We made the short drive from Los Alamos to our campground in Bernalillo right outside of Albuquerque. We had a nice long pull through site with our own ramada. We noticed in the southwest and Mexico it is quite common to have these ramadas, but it is not everyday each campsite gets their own. We planned on staying here five nights to explore the Albuquerque and Santa Fe area.
One day we drove into Santa Fe, which is the oldest capital city in the country (1610) and also the capital city with the highest elevation (6,989 ft). Santa Fe has the nickname “The City Different” and it truly looks very different from any other city in the country. Thousands of years ago the Pueblo Indians used adobe, a mixture of earth, straw and water which was shaped into bricks and dried in the sun. In 1912 a code was passed requiring the use of a style called Spanish Pueblo Revival which meant an architecture of earth-toned, flat topped buildings, wood beamed ceilings and doors and window frames painted white or turquoise. Most of the buildings are stucco that resemble adobe called non-authentic adobe. Consequently everything in Santa Fe looks adobe, including McDonald’s! They also have a regulation that no building can be taller than three stories, or the height of the cathedral.
We concentrated our time in the Old Town section of Santa Fe. We began by taking a 90 minute trolley tour that gave us a nice history of the town and took us to some areas we may not have found on our own. We rode past a statue of Sacagawea, some interesting art and metal work, and ended up at a huge bronze replica of a stagecoach on the Santa Fe Trail. This section of New Mexico is full of information on the Santa Fe Trail and there are signs everywhere showing where the trail came through. Likewise there are signs denoting Historic Route 66 along the roadways.
The Palace of the Governors was built in 1610 and is considered one of the oldest public buildings in the U.S. Along the sidewalks around the building you find many Native Americans selling handmade items. Our tour guide said they have to show up very early in the morning to participate in a lottery system to get a spot on the sidewalk amid the tourists.
The beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi is one of the few buildings in the city that is not adobe. Since it was a Saturday the church bells were frequently ringing as one wedding ended and immediately limousine doors would open and another bride emerged to enter the church.
Santa Fe was a very unique town and we really enjoyed our time there.