New Mexico is Gorges

Trip Start Dec 29, 2006
Trip End Jan 13, 2007

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Tuesday, January 2, 2007

    We woke up late this morning, as we wanted to wait for the roads to clear and last night /was/ New Year's Eve. I almost missed breakfast, but caught the tail end of the breakfast buffet which was piping hot and delicious. After breakfast I walked out to the Laretto chapel, which had been closed yesterday for three weddings. This chapel is supposedly the first example of Gothic architecture west of the Mississippi and modeled after Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Unfortuntely, the standard for choir lofts when the chapel was built was for male choirs to ascend by ladder (conserving space), and this chapel was for the nuns and girls of the first girls' school in Santa Fe. Any conventional staircase would have used too much space. The nuns held a novena (nine-day prayer) and on the ninth day an unnamed man came and offered to build the staircase. Using only a T-square, hammer, and saw, the man constructed a spiral staircase with no nails (wooden pegs were used), and which only is supported at the bottom: there's no central pole or side supports. The staircase has 33 steps after the 33 years in Jesus' life and makes 2 complete revolutions. After he built the staircase, the man disappeared, not even accepting payment. Later, the nuns had a bannister added. The rest of the chapel is beautiful as well, with carved stations of the cross and stained glass windows, including the four gospels in the front.
    After I got back from the chapel, we set out in search of dances. We tried Santo Domingo and San Juan pueblos but no one was dancing. Then we drove through San Ildefonso pueblo, where a traditional kiva with ladder descending sits catty-corner to an adobe church with (almost-flying) buttresses. It was very picturesque, but no pictures were allowed. Then we drove up to Los Alamos, which is near the site of an ancient volcanic eruption. We found an overlook and took pictures of the gorge where the Rio Grande flows. It was spectacular scenery.
    We returned to Santa Fe for dinner at La Plazuela, a very nice restaurant with painted glass in the walls all around and where they make guacamole in front of your eyes. Who knew that guacamole was so good! After dinner we walked around Santa Fe and admired the festively-lit cathedral and plaza.
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