La Villa de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis - Santa Fe to you - just celebrated its 400th birthday. It looks like no other city in the country. In 1912 a building code was passed requiring the use of a style called Spanish Pueblo Revival. That means all the buildings are earth tone adobe, flat topped with wood beam ceilings and door and window frames painted white or turquoise. Even the newest buildings have stucco surfaces that mimic adobe, referred to as”Santa Fake” and faux-dobe. The strict regulations against signs meant that we could not find the tourist visitor center, even though we had the address and stood right in front of the building it was in. Finally, we came across a friendly security guard who spent five minutes walking us through a number of twists and turns before we got there. Not surprisingly, it was not a busy place. They had to explain to us where the underground parking lot was, because there were no signs for that either.
Maps in hand we wandered down to the oldest part of town. In 1610 the Spanish built the Palace of Governors on a central square and ruled all their lands north of the Rio Grande from here. Today native Americans gather on the porch of the palace and sell jewelry they have made. Shops, restaurants and art museums line the other sides of the square. Art is of major importance in Santa Fe. There are over 250 galleries; many have native American influences. They are most tightly packed in the Canyon Road area. Everywhere we looked it was quaint, historic and beautiful.
We took part of the Turquoise Road scenic drive back to the campground. It wound through the mountains where miners made their fortunes back in the day and artists live in the shacks they left behind. It reminded us of a lot of the end-of-the-road towns we visited in Alaska.
We seem to have gotten here about a week too early. The warm weather is due next week, but it’s time to head home. We are watching the weather reports for the middle of the country as well as at home. Snow, high wind, thunderstorms, tornados - there’s a lot going on between here and there.