John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Indian Jewellery merchants on the Santa Fe Plaza

The Rio Grande near White Rock, New Mexico

Excavated Indian Pueblo in Frijole Canyon, Bandolier National Monument

Cliff Dwellings in Frijole Canyon

Petroglyph on cliff face, Frijole Canyon

April 7

Our ride from Gallup to Santa Fe was cold and windy. We had seen a warning for winter conditions and it didn't disappoint. The temperature continued to drop and, as we approached Santa Fe, the outside thermometer in Big Blue read -1°C and it was snowing heavily. Thankfully, it wasn't sticking on the road.

We had booked Sunterra Villas de Santa Fe (RCI) through and this time there were no glitches. We got a very nice suite with all the amenities, very similar to Club Intrawest. In fact, being RCI, we could have used our Club Intrawest points to book here. The Villas are 4 blocks away from the Santa Fe Plaza, which is the historical shopping and arts centre of the area.

We had discussed a plan to reduce the size of our cargo after mulling Kurt's parting words in Palm Springs, "How are you going to fit any other people in there?" We purchased some vacuum storage bags to see if we could make it better and it certainly worked.

We called home to Kris and Melanie's where we knew the whole family had gathered for pizza after a visit to Stanley Park with nephew Jesse, his wife Carmen and their 3 children from Quesnel. We were able to catch up with Linda as she would be leaving for Hawaii in the morning and we also had a brief chat with Katie.

April 8

The day started out slightly warmer on Easter Sunday and while Brenda worked out in the gym, I took a walk to the Plaza to scout things out. When I got back, Brenda suggested we stay one more day to be able to see more of Santa Fe. I had been thinking the same thing and we were able to extend to 3 days in the same suite.

We walked together to the Plaza and checked out the native jewellery displays along one side of the Plaza as well as visiting some shops to have a look at the pottery. We got a mini lesson on Pueblo pottery from one of the merchants. It would appear that our freeway trip from Gallup took us by some of the world's best sources of Pueblo Indian pottery; apparently, we should have done more research. As it was, we wouldn't be able to fit it in Big Blue and the prices are quite prohibitive for rank amateurs.

We had lunch at a nice bar, The Ore House (could it be a pun?) and by the time we came back out to the street, huge black clouds had rolled in. We beat a quick retreat to the Villas, making it just as the skies opened up.

The Villas has an excellent laundry facility so we took the opportunity to catch up on that. The adjacent recreation room had a pool table and we killed the hour and half revisiting our misspent youth.

April 9

This morning, I spoke to Rick's wife Wendy; and she told me he had died around 4:30 on Easter Sunday. While we had expected to hear this news, it still hit hard. After a warm, reaffirming chat with Wendy, I spoke to my cousin Terry (Rick's brother) as well. The family is very strong and I was glad we connected. I have added a separate entry on my thoughts on Rick (Ricky).

One of the desk clerks had told me about an area called Bandolier National Monument. It is near Los Alamos (remember the Manhattan Project?) and about a 45-minute drive from Santa Fe. The morning was sunny, with a forecast of 30% POP so it seemed like a good idea. We headed out about 11:00 am in a slight rain. As we made it up the highway, the rain got heavier and the temperature dropped to 2°C. Discretion being the better part of valour, we u-turned at the next exit and returned to a nearby shopping mall to browse. During lunch in a restaurant in the mall, we saw the sun come through the skylight and decided to return to Plan A.

The weather cleared more as we went until it was mostly sunny with a rising temperature. We stopped at an Indian Pueblo called San Ildefonso where we paid $5 to walk through the village. It had been the home of the late Maria Martinez, one of the world's most famous Pueblo Indian Potters. We saw some samples of her work in the museum and they are compellingly beautiful. We visited one home/gallery and had very pleasant and informative discussion with the man who had created the pottery on view with his sister and late mother. He had even visited Victoria to give a pottery symposium to BC natives.

We decided we were feeling like trespassing interlopers so we headed back to the highway for Bandolier. Along the way, we crossed over the Rio Grande for the first time and stopped at an overlook in a place called White Rock to take some pictures. The National Monument is in the Frijole Canyon and was developed as a destination by the Civilian Conservation Corps under Franklin Roosevelt during the depression.

The primary attraction is the excavated Pueblo and cliff dwellings which differ from Canyon de Chelly as the hike is self-guided and you can even enter a couple of caves by ladder. Words can't do justice to how impressive this visit is and we would recommend it to anyone as a destination.

We carried on the loop road through Los Alamos where we had to go through a checkpoint to enter. Because we had lost time in the morning to the storm, we were too late to visit the museum in town. However, your journey around Los Alamos takes you by many tech labs still operating under the Los Alamos National Labs (LANL).

We returned to Santa Fe for the rest of our re-packing and our last night in town. We both decided that Santa Fe is worth a return visit in the future, hopefully with better weather. As it was, we worked well around the weather and continue to be blessed with good fortune and with each other.

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