe, New Mexico.


The highlight of our trip was the Christmas Eve tradition of walking along the farolitos trail on Canyon Road. Thousands of people walk through every year. Vendors sell hot chocolate and cider. There are luminarias (small bonfires) distributed at many points, allowing walkers to warm themselves for a bit. Musicians create a festive ambiance.

Farolitos walk on Canyon Road, Christmas Eve. Santa Fe, New Mexico.


The plaza outside the Tibetan complex of stores was especially beautiful.



 
And it snowed.

Farolitos walk on Canyon Road, Christmas Eve. Santa Fe, New Mexico.


The Silver Saddle Motel owners had kindly included us in their trip to the farolitos walk, a good example of why this place is a good place to patronize. We piled into their van along with a couple of other guests, these from Austin.


Farolitos walk on Canyon Road, Christmas Eve. Santa Fe, New Mexico.


We poked around the historic plaza one day, enjoying breakfast at the iconic Plaza Cafe.

Artistic wares in historic plaza, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A visit was made to the Spanish Colonial Museum. We took a drive through the mountains.

We met interesting people at the motel:

A Colorado couple who had sold it all in Atlanta, traveled for a year or so, then settled in Colorado, and then re-settled in Colorado. Their story is a good example of making plans, executing them, and if they don't work out, adapt, and move on to what does work. 

Another Colorado couple, the husband of which has spent 20 years - and now at the point of big launch - of developing an animated book of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, using the old illustrations in pre-1929 editions. Fascinating.

A Texas couple, the wife of which takes joy from hunting for and finding vintage things for her house. (A passion she shares with Dawn, one of the motel managers.) Suzy described a downstairs bathroom back home that she and her husband did up in unabashed, over-the-top western decor which included, I think, beaten-up leather wainscoting and a rope chair rail. It was also fun to discover that Suzy's hometown is in Findlay, Ohio, which is just a shout away from my father's hometown of Bluffton. 


A good way to spend Christmas.


*Kellen, a pseudonym.   




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