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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

       Monday, July 12 2004 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Touring New Mexico-
what to see-Santa Fe

Having been rained out on my plan to visit Santa Fe on Tuesday evening, I overcame my aversion to retracing my previous night's tracks and set out again on Wednesday evening. Thursday would be my last night in Albuquerque, so I didn't want to put it off and risk some upset if I waited until that last opportunity. And unlike the previous night, the weather on Wednesday was perfect.

I had been to Santa Fe I believe twice before, on both occasions just driving through on short detours on the way across country, and not armed with any plan for reconnoitering the historic city's impressions and vitals for a travel piece. I'd heard allusions previously in the week about how "snobbish" and expensive Santa Fe is, especially compared with Albuquerque, so I was prepared to find an off-putting attitude in the air. On the other hand, I've lived in at least one place that really is better than just about any other in its orbit—Santa Barbara—and have visited a few others—Carmel, Beverly Hills, not to mention San Francicso—that come by their pride honestly, so I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised. And I was.

One surprise was observing without looking for such an outrageous idea, that Santa Fe combines major features of Tijuana, Mexico, and Carmel, California. Tijuana is a marketplace with a decidedly Hispanic flavor, and so is Santa Fe. Carmel is an arts center and a fascinating small city that is beautiful to look at in every corner, and so is Santa Fe. Just as surprisingly, Santa Fe also reminded me of Chester, England, a place I think most tourists don't find on their UK treks, but I have found endlessly fascinating on two visits; I didn't want to quit walking down quaint streets or the old Roman city wall in Chester, and I didn't want to quit my late night explorations of Santa Fe, either.

I was surprised to discover that the convent Loretto Chapel with the "miraculous staircase" that I've seen featured in at least two TV shows about miracles or strange phenomena is in downtown Santa Fe, across the street from the St. Francis Cathedral on the plaza. And the plaza is a gem, a place where you could sit for days people watching and just enjoying the ambience. The oldest house in America is in Santa Fe, according to local legend, at least (talk about it if you like with St. Augustine, Fla.), as well as the (or one of the) oldest church, San Miguel Mission Church. And of course the references to St. Francis (Cathedral) and Loretto (convent chapel) ring a bell for anyone from Cambria County (Loreto, Italy, is the the site of a shrine commemorating a miraculous event that St. Francis of Assissi prophesied, thus explaining that name-association in several locations around the world).

Though the main tourist attraction at Santa Fe is its fine arts—everything from paintings to sculpture and photography and Native American jewelry and other artifacts—the beauty of the town, with probably the largest proportion of adobe buildings of any in the United States, the quality of restaurants and the wide availability of accommodations for every budget, also make it an excellent vacation destination.

Midway in my walking tour, I decided to treat myself to the most expensive dinner I've ever bought (though there were numerous moderately priced restaurants available), in the courtyard of an ancient city block of shops and professional businesses which, on a balmy desert night had enough ambience to last a lifetime. The $35 top sirloin was excellent, but the $8 side salad was so exquisite that it was almost worth the price (and for a splurge, definitely was).

So here I'll end my New Mexico respite, not even a vacation, but a wonderful working week in a world apart. I highly recommend it. There's more to the southwest than Las Vegas, even more than Arizona. New Mexico deservedly calls itself the land of enchantment; come and be enchanted.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Secret to longevity

Grandpa Cartnell was celebrating his 100th birthday and everybody complimented him on how athletic and well-preserved he appeared. "I will tell you the secret of my success," he cackled. "My wife and I were married 75 years ago. On our wedding night, we made a solemn pledge. Whenever we had a fight, the one who was proved wrong would go outside and take a walk. Gentlemen, I have been walking in the open air day after day for some 75 years now."

Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy.

George Washington
Sent by Bill Dalrymple 

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