The corner of the Santa Fe Trail and Alameda. That just sounds like horses should travel to there.
Today we were leaving Amarillo, and we had a long way to go. We were going to spend the night in Gallup, NM, but planned a stop in Santa Fe to see the Lorreto Chapel, famous for the Miracle Staircase. Distance from Amarillo to Gallup was about 450 miles. We wanted to leave reasonably early, so we could spend some time in Santa Fe. I think I planned our day at about 11 hours of driving, breaks, and sightseeing. That’s plenty for any day.
We had to stop and say our final good-byes to Aunt Murrel and Wonda Carol.
Inside the chapel looking at the alter. I wish my flash could have done a better job!
There were tears, as Jessi and Wonda Carol had bonded pretty well. We made it short and painless as we could, and then were on our way.
Breakfast today would be eaten on the go, and we stopped at an Amarillo Shell station for gas and snacks before leaving town. We planned a rest stop in Santa Rosa, NM, but instead of just stopping to fill up and get gas, we decided to have a real meal. So instead of breakfast, we had brunch at the Country Kitchen there.
Santa Rosa was about an hour and a half from Santa Fe, our next planned stop. So once we were back on the road, it wasn’t that long before we were in Santa Fe.
The Miracle Staircase inside the Lorreto Chapel in Santa Fe
Our plan here was to visit the Miraculous Staircase at the Loretto Chapel and then to wander around the city. We had heard that Santa Fe was a really a neat town to discover on foot. There are lots of artisans, restaurants, and shops. So, why not? It sucks to be stuck in a car all day.
We arrived at the chapel with only one missed turn. The Loretto Chapel is located on Old Santa Fe Trail, which I thought was really cool. I was going to visit a church that was on the Santa Fe Trail. I had heard many good things about the staircase at the chapel. I had seen the Unsolved Mysteries episode, which had kindled my desire to see this. Plus I worked with a gal who had visited it many times. She could only try to describe how beautiful it was, or how well it was built. After seeing it, I could never do it justice either. But, it is obvious that the man who built it possessed unnatural skill.
The Miraculous Staircase as it looked with out the handrails
I did not get to study it for long, or at a very close range, but the time I spent failed to uncover a single flaw of any kind. The part that really blew my mind was the simulated photo of the staircase, as it must have looked, before the hand rails were added. Taking those away leaves you with the impression that it is defying gravity, or at least physics. It almost seems to hover.
One thing I was not expecting was how pretty the rest of the chapel was. It’s not actually a chapel anymore. It is just a museum, but it has a very intricately carved alter, with the Last Supper chiseled into the face. There are statues, and the obligatory stained glass windows, and an old wooden confessional. I understand that you can rent the old chapel for weddings. If you have the means, I would do it. Just to set foot on the staircase, (the price of all but the cheapest package includes a photo on the staircase) would be reason enough.
Margo should look happier shopping, don't you think?
But our stay there was cut short by the fact that there were no public bathrooms. Margo had to go, so we had to go. That’s life, if I’m ever in Santa Fe again, I will be stopping by for a return visit. After a potty break, the rest of Santa Fe beckoned. We left the car parked where it was, at the Inn & Spa at Loretto, and wandered down the street. I snapped a picture of the street sign that said “Old Santa Fe Trail”. I don’t know why, but it seemed odd to actually have a real street sign that said Santa Fe Trail. It made me wonder if somewhere in America there is a portion of the Oregon Trail that is now a real street. Or maybe the El Camino Real? Or maybe I’m just easily amused.
But as I had had my fun, the women folk got to shop.
We didn't buy this one, even though pink is her color.
Margo and Jessi got rings at Santa Fe Trail Jewelry, and Jessi tried on numerous hats, including a couple of cowboy hats. All of this western themed stuff was starting to rub off on my city raised daughter. She hinted that she wanted a cowboy hat, but she didn’t seem too serious. This area of town also had a lot of sculptures, including one of a very large pig. Jessi likes pigs so we had to capture her and it for posterity.
But, after that we were pretty much done in Santa Fe. We could have wandered around longer, but we thought it best to get moving. We had to make it to Gallup, which wouldn’t be difficult, but also wouldn’t happen if didn’t get in the car. So we got the car and were back on I-25 heading south in no time.
An hour or so later we decided to stop and eat in Albuquerque.
What pulled us off the highway was sign for a Furr’s Restaurant. There used to be a Furr’s near us in Colorado and we all had fond memories of eating there. The one in Colorado had a piano, with a blind man working the keys. Every now and then my elementary school aged daughters would talk me into giving him a dollar for a song. As often as not, I had them play the theme to Sesame Street. They thought that was so neat, to have that song played in the restaurant. Margo and Patty had gone there for years too, even before I met Margo, so it was nearly an irritable draw. As usual the food was good and on a road trip it is always nice to get out of the car. But, again, reality bites you and you remember that even though this is nice, you need to get a move on. We smelled the roses, but we still mile to go.
About an hour later, we made another pit stop, this time at the Stuckey’s in Grants, NM.
There were sculptures like this all over. Santa Fe is very big with artistic community
We got gas and snacks. If I recall right, we didn’t need gas, but someone needed to use the bathroom again. You might think this was getting annoying, but it wasn’t. Truth be told, I like to travel, but I don’t enjoy long endless drives. I know the miles have to be covered, but I’m not a drive 16 hours straight kind of guy. I like to stop even if it’s just for a few minutes. I try to build the time in our itinerary, and today we should be fine. Plus, it was only a little more than hour from Grant’s to Gallup.
We got to Gallup about . If you can believe this, I had planned to arrive at 5:20 PM. For those of you who think I might be a tad too anal. I can only say if your idea of fun is to just wing it and see what happens, I would be willing to bet you end missing a lot more than you see.
Jessi and a really big pig
I research where we are going and what there is to do. Then we all decide what we want to, and then I make up a schedule accounting for everything I can think of. It works. I might have a plan and a schedule, but they are always flexible. If we get someplace and discover that there is something we want to do, we do it. That might mean not doing something else. There are only so many hours in a day however, so when you have certain things that you want to see, it only makes sense for you to allot time to see and do them. Otherwise, just stay at home, record them on TiVo and watch them at your leisure. We checked into the Best Western Red Rock Inn and got settled in. We had also decided that today was to be laundry day, so the rest of the evening was spent eating dinner and then taking care of the laundry. We would now be set for the rest of the trip, with clean cloths. We got to bed reasonably early, which for me meant about 11 PM. We would be on the road by tomorrow. The Grand Canyon was waiting for us.