Santa Fe (the best city ever)

Santa Fe, New Mexico
April 4-11, 2018

I had heard that Santa Fe was cool and had a great downtown, but I really had no expectations. I had no idea that there’s a whole song in the musical Rent (my brother tells me) that is about how all the New York artists should give up on the big city and move to Santa Fe. I didn’t know until very recently that it was home to Georgia O’Keefe, or that it was the oldest capital city in America.

Downtown Santa Fe offered endless opportunities to explore and experience. Native artisans sold their jewelry and other items outside the Palace of the Governors every day. Street performers entertained the crowds of people shopping, eating their ice cream, or walking their dogs.
Ristras of dried chile peppers hung from terraces, balconies, and street lamps. Surrounding downtown, tall adobe fences encircled old residences with doors painted inviting colors. Small alley ways led to urban gardens and tea shops and unassuming historical markers.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the cornerstone of the old Santa Fe downtown. I kinda dig St. Francis cuz he loved animals and the natural environment.
Legit (but expensive) French bakery a stone’s throw from the Cathedral. Nutella crepes did not disappoint.

Santa Fe has the crunchiness of Bellingham, WA, the arts scene of Asheville, NC, and the unique cultural blend of Native-Spanish-Anglo that can only be found in the Southwest. I could stay forever. I tried all week – at every visit to downtown – to try to capture the essence of this old Pueblo downtown, it’s art galleries, giant basilicas, street performers. But there is no way to capture it in an image. It was a rich, immersive experience of sights, sounds, smells, and conversations that must be experienced. It’s fair to say that in all our travels so far, this is my favorite American city we have explored.

The whole town feels like an art gallery!
I could sit all day in the wind spinner gardens.

The city is full of history, but oh so beautiful. So many sculptor studios are lined up on Canyon road that they call is “Arts & Crafts Road”, and driving along the one way path feels like visiting a drive-through art exhibit. So many of the sculptures are made to come alive in the wind and I was transfixed – mesmerized into a stillness to watch the elegant dance between metal and air.

But quirky too….oh so quirky. We saw a man walking around downtown on several occasions. Next to his head full of giant dreadlocks a gray cat rode happily on his shoulder. A community of prairiie dogs, dequestered from the actual prairie by urban growth, has made their home along the old railroad tracks and locals feed them as they walk by. One day at the grocery store Sunny & I watched a man walk past us down the aisle carrying a sheep in his arms. Did I already say this…I could stay forever.

It helped that the day we arrived at our camp site in Santa Fe, I learned that a nearby community pool had lap swimming lanes open all day.  I hurried to get some laps in on our first night.  Between the joy of making great new friends in ABQ, landing in an intriguing, funky new city, and then topping it all off with an exercise high, it’s no wonder that I landed here thinking it was heaven and ready to buy property.

A fantastic community pool with kid-stuff AND lap swimming (open ALL DAY LONG) with super cheap day passes! And only a bike-ride away from our campground. YESSSSSSS!

Per usual, we enjoyed some time at the local library, visited some local coffee shops (although I nearly spewed coffee out of my mouth when my total for a mocha + 2 hot cocoas came to nearly $20), and took advantage of any free family activities we heard about.

With a family pass I nabbed from the Albuquerque Library System, we were able to visit 4 different museums for free in Santa Fe! Our first stop on Museum Hill was the International Folk Art Museum.
The 2nd museum we visited with our free family pass was the Indian Arts & Culture Museum. It was amazing, but you weren’t allowed to take photos. This enormous sculpture stood watch outside.
This enormous robot welcomes people to Meow Wolf. (But that’s a blog post for another day by another author…)

Santa Fe was amazing, but still maybe my favorite thing about the city was the time we spent with friends there. We had so enjoyed getting to know another full time family in ABQ the week before. We met only about 36 hours before we left the area, so we crammed about 2 weeks of hanging out into a day and a half. Once we got to Santa Fe, I quickly messaged them to let them know how amazing it was, and just ever so gently twisted their arms…and they came up to join us the next day!! It was a surprise for all the kids when Enzo came knocking on our door. The squeals and jumps and smiles and excitement was intense.

These kiddos just couldn’t have been happier to get more play time with this dear, new friend. (I felt similarly.)
Various reactions to the dragon crawling over the building!

We spent another whirlwind day with them, making fantastic memories with wonderful people. We said a tough goodbye to them again (the only negative of seeing them again was that we had to say goodbye twice!) and were left exhausted by fun but filled up with happiness.

Just a few short days later, a short “hello” in the laundry room led to us spending all day with an amazing family from France traveling the US in a van. They were on their way out of the campground when we met, and spent most of the first hour saying things to our kids like, “OK, girls…just 5 more minutes!” But before it was all said and done they decided to stay a few extra hours to have a day of fun at the community center pool.

These sweet friends from France are spending 5 months traveling in the US and Canada in their VW van. Total living space is pictured here…
We were so happy that they delayed their departure to have a fun day playing at the community pool with us!
We had such a blast with this family. Parting was such sweet sorrow.
I used my first Amazon locker in Santa Fe to get a package! It looked like this…I scanned the barcode from an email confirmation on my phone at that touchscreen, and 2 doors popped open with my packages! This was also the first time I’d been in a Whole Foods, since that’s where this one was located. Two firsts!

This was such an amazing week. We go through all of these phases as we travel…phases where homeschool is killing me, or phases when this all feels like too much and I don’t want to keep going. There are times when it seems like if I have to be around these same 3 people for another 24 hours I might just implode, or when the stresses of constant travel strip me of my better qulalities. And then there are weeks like this one….where I can say, “Forget school today, girls…we made friends!” Weeks where everything seems beautiful and strangers seem kind and I’m so grateful for these intense, exhausting experiences. Weeks where we spend enough time out in the community that the local musicians wave when they see you and remember your favorite song. The week was so wonderful that I’m not even letting the fact that someone stole our bike from our campsite get me down. (Yes, this is the 2nd bike we’ve had stolen. I think at some point, Pops may quit giving them to us…) Because today, I’m not sure if I can ever get enough of seeing new things, and I feel a deep calm about travel and unknown futures. I feel like i”m overflowing with gratitude for ownership of my days and wonderful new friends to laugh and talk with. I know it’s just a phase, but I’m enjoying it for all its worth.

1 Comment

  1. marie says: Reply

    there is a song in Newsies about Santa Fe also. and i’ve never had any desire to go there until i read this! what is meow wolf and why can’t you blog about it?!?!?

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