Santa Fe, New Mexico is certainly a beautiful place. The sky and the clouds here have a beauty unlike I have seen elsewhere. I just assume the sky always looks the way it has during our extensive two-day visit.
We tried to reach Michael Aster, but the telephone number we had was answered by someone who had never heard of him. I took over management of a company in Europe from Michael in 1992, and Boz and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we had spent with Michael. Among other things, he is an extremely talented jazz drummer as well as a wonderful person with a huge smile. We also loved his then seven-year-old son, Ari. Ari was a child prodigy artist, so we expected to see some of his work in Santa Fe. Ari was a child of the sequels, so when Michael and Bobbi were about to have their second child, Ari thought the baby should be named Ari II.
Bozzie Jane and I spent most of the day just walking around. We walked around the Plaza area again. We saw the Charlene Cody Gallery and met artist Bruce Cody. Boz noticed paintings of old service stations that she knew I would like, and they were Bruce’s. We enjoyed talking with him, and I have shared some photos of sights that Bruce might like to paint.
We saw two police cars in front of the Plaza Restaurant, and the officers confirmed that it was an excellent place to eat. It is always a good idea to eat where you see multiple police cars. The Plaza Restaurant has been serving since 1918. Our food was excellent, but the pie was phenomenal. Caramel Apple Pecan. We thought it might be as good as the Key Lime Pie at Harry and the Natives, but we ultimately ranked it a close #2. (We are now ranking all of the pies, so see the Pies We’ve Eaten page to see all the sweets we’ve managed to eat and how we’ve rated them.)
We saw a group of artists from Canada painting the San Miguel Church, the oldest church structure in the USA – dates to 1610. We met Vanessa and Monica, two very talented artists from what we could see over their shoulders. The oldest house in the USA is nearby – 1200 AD. It was closed for restoration. How does one know how a place built in 1200 AD is supposed to look?
We met Cassie and Shelly at the rascal House toy shop where Bozzie Jane managed to find something for granddaughter Madison.
Most of our time was spent walking up and down Canyon Road. Canyon Road is where most of the top artists have their galleries and studios. We saw a lot of sculpture. We saw a few historic homes, including the Edwin Brooks House. We stopped in an art supply store to ask Meg Davenport if she knew Michael or Ari Aster, but no luck.
We returned to the Eldorado Hotel at 3:30 to meet Patrick, desk clerk/New Mexico traveler/photographer. He brought some of his photos and gave us a number of ideas on places to go and things to see. He told some great stories about his travels. We especially enjoyed the story of the night he spent alone in an old western saloon with sole use of a 20-room hotel up above.
As we drove out of town, we stopped at Jackalope. As Patrick put it, “Jackalope has nothing you need, but everything you want.” It’s like Home Depot for Santa Fe – a huge indoor/outdoor place filled with every imaginable type of Santa Fe décor item.
When we drove into Santa Fe yesterday, I saw some dinosaurs. We asked Patrick about it, and he told us that a fiberglass manufacturer on the outskirts of town had several dinosaurs on their property. I had to get some photos. It wasn’t easy to access, but we finally got there and got a few pics. We learned that the owner will use the dinosaurs to make political statements; he had an Osama Bin Laden in the mouth of one for quite a while.
I wanted to go in the New Mexico State Penitentiary and see if we could get a tour or perhaps visit with an inmate who hasn’t ever had a visitor, but Bozzie Jane wasn’t up for it, so we drove on to Cerillos. Cerillos is an honest-to-goodness ghost town established in 1879 to mine turquoise. There’s not much left – a church, a few storefronts and houses…and – uniquely – not a single tourist-oriented place!
Just outside Cerillos, we stopped for some photos at the Empire Bone Zone. The yard was filled with all kinds of unusual “sculptures.” A sign said “enter at your own risk.”
When we parked in Madrid, we met Johnny even before we were out of the car. Johnny told us a lot of stories about the town.
Among the stories are that Madrid had free electricity in the old days, so the townspeople had elaborate Christmas light displays…a tradition that we were told is still continued today. He told us rumor has it that Walt Disney got the idea for Disneyland after seeing the Christmas lights in Madrid (an oasis in the desert). Madrid is a tiny mining ghost town, so I have trouble buying that one. He also told us that Madrid had a minor league baseball team called the Madrid Miners, and that the major league Dodgers had come there to play once. After seeing the dirt field and the ravine that operates as the “outfield fence,” there’s just no way this can be true, but it was a fascinating story. He went on to say the Madrid stadium was the first stadium to have lights west of the Mississippi. Johnny said there are a lot of characters in Madrid and a tremendous number of stories. We absolutely believed that! His last story was that Tattoo Tammy had been in a shoot-out with some boys over the weekend and was in jail. We really enjoyed Johnny Madrid’s tales. Some may be true. Some just can’t be. But we were thoroughly entertained by this stranger who appeared out of nowhere on the one street in Madrid.
Madrid is an artist’s community, but the artists seem to knock off at 5, so there wasn’t much going on when we hit town. Boz did notice a number of stray dogs, and she was really worried about one really skinny mother dog. We hit the local general store for a big bag of dog food, but we couldn’t find the dog. A nice local man promised he would find the dog and feed it.
Golden is probably the most ghostlike of the three ghost towns along this route (Cerillos, Madrid, and Golden). We got a few photos, including one of a picturesque old church down a dusty dirt road that Patrick told us about.
We pulled into the Candlewood Hotel in Albuquerque about 7:30. Wash night. We enjoyed a delicious microwaved meal from the snack bar at the Candlewood. Sometimes you just don’t feel like going out.
We continue to see the impact that chance encounters have. We almost walked away from the registration desk at the Eldorado Hotel without engaging Patrick in any real conversation. Fortunately, we had a conversation, got to know a really nice person, met again, and \will see a number of sights that we would have missed if we hadn’t spoken. Bruce Cody has become an email pen pal. Two policemen led us to some of the very best pie we’ve ever had. Several artists brightened our day because they just happened to be in town on a painting trip. And Johnny Madrid thoroughly entertained us on the side of a dusty road.
We’ve added a new web page where we are keeping track of the People We’ve Met. We didn’t do a good job the first week or so; it took us a while to get into the swing of things and to try to take a photo of everyone we meet. In recreating this list, I know I’ve missed a few who we’ll add when we have time to go through business cards, brochures, and notes after the trip is over.