Touring Historic Downtown Santa Fe New Mexico

Oh Santa Fe, We wanted to come up to Santa Fe when we passed through southern New Mexico in early 2013 but the weather stayed so cold that year we decided to skip it until another time. Well that time has arrived.

Even though there are a few campgrounds a little closer to town as I mentioned in our last update we decided to stay at the Santa Fe Skies RV Park more on the edge of town. It’s located on the Western Slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has views out over the Rio Grande Valley and Santa Fe.

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Our spot at Santa Fe Skies RV Park.

Our spot at Santa Fe Skies RV Park.

Another thing I find interesting about the park is that a large part of the power it consumes is provided by solar. They installed a 192.5 kW solar power plant that provides over 55% of the park’s annual electric use on site. The plant uses 810 Sunpower E19 238 Watt solar panels mounted on 45 ground mounted arrays. Each array contains 18 panels.

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The install was completed in April of 2011 and cost a bit over 1 million dollars but I’m sure the power bills for a place like this are huge so it will certainly pay for itself in time. Plus being environmentally friendly.

Santa Fe (meaning “holy faith” in Spanish) was founded in 1607 and is the capital of New Mexico. With an elevation of 7000 feet, it is not only the United States’ oldest state capital but its highest. So coming here was a big change from the temperatures we had been experiencing the last few weeks as we traveled along further south.

On our first real day in Santa Fe, Wednesday May 7th, we decided to go to Historic Downtown for a tour. And I just love the architecture. Even the parking garages in the downtown area are pieces of art in my eyes.

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It’s the sort of place that while walking around makes me feel like it’s a place we could really spend some time. But like so many places once you leave the historic or key area and venture out into the surrounding area you realize it is a busy city just like so many others around the country and reality sets back in. DAMN REALITY!!!

While walking around town popping in and out of shops we also visited The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral. It was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 and is probably the most visited site in Santa Fe.

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Before hitting the road I had never paid much attention to churches or missions. However we have now visited our fair share of them and the detail and work that has gone into them always amazes me.

We also toured Loretto Chapel that is well known for its circular staircase. The staircase has two 360 degree turns, stands 20’ tall and no visible means of support. When built it rested solely on its base and against the choir loft (I does now have side supports to help preserve it). The risers of the 33 steps are all of the same height. Made of an apparently extinct wood species, it was constructed with only square wooden pegs without glue or nails. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs.

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Also when it was built there was no railing installed but were added at a later date. The chapel is now a museum.

Diane took a tour of the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts while I opted to sit on a park bench and people watch. Diane is more into the arts than I am so the entry fee was worth paying for her to go in but unless I am in the right frame of mind the admission fee is a waste. This was one of those times I was better off enjoying the outdoors.

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While chatting with Melissa, one of the shop owners about Santa Fe the topic of altitude came up. At that point Diane made mention that she was feeling the effects. I hadn’t realized and she didn’t mention it until then so my ears perked right up.

Melissa then mentioned a product called ChlorOxygen that helps with the effects of altitude by increasing oxygenation in your blood. She said it is widely used by tourists that come to the area and could be found at any herb shop in town. And she gave Diane a bottle of water and told her to drink it. She was very nice and helpful about things in the area and was very interested in the nomadic fulltime life style.

I also realized that we had not eaten anything other than our morning fruit smoothie and it was already mid-afternoon. Another reason Diane might have been feeling the effects of the day LOL! So off we went in search of a place to eat.

We came across a small place called The French Pastry Shop & Creperie. We both found sandwich’s on the menu that sounded good so when the waitress came by to take our orders, we pointed. There was no way we were going to pronounce the names without butchering the pronunciation terribly LOL!!

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The French Pastry Shop is family-owned and operated business here in Santa Fe for 40 years. And all of the food is made fresh and from scratch on-site every single day.

After lunch/dinner we noticed the wind had picked as soon as we stepped on the street. It cooled down a bunch and there was a pretty stiff breeze. So we continued our tour of downtown and then headed home.

On the way home we stopped at the herb shop and picked up a bottle of ChlorOxygen. I guess it can’t hurt.

There was a wind advisory in the area and the dust was blowing so we pretty much stayed indoors except for Jacks walk. And that walk was cut a little shorter than normal but I don’t think he minded LOL!!

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Thursday 5/8 was a pretty chilly day so we mainly toured the area in the Jeep. Just driving through neighborhoods checking them out. And driving a couple roads outside of town looking at the view and seeing what we might run into by chance.

Not a bunch to report unfortunately. But we did get a better feel for the real town and not just the Historic Downtown that we loved.

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